Rebekah Farrugia

Rebekah Farrugia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Oakland University. Her book Beyond the Dance Floor: Female DJs, Technology and Electronic Dance Music will be published by Intellect Books in spring 2012.



"'The Foundation' in Detroit: Challenging Conventional Ideologies about Sex and Gender in Hip Hop"

Informed by ethnographic methods we examine a specific weekly hip hop event called “The Foundation” that has taken place every Tuesday night for nearly three years in Detroit’s midtown district. Advocating for alternate, progressive hip hop, Tricia Rose states that hip hop culture should reflect on “what kind of community is being hoped for, what standard for treating others in one’s community is being elevated and emulated” and should ask “toward what end is black popular creativity being expressed and promoted”?

Using The Foundation as a case study this paper responds to Rose’s call within the particular, localized context of Detroit. An in depth analysis of The Foundation offers not only a glimpse into to Detroit’s, long, musical history and a taste of its current state of musical productivity but also taps into the negotiation of sex, gender, and race within the development of hip hop music and culture in the city.

Hosted by the 5e Gallery—the only non profit hip hop gallery in the city—The Foundation promotes an alternative (perspective) to the commercial hip hop industry’s reliance of misogynistic lyrics and sexist representations of women. Billed as a night dedicated to women it is devoted to supporting and creating empowering images of women in hip hop including MCs, DJs, producers, and other artists while also giving a voice to male artists. Celebrating women, The Foundation simultaneously critiques and educates male performers about the inherent sexism at stake in the performance of masculinity in commercial hip hop culture.