Serious with the Wordplay: Battle Rap as a Critical Literacy Site and Model
Marcus W. Johnson
Texas State University
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hip-hop pedagogy
battle rap
black male education
critical literacy
social studies
english language arts

How to Cite

Johnson, M. (2020). Serious with the Wordplay: Battle Rap as a Critical Literacy Site and Model. Journal of Culture and Values in Education, 3(2), 24-41.


Critical scholars contend it must be the duty of those who are marginalized to create pedagogy that will empower themselves. As such, researchers continue to explore ways and means by which Black male students can engage with and enact literacy. While a significant amount of research has been conducted on hip-hop pedagogies and literacy, there lacks examination into how the specific element of battle rap functions as a location to cultivate the critical consciousness of students. This research seeks to highlight how the genre of battle rap can be a pedagogical tool of literary expression, while simultaneously shedding traditional standards of instruction which have constrained learning opportunities, particularly for Black male students. Critical literacy as a theoretical framework and critical discourse analysis (CDA) as a methodology are employed to advance battle rap as an effective instructional tool. Ultimately, this study seeks to privilege the educational experiences of Black male students and complex our interpretations of how language, literacy, and culture intersect and can be exercised in US classrooms.

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This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (  


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