This thesis examines the role or race, crime, and violence as major themes in hip-hop music through existing academic literature. Utilizing the three major themes, this paper discusses the inherent ties of race, crime, and violence to the production of hip-hop music which can reflect broader social issues existing in American society over the time period from 1970-present day. Furthermore, these themes will be assessed for their activist oriented ability to suggest change in society for the primary groups affected by the issues contained in hip-hop lyrics. Over time, hip-hop, much like any artistic form, has undergone an evolution, producing new sounds, subgenres, and content that may also reflect changes in American society. To explore the alterations that have occurred in the hip-hop genre, this thesis analyzes lyrics from the top 100 songs of the most recent decade of popular hip-hop music through a content analysis. Lastly, interviews with professionals in various fields relevant to the research are discussed to show connections between the empirical data resulting from the analysis and the professional knowledge available on the subject.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2015


Kenneth D. Tunnell

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Justice Studies

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Justice Studies

IRB Approval Number (if applicable)