Morgan-Bennett FINAL by sobhymelo


									Hip-Hop & the Global Imprint of a
Black Cultural Form

Marcyliena Morgan & Dionne Bennett

                                            To me, hip-hop says, “Come as you are.” We are a
                                            family. . . . Hip-hop is the voice of this generation. It
                                            has become a powerful force. Hip-hop binds all of
                                            these people, all of these nationalities, all over the
                                            world together. Hip-hop is a family so everybody has
                                            got to pitch in. East, west, north or south–we come
MARCYLIENA MORGAN is                        from one coast and that coast was Africa.
Professor of African and African         –dj Kool Herc
American Studies at Harvard Uni-
versity. Her publications include           Through hip-hop, we are trying to ½nd out who we
Language, Discourse and Power in            are, what we are. That’s what black people in Amer-
African American Culture (2002),            ica did.
The Real Hiphop: Battling for Knowl-
                                         –mc Yan1
edge, Power, and Respect in the LA
Underground (2009), and “Hip-
hop and Race: Blackness, Lan-
guage, and Creativity” (with
                                        I t is nearly impossible to travel the world without
Dawn-Elissa Fischer), in Doing
                                        encountering instances of hip-hop music and cul-
Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century    ture. Hip-hop is the distinctive graf½ti lettering
(ed. Hazel Rose Markus and              styles that have materialized on walls worldwide.
Paula M.L. Moya, 2010).                 It is the latest dance moves that young people per-
                                        form on streets and dirt roads. It is the bass beats
tant Professor of African Ameri-        and styles of dress at dance clubs. It is local mcs
can Studies at Loyola Marymount         on microphones with hands raised and moving to
University. She is the author of        the beat as they “shout out to their crews.” Hip-
Sepia Dreams: A Celebration of Black    hop is everywhere!
Achievement Through Words and              The International Federation of the Phono-
Images (with photographer Mat-          graphic Industry (ifpi) reported that hip-hop
thew Jordan Smith, 2001) and co-
                                        music represented half of the top-ten global dig-
editor of Revolutions of the Mind:
Cultural Studies in the African Dias-   ital songs in 2009.2 Hip-hop refers to the music,
pora Project, 1996–2002 (with           arts, media, and cultural movement and commu-
Valerie Smith, Marcyliena Mor-          nity developed by black and Latino youth in the
gan, and Darnell Hunt, 2003).           mid-1970s on the East Coast of the United States.

                                        © 2011 by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Hip-Hop &    It is distinguished from the term rap in       youth driven. Citizenship in the hip-hop
the Global   that it does not focus solely on spoken        nation is de½ned not by conventional
Imprint of
   a Black   lyrics. Hip-hop initially comprised the        national or racial boundaries, but by a
  Cultural   artistic elements of (1) deejaying and         commitment to hip-hop’s multimedia
     Form    turntabalism, (2) the delivery and lyri-       arts culture, a culture that represents the
             cism of rapping and emceeing, (3) break        social and political lives of its members.5
             dancing and other forms of hip-hop             In this way, the hip-hop nation shares
             dance, (4) graf½ti art and writing, and        the contours of what international stud-
             (5) a system of knowledge that unites          ies scholar Benedict Anderson calls an
             them all.3 Hip-hop knowledge refers to         “imagined community,” a term he uses
             the aesthetic, social, intellectual, and       to explain the concept of nationhood
             political identities, beliefs, behaviors,      itself.6 Though not a conventional polit-
             and values produced and embraced by            ical community, it sometimes functions
             its members, who generally think of            in that manner.
             hip-hop as an identity, a worldview, and          The hip-hop nation serves as an imag-
             a way of life. Thus, across the world, hip-    ined cultural community and, just as im-
             hop “heads” (or “headz”)–as mem-               portant, it functions as a community of
             bers of hip-hop culture describe them-         imagination–or an imagination com-
             selves–frequently proclaim, “I am              munity. Its artistic practices are not
             hip-hop.”4                                     merely part of its culture; rather, they
                As hip-hop has grown in global popu-        are the central, driving force that de½nes
             larity, its de½ant and self-de½ning voices     and sustains it. Moreover, hip-hop cul-
             have been both multiplied and ampli½ed         ture is based on a democratizing creative
             as they challenge conventional concepts        and aesthetic ethos, which historically
             of identity and nationhood. Global hip-        has permitted any individual who com-
             hop has emerged as a culture that en-          bines authentic self-presentation with
             courages and integrates innovative prac-       highly developed artistic skills in his
             tices of artistic expression, knowledge        or her hip-hop medium to become a
             production, social identi½cation, and          legitimate hip-hop artist. Because most
             political mobilization. In these respects,     hip-hop artists are self-taught or taught
             it transcends and contests conventional        by peers in the hip-hop community, hip-
             constructions of identity, race, nation,       hop has empowered young people of all
             community, aesthetics, and knowledge.          socioeconomic backgrounds all over
             Although the term is not of½cial, the use      the world to become artists in their own
             of “hip-hop nation” to describe the citi-      right. That is, it has supported artists
             zens of the global hip-hop cultural com-       whose worth is validated not by com-
             munity is increasingly common. More-           mercial success or elitist cultural criti-
             over, it is one of the most useful frame-      cism, but by the respect of their peers
             works for understanding the passionate         in local hip-hop communities as well as
             and enduring investment hip-hop heads          by their own sense of artistic achieve-
             have in hip-hop culture. The hip-hop           ment and integrity.
             nation is an international, transnational,        Intellectual debate by hip-hop heads
             multiracial, multiethnic, multilingual         about hip-hop art and culture is also a
             community made up of individuals with          central feature; thus, regardless of their
             diverse class, gender, and sexual identi-      artistic ability, young people worldwide
             ties. While hip-hop heads come from all        are developing into what political theorist
             age groups, hip-hop culture is primarily       Antonio Gramsci describes as “organic

    2                                           Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
intellectuals”: those who use hip-hop to      thirty police of½cers arrested him. Over-     Marcyliena
develop critical thinking and analytical      whelming public protest following his         Morgan &
skills that they can apply to every aspect    arrest prompted a phone call from then-       Bennett
of their lives.7 The result is the emer-      President Ben Ali; days later, he was
gence of local hip-hop “scenes,” where        released.9 Within weeks, the nation-
young people practice the elements of         al protest movement led to Ben Ali’s
hip-hop and debate, represent, and cri-       removal, and in late January 2011, El
tique the cultural form and their social      Général performed the song live, for
lives.                                        the ½rst time, before an audience of pro-
   The signi½cance of these scenes            testers in the nation’s capital city.10
became appearent in the early months            El Général’s songs became popular with
of 2011, a time that proved to be among       young Egyptians, who had their own hip-
the most politically signi½cant in the re-    hop soundtrack for Egypt’s national rev-
cent history of hip-hop culture. When         olution. Despite government warnings,
revolution swept through North Africa         Egyptian hip-hop crew Arabian Knightz
and the Middle East, it did so to the sound   released its song “Rebel” in support of
of hip-hop music. In North Africa, where      the protest. Soon, hip-hop artists all over
young people played a central role in the     the world began to express solidarity with
national protest movements, hip-hop           the Egyptian revolutionary movement by
emerged as the music of free speech and       recording songs and posting them online.
political resistance.                         Master Mimz, a Moroccan-born, Unit-
   It began in Tunisia. A week before         ed Kingom-based woman mc, released
the self-immolation of fruit vendor           “Back Down Mubarak” in support of the
Mohamed Bouazizi became a catalyst            movement. The song includes a feminist
for national protest, a twenty-one-year-      class critique as she rhymes, “First give
old Tunisian mc released a hip-hop song       me a job / Then let’s talk about my hijab.”
that has been described by TIME maga-           After President Mubarak resigned as
zine as “the rap anthem of the Mideast        a result of the protest, Al-Masry Al-Youm,
revolution.” Hamada Ben Amor, who is          one of Egypt’s largest independent news-
known by his mc name, El Général, told        papers, noted on its English-language
TIME that he has been inspired by Afri-       website, “Although singers af½liated with
can American hip-hop artist Tupac Sha-        various musical styles have shown sup-
kur, whose lyrics he describes as “revolu-    port for the Egyptian people, the style
tionary.”8 By December 2010, the gov-         that prevailed–or at least that had the
ernment had banned El Général’s music         biggest impact–in this ½ght for freedom
from the radio and forbid him from per-       and liberty is rap music. East and west,
forming or making albums. In response,        north and south, rappers have emerged
the artist posted the protest rap “Rais       as the voice of the revolution.”11
Lebled” (which translates as “President         In February 2011, inspired by the pro-
of the Republic” or “Head of State”) on       test activities throughout North Africa
YouTube. The video went viral on You-         and the Middle East, a group of Libyan
Tube and Facebook and was broadcast           hip-hop artists in exile compiled Khalas
on Al Jazeera. Tunisian youth found the       Mixtape Vol. 1: North African Hip Hop
song so compelling–and the government         Artists Unite. (Khalas means “enough” in
found it so threatening–that after El         Arabic.) The album features songs by
Général released another hip-hop song         artists from Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and
supporting the protest movement,              Algeria.

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                            3
Hip-Hop &    The global influence of hip-hop directly      lematic images, philosophies, and per-
the Global   relates to its popularity as a major music    sonas underlying hip-hop culture.17
Imprint of
   a Black   source among youth in the United States.        Today, this scholarship extends across
  Cultural   In 1996, there were 19 million young peo-     most disciplines in the humanities and
     Form    ple aged ten to fourteen years old and        social sciences, from political scientist
             18.4 million aged ½fteen to nineteen liv-     Cathy Cohen’s Democracy Remixed: Black
             ing in the United States.12 According to      Youth and the Future of American Politics
             a national Gallup poll of adolescents         to The Anthology of Rap, a collection edited
             between the ages of thirteen and seven-       by literary scholars Adam Bradley and
             teen in 1992, hip-hop music had become        Andrew DuBois.18 Volumes have also
             the preferred music of youth (26 percent),    been published in the emerging ½eld of
             followed closely by rock (25 percent).13      global hip-hop studies, including Global
             Moreover, the Recording Industry Asso-        Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA;
             ciation of America (riaa) reports that        The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the
             from 1999 to 2008, hip-hop music was          Globalization of Black Popular Culture;
             the second-most-purchased music after         Tha Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and
             rock for all age groups.                      Consciousness; Global Linguistic Flows:
                There is a growing body of scholarship     Hip Hop Cultures, Youth Identities, and the
             on hip-hop as well. Academic analyses of      Politics of Language; and The Languages
             hip-hop culture began to appear in the        of Global Hip Hop.19
             1990s and include the 1994 publication          We consider hip-hop to be the lingua
             of Tricia Rose’s Black Noise: Rap Music       franca for popular and political youth
             and Black Culture in Contemporary America     culture around the world. In this essay,
             and Russell Potter’s Spectacular Vernacu-     we analyze hip-hop’s role as a global
             lars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmod-    imprint that symbolizes unity, justice,
             ernism, which, in 1995, was the ½rst criti-   and equality through its interpretation
             cal work to examine hip-hop as an artis-      of black cultural and political practices
             tic, social, and cultural phenomenon.14       and values. Our purpose is to examine
             Also in the 1990s, the First Amendment        the perspectives of many followers of
             free-speech issues associated with the        hip-hop. These perspectives include, for
             group 2 Live Crew drew public com-            example, a Japanese young person who
             ments from Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and        stated: “I mean a culture like Hiphop . . .
             Houston Baker, Jr., who were then new         that’s bringing us together like this–
             academic stars and rising public intel-       that’s amazing! That’s the power of
             lectuals.15 Angela Davis and bell hooks,      music, I think. And not only that, the
             both authors and activists, published         power of Hiphop. I’ll say this: it is
             separate conversations about politics         black power.”20
             and feminism with Ice Cube, a former
             member of the hip-hop group N.W.A.
             (Niggaz with Attitude).16 The signi½-
                                                           Though hip-hop is now ubiquitous, its
                                                           adoption and adaptation into cultures
             cance of hip-hop in African American          outside of the United States have at times
             culture was also addressed by the phi-        been problematic. Researchers have re-
             losopher Cornel West, historian Robin         coiled at the explicit racist parody and
             D.G. Kelley, political scientist Michael      comic-like copies of the gangster persona
             Dawson, and sociologist Paul Gilroy, all      that appeared in the early stages of hip-
             of whom celebrated and critiqued the          hop’s global presence. For instance, early
             impact of the relentless and often prob-      attempts by Japanese youth to “repre-

    4                                          Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
sent” hip-hop’s African American her-           multinational media corporations yet          Marcyliena
itage reportedly involved intensive tan-        are more essential to hip-hop culture and     Morgan &
ning, the use of hair chemicals to grow         the hip-hop nation than commercial            Bennett
Afros and dreadlocks, and caricatures           production. Commercial production
of hyper-stereotyped urban black mas-           could end, but hip-hop culture would
culinity as a rationale to abuse young          continue, and even thrive, through
women.21 As hip-hop’s cultural beliefs          local scenes.
became more widely understood, global             Some observers have conceived of the
hip-hop began to take on a character of         movement of hip-hop culture around the
its own, reflecting the culture, creativ-       globe as a hip-hop diaspora that shares
ity, and local styles of the youth who          characteristics of ethnic constructions of
embraced and produced it. Hip-hop is            diaspora.24 Global hip-hop scenes are
now a multibillion-dollar global indus-         sometimes (quite accurately) described
try that continues to grow and diversify,       as translocal because they so often repre-
but its impact remains underreported;           sent complex cultural, artistic, and polit-
often overlooked is the fact that hip-          ical dialogues between local innovations
hop influences not only conventional            of diverse hip-hop art forms; transcultural
“rap music,” but also all forms of pop-         interactions between local hip-hop scenes
ular music as well as radio, music, tele-       in cities and nations outside of the Unit-
vision, ½lm, advertising, and digital           ed States; and exchanges between local
media throughout the world.22                   scenes and U.S.-based hip-hop media.25
   Though commercial hip-hop represents           While the translocal dynamics of the
a signi½cant part of the music industry,        hip-hop diaspora foster countless routes
it is only a fraction of the artistic produc-   of cultural interaction and exchange, at
tion and performance of hip-hop culture,        least two major routes of cultural global-
most of which is local. Every populated         ization are at the crossroads of these nu-
continent (and most countries) have             merous pathways. African American cul-
thousands of local hip-hop scenes shaped        ture and African diasporic cultural forms
by artistic and cultural practices that are     are integral to the formation of both these
produced, de½ned, and sustained primar-         major routes. Here, we focus primarily
ily by youth in their own neighborhoods         on hip-hop music, but the routes charac-
and communities. In the United States,          terize other hip-hop art forms as well.
these scenes are generally described as           The ½rst route of diaspora relates to
underground hip-hop, both to characterize       the origins of hip-hop culture. While
their critical challenge to conventional        hip-hop may have emerged in New York
norms and to distinguish them from              in the 1970s, many of its diverse global
commercial hip-hop.23 And as it turns           and multicultural beginnings can be tied
out, the underground is more densely            to African diasporic cultural forms and
populated and deeply substantive than           communities.26 Especially in the case of
the commercial cultural space on hip-           rapping/rhyming, it is almost impossi-
hop’s surface. The Internet has added a         ble to isolate a single cultural trajectory
new and transformative dimension to             because the aesthetic and linguistic fea-
local and global hip-hop cultures and           tures of lyrical rhyming can be found
communities, empowering young people            throughout Africa and the Caribbean as
to document and distribute their person-        well as the United States. Many of the
al and local art, ideas, and experiences.       young black and Latino artists who col-
These local scenes are rarely ½nanced by        laborated in the development of hip-hop

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                              5
Hip-Hop &    culture in New York were recent immi-               does not destroy cultural identity. . . . The
the Global   grants from the Caribbean and, there-               African aesthetic origins of hip hop, as
Imprint of
   a Black   fore, were shaped by a range of African             with all black American music, allows
  Cultural   diasporic cultures. Jamaican musical                for it to have a shared resonance among
     Form    forms, for example, have been particu-              a wide range of diasporic and continen-
             larly signi½cant in the development of              tal Africans.”29 Moreover, in addition to
             hip-hop aesthetic practices.27 Yet reflec-          representing a shared cultural terrain for
             tions on African American musical tra-              members of international African dias-
             ditions reveal that many aesthetic fea-             poric cultures, these African aesthetics
             tures of early hip-hop were already a               have also shaped the aesthetic conscious-
             part of the complex cultural roots, and             ness and tastes of non-African Ameri-
             routes, of African American history.                cans for centuries. The world’s youth
               Musician and sound curator David                  have responded with a stunning prolif-
             Toop traced these many trajectories in              eration of hip-hop-based artistic and
             his discussion of the origins of hip-hop            cultural production.
             culture:                                              Aside from being translocal, the move-
                                                                 ment of hip-hop between local and glob-
               Whatever the disagreements over lineage
                                                                 al contexts can also be explained by the
               in the rap hall of fame or the history of
                                                                 concept of glocalization: that is, simulta-
               hip hop, there is one thing on which all
                                                                 neously engaging the intersections of
               are agreed. “Rap is nothing new,” says
                                                                 global and local dynamics.30 In their
               Paul Winley. Rap’s forbears stretch back
                                                                 analysis of European hip-hop, sociolin-
               through disco, street funk, radio djs, Bo
                                                                 guists Jannis Androutsopoulos and Arno
               Diddley, the bebop singers, Cab Calloway,
                                                                 Scholz suggest that glocalization involves
               Pigmeat Markham, the tap dancers and
                                                                 a recontextualization of cultural forms
               comics, the Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron,
                                                                 through “local” appropriations of a glob-
               Muhammad Ali, a cappella and doo-wop
                                                                 ally acceptable cultural model “that are
               groups, ring games, skip rope rhymes,
                                                                 then integrated into a new social con-
               prison and army songs, toasts, signifying
                                                                 text.”31 Transculturation, which describes
               and the dozens, all the way to the griots of
                                                                 the cultural features of glocalization, re-
               Nigeria and the Gambia. No matter how
                                                                 fers to a process of continuous cultural
               far it penetrates into the twilight maze of
                                                                 exchange; historically, it has been used
               Japanese video games and cool European
                                                                 to critique the unidirectional model of
               electronics, its roots are still the deepest in
                                                                 cultural transmission implied by the con-
               all contemporary Afro-American Music.28
                                                                 cepts of acculturation, appropriation, or
               The second major route of hip-hop                 cultural imperialism. Complex transcul-
             culture is its movement into local youth            turation processes shape global hip-hop;
             cultures around the world. Soon after it            they have been observed within and
             was developed in the United States, hip-            across international, national, local, and
             hop culture traveled as part of the larger          digital environments, and they some-
             processes of America’s global media dis-            times result in entirely new cultural
             tribution. While multiethnic collabora-             or artistic products and forms. Conse-
             tion produced early hip-hop forms, Afri-            quently, global hip-hop cultures retain
             can Americans played a vital cultural and           many qualitative features of African
             political role in its development. As Afri-         diasporic and U.S.-based hip-hop cul-
             can American studies scholar Imani Perry            tures while simultaneously engaging in
             argues, “[P]romiscuous composition                  dynamic and proli½c processes of aes-

    6                                                Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
thetic innovation, production, and             sweatshirts–a new style of ‘calligraphy’     Marcyliena
diversi½cation.32                              (graf½ti)–which we quickly adopted           Morgan &
  Along with hip-hop’s cultural norm of        for the headlines of the class newspa-       Bennett
inclusion, global hip-hop remains sym-         per–and, last but not least, a new style
bolically associated with African Amer-        of dance: breakdancing.”35 She remem-
icans. It has incorporated many aspects        bers that in the same summer, she and
of African American language ideology,         some friends watched Beat Street, the
even when the English language itself is       1984 classic hip-hop movie, at the local
not part of a particular expression of         open-air cinema. Terkoura½’s story was
hip-hop culture. In other words,               repeated many times over around the
                                               world as the 1980s generation was intro-
  it is not mere words and expressions that
                                               duced to hip-hop culture through Beat
  create a bond among hiphop followers
                                               Street and Wild Style.36 These ½lms played
  throughout the world. Rather, it is based
                                               a central role in making international
  on African American language ideology
                                               youth aware of hip-hop culture, music,
  where the words signify multiple mean-
                                               graf½ti, and dance. In Japan, Germany,
  ings and critiques of power. Hiphop pre-
                                               and other nations, youth initially re-
  sents African American English (aae) as
                                               sponded less to the English language-
  a symbolic and politicized dialect where
                                               based rapping and more to the graf½ti
  speakers are aware of complex and con-
                                               and dance representations.37
  tradictory processes of stigmatization,
                                                 The particulars of hip-hop’s more
  valorization and social control. The hip-
                                               recent emergence reveal an old story of
  hop speech community is not necessarily
                                               how African American culture has cir-
  linguistically and physically located but
                                               culated throughout the world. In fact,
  rather bound by this shared language
                                               the global influence of African Ameri-
  ideology as part of politics, culture, so-
                                               can culture has been inextricably linked
  cial conditions, and norms, values, and
                                               with the rise of the American Empire
                                               since at least the late nineteenth centu-
  Hip-hop language ideology remains            ry: for example, in 1873, the Fisk Jubilee
central to the construction and contin-        singers performed “Negro” spirituals
uation of all hip-hop cultures, local and      for England’s Queen Victoria. African
global. The use of dialects and nation-        American music and culture historically
al languages, including complex code-          have traveled when and where African
switching practices, serves as a decla-        American bodies could not. During the
ration that hip-hop culture enables all        twentieth century, while Jim Crow seg-
citizens of the hip-hop nation to reclaim      regation restricted African Americans’
and create a range of contested languages,     movement in their own country, African
identities, and powers.34                      American music, including blues, jazz,
                                               and, later, rock and roll and soul, trav-
In her introduction to The Languages of        eled the world, shaping world music in
                                               ways that have yet to be fully acknowl-
Global Hip Hop, sociolinguist Marina
Terkoura½ recalls her ½rst encounter           edged.38 Beginning in the late twentieth
with hip-hop in the mid-1980s in Herak-        century, hip-hop music, the ½rst African
lion, Greece. A new student at her high        American musical form to be created in
school, whose family had emigrated, re-        the post–civil rights era, continued this
turned from Germany with a new dress           global journey, a journey whose impact
code “consisting mainly of hooded              has been expanded and problematized in

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                            7
Hip-Hop &    the late twentieth and early twenty-½rst      ture in the United States and elsewhere.
the Global   centuries by processes of corporate glob-     In 1992, when pe toured Europe with the
Imprint of
   a Black   alization and new–especially computer-        rock group U2, their charge to hip-hop’s
  Cultural   based–technologies for musical produc-        nation of millions was “Fight the Power!”
     Form    tion and distribution.                        This slogan began to appear on walls in
                Understanding the global presence of       England, Poland, and Italy, among other
             hip-hop culture is like putting together      nations. According to pe’s highly polit-
             puzzle pieces from around the world.          icized mc Chuck D, the group visited
             Over the last several decades, interna-       more than forty countries within the
             tional newspapers and magazines have          ½rst ten years of its formation.39 In 2010,
             collectively printed thousands of articles    pe launched its seventieth tour, which
             (many of which we reviewed for this           included numerous world destinations.
             essay) about the presence of hip-hop          mc Ferman of the Basque group Negu
             culture worldwide. There are hundreds,        Gorriak describes the impact pe had on
             if not thousands, of websites devoted to      him as an artist: “[W]e had been listen-
             hip-hop in different areas. Every nation,     ing to a whole lot of music, especially
             region, and even neighborhood that rep-       linked to the rap explosion. We were
             resents hip-hop culture does so with a        shocked by Public Enemy, by the force
             unique history. Yet much of this culture      that the rap movement had, its power to
             remains undocumented or under-docu-           criticize.”40 Chuck D himself was partic-
             mented, particularly because only hip-        ularly affected by a conversation he had
             hop media that engage conventional            in 1994 with a fan in Croatia. The fan
             commercial markets achieve wide rec-          applied pe’s African American political
             ognition. Given that much of hip-hop          analysis to the religious and ethnic con-
             culture is local, including in the United     flict that had long affected the region,
             States, and that it is produced by young      explaining:
             people who do not have access to main-
                                                              Public Enemy showed us that Rap music
             stream media outlets, it is often ignored
                                                              is not afraid of subjects connected with
             by conventional modes of recognition
                                                              national and race issues. We started to see
             and assessment.
                                                              how powerful rap could be if it were used
                Despite the fact that much of local
                                                              in expressing our attitudes. The kind of
             hip-hop culture does not receive com-
                                                              lyrics and consciousness that reveals the
             mercial or global attention, a number of
                                                              whole process of civilization, which is the
             emergent themes and trajectories indi-
                                                              story of dominance, the dominance of
             cate hip-hop’s signi½cance as a global
                                                              white people over Black people, the dom-
             arts and media movement. These factors
                                                              inance of male over females, the domi-
             include the use of hip-hop culture to ex-
                                                              nance of man over nature, and the domi-
             pose injustice or ½ght for justice and, in
                                                              nance of majorities over minorities.41
             an ironic parallel, to conventionalize the
             nationalization of hip-hop cultures as          Another signi½cant influence in the
             the political, commercial, and even           international spread of hip-hop as
             spiritual arbiters of national and inter-     grounded in the African American and
             national culture.                             black experience is the Universal Zulu
                One of the most influential groups to      Nation.42 American dj Afrika Bam-
             uncover injustice and encourage activism,     baataa founded the community-based
             Public Enemy (pe) shaped the early overt      organization in the 1970s to promote
             politicization of hip-hop music and cul-      peace, unity, and harmony among bat-

    8                                          Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
tling gangs and peoples.43 The Zulu             (a style of chanting over a beat in dance      Marcyliena
Nation utilized black liberation ideol-         hall music), were actively engaged in          Morgan &
ogies to bring to its many global follow-       that construction.                             Bennett
ers a mantra of interplanetary human-             France’s long-standing engagement
ism. Bambaataa explains:                        with African American culture through
                                                artists such as dancer and singer Jose-
  [M]y thing is to always try to bring peo-
                                                phine Baker, writer James Baldwin, and
  ple together in uni½cation and to see our-
                                                countless jazz musicians enabled that
  selves as humans on this planet so-called
                                                country to build a bridge to American
  Earth, and what can we do to change the
                                                hip-hop culture with relative ease. In
  betterment of life for all people on the
                                                1982, for example, the French radio net-
  planet Earth and to respect what so-called
                                                work Europe 1 sponsored the New York
  black, brown, yellow, red and white people
                                                City Rap Tour that brought to France
  have done to better civilization for people
                                                important American hip-hop artists,
  to live on this planet so-called Earth, and
                                                some of whom were themselves immi-
  recognize that we are not alone.44
                                                grants or the children of immigrants.
  Bambaataa and other hip-hop pioneers          Artists included Fab 5 Freddy, the Rock
adhered to belief systems that upheld           Steady Crew, and Afrika Bambaataa,
basic human equality and that explicitly        whose Zulu Nation took root in Paris
denounced constructions of race and rac-        at the same time.46
ist activities to separate and hierarchi-         As American hip-hop artists began to
cally situate human beings. Inspired by         achieve tremendous economic success
singer James Brown’s “I’m Black and I’m         and cultural influence in other countries
Proud,” Negu Gorriak produced what              and music markets, global youth quick-
anthropologist Jacqueline Urla calls the        ly began not only to consume but also
group’s “anthem”: “Esan Ozenki,” whose          to produce their own hip-hop cultural
main rhyme–“Esan ozenki. Euskaduna naiz         forms.47 Not surprisingly, thousands of
eta harro nago”–translates as, “Say it          local scenes and national hip-hop artists
Loud: I’m Basque, and I’m proud.”45             emerged in different areas of the world.
                                                Though influenced by American hip-
In the 1980s, nations with English-             hop forms, these artists typically devel-
                                                oped their own styles, drawing from lo-
speaking populations easily engaged
with hip-hop music and rapping, while           cal and national cultural art forms and
nations where English was not the pri-          addressing the social and political issues
mary language often forged their initial        that affected their communities and na-
relationship with hip-hop through graf-         tions. These scenes generated a wide-
½ti and break dancing. As a result, places      spread interest in hip-hop culture and
such as England and Anglophone former           the growth of commercial hip-hop music
colonies, including South Africa, Aus-          in national contexts; thus, hip-hop music
tralia, and Nigeria, have been creating         was no longer accessible only as an Amer-
hip-hop music since it emerged in the           ican import. Both international and Amer-
United States. Certainly, Jamaican mu-          ican hip-hop artists have topped music
sical forms have been in a cultural dia-        charts and sales throughout Europe and
logue with African American music               Africa as well as in parts of Asia and Latin
since before hip-hop was formally con-          America and, more recently, Australia.
structed. Both African American and               France is the world’s second-largest
Jamaican verbal genres, such as toasting        hip-hop market, and it is one of the larg-

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                               9
Hip-Hop &    est producers and consumers of hip-hop        the American group N.W.A.) Cantonese
the Global   culture.48 In 2003, four hip-hop singles      hip-hop’s mc Yan, a member of Hong
Imprint of
   a Black   were nominated for the Victoires de           Kong’s ½rst major hip-hop act, has cre-
  Cultural   la Musique, the French version of the         ated an independent hip-hop label
     Form    Grammy Awards. France’s mc Solaar,            (Fu©kin Music) that successfully pro-
             who was born in Senegal and whose par-        motes the new group Yellow Peril. Nige-
             ents are from Chad, has topped French         ria’s Kennis Music distributes hip-hop
             charts with his singles and albums for        along with R&B and pop and promotes
             nearly two decades; he has had best-sell-     itself as “Africa’s Number One Record
             ing albums in dozens of other countries,      Label.” Nigerian mc Ruggedman, who
             too. In 1995, he was named Best Male          holds a political science degree, famous-
             Singer in the Victoires de la Musique         ly called out Kennis Music in his song
             awards. He has launched successful world      “Big Bros” for excluding gifted hip-hop
             tours of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the        artists and promoting mediocre ones;
             United States; received recognition from      he has created his own label, Rugged
             American hip-hop artists; performed           Records, to promote acts according to
             with American hip-hop group De La             his vision.
             Soul; appeared on albums with rappers            In response to hip-hop’s continued
             Guru and Missy Elliott; released a song       popularity, national and international
             through American hip-hop, R&B, and            music awards ceremonies have incor-
             pop label Tommy Boy Records; and              porated hip-hop into their productions,
             appeared in Bollywood movies.                 and artists have won awards both within
               American multinational record corpo-        the hip-hop music genre and in broader
             rations have hip-hop divisions all over the   categories. Hip-hop music videos, which
             world. Def Jam Records, for example, is       were initially excluded from America’s
             one of hip-hop’s most iconic record la-       mtv along with all other African Ameri-
             bels. Founded by Russell Simmons and          can musical forms, have been broadcast
             Rick Rubin in 1984, it is famous for acts     worldwide on television since the 1980s
             such as Public Enemy, Run dmc, and the        and, more recently, on the Internet. Hip-
             Beastie Boys. Currently owned by Univer-      hop artists, both in the United States and
             sal, Def Jam now operates in Germany,         elsewhere, use music videos to promote
             the United Kingdom, and Japan. It has         their brands and their music. Although
             an international hip-hop music game,          music videos have always served primar-
             Def Jam Rapstar, which features interna-      ily to boost record sales, they have long
             tional artists. In November 2010, the com-    aided another signi½cant process: the
             pany created a Web portal to enable un-       transcultural exchange of hip-hop. Young
             signed artists around the world to access     people who watch videos from other cul-
             Def Jam online distribution resources.        tures or nations can acquire a great deal
               National record companies in other          of knowledge not only about the music,
             countries have also developed hip-hop         but also about the dance, fashion, style,
             divisions or labels, or they showcase a       and overall aesthetics of hip-hop in
             roster of hip-hop acts. In 1981, Germany’s    diverse cultures.
             Bombastic Records released one of the            Moreover, arbiters of national culture
             ½rst German hip-hop albums, featuring         have increasingly come to recognize hip-
             songs in German and English by Ger-           hop as a legitimate art form. This valida-
             man mcs. (The album title, Krauts with        tion may have reached an unusual zenith
             Attitude: German HipHop Vol. 1, referred to   in 2004, when a Polish break dancing

    10                                         Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
crew performed for Pope John Paul II at      scribed hip-hop as “the existing revolu-      Marcyliena
the Vatican. The video–widely viewed         tionary voice of Cuba’s future.”49 Indeed,    Morgan &
on the Internet–shows the Pope smil-         hip-hop is the main source for discussion     Bennett
ing, nodding, and clapping during the        of racial injustice in Cuba today: at least
performance and blessing the dancers         two documentaries have been made
afterward. As just one example of hip-       about Cuban hip-hop culture; African
hop’s growing cultural validity, the epi-    American mc Common has demonstrat-
sode hints at hip-hop’s potential reach.     ed a long-term commitment to collabo-
   Cultural acceptance of hip-hop, how-      rating with Cuban hip-hop artists; and
ever, is often accorded to dance rather      former Black Panther and American ex-
than music. Although hip-hop dance           ile in Cuba, Assata Shakur, has been ac-
historically has been less explicitly con-   tively engaged in helping Cuban youth
troversial than hip-hop music, it none-      become empowered through hip-hop.
theless implicitly challenges a range of        Music Mayday, an organization that
institutional and cultural norms about       promotes youth empowerment and edu-
dance, movement, and the body. Inter-        cation through the arts in Africa, puts
national break dancing competitions          particular emphasis on hip-hop and
and hip-hop dance festivals have existed     sponsors a range of hip-hop-related edu-
for decades, but in the twenty-½rst cen-     cational and cultural activities. One of
tury they are acquiring more institution-    their biggest events is B-Connected, an
al and commercial support and funding.       annual music and arts festival that links
The year 2010 offers three striking exam-    youth through concurrent festivals in
ples: In July, Salzburg, Austria (birth-     ½ve different countries, including The
place of Mozart and stomping ground of       Netherlands, Tanzania, South Africa,
Hitler) witnessed its ½rst Urban Culture     Ethiopia, and Hungary. These festivals
Festival, featuring hip-hop dancers from     feature an international roster of mcs
around the world. Australia sent Kulture     that includes, but is not limited to, art-
Break, its multiethnic break dancing crew,   ists from the host countries.
to the Shanghai Expo to represent its na-       In South America, Brazilian hip-hop
tional culture in a performance for thou-    culture has in many ways mirrored
sands of international participants. In      themes in African American hip-hop.
South Korea, where the b-boys are con-       On the one hand, the Brazilian media
sidered among the best hip-hop dancers       have stereotyped hip-hop as the music
in the world, the government spent mil-      of drugs and violence, and on the other,
lions on the second annual global invita-    Brazilian artists use hip-hop to address
tional hip-hop dance competition, only       racism, poverty, and police brutality–
to make millions more–an estimated           issues that Brazil’s myth of racial har-
$35 million–in advertising revenues.         mony attempts to conceal. Brazil’s tra-
                                             ditional martial art, capoeira, is widely
Hip-hop culture is also used to edu-         recognized for its remarkable similarity
                                             to break dancing, and both forms emerge
cate and socialize young people. In 2004,
the United Nations Human Settlements         from African diasporic roots. However,
Programme, un-habitat, sponsored a           more recently, hip-hop in Brazil has dis-
Global Hip-Hop Summit to organize and        tinguished itself, through its aesthetic
educate world youth about a range of         complexity, engaging diverse musical
issues. Fidel Castro sponsors an annual      forms and becoming increasingly ac-
hip-hop conference in Cuba; he has de-       cepted as a social and political tool to

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                          11
Hip-Hop &    educate and empower Brazilian youth.50         the Caribbean, Latin America, the Unit-
the Global   The 2005 documentary Favela Rising,            ed States, and Europe to create “World
Imprint of
   a Black   which has won dozens of international          Cup,” a twelve-minute mix track that is
  Cultural   awards, examines the music group and           described as a “transnational hip-hop
     Form    social project Grupo Cultural AfroReg-         collaboration.” Nomadic Wax released
             gae. AfroReggae is Rio’s most success-         the track for free online. Coca-Cola chose
             ful hip-hop band, merging hip-hop with         “Wavin’ Flag”–whose lyrics were changed
             other musical forms and touring the            for the promotion by K’Naan, the world-
             world. (The group opened for the Roll-         famous Somali-born Canadian mc–as
             ing Stones in Brazil in 2006.) It is also      one of the anthems for its World Cup
             an ngo, a dynamic hip-hop organiza-            campaign and World Cup Trophy Tour,
             tion that empowers Rio’s poorest young         which traveled internationally and fea-
             people through dozens of arts and social       tured K’Naan as a headlining act. K’Naan
             justice projects. Led by former small-         also performed the song at the World
             time drug-dealer-turned-mc Anderson            Cup concert with Alicia Keys, Shakira,
             Sa, Grupo Cultural AfroReggae has be-          and the transnational, multiracial, and
             come so powerful that it serves as one         multicultural American hip-hop group
             of the most effective mediators between        the Black Eyed Peas. The performance
             different institutions, groups, and fac-       was broadcast to millions.
             tions within Rio de Janeiro’s complex            In another example of national and
             social and political structure.51 In 2007,     institutional endorsement of hip-hop
             Brazil nationalized its investment in hip-     and of the role of technology in the
             hop culture when its Ministry of Culture       development of hip-hop culture, the
             began to apply AfroReggae’s mission            National Museum of Australia com-
             to the entire nation through its Culture       missioned mc Wire and Morganics, a
             Points program. By providing grants to         white mc and hip-hop theater artist, to
             fund local organizations, such as the          undertake a hip-hop-based oral history
             project Hip Hop Nation Brazil, the pro-        project. They toured Australia to collect
             gram empowers local hip-hop commu-             more than 1,500 autobiographical rap
             nities to educate and serve Brazilian          songs by youth from across the conti-
             youth. The organizations are often run         nent. Both men then used the songs to
             by local hip-hop artists, including one        conduct youth workshops and trainings
             run by mc Guiné Silva in São Paolo.            throughout Australia.
             As he explained to The New York Times:           Women hip-hop mcs are appearing
             “This program has really democratized          in greater numbers, though there are
             culture. . . . We’ve become a multimedia       far more male artists. Their limited num-
             laboratory. Getting that seed money and        bers reflect larger issues of global sexism
             that studio equipment has enabled us to        and the international marginalization
             become a kind of hip-hop factory.”52           of women’s voices as well as the gender
               During the 2010 World Cup in South           politics of hip-hop culture. Many women
             Africa (the ½rst to be held in Africa), hip-   mcs perform lyrics about gender and
             hop played a meaningful role in the inter-     are often actively involved in using hip-
             national soccer championship. Nomadic          hop to educate and empower youth.
             Wax, a Fair Trade international media            In the global Muslim hip-hop move-
             company that focuses on hip-hop and            ment, women mcs are playing an in-
             the diaspora, brought together ½fteen          creasingly vital role, a phenomenon that
             international hip-hop artists from Africa,     contests stereotypes of Muslim cultures

    12                                          Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
and people as universally misogynistic.       “original abodigital” explains that his       Marcyliena
Lebanese mc Malikah was proclaimed            identity “has an ambiguous meaning            Morgan &
“Best mc in Libya” with another ½nalist       because of the word digital. I’m abo-         Bennett
on mtv Arabia’s program Hip HopNa.53          digital because I’m a twenty-½rst cen-
Palestinian-British mc Shadia Mansour,        tury Aboriginal, I’m down with laptops
known as “the ½rst lady of Arab hip-hop,”     and mobile phones and home entertain-
explains, “Hip-hop holds no boundaries.       ment. But digital also means your hands
It’s a naked testimony of real life issues.   and your ½ngers, so I’m still putting my
You just break down your message and          ½ngers in the dirt; I’m still using my
get your point across in the music.”54        hands to create things. So that’s the
   The 2008 ½lm Slingshot Hip Hop docu-       ambiguity.”56
mented how Palestinian rappers form             Israeli hip-hop music reflects Israel’s
alternative voices of resistance within       complex political dynamics and includes
the Israeli-Palestinian struggle. It fea-     Zionist, pro-Palestinian, and Jewish Ethi-
tured female artist Abeer Al Zinati (also     opian-Israeli artists. Sagol 59 is a promi-
known as Sabreena da Witch). The              nent Jewish Israeli mc who uses hip-hop
2006 ½lm I Love Hip Hop in Morocco            to build bridges between Jewish and
featured the female mc Fati, who is           Muslim communities. In 2001, he orga-
now a solo artist.55                          nized and produced “Summit Meeting,”
   Fijian-Australian mc Trey is one of        which is believed to be the ½rst record-
the most prominent hip-hop artists in         ing featuring a collaboration between
Australia and one of the world’s pre-         Jewish and Arab artists in Israel. He also
eminent female hip-hop artists. She has       hosts Corner Prophets/Old Jeruz Ci-
collaborated with Maya Jupiter, an Aus-       pher Hip Hop series, a cultural project
tralian mc of Mexican and Turkish             focused on uniting diverse groups in
descent, in the hip-hop group Foreign         Israel through hip-hop culture.57
Heights. In addition to her work as an          In one of the lighter examples of hip-
mc, Trey is an activist and aerosol artist    hop’s reach, Finland-based multination-
whose artwork has been displayed on           al communications corporation Nokia
the streets of three continents. She has      has incorporated hip-hop into a Chinese
collaborated with a collective of U.K.        commercial in which elderly rural Chi-
and Australian hip-hop artists on a the-      nese farmers claim to have created hip-
ater project called “East London West         hop music using local farming tools and
Sydney.” Vodafone, one of the world’s         labor. The hilarious commercial reveals
largest telecommunications companies,         not only Nokia’s assessment of hip-hop’s
provided a grant to mc Trey and other         selling power, but also the advertisers’
Australian hip-hop artists to work with       complex knowledge of the debates re-
Australia’s Information Cultural Ex-          garding origins, cultural authority, and
change program (ice) to develop hip-          individual authorship that play a sig-
hop arts and digital education work-          ni½cant role in hip-hop culture around
shops for at-risk youth in Australia.         the world.
mc Trey’s work with ice is a practical           The above examples of record labels,
example of the theoretical model that         artists, events, campaigns, and social
indigenous Australian mc Wire–who             programs are just a handful of the thou-
claims that, for him, mc means “my            sands of ways in which hip-hop exerts a
cousin”–elucidates in describing his          cultural and economic force worldwide.
album and identity, AboDigital. The           Most of these examples reflect hip-hop’s

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                           13
Hip-Hop &    inclusion in commercial media and priv-           When hip-hop came to Africa from
the Global   ileged cultural spaces, but these institu-     the United States, it had among its ½rst
Imprint of
   a Black   tional representations and events are          fans (and imitators) elite and upper-
  Cultural   possible only because they are fueled by       middle-class African youth. Hip-hop
     Form    the originality, imagination, commit-          developed as several former colonial
             ment, and endurance of local hip-hop           powers, including France, served as con-
             cultures.                                      duits bringing hip-hop to Francophone
                                                            Africa. Countries that embraced the new
             While the influence of pe and the Zulu         cultural form included Senegal, the ½rst
                                                            African country to adopt and develop
             Nation is widespread, global hip-hop
             culture has a complex relationship with        rap music; Tanzania, one of the ½rst
             other aspects of African American cul-         countries to develop a strong “mother
             tural representation. First, though the        tongue” rap presence; Ghana; and Ni-
             originators and innovators of hip-hop          geria. However, given that hip-hop has
             included a diverse group of talented,          its roots in an African diasporic art form,
             determined, and creative youth, media          its presence in Africa has raised a com-
             outlets created a hyper-stereotypical          plex discourse about origins and home-
             account of hip-hop as the product of           comings.59 Senegalese trio Daara J, whose
             poor, young black men who were liter-          music combines hip-hop with a range of
             ally “wild” and menacing.58 While this         global styles, describes hip-hop’s return
             depiction has stuck in the United States,      to Africa in the title track of their album
             it is not as effective globally, where Afri-   Boomerang: “Born in Africa, brought up
             can American youth are credited for            in America, hip-hop has come full cir-
             social justice struggles like the civil        cle!” As a result of their sense of cultural
             rights and Black Power movements.              authority, African hip-hop artists have
             American forms of racism are so widely         actively engaged in the process of re-
             known and studied as an example of             de½ning hip-hop culture in ways that
             injustice that individuals all over the        challenge colonial norms and values;
             world know both the explicit signs and         indeed, they do not hesitate to critique
             the smoldering, everyday existence of          the practice of those norms and values
             repression. Yet there is extensive com-        by African Americans.
             mentary and critique of the representa-           One common theme throughout Africa
             tion of U.S.-style violence in hip-hop.        has been the question of how to adapt
             Among African hip-hop artists in par-          hip-hop so that it represents local and
             ticular, there is a sustained critique of      national issues without incurring vio-
             hardcore hip-hop. Commercial gangsta           lence. African artists focus on both cul-
             rap lyrics have been central to hardcore       ture and the realities of violence. For
             hip-hop culture, and have historically         example, politically motivated hip-hop
             represented, (in some cases) analyzed,         was pioneered in the Western Cape by
             and (in too many others) glamorized the        the groups Prophets of the City (poc),
             intersection of masculinity, dominance,        Black Noise, and, later, Brasse Vannie
             and violence. As a result, hardcore hip-       Kaap (bvk, or Brothers of the Cape).
             hop culture has been the historical target     These groups continue to promote the
             of global and American communities;            ideals of socioeconomic and racial par-
             and it has produced a contested relation-      ity through community development
             ship with local hip-hop cultures in the        programs. In contrast to this overtly
             United States and elsewhere.                   “conscious” message, a contemporary

    14                                          Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
genre known as kwaito has emerged            ing Brazil, Cuba, Niger and the Sahara,         Marcyliena
in the vicinity of Johannesburg, South       Congo, Jamaica, and the United States.          Morgan &
Africa. This style is dance-oriented,        It is often used to express religious mes-      Bennett
incorporating elements of house music,       sages, and even hip-hop contains a sub-
indigenous black languages, and vernac-      genre of gospel rap. Popular music also
ular dialects. Arthur Mafokate, the self-    carries political and social messages.
proclaimed King of Kwaito is widely          The most famous example is Fela Kuti,
regarded as the progenitor of this style.    the king of Afrobeat, whose inflamma-
The late Brenda Fassie and crossover         tory lyrics (in Nigerian Pidgin) and non-
artists such as tkzee have contributed       traditional lifestyle endeared him to mil-
to the mainstream success of kwaito in       lions inside and outside Nigeria. Local
South African culture.                       music, especially in the Hausa north,
  Hip-hop mcs often rhyme in their own       might address a particular political can-
language and in local dialects that have     didate or of½ceholder, or it might exhort
been historically marginalized. African      the populace to take a particular action.
mcs, who are often multilingual, and         For the past several years, the most wide-
who have a long intellectual and literary    ly listened-to music has been American-
history of rejecting colonial languages      inspired rap and dance hip-hop based
in favor of their own, frequently code-      on local beats and enhanced with music
switch into two or more languages with-      production technology. As young Nige-
in a single song, just as some bilingual     rian rappers–who as children idolized
U.S. and Caribbean-Latino mcs code-          American stars like Tupac, krs-One,
switch between English and Spanish.60        Jay-Z, and Nas–are coming of age and
The musical and linguistic possibilities     have greater access to production equip-
of hip-hop culture are particularly dy-      ment, Nigerian rap is becoming increas-
namic in Africa’s most populated nation,     ingly popular. Artist jjc talks about
Nigeria. One of the most linguistically      avoiding guns because “we got too much
diverse countries in the world, Nigeria      drama already.” For other Nigerian art-
has more than ½ve hundred languages          ists, avoiding gangster posturing is about
spoken within its borders. English is the    “keeping it real.” Says GrandSUN, “We
of½cial language, used in schools and        ½ght with our hands.” Certainly, on a
government of½ces, but Nigeria also          continent where oral literatures and lit-
recognizes three dominant languages:         eracies have been culturally and politi-
Hausa (spoken primarily in the North),       cally central for longer than written his-
Yoruba (spoken mostly in the South-          tory is capable of documenting, African
west), and Igbo (spoken in the South-        hip-hop heads also ½ght with their words.
east). The country’s unof½cial lingua           As global hip-hop maintains the tradi-
franca is Nigerian Pidgin English.           tion of American hip-hop, it must also
About half of Nigerians are Muslims;         account for equally powerful local tradi-
40 percent are Christians; and about         tions of art, culture, and protest. It must
10 percent practice indigenous religions.    represent life on a local level. The critique
(Indigenous practices are often infused      and constant examination of the genre is
into both Islam and Christianity as well.)   at the heart of hip-hop culture. It focuses
  Popular music in Nigeria has a rep-        on growth and analysis–even when it
utation for melding local melodies, lan-     also takes American hip-hop to task for
guages, and polyrhythms with influ-          its gangster posturing, as K’naan does in
ences from all over the world, includ-       “What’s Hardcore?”:

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                            15
Hip-Hop &      I’m a spit these verses cause I feel          tinues to function as a dynamic culture
the Global        annoyed,                                   of resistance. It also reveals how hip-hop
Imprint of
   a Black     And I’m not gonna quit till I ½ll the void,   artists have used online technology to
  Cultural     If I rhyme about home and got descriptive,    reach audiences who would not other-
     Form      I’d make Fifty Cent look like Limp Biskit,    wise have access to their work. This is
               It’s true, and don’t make me rhyme about      particularly true in the case of artists
                  you,                                       who have been banned by their govern-
               I’m from where the kids is addicted to        ments from performing or releasing
                  glue,                                      albums. Many of the hip-hop songs in
               Get ready, he got a good grip on the          the North African protest movements
                  machete,                                   include musical or aesthetic references
               Make rappers say they do it for love like     to African American hip-hop, and the
                  R-Kelly,                                   artists acknowledge African American
               It’s HARD,                                    influences on their music. They have
               Harder than Harlem and Compton                transformed those influences to achieve
                  intertwined,                               local and national, aesthetic and politi-
               Harder than harboring Bin Laden and           cal goals. The hip-hop songs of the North
                  rewind,                                    African and Middle Eastern revolution-
               To that earlier part when I was kinda like    ary movements collectively represent a
               “We begin our day by the way of the gun,      meaningful moment in the history, not
               Rocket propelled grenades blow you away       only of hip-hop culture, but also of pop-
                  if you front,                              ular and youth culture. African Ameri-
               We got no police ambulances or ½re            can hip-hop artist Nas famously rhymed,
                  ½ghters,                                   “All I need is one mic to spread my voice
               We start riots by burning car tires,          to the whole world.” North African and
               They looting, and everybody starting          Middle Eastern hip-hop artists have em-
                  shooting.”                                 braced that ethos, using their voices and
               [. . .]                                       hip-hop culture as powerful instruments
               So what’s hardcore? Really?                   of revolutionary change.
               Are you hardcore? Hmm.
               So what’s hardcore? Really?
               Are you hardcore? Hmm.61
                                                             While mainstream American dis-
                                                             courses have marginalized, maligned,
                K’naan criticizes the senseless pos-         and trivialized hip-hop music and cul-
             turing in U.S. hip-hop as a way to cri-         ture, multicultural youth in America and
             tique the senseless destruction and             around the world have come together to
             oppression in Somalia and to indict a           turn hip-hop into one of the most dynam-
             world that does not have the stomach            ic arts and culture movements in recent
             or heart to make a difference.                  history. It is disturbingly ironic that the
               As the lingua franca of global youth,         nation that produced hip-hop culture has
             hip-hop uni½es young people across              the least respect for it; meanwhile, the
             racial and national boundaries while            United Nations and individual countries
             honoring their diversity, complexity,           are crossing the bridge that the global
             intellect, and artistry. As mentioned           hip-hop nation has been building for de-
             above, the role of hip-hop in the pro-          cades. Nations are using hip-hop to see,
             tests in North Africa and the Middle            hear, understand, serve, and, ultimately,
             East demonstrates how hip-hop con-              be transformed for the better by their
                                                             brilliant and powerful young people.

    16                                           Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
   Hip-hop’s aesthetic culture–which             The hip-hop nation has done more              Marcyliena
began with the four core elements of           than heed Public Enemy’s famous call            Morgan &
rapping, deejaying, breaking, and graf-        to “Fight the Power.” It has created and        Bennett
½ti art–now encompasses all those ele-         become the power. U.S. and global hip-
ments along with an ever-growing and           hop heads have put into practice and
diversifying range of artistic, cultural,      expanded on psychiatrist Frantz Fanon’s
intellectual, political, and social prac-      theory: namely, that an individual or
tices, products, and performances. These       group that “has a language consequently
developments include, but are not lim-         possesses the world expressed and im-
ited to, studio, live, and digital music       plied by that language. . . . Mastery of
production; writing and rhythmic per-          language affords remarkable power.”62
formance of spoken words alone and to          Citizens of the global hip-hop nation
beats; street, club, and studio dance in-      have not merely mastered a language,
novations; fashion and style expressions;      they have formed a new one. They have
visual arts, including graf½ti innovations;    used that new language to rede½ne,
theater and performance arts; interna-         name, and create their many worlds
tional club cultures’ engagement with          and worldviews. Through their unprece-
diverse music, dance, and style expres-        dented global movement of art and cul-
sions; and digital, public, and academic       ture, the citizens of the hip-hop nation
knowledge-production and distribution          have used their unique and collective
practices. The artistic achievements of        aesthetic voices both to “possess” and
hip-hop represent, by themselves, a            transform the world, a process that has
remarkable contribution to world cul-          not merely afforded them power, but
ture. However, the hip-hop nation has          has also enabled them to produce new
not just made art, it has made art with        forms of power, beauty, and knowledge.
the vision and message of changing
worlds–locally, nationally, and globally.

 1 dj Kool Herc, Introduction to Jeff Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop
   Generation (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005), xi–xii. dj Kool Herc (Clive Campbell)
   is considered one of the originators of hip-hop music and culture. He is credited with
   developing the art of combining deejaying and rhyming. This skill became the foundation
   not only for hip-hop music, but also for a range of other musical forms. He was born in
   Jamaica and immigrated to the Bronx as a child in the 1960s. mc Yan, quoted in Tony
   Mitchell, ed., Global Noise: Rap and Hip-Hop Outside the USA (Middletown, Conn.:
   Wesleyan University Press, 2001), 7.
 2 Though these ½gures indicate the popularity of hip-hop music, its audience may be larger
   than suggested. Many youth purchase digital singles rather than physical formats. The
   ifpi reports that digital music revenues increased by roughly 12 percent in 2009. Yet the
   estimated $4.2 billion in revenue did not offset the decline of physical purchases; John
   Kennedy, IFPI Digital Music Report 2010: Music How, When, Where You Want It (ifpi Digital
   Music, 2010), 30.
 3 Afrika Bambaataa of the Zulu Nation introduced knowledge as the ½fth element of hip-hop,
   though some argue that it is beat boxing (vocal percussion). For further discussion, see
   Emmett G. Price, Hip Hop Culture (Santa Barbara, Calif.: abc-clio, 2006); and Chang,
   Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                              17
Hip-Hop &     4 See Marcyliena Morgan, The Real Hiphop: Battling for Knowledge, Power, and Respect in the
the Global      LA Underground (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2009); and H. Samy Alim, Awad
Imprint of      Ibrahim, and Alastair Pennycook, eds., Global Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures, Youth
   a Black      Identities, and the Politics of Language (New York: Routledge, 2009).
     Form     5 Morgan, The Real Hiphop; Murray Forman and Mark Anthony Neal, eds., That’s the Joint!:
                The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (New York: Routledge, 2004); Cheryl Lynette Keyes, Rap Music
                and Street Consciousness (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004).
              6 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism
                (New York: Schocken Press, 1983).
              7 Antonio Gramsci, Prison Notebooks, Volume 2 (New York: Columbia University Press,
                1996), 205.
              8 Vivienne Walt, “El Général and the Rap Anthem of the Mideast Revolution,” TIME,
                February 15, 2011,,8599,2049456,00
              9 Ibid.; Steve Coll, “Democratic Movements,” The New Yorker, January 31, 2011, http://www
             10 Dario Thuburn and Najeh Mouelhi, “Tears and Joy as Tunisia’s Revolution Rap
                Debuts,” AFP, January 29, 2011,
             11 Louise Sarant, “Revolutionary Music: Rap Up,” Al-Masry Al-Youm, February 15, 2011,
             12 Bruce A. Chadwick and Tim B. Heaton, Statistical Handbook on Adolescents in America
                (Phoenix, Ariz.: Oryx Press, 1996).
             13 Robert Bezilla, ed., America’s Youth in the 1990s (Princeton, N.J.: The George H. Gallup
                International Institute, 1993).
             14 Tricia Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America (Hanover,
                N.H.: Wesleyan/University Press of New England, 1994); Russell A. Potter, Spectacular
                Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism (New York: State University of
                New York Press, 1995).
             15 In 1990, the American Family Association lobbied to have 2 Live Crew’s 1989 album As
                Nasty As They Wanna Be classi½ed as obscene in Florida’s Broward County. Store owners
                who sold the record after the ruling and members of 2 Live Crew who performed it were
                arrested. In 1992, a court of appeals overturned the ruling. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., served
                as an expert witness in the case and defended his testimony in a New York Times op-ed;
                Henry Louis Gates, Jr., “2 Live Crew, Decoded: Rap Music Group’s Use of Street Language
                in Context of Afro-American Cultural Heritage Analyzed,” The New York Times, June 19,
                1990. Houston Baker, Jr., also reviews the case, placing it in the context of cultural and
                political arguments; Houston A. Baker, Jr., Black Studies, Rap, and the Academy (Chicago:
                University of Chicago Press, 1993).
             16 bell hooks, “Ice Cube Culture: A Shared Passion for Speaking Truth,” Spin, April 1993;
                bell hooks, Outlaw Culture: Resisting Representations (New York: Routledge, 1994); “Nappy
                Happy: A Conversation with Ice Cube and Angela Y. Davis,” Transition 58 (1992): 174–192.
             17 Cornel West, Race Matters (Boston: Beacon Press, 1993); Robin D.G. Kelley, “Kickin’
                Reality, Kickin’ Ballistics: Gangsta Rap and Postindustrial Los Angeles,” in Droppin’ Sci-
                ence: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture, ed. William E. Perkins (Philadelphia:
                Temple University Press, 1995), 117–158; Robin D.G. Kelley, Yo’ Mama’s Dysfunktional!:
                Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America (Boston: Beacon Press, 1997); Michael Dawson,
                “Structure and Ideology: The Shaping of Black Public Opinion” (Department of Political
                Science, University of Chicago, 1997); Paul Gilroy, “‘After the Love Has Gone’: Bio-Politics
                and Etho-Poetics in the Black Public Sphere,” Public Culture 7 (1994): 49–76. There are

    18                                            Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
  now a number of works on hip-hop that explore these topics. They include: Imani Perry,          Marcyliena
  Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press,     Morgan &
  2004); Carla Stokes, “Representin’ in Cyberspace: Sexual-Scripts, Self-De½nition, and           Dionne
  Hip Hop Culture in Black American Adolescent Girls’ Home Pages,” Culture, Health, and           Bennett
  Sexuality 9 (2) (2007); Gwendolyn Pough, Check It While I Wreck It: Black Womanhood, Hip-
  Hop Culture, and the Public Sphere (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2004); Elaine
  Richardson, Hiphop Literacies (New York and London: Routledge, 2006); Ethne Quinn,
  Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap (New York: Columbia
  University Press, 2004); Halifu Osumare, The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power
  Moves (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); Derrick Darby and Tommie Shelby, Hip
  Hop & Philosophy: Rhyme 2 Reason (Peru, Ill.: Open Court Publishing, 2005); Felicia
  Miyakawa, Five Percenter Rap: God Hop’s Music, Message, and Black Muslim Mission (Bloom-
  ington: Indiana University Press, 2005); Adam Krims, Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity
  (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Murray Forman, The ’Hood Comes First:
  Race, Space, and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press,
  2002); Forman and Neal, That’s the Joint!; Dawn-Elissa Fischer, “Kobushi Agero (=Pump
  Ya Fist!): Blackness, ‘Race’ and Politics in Japanese Hiphop,” Ph.D. dissertation, Univer-
  sity of Florida, 2007; H. Samy Alim, Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture
  (New York: Routledge, 2006); Todd Boyd, The New H.N.I.C. (Head Niggas in Charge):
  The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop (New York: New York University Press,
  2002); Ian Condry, Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of Cultural Globalization (Durham,
  N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006); and Greg Dimitriadis, Performing Identity/Performing
  Culture: Hip Hop as Text, Pedagogy, and Lived Practice (New York: Peter Lang, 2001).
18 Cathy J. Cohen, Democracy Remixed: Black Youth and the Future of American Politics (New
   York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois, The Anthology
   of Rap (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2010).
19 Mitchell, Global Noise; Dipannita Basu and Sidney J. Lemelle, The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop
   and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture (London: Pluto Press, 2006); James Spady, H.
   Samy Alim, and Samir Meghelli, Tha Global Cipha: Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness (Black
   History Museum Press, 2006); Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook, Global Linguistic Flows;
   Marina Terkoura½, ed., The Languages of Global Hip Hop (New York: Continuum, 2010).
20 Fischer, “Kobushi Agero (=Pump Ya Fist!),” 19.
21 Cf. Ian Condry, Hip-Hop Japan; Fischer, “Kobushi Agero (=Pump Ya Fist!).”
22 Mitchell, Global Noise; Forman and Neal, That’s the Joint!; Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook,
   Global Linguistic Flows.
23 Morgan, The Real Hiphop.
24 Tope Omoniyi, “‘So I Choose to Do Am Naija Style’: Hip Hop, Language, and Postcolonial
   Identities,” in Global Linguistic Flows, ed. Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook, 113–138; Carol M.
   Motley and Geraldine Rosa Henderson, “The Global Hip-Hop Diaspora: Understanding
   the Culture,” Journal of Business Research 61 (3) (2008): 243–253.
25 Andy Bennett and Richard A. Peterson, eds., Music Scenes: Local, Translocal, and Virtual
   (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2004); Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook, Global
   Linguistic Flows; Mitchell, Global Noise.
26 Osumare, The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop.
27 Forman and Neal, That’s the Joint!; Mark Anthony Neal, Soul Babies: Black Popular Culture
   and the Post-Soul Aesthetic (New York: Routledge, 2002); Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop.
28 David Toop, Rap Attack #2 (London and New York: Serpent’s Tail, 1992), 19.
29 Perry, Prophets of the Hood, 12–13.
30 Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook, Global Linguistic Flows; Jannis Androutsopoulos and Arno
   Scholz, “On the Recontextualization of Hip-hop in European Speech Communities: A

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                                 19
Hip-Hop &     Contrastive Analysis of Rap Lyrics,” Philologie im Netz 19 (2002): 1–42; Roland Robertson,
the Global    “Glocalization: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity,” in Global Modernities, ed.
Imprint of    Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash, and Roland Robertson (London: Sage Press, 1995), 25–44.
   a Black
  Cultural 31 Androutsopoulos and Scholz, “On the Recontextualization of Hip-hop in European Speech
     Form     Communities,” 1; Samira Hassa, “Kiff my zikmu: Symbolic Dimensions of Arabic, English
             and Verlan in French Rap Texts,” in The Languages of Global Hip Hop, ed. Terkoura½, 48.
          32 Osumare, The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop.
          33 Morgan, The Real Hiphop, 62.
          34 Ibid.; Terkoura½, The Languages of Global Hip Hop; Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook,
             Global Linguistic Flows.
          35 Terkoura½, The Languages of Global Hip Hop, 1.
          36 Beat Street, directed by Stan Lathan (mgm Studios, 1984); Wild Style, directed by Charlie
             Ahearn (Rhino Home Video, 1983).
          37 Condry, Hip-Hop Japan; Mark Pennay, “Rap in Germany: The Birth of a Genre,” in
             Global Noise, ed. Mitchell, 111–133.
          38 Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., Race Music: Black Cultures from Bebop to Hip-Hop (Berkeley: Uni-
             versity of California Press, 2003); George Lipsitz, Dangerous Crossroads: Popular Music,
             Postmodernism and the Poetics of Place (London and New York: Verso Press, 1994);
             Tony Mitchell, Popular Music and Local Identity: Rock, Pop and Rap in Europe and Oceania
             (London: Leicester University Press, 1996).
          39 Chuck D with Yusuf Jah, Fight the Power: Rap, Race, and Reality (New York:
             Dell Publishing, 1998).
          40 Jacqueline Urla, “‘We are all Malcolm X!’: Negu Gorriak, Hip Hop, and the Basque
             Political Imaginary,” in Global Noise, ed. Mitchell, 175.
          41 Chuck D with Jah, Fight the Power, 58.
          42 Marcyliena Morgan and Dawn-Elissa Fischer, “Hiphop and Race: Blackness, Language,
             and Creativity,” in Doing Race: 21 Essays for the 21st Century, ed. Hazel Rose Markus and
             Paula M.L. Moya (New York: W.W. Norton, 2010), 522.
          43 Chang, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop; Perkins, Droppin’ Science.
          44 Afrika Bambaataa, quoted in Adhimu Stewart, “Afrika Bambaataa Can’t Stop the Planet
             Rock,”, 2007.
          45 Urla, “‘We are all Malcolm X!’” 175.
          46 André Prévos, “Postcolonial Popular Music in France: Rap Music and Hip-Hop Culture
             in the 1980s and 1990s,” in Global Noise, ed. Mitchell, 39–56.
          47 Terkoura½, The Languages of Global Hip Hop.
          48 Christian Béthune, Le rap: Une esthétique hors la loi (Paris: Autrement, 1999); Krims,
             Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity.
          49 Raquel Cepeda, “Breath Free: In Search of a De½nition of Freedom,” The Source,
             May 2000, 134–138.
          50 Derek Pardue, “‘Writing in the Margins’: Brazilian Hip-Hop as an Educational Project,”
             Anthropology & Education Quarterly 35 (4) (2004): 411–432.
          51 Patrick Neate, “AfroReggae: Rio’s Top Hip-hop Band,” The Independent, February 24, 2006.
          52 Larry Rohter, “Brazilian Government Invests in Culture of Hip-Hop,” The New York Times,
             March 14, 2007.

    20                                         Dædalus, the Journal of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences
53 Samir Wahab, “Breaking: Malikah, First Lady of Arab Hip-hop Claims Her Crown,”                Marcyliena
   Rolling Stone, February 1, 2001,               Morgan &
   =com_content&view=article&id=68.                                                              Dionne
54 Jay Feghali, “Shadia Mansour: A Revolutionary Voice in Arab Hip-hop,”,
   September 6, 2010,
55 Slingshot Hip Hop, directed by Jackie Salloum (Fresh Booza Productions, 2008); I Love Hip
   Hop in Morocco, directed by Joshua Asen and Jennifer Needleman (Rizz Productions, 2006).
56 Alastair Pennycook and Tony Mitchell, “Hip Hop as Dusty Foot Philosophy: Engaging
   Locality,” in Global Linguistic Flows, ed. Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook, 26.
57 “Artist Pro½le: Sagol 59,” JDub Records, 2009,
58 Mike A. Males, The Scapegoat Generation: America’s War on Adolescents (Monroe, Me.: Com-
   mon Courage Press, 1996); Mike A. Males, Framing Youth: 10 Myths about the Next Genera-
   tion (Monroe, Me.: Common Courage Press 1999); Valerie Smith, Not Just Race, Not Just
   Gender (New York: Routledge, 1998). The term wild is used in reference to the rape and
   beating of a female jogger in Central Park in 1989. Police originally attributed the attack
   to a gang of black youth who were described as acting like animals; the police used the
   term wilding to describe their actions; According to New York Times reporter David Pitt,
   “The youths who raped and savagely beat a young investment banker as she jogged in
   Central Park Wednesday night were part of a loosely organized gang of 32 schoolboys
   whose random, motiveless assaults terrorized at least eight other people over nearly two
   hours, senior police investigators said yesterday. Chief of Detectives Robert Colangelo,
   who said the attacks appeared unrelated to money, race, drugs or alcohol, said that some
   of the 20 youths brought in for questioning had told investigators that the crime spree was
   the product of a pastime called wilding”; David E. Pitt, “Jogger’s Attackers Terrorized at
   Least 9 in 2 Hours,” The New York Times, April 22, 1989. The young men were arrested and
   jailed. Later, the real rapist was discovered through dna evidence and a confession.
59 Omoniyi, “‘So I Choose to Do Am Naija Style.’”
60 Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature
   (Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann, 1986); Alim, Ibrahim, and Pennycook, Global Linguistic
61 K’naan, “What’s Hardcore?” The Dusty Foot Philosopher (bmg Music, 2005).
62 Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans. Charles Lam Markmann (1952; New York:
   Grove Press: 1967), 18.

140 (2) Spring 2011                                                                                21

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