Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

[Counter] Hegemonic Expressions in Hip-Hop: Police, the Prison Industrial Complex, Youth and Social Control

Ogbar Jeffrey O.G..

The rapid expansion of the Prison Industrial Complex has been a salient feature of hip-hop narratives since the late 1980s. Inasmuch as hip-hop is a broad expression of politics and perspectives, the ways in which rappers have engaged the prison industry is at once complex and nuanced by fascinating perspectives ranging from romantic notions of authenticity to radical narratives of prison abolition. While the hip-hop community has not been monolithic in its addressing of the prison industry, narratives referencing prisons have become more common among rappers of all persuasions—gangstas as well as radical progressive elements. Additionally, community-based hip-hoppers and hip-hop fans have initiated various anti-prison campaigns across the country, at times intersecting with the artistic efforts of commercial artists. Despite virtually no mainstream attention, a grassroots "no-more prisons" movement reflects hip-hop's ability to galvanize youth into activism in ways not seen in the United States since the 1960s.


Ogbar Jeffrey O.G.  (United States)
Associate Professor
Department of History
University of Connecticut

Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar is the author of several scholarly articles as well as Black Power: Radical Politics and African American Identity (Johns Hopkins 2004) and editor of Civil Rights: Problems in American Civilization (Houghton Mifflin 2003). He is associate professor of history and Director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Ogbar’s scholarly interests include nationalism, radical social protest and hip-hop. He received his BA in history from Morehouse College and his MA and Ph.D. degrees in History from Indiana University.

  • Hip-Hop
  • Prisons
  • African Americans
  • Music

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)