Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Birgitta Johnson

Second Reader

Joshua Dunn


Since hip-hop’s emergence in New York during the early 1970s, there has been an increasing amount of Japanese popular cultural references in Black American rap and hip-hop. This increase is made possible through globalization and innovations in communication technology. Most previous research on the trend has focused primarily on the impact hip-hop has had on Japanese culture, and how Afro-Asian collaborations have shaped music produced in the East and West. However, this thesis focuses on the influence various forms of Japanese media and history have had on contemporary Black American rap and hip-hop. I evaluate how artists can display these influences sonically (through samples and lyricism), visually (through music videos and fashion), and on their social media platforms. Within each of these categories, there are collaborations between Black hip-hop artists and Japanese musicians, fine artists, and fashion designers. This deep engagement between the respective cultures highlights the versatility of hip-hop to accurately capture and synthesize the richness of Japanese culture among the breadth of African American experiences.

First Page


Last Page