I Know All About That: Epistemology and Identity in the Works of T.I.
Primary sources: “U Don’t Know Me,” “You Know Who,” “You Know What It Is,” “What You Know.”
Prospectus: T.I.’s efforts to establish his identity are problematized by his own desire to remain hidden behind a projected persona. He’s both brash, gun-loving T.I.P. and self-assured entertainer T.I., and while this has surely fractured his own psyche, at least we can have him however we like.
Let the Dollar Circulate: Young Jeezy and the Problem with Keynesian Economics
Primary source: The Recession, a much needed stimulus package for Jeezy’s bank account.
Prospectus: By his own admission, Jeezy has “got money,” and like most American consumers he would prefer to keep it out of government hands, since “50 pairs of new Nike Airs ain’t cheap.” As he puts it, he “ain’t tryna give back,” and he favors the lower income tax rates implemented by a supply-side economics model.
Fear God: Messianism and Mortality
Primary source: Tha Carter III
Prospectus: Is Weezy God or man? “Young God in the buildin’ / Bout to start a religion,” he proclaims. Yet he’s also painfully conscious of corporeality: “Two more inches I’da been in that casket / According to the doctor I could of died in traffic.” This paradox—and his delusions of grandeur—are perhaps best embodied by that self-given sobriquet: “best rapper alive.”
I Can Trust This Brother: Nas and Obama’s Politics of Hope
Primary source: “Black President.”
Prospectus: Jay-Z may have been a “Black Republican,” but Nas has always described himself as a black militant. His optimism inspired him to predict an Obama win months in advance; his claim that the Treasury “gotta put [Mr. Obama’s] face on the five-thousand dollar bill,” however, may prove to be less prescient.
—Jake G. Cohen is an outgoing Arts Chair. His thesis is actually about France; it’s pretty boring.
Four Theses I Wish I were Writing