Rock The Mic! The Influence of Hip-Hop Culture on Black Boys' Attitude in School: An Ethnographical Study

Douglas M. Sanders, Jr.,
Doug Sanders Foundation, Inc.


Regardless of its commercial appeal, hip-hop is still considered to be very controversial. Given its cultural influence in society, educational researchers have begun to investigate its impact on marginalized youth. Much of the research has concentrated on the subgenre of hip-hop culture, rap music and its influence on the attitudes of different age groups. To this end, a significant portion of the literature is centered on the negative features of hip-hop. Moreover, because it is often viewed through such a narrow lens educational practitioners in K-12 schools and centers fail to see its many positive aspects. Therefore, a dearth in the literature has resulted that examines how hip-hop culture, as a whole, influences the attitude of marginalized groups in public schools. This ethnographical study explores that influence on Black boys’ attitude in school. It highlights seven hip-hop elements: DJing, rapping/emceeing, graffiti art, breakdancing, fashion/style, language, and behavior. The findings show significant psychological effects that influence Black male youth’s attitude toward learning. The discussion also mentions a myriad of ways various school personnel can influence the learning outcomes of Black boys when hip-hop based educational research is infused into the curricula.

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