Master of Arts in Sociology at DePaul University
In June 2017, Caullen graduated with distinction from DePaul University's Master of Arts program in sociology. His final project "Chicago DNA" draws its findings from in-depth semi-structured interviews with Chicago drill rappers, other folks in the independent rap scene, and various social justice organizers and activists. What started as an academic project, is now being produced as a cross-platform, multi-media documentary project through SoapBox Productions and Organizing. See below for the full paper, project updates, and more information.
Chicago DNA: Resistance, Meaning, and Perspectives
on Drill Rap and the Activist Resurgence
Drill rap is a Chicago-based, originally underground, subgenre of gangsta rap. The gritty and aggressive subgenre deals with violence and bravado, and urban street life. The activist resurgence references the current movement of grassroots activism primarily led by young black, brown, and/or politically left individuals organizing primarily around race, policing, poverty, economic equality, criminal justice, and LGBTQ rights. This study seeks to understand the creation, meaning, perspectives, and potential connections between drill rap music and the activist resurgence in Chicago over the past five years. It focuses on contemporary Chicago as an intentional place for the resurgence of these two formations of cultural and political resistance during relatively the same time period. The qualitative research—semi-structured in-depth interviews with drill rappers, underground music professionals, and activists—examines how authenticity, community, and other values the subjects deem important are impacted and promoted via technology and social media. Though differences exist between the groups, the participants present a strong sense of identity in authentic, grassroots narratives, which they propel to the mainstream via uncompromised self-production of commodified stigma, inequality, and cultural pride. Hage’s (1998) inclusion/exclusion dialectic serves as a relational framework for the formations’ function as resistance with respect to time, place, and meaning. This situates drill rap and the activist resurgence in a social, cultural, and economic matrix that pushes the creators to barter authentic social capital (Bourdieu 1986) often by way of social media and mobile technology in the advanced attention economy (Tufekci 2013).
Final Papers & Long-form Articles
Academic essays and longer-form articles.
This includes work from Caullen's graduate and undergraduate program as well as independent pieces.
Caullen's Medium page primarily features articles for the
SoapBox Productions and Organizing editorial publication.
Here SoapBox hosts information about our projects,
discuss socio-political and cultural topics, happenings in the film world and everything in between.