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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, I list the key players in the hick hop tradition and examine the regional pride, symbolic values, and performance of marginalized identities found in their work. The rhetorical moves employed by these artists are often misunderstood by cultural outsiders because stereotypes of the Appalachian region cloud the context from which the music is crafted. While maintaining a rhetorical tradition that borrows from yet is also distinct from the Dirty South subgenre, hick hop works to untangle a cultural thread at the intersection of authenticity, regionalism, and race in hip hop music. Appalachia, bounded by its namesake mountain range, is more of a cultural region—a state of mind, a set of living conditions, an identity configuration—than it is a geographic region. In other words, this culture is defined as much by rhetoric as by geography. As such, hick hop artists can be differentiated by the manner in which they pay homage to Appalachia’s cultural heritage, employing region-specific rhetorical traditions while simultaneously negotiating their identities in relation to connotations of ignorance and poverty—social stigmas attributed to the “Hillbilly.”

Keywords: Appalachian culture, Appalachian identity, hip hop rhetoric, hillbilly stereotype, bluegrass, hick hop, country rap

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