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date: 07 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces readers to the concept of Hip Hop Nation Language (HHNL). The use of the term in the United States has generally referred to language and language use within the Hip Hop Nation, a diverse, imagined community whose members (known as “heads”) practice and/or appreciate Hip Hop’s expressive culture. Specifically, the use of HHNL has been tied to the linguistic systems and cultural modes of discourse that both derive from and reinvent the African American Oral Tradition. This chapter outlines the ten tenets of HHNL and demonstrates its complexity by examining Hip Hop heads’ unabated drive for stylistic distinction, creativity, manipulation of grammar and pronunciation, and the politics and pleasure involved in their use of the verbal art of slang. The chapter concludes by exploring some ways that the variety has simultaneously localized and globalized.

Keywords: Hip Hop, Hip Hop heads, Hip Hop Nation Language (HHNL), verbal art, creativity, African American Oral Tradition

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