Monster: Blackness and Perversity in the Hip Hop Performances of Nicki Minaj and Tyler, the Creator
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This thesis aims to examine how two contemporary hip hop artists deploy representations of black monstrosity in their performances. In so doing, I unpack some of the political uses and consequences of reproducing, if revising, the violent equation of black bodies with monstrosity in popular hip hop performance. This study joins two related critical discussions on hip hop culture: (1) its powerful capacity to play with history and cultural objects to create new meaning and (2) the dangers in representing of black bodies as disposable, abject, and criminal. Taking Nicki Minaj and Tyler, the Creator's works as performances, not simply as music or video texts, opens our critical attention to embodiment as a powerful force of ideological reproduction and revision. I suggest that these artists challenge the critical discourse that sets oppressive moral limits on desire and subjectivity. By inhabiting the monstrosity that haunts blackness to reuse the available power, if dangerous and overdetermined, contained in this monstrosity, Tyler and Minaj reconsider the terms of monstrosity to constitute the representational and material relations that also define whiteness. In the first chapter, I examine Tyler's use of the figure of the black male rapist in his performed fantasies of rape. In the second chapter I explore Minaj's play with the monstrosity of black female sexual desires, through simultaneous sinister heteronormativity and queer challenges to circumscribed sexual subjectivity, to open up the way we critically discuss black women hip hop artists and their use of their bodies as sites of sexual play and desire.