When the Black Jewish rap superstar Drake first started rapping, Katie Couric asked him, "What's a nice Jewish boy doing in a career like this?" Her question spotlights the pressure on Drake to reconcile popular stereotypes about frail, neurotic (white) Jewish boys and tough, violent Black (gentile) men. Today's talk analyzes how Drake smooths these contradictory masculine tropes into a unified and glamorous star image. In turn, this talk examines how Drake's style of masculinity channels wider ideological debates over rap itself as an oft-vilified Black art form.
Jonathan Branfman researches race, masculinity, and Jewish identity in popular media, especially digital media like YouTube. Drake is one of seven stars analyzed in Jonathan's current book project, Queer Glamor: Masculinity, Race & Millennial Jewish Stardom. Queer Glamor examines how Jewishness intersects with both whiteness and Blackness onscreen today, and how millennial Jewish stars harness these intersections to enter America's hot-button cultural debates. This project reflects Jonathan's wider interest in linking Jewish, feminist, queer, media, and critical race studies to clarify how historical antisemitism shapes present-day visual culture.