Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Social Innovation (M.A.)

Degree Program

Integrative, Religious, and Intercultural Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Riley-Mukavetz

Academic Year



This project explores the ways in which critical race theory, the Black, queer experience, and Black masculinity impact hypermasculine and homophobic expression through hip-hop and how Lil Nas X defies gender expectations. Critical race theory, Black, queer experiences, and Black masculinity work cohesively to provide context to societal expectations of Black gender and the ways in which Black people have historically been oppressed. Queen Latifah and Da Brat signal their queerness through fashion and masculine rap and flow through their projects during the 90’s, despite a feminine, light-hearted expectation of female rappers at the time. They would influence queer boundaries within mainstream hip-hop, allowing for Lil Nas X to move even farther with what they created. Through historical and image analysis of music videos, this project finds that identity politics through mainstream hip-hop are defied by Lil Nas X and Da Brat and Queen Latifah before him. This defiance offers contributions to social innovations in the ways that the three rappers are influencing and molding the next wave of hip-hop.