My name is Annalise Friend. I am a doctoral candidate in the Faculty of Arts at UOW. My PhD thesis on self-branding by conscious hip hop MCs is currently being revised, and will hopefully be done soon!
The PhD research trail took me through diverse terrain. Hip hop studies, African-American studies, Black feminism, Pacific studies, masculinity theory, feminism, speech acts, and many other bodies of knowledge all had something to offer my readings of hip hop performers. My choice of the artists Urthboy, a white male Australian, Ladi6, a Samoan New Zealander, and K’Naan, a Somali (former) refugee to Canada meant that there were many aspects to their identities to consider.
The overarching frame that emerged turned out to be self-branding. At times illusory, it nevertheless helped me to analyse all of the virtual and concrete aspects of these artists’ personae. I hope it may link the concerns with identity in my work to the broader imperative that many feel to sell their personal brand for work and also as a part of their online recreation.
While a challenging process to live through, the PhD research has been hugely stimulating. I now have about, ooh, thirty different ways to think about hip hop. This is fantastic, and sometimes I also have to get back to the experience of listening to it, moving to it, and creating lyrics and beats.