Identity and Hip-Hop: An Analysis of Ego-Function in The College Dropout and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Open Access
Author:
Kastner, Laura Jean
Area of Honors:
Communication Arts and Sciences
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Anne Demo, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lori Bedell, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • Kanye West
  • Lauryn Hill
  • ego
  • ego-function
  • hip-hop
  • rap
  • music
  • identity
  • protest rhetoric
Abstract:
In this thesis, I will be analyzing how Kanye West and Lauryn Hill create identity for themselves and their listeners in the albums The College Dropout and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, respectively. Identity creation will be analyzed using Richard Gregg’s concept of ego-function. By applying the three stages of the theory – victimization of the ego, demonization of the enemy, and reaffirmation of the ego – to both albums, I hope to uncover the ways that both West and Hill contribute to identity creation. I also discuss the ways in which they create identity that cannot be explained by ego-function theory. I also briefly address the following questions: (1) How does the language of ego-function differ between the artists? (2) How does their music speak to listeners of different ethnicities? (3) What role does gender play in ego-function? Does the language of ego-function differ between genders?