So how does Joe establish “musical authenticity”? First, in his monologue, Joe establishes himself as part of the “depth” to Gaga’s “surface”: Gaga “is theater” and Joe is “just the rehearsal.” He’s the “real life” behind her “mere” performance. Obviously the kinging complicates any claims to personal “real-ness”, but in terms of musical authenticity, it’s precisely the performance that is considered more or less “real” (i.e., we’re not contrasting music as performance when with real life, but different musical performances as varyingly authentic). Second, (and this is what most people are picking up on) Joe does not make use of elaborate costumes, staging, or dancing. He seems to be “just about the music” rather than “mainly about the image.” This read is, of course, totally incorrect: the kinging shows that the supposed “directness” of Joe’s musical presentation is actually at least if not more INdirect and mediated than Gaga’s performances. Nevertheless, Joe’s performance is clearly thought to be more intimate, more “purely” musical, than Gaga’s.
Third, Joe’s performance of musical masculinity associates him with established hip-hop “legends,” and distances him from other men of color, who generally perform avowedly “pop” music. In the same way that “hip hop” is seen as more authentic and more “masculine” than pop, Joe is seen as more authentic and more masculine—and also less white—than Gaga.