'Flirt[ing] with death' but 'still alive': The sexual dimension of surplus time in hip hop fantasy

Michael Ralph

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article argues that the tendency in rap music to depict women as accessories and sexual servants is the partial result of a widespread attitude that women have better prospects for earning a legitimate wage than their male counterparts. The effort to devalue women - and, by extension, female labor - leads avowedly heteronormative rappers to displace intimacy onto feminized arenas, like 'the game' or 'the Streets'. This is one way of coping with a general sense of disappointedness that inheres in the tortured sense of masculinity whose contours I tentatively sketch here. This article closes by pinpointing one reason for this preoccupation with death, fascination with 'bling', and denigration of women: the experience of 'surplus time' - the sense that, according to perceived life expectancies, these rappers should already be dead. In theorizing this predicament, I explore some social consequences of the belief these rappers have more time available than they had anticipated.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)61-88
    Number of pages28
    JournalCultural Dynamics
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 2006


    • Hip hop
    • Labor
    • Masculinity
    • Morality
    • Mortality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Cultural Studies
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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