Date of Award


Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Lynn Schofield Clark, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

David L. Corsun, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Rodney Buxton

Fourth Advisor

Christof Demont-Heinrich


Culture, Hip-hop, Identity, Professional, Rap


The rise of explicit rap music in the 1990's brought with it a challenge that has not been seen until today: what becomes of listeners who, once past their adolescent years, become responsible, successful adults yet choose to keep explicit rap music in their lives? This thesis examined that question to find that some high-achieving adults continue to listen to the controversial form of music, while simultaneously separating themselves from the images associated with the music. Furthermore, their musical tastes can present a conflict with their professional images which may cause them to conceal their preference for explicit rap music, thus separating their personal from their professional selves and not allowing every person the freedom to incorporate certain personal aspects of themselves in their professional identities. In addition, listeners of gangsta rap who have had successful careers as white-collar professionals find themselves engaging in levels of self-censorship, in order to keep their musical preferences hidden. This thesis therefore argues that those interested in professional identity development must consider how differing cultures are – or are not – welcomed in professional environments and whether those environments truly are striving to be more diverse and inclusive.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

TaRhonda Thomas McKee


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

154 p.


Music, Social structure, African American studies