The Aspects of “Be” in selected rap and Hip Hop lyrics: A marker of cultural identity?

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Abstract: The aim of this study is to investigate the use of the African American English (AAVE) verb be in lyrics written and performed by four African American rappers, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Gucci Mane and Future. This paper also demonstrates how the verb be in AAVE is used by these rappers to construct cultural identity. The method used is a qualitative analysis and partly a quantitative study of the empirical data. Every instance of the verb be was written down and counted in order to examine the lyrics and to explore how often and in what context it occurs in the selected material. The result of the study shows that the copula absence has the highest rate in frequency and occurrence within the selected rap lyrics, after which comes the invariant/habitual be followed by the so-called equative copula.

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