January 20, 2009

Hip Hop, Criminal Law, and Legal Critique

Nick J. Sciullo has published "Conversations with the Law: Irony, Hyperbole and Identity Politics or Sake Pase? Wyclef Jean, Shottas, and Haitian Jack - A Hip-Hop Creole Fusion of Rhetorical Resistance to the Law," in volume 34 of Oklahoma City University Law Review (2009). Here is the abstract.
This article sets out to prove why the law must be investigated in an interdisciplinary fashion which invites an intersection between law, popular culture, and identity politics. First, this article describes how Wyclef Jean, a hip-hop artist, is an active voice of legal criticism and why his criticism is important to a larger discussion of the law. Second, this paper develops a conception of Creole/Haitian legal studies and its importance as an analytical lens through which to perceive the law and legal institutions. Third, this piece formulates a rhetorical criticism of the law through the rhetorical terrain of Wyclef's hip-hop music and cultural aesthetic to critique criminal law and legal institutions. The fusion of hip-hop, Haitian/Creole cultural identity, and rhetorical criticism, opens a new area for legal analysis and understanding. This article concludes by suggesting that rhetorical criticism, hip-hop, and other rhetorical acts (among them irony and hyperbole) provide new terrain from which to understand the law, and further, that the Haitian/Creole cultural identity is an important and underrepresented facet of legal culture, which further compliments current critical race theory.

Download the article from SSRN here.

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