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Civic Media Insights: Jabari Evans, “The Anatomy of Digital Clout(chasing): Examining Social Media Visibility, Relational Labor and Empowerment Strategies of Black Youth in Chicago’s Drill Rap Scene”
Thursday, March 11, 2021 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Live on Zoom: https://mit.zoom.us/j/95369628997
Prior literature has suggested that it is through popular music that the social, professional and technological aspirations of Black youth often come together. Nowhere is this more evident than in the context of Hip-Hop music, where Black youth inventiveness with digital tools is celebrated and valued far more than any other genre of media entertainment. Though many scholars have theorized on the centrality of individual authenticity, sexuality and masculinity to the communication of Hip-Hop artists in digital spaces, academic work has paid very little attention to artist perspectives of how their relational and visibility labor helps them cultivate neighborhood respectability and build community with like minded peers.
Using interviews and participant observation of Drill rap artists, speaker Jabari Evans explores the content and character of their work on social media toward acquiring “clout”- a digital form of influence rooted in Hip-Hop that allows marginalized youth to leverage digital tools in building social status, maintain authenticity, cultivate connections with fans, community among friends and other cultural producers. Ultimately, Evans argues Chicago’s Drill rap scene provides an example of why formal institutions need to rethink how race, class, gender and geography influence the barriers to civic action for Black youth and how their digital practices add significantly to the understanding of the counterpublics arising from social media.
Jabari Evans is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Communication Studies at Northwestern University and a research fellow at the Northwestern Center of Media and Human Development. As a media scholar, his research focuses on the digital subcultures that urban youth and young adults of color develop and inhabit to understand social justice, their living environments, emotional development and professional aspirations.