The way I am
How do we define ourselves? Rap stars love to write about their own identity, telling us regularly what to think of them and how to define who they are. How do they use language to do this?
In this lesson you will study two songs that explore individual identity through language. The first lyrics are taken from 'Ice Ice Baby' by Vanilla Ice, a song which shocked the world in the late 1980s because it depicted a white American rapping and speaking like an African-American. The second song is 'The Way I Am' by Eminem from 2009. Both identities of these rap stars are defined by the contexts in which they wrote.
Identity and cultural context
What does the language of a text tell us about the author's identity? What does the language of a text tell us about his or her cultural context. Read the lyrics from 'Ice Ice Baby' and 'The Way I Am' and comment on how language indicates identity and cultural context.
|Ice Ice Baby||The Way I Am|
|How does the use of language comment on the rapper's identity?|
|How does the use of language comment on the context in which he raps?|
Ice Ice Baby
The Way I Am
Afte analyzing the use of language in both texts and filling in the table above, you can discuss the texts further by answering the following questions:
Eminem and Vanilla Ice are both white men working in what is often considered a black-man's world. How do both rappers try to change the world's understanding of this stereotype?
Read the article, The Authenticity of Marshall Mathers III. How has Eminem obtained 'authenticity' according to the author?
Written task 1 - What if you could interview Vanilla Ice today, years after his success? How do you think he would respond in a trascribed interview for Rolling Stone Magazine on the impact of his song 'Ice Ice Baby' years later?
Further oral activity - What if Vanilla Ice and Eminem would converse on a talk show? What would they say about the importance of their lyrics to the rap world and racial issues? In this activity, it is important to refer back to the song lyrics of the rappers regularly.