Rap Exegesis: Interpreting the Rapper in an Internet Society

28 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2016 Last revised: 15 Feb 2017

Date Written: September 7, 2016


The Law and Literature movement has had limited influence on the work of lawyers and judges. But a rap lyric’s dual quality as aesthetic and “truth” document makes it uniquely amenable to literary interpretation. The competing problems: lyrics are meant to be heard and not read, and the ambition of the contemporary rapper is no longer to be didactic or suggest authenticity. The #rapgame has changed. I argue the internet rapper is the paradigm of creative identity. The guiding questions for this Article are how the law should respond to the individual who lives life as art, and if the social knowledge project will lead to the crowdsourcing of how we interpret both rappers and legal texts.

Keywords: Law and Rap, Law and Humanities, Law and Literature, Internet, Interpretation

Suggested Citation

Kerr, Andrew Jensen, Rap Exegesis: Interpreting the Rapper in an Internet Society (September 7, 2016). Columbia Journal of Race and Law, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2836288

Andrew Jensen Kerr (Contact Author)

Georgetown University Law Center ( email )

600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
United States

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