Hip hop in Buffalo: Three stories of struggle, survival and success
Bhardwaj, Kushal K.
MetadataShow full item record
This study examines three manifestations of hip hop culture in Buffalo, New York through the voices of three artists. I connect three founders in the Bronx to Buffalo artists, revealing a context of how hip hop is understood and articulated by local artists. I examine the racial and cultural hybridity of Angelo "Third" Lucciano (he is of Italian and Puerto Rican descent). His story is used to connect varied participants and purveyors, creators and consumers of hip hop. It interrogates a "Black patriarchal hegemony" that exists within hip hop culture. Indeed, what does it say when "the best rapper in Buffalo" is not a black man? I then explore the world of Edreys "Billy Drease Williams" Wajed, examining the paradoxical relationship between hip hop culture and "high" art in the context of Buffalo. I inspect how Edreys articulates issues of identity formation and how he navigates in an industry in which capitalistic interests ostensibly serve to promote voices that comprise hip-hop culture. Lastly, I examine the perspectives and sense of purpose of the only "non-rapper" in the study: Anthony "Tone X" Caferro, founder/owner of Deep Thinka Records (now DTR45), an independent record label in Buffalo. Studying Tone X provides the context for understanding how artists view and understand themselves, their city, and their integrated practices of hip hop culture. In interviews conducted with these three subjects, this study explores how these individuals translate the socio-economic conditions of Buffalo, their personal/cultural experiences and their perceptions of hip hop culture into art which they hold to be true to hip hop as they understand it. The study seeks to explore how three case studies were influenced and affected by the "Golden Era" of hip hop, in which three particular legends reigned supreme. The study interrogates how antecedents in hip hop may affect the descendents of the culture and investigates how social and political literacy may arise in expressions of hip hop. Through a descriptive analysis, this study seeks to identify a relationship between so-called racial authenticity in hip hop and the transcendence of hegemony and racial identity politics.