My research concentrates on US race politics in the cultural industries since 1965, with a particular focus on black popular culture and white institutional and identity politics.
I am completing a research project that examines race politics in Hollywood since the 1960s. It explores the film industry's heightened symbolic representation on screen and also battles to reform and transform production cultures behind the scenes. The monograph, A Piece of the Action: Race and Labor in Post-Civil Rights Hollywood, will be published by Columbia University Press in 2019. I have published articles related to this project in Journal of American History, Screen, Popular Communication, Velvet Light Trap and Cinema Journal. This work has been supported by the Leverhulme Trust.
Another research focus is hip hop culture. My previous book Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap (Columbia University Press) looked at the vernacular histories, commercial contexts, and social significance of gangsta rap. This book focuses on the material and discursive determinants of this controversial production trend in the 1980s and 1990s. I developed my long-term interest in rap music in the age of inequality with the article "Occupy Wall Street, Racial Neoliberalism, and New York's Hip Hop Moguls," (American Quarterly, 2016). This work in hip hop studies has been supported by the AHRC.
Following the publication of my gangsta rap monograph, I started serving as a legal expert for the defence in cases in which defendants' rap lyrics and videos were relied on as incriminating evidence. This work in hip hop, race, and criminal justice was an impact case study in REF2014 and has been supported by a Humanities Strategic Investment Fund grant leading to the international workshop Prosecuting Rap in October 2015 at University of Manchester. See my blog post.