Resisting the Criminalization of Hip-Hop Culture Among Africana People

Authored by: Corey Miles

The Routledge Handbook on Africana Criminologies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367435721
eBook ISBN: 9781003004424
Adobe ISBN:


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In April 2018, with the release of hip-hop icon Meek Mill from jail, where he served a five-month sentence for probation violation, and ten months following 12-year-old rapper Lil C-Note being arrested on felony charges in Georgia for selling CDs in a local mall, there was consistent engagement about the structural positioning of hiphop within the American criminal justice system by the hip-hop community. This chapter explores court cases using hip-hop lyrics to prosecute Africana people and the development of police task forces to police the ontological bounds of hip-hop artists to suggest that, given hip-hop is an Africana cultural tradition, it has been rhetorically paired with criminality. This rhetorical pairing has branded hip-hop artists as potential and/or possible criminal offenders, leading to constant surveillance and over-policing in an era organized around incarcerating Black bodies. Given that those who embody a hip-hop aesthetic are some of the primary victims of the criminal justice system, they have become equipped with a nuanced understanding of these institutions’ social practices. This chapter concludes by engaging with the aesthetic and linguistic ways in which hip-hop has resisted, challenged, and critiqued the oppressive social process of the American criminal justice system.

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