The Audacity of Clout (Chasing): Digital Strategies of Black Youth in Chicago DIY Hip-Hop

Jabari M. Evans, Nancy K. Baym


Though many scholars have theorized about the communication of Black youth in digital spaces, academic work has generally not sought artist perspectives of how their platformed creation might be connected to relational labor. Using observations and interviews with artists, artist managers, and entrepreneurs, we examine relational practices of hip-hop youth on social media. We describe their work on social media toward acquiring “clout”—a digital form of influence self-described by emerging musicians as allowing them to leverage digital tools in building social and professional status, amplify authenticity, cultivate connections with fans, and connect with friends and other cultural producers. In this study, we detail examples of three relational strategies that our respondents used to acquire clout: (a) corralling (b) capping, and (c) cosigning. To conclude, we argue that Chicago’s hip-hop scene provides an example of why formal institutions and researchers need to rethink how race, class, gender, and geography influence the digital interactions of young people and how their social practices add to the understanding of the counterpublics arising from globalizing social media.


hip-hop, social media, media literacy, visibility labor, microcelebrity, platformed creation

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