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This is the first book to discuss in detail how rap music is put together musically and how it contributes to the formation of cultural identities for both artists and audiences. It also argues that current skeptical attitudes toward music analysis in popular music studies are misplaced and need to be reconsidered if cultural studies are to treat seriously the social force of rap music, popular musics, and music in general. Drawing extensively on recent scholarship in popular music studies, cultural theory, communications, critical theory, and musicology, Krims redefines 'music theory' as meaning simply 'theory about music', in which musical poetics (the study of how musical sound is deployed) may play a crucial role when its claims are contextualized and demystified. Theorizing local and global geographies of rap, Krims discusses at length the music of Ice Cube, the Goodie MoB, KRS-One, Dutch group the Spookrijders, and Canadian Cree rapper Bannock.