Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2015

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Art & Art History

First Advisor

Bob Nauman

Second Advisor

Reiland Rabaka

Third Advisor

Frances Charteris


This thesis examines Hip Hop’s commercialization, and more specifically the photographs of the progression of Hip Hop from a revolutionary movement to a commercial art form. It outlines the influences of the Hip Hop Movement, and also the denial of these influences as rap music continued to be corporatized. This thesis then compares photographs of enslaved African Americans from Harper’s Weekly and photographs of Frederick Douglass to photographs of revolutionary rappers such as Public Enemy and mainstream artists such as Rick Ross. The intention of this is to prove that as Hip Hop and rap music have become more corporate and commercial, rappers have been objectified in photography and have become commodified spectacles, just as enslaved African Americans had been in the photographs from Harper’s Weekly.