All black everything: Gothic cloak and swagger in contemporary hip hop | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 2, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2050-0726
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0734



In stark contrast to the widespread popularity of the Gothic literary genre in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, goth music and goth fashion were largely relegated to subculture from their inception in the late 1970s. Over the past decade, however, goth fashion has moved past its musical counterpart into ubiquity, stretching its shadow-laced fingers across popular culture and into contemporary hip hop as artists incorporate goth aesthetics and Gothic literary themes into their expanding style lexicons. From the ‘Ghetto Gothic’ fashions of A$AP Rocky and Mykki Blanco to the monochromatic macabre videos of Jay-Z and Kanye West, the sartorial signs of the doomed undead are now de rigueur in rap, and washes of reverb-laden guitar beneath mournful Anglo-European voices are no longer prerequisites for sepulchral style. Contrary to the authenticity-obsessed goth scene, this phenomenon can be viewed as momentary ‘Gothic drag’, or more in keeping with hip hop culture, as ‘aesthetic sampling’ that mirrors the long-standing tradition of music sampling in rap. Rather than standing in opposition to classic definitions of goth subculture or Gothic literary tropes, the cultural syncretism in today’s hip hop serves to revitalize and recontextualize the entire macabre genre, rendering it more inclusive of diversity and free from its characteristic restraints.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): dandyism; drag; Gothic; hip hop; sampling; subculture
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