This cultural movement, which began among black Americans, has spread rapidly around the world, dominating the sound of the street. Hip hop was originally an all-encompassing term describing culture begun by black youths in New York’s Bronx district in the 1970s, comprised of the four elements of DJing, rap music, graffiti art and breakdancing. This project will focus on rap music.
The global spread of hip hop has not just meant the straight assimilation of US culture; fusing together with the local culture, each region has created its own unique version of hip hop culture.
And when we say that hip hop culture is thriving, we do not simply mean that it is thriving as a cultural phenomenon. Rap music started out as a cry by black Americans against social injustices, and the global spread of rap signifies that human society’s injustices are shared globally. The problems in New York’s Bronx resonate with the problems in London’s East End and Ulaanbaatar’s Ger District.
However, perhaps due to language barriers, rap performed in local languages barely reaches our ears. What kind of rap music is being performed at the ‘frontier’ of popular music in East Eurasia? What kind of social realities are being described through the medium of rap? This research group will conduct a comparative study, keeping in mind the well-being and culture clashes within the regions in question.
The reason why the former socialist bloc is regarded as the ‘frontier’ of hip hop is because the region has been marginalized at the fringes of popular music – even more so than Africa and Latin America. In the 1980s and 90s musicians from the former Western colonies of Africa and Central and South America spread to London and Paris, due to their connections with former colonial powers Britain and France. This was world music. However, until the collapse of socialism in the early 90s, artists from countries in the former socialist bloc were culturally separated from the West. In this sense, the former socialist regions of East Eurasia are truly the final ‘frontier’ of the popular music world.
This research project began in July 2022. In the first study we looked at hip hop in Mongolia, India and Russia. In the second study we looked at Poland, Tatarstan, Indonesia and Cameroon. In the third study we focused on Palestine, Ukraine, Japanese wadaiko rap and Tibet. In the fourth study, we looked at Alaska Natives, Cuba and the Russian Republic of Sakha. In the fifth study we covered hip hop from Iran and China, as well as hip hop within gaming culture. One of the special features of this research is the participation of practitioners, such as rapper Satussy (Infumiaikumai) as a commentator and presenter, as well as DARTHREIDER, HUNGER (GAGLE), Numabara and others.