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Iranian rapper Hichkas
Iranian Hip Hop underground sensation MC Hichkas
Secretary of State John Kerry's first official speech introduced to the foreign policy establishment a vision of an America that is more reticent to solve international problems with military force. Instead, Secretary Kerry pointed to traditional diplomacy and trade as better routes for America to engage with the broader world. He also spoke of traditional tools like foreign aid and student exchanges as ways to communicate a positive view of America to the people of all nations, friend or foe.

Absent from his discussion was perhaps America's greatest, most positive attractive magnet: its youthful, vibrant force as a cultural power. Arguably, America's music, movies, arts, images, and books, are more popular than they have ever been. Indeed, if there is any group of Americans that is winning the hearts and minds of people all over the world, it isn't military leaders, diplomats, business leaders or academics. It is the makers of America's popular culture. The actors, musicians and other celebrities. At the vanguard of this group, the Marines of this group, if you will, is the youth culture of Hip Hop, born and nurtured in the Bronx. Hip Hop has even touched the hearts of youth in corners of the world where America the military power is hated. American leaders should pay attention to what his happening among the youth of the world.

Join me for a brief tour around the world of those who made America's hip hop culture a truly global phenomenon.


Russia may be a nation that still carries some of the vestiges of the hostilities of the Cold War with respect to American military power. The relationship between the two nations varies between coldly diplomatic and occasionally frosty. But in the case of who Russian youth tend to emulate, there is no question who is winning. On the streets among Russia's poor, Russian Hip Hop is the music of choice. Bands K.A.S.T.A (click here to see K.A.S.T.A in a freestyle cypher) and Belarus' highly successful MC Sergoya have found a devoted following not only in Russia but throughout the former Soviet republics.

There are many other Hip Hop groups in Russia that have devoted fans and followings. I won't mention all of them here. But needless to say, you can see from these images (even if you don't understand the wording), that American Hip Hop culture has invaded Russia in a way that Russian political leaders must surely envy.


In the PRC you'll find the same thing on streets of Beijing and Shanghai. Even in this society of heavy state control, Hip Hop has proved America's strongest cultural magnet among China's young and poor. The Chinese call Hip Hop shuōchàng, which means "narrative." My friends have told me that Chinese rappers use devices commonly found in Hip Hop: use of poetic technique, storytelling and of course out-and-out bragging. Everyone in the hood knows of the great love the Chinese have for breakdancing and graffiti.

Here is a sample from Yin Tsang:


Even in a nation whose government considers America the "Great Satan," the people of Iran have a penchant for Satan's music. The government, much like the Chinese government, takes a very negative view of Hip Hop. I'm sure this has less to do with the music itself, which in Iran takes on some of the traditional Persian rhythms. The problem is that Hip Hop is American. For sure, some of the messages and styles become a part of youthful self-expression, something will bring down the Iranian regime more successfully than an American military invasion. State-owned media cracks down, especially on some of the more politically oriented lyrics. Yet, even in the middle of all this, Hip Hop flourishes.

Here is excellent flow from one of my favorite progressive Iranian MC's, Hichkas from Teheran.

One trouble spot where Hip Hop has had difficulty penetrating is North Korea, a totalitarian state without an precedent or antecedent. But in South Korea, Hip Hop culture is influential and well established.

There are other lesser known places in the world Hip Hop culture has taken root. Pick any nation in the world and you will find it. Interested in Vietnamese Hip Hop? It's there. Try these young men forming a cypher in Kenya. Consider Peru. Or tiny Montenegro. Even in Pakistan, which is perhaps the biggest breeding ground for terrorists opposed to the United States, American Hip Hop flourishes among the people.

There is no other nation on earth that lay claim to a cultural phenomenon going from a few young people in a ghetto to global acceptance in the span of one generation. Only the United States. Global leaders around the world can see that America's most persuasive, expansive power isn't military or economic, but cultural. They look at their youth, and the youth want Hip Hop. Even among our allies, it isn't British literature, French cuisine or German classical music being emulated around the world. It is ours. Our music of the poor, following the traditions of Jazz and Rock.

Perhaps the United States has a secret weapon in its arsenal of powers that it fails to understand or make use of. Instead of closing off nations that are hostile to us, bombing them, or crushing them with sanctions, perhaps we should consider playing the culture card first. Perhaps we could have more influence by sending in our artists and rappers instead of our soldiers and Marines. I would think we could be a bit more expansive with our selection of ambassadors, for example. They don't have to be limited to major campaign donors or foreign service climbers. I'll bet you Russell Simmons could gather a crowd in Mongolia that America's ambassador there, Piper Campbell, never could.

Not too long ago I ran into Big Daddy Kane at a dinner party. A living legend in Hip Hop, I asked him what he was up to lately. "Man ... they love me in Slovenia! Croatia too!" Not only did I find it amazing that he was still touring, but ... Slovenia?! I figure they would know who Jay-Z is, but you have to know your stuff to know Big Dad. One can't put enough value on having an ambassador like BDK, a pure gentleman if there ever was one. If I were the American ambassador in Slovenia, I'd make sure to attach myself to that kind of publicity.

America should always be the country that is looking forward, appealing to the virtues of the young: passion, optimism and a yearning to be oneself. The best way we can remain a beacon of hope for the world is by putting our best foot forward. That should mean tapping into one of our greatest strengths, our youthful culture.

Personal note: A one who has lived his entire life as a part of the Hip Hop movement from its birth, I have to say how amazing it is to see something so local and personal to me become a global form of self-expression for young people. It is something I never thought would find an audience beyond Black and Latino neighborhoods in NYC.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Black Kos community and TrueMarket.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Very nice and informative (33+ / 0-)

    Reminds me of this quote by Hans Christian Anderson

    Where words fail, music speaks.
    •  This is a fantastic diary! (8+ / 0-)

      I remember back in the early 1990's, I was in a car with some of the guys from U2 and some other people (a friend of mine was working with the band pretty closely at the time). One of my friend's commented on the influence of rap and The Edge completely locked into that conversation. At the time, I thought that rap was going to be a passing genre, not unlike disco or new wave. My friend completely disagreed. Looks like she was right. I just remember The Edge being very interested in the conversation.

      I am proud of American culture. I have lived much of my life outside of the USA, and I have always been so proud of so much. Not just Hollywood, although my background is in film, but also the music America has produced -- jazz, bluegrass, the blues, rap. I have been in nightclubs where I couldn't even speak with the people around me, but we would all sing and dance to the music together. Love that!

  •  similar to the Beatles and the Soviet Union (17+ / 0-)

    here's an article that discusses that.

    and a good quote:

    “In the rock and roll of Elvis and the ballads of the Beatles we discovered more meaning than in all the articles by Lenin that we were made to read in school and at university,” wrote rock musician Aleksei Rybin.
    It's because there it more truth in popular culture than there is in politics....obviously, and younger people don't have time for the lies.
  •  "MC Nothing" (9+ / 0-)

    (I still remember some Farsi) - I like that. :-)

    Thanks for the enlightening read!

    Dogs from the street can have all the desirable qualities that one could want from pet dogs. Most adopted stray dogs are usually humble and exceptionally faithful to their owners as if they are grateful for this kindness. -- H.M. Bhumibol Adulyadej

    by corvo on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:16:49 PM PDT

  •  Wow! (0+ / 0-)

    I get the sense that American cultural exports are weaker than they've been in a generation. Everywhere I look Indians, Koreans and Chinese are beginning to really make some quality works. Our competition is stiffer than ever.

    Also I loathe hip hop with every fiber of my being. I don't think it's evil or stupid or anything like that. But it's not for me. Canadian K'naan is okay I guess.

    •  Not so sure... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BvueDem, nolagrl, MNPundit

      I dislike hip hop myself, generally, but as a cultural export it is fairly strong.

      What is most interesting is that it is no longer a one way street. While the west has had a relative monopoly on cultural phenomenon in the past, today we have a lot more back and forth exchange. Let us just take for example that while our music may gain domination in the far east, in return our youth has assimilated their animation (anime, pokemon et al).

      We have so far resisted their pop music, though, and that is a good thing :)

      “Birds…scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth. They know the truth. Screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears, but sadly we don’t speak bird.” Kurt Cobain

      by RadicalParrot on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:33:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tipped for disliking hip-hop. :-) (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        When I hear or see most hip-hop, I think of John Lennon's phrase: "For well you know that it's a fool, who plays it cool, by making his world a little colder." All those young people, trying so hard to be cool to each other. I don't see the point.

        But I digress from the diary, sorry! :-)

        •  Right on. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I am of course a product of my generation, and my generation includes the Beastie Boys... and they I have never liked. Not when they were "new" and "edgy," and still not now when they are "classic." I can appreciate the talent that goes into the music without having to like it.

          “Birds…scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth. They know the truth. Screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears, but sadly we don’t speak bird.” Kurt Cobain

          by RadicalParrot on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:44:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The cultural flow has always been two way (4+ / 0-)

        Consider anime, one of your examples. The stereotypical anime/manga female (those big round eyes, not exactly a typical Japanese physical trait) is a Japanese adaptation of American animation style: compare Disney's Snow White from 1937, or Betty Boop and you see where that design comes from.

        Or looking at film, see how movies now considered classic American ones are knockoffs of Kurosawa (who in turn who did versions of Shakepeare and older American films as well), "The Magnificent Seven" and "A Fistful of Dollars" probably the two best known examples, with the latter actually being an Italian ripoff of a Japanese film using American western tropes.

        •  You are of course right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mamamedusa, TheDuckManCometh

          I recall that the anime style of big eyes was actually inspired by Donald Duck comics. None the less, the style of animation was popularized by Japanese culture before being adopted here.

          There is more to anime than big eyes though, such as accentuating veins in the forehead to represent emotional response. That is not something seen in western culture before the rise of anime.

          “Birds…scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth. They know the truth. Screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears, but sadly we don’t speak bird.” Kurt Cobain

          by RadicalParrot on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:51:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Anime has shaped American culture (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mamamedusa, TheDuckManCometh

            more than we realize.  The amazing "Sandman" graphic novels use the staging and mannerisms of manga

            Film editing is also reflecting anime/manga in how it narrates emotion, makes logical assumptions and uses editing.  Video games speak for themselves.

            I'm just beginning to appreciate hip hop.  I figure I drove my parents crazy with Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull, Incredible String Band and so on, so it's my turn to suck it up and try to learn something new

            Joy shared is doubled. Pain shared is halved. Spider Robinson

            by nolagrl on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:10:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Like it or not (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JesseCW, TheDuckManCometh

        You cannot discount its global reach. I will never forget on a personal note when I discovered just how global hip hop has become. I am now all too familiar with hip hop clubs in Japan and other parts of Asia but what really struck me, I was in Medellin Colombia and this pretty young paisa was asking me about hip hop, intrigued I asked did she know of any American artists and who was her favorite. " I love 2pac!" and proceeded to show me one of his CDs and started rapping, I was floored.

        •  Oh I don't discount it at all. (0+ / 0-)

          I accept I'm a bit of a curmudgeon in that regard.

          “Birds…scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth. They know the truth. Screaming bloody murder all over the world in our ears, but sadly we don’t speak bird.” Kurt Cobain

          by RadicalParrot on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:07:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When u get a chance (3+ / 0-)

            Go listen and read the lyrics to

            Changes by 2pac

            Fight the power by public enemy

            Self destruction by KRS One

            Why by common

            The corner by common

            The Message by Grand Master flash

            Check out guys like NAS, talib Kweli

            Don't tell me you have never bopped your head to Rappers Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang.

          •  Have you ever actually (0+ / 0-)

            tried to understand hip-hop? Not commercial hip-hop which makes millions on suburban white kids who think playing it loud in their cars gives them "street cred"...

            Real hip-hop... the music and the culture that came out of the 'hood and gave a voice to the voiceless... the socially conscious music airing grievances with the ills of society... both within and without the 'hood...the hip-hop that has it's roots in Gil Scott Heron's Johannesburg and The Temptations Ball of Confusion and Marvin Gaye's What's Goin' On... rather than Pat Boone's stealing music from Little Richard and the skewed portrays of minstrel shows...

            Your and others' comments say to me you haven't... and while that is your prerogative... it is more than a little sad...

            Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

            by awesumtenor on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:03:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I love J-Pop. (0+ / 0-)

        Muwahaha. Actually it's kind of embarrassing as it sounds like cats screeching.

        I also like less frenetic stuff like AFKG and Tommy from the Brilliant Green which itself is more Beatles style pop. Hmm, maybe it's just American hip-hop that I hate, since thinking about it I liked Nujabes.

        As a child I was drawn to anime over american animation before I ever knew what it was called so I can certainly appreciate the interplay.

  •  Apropos of this diary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jck, Texknight, metal prophet

    is the wonderful Byron White documentary, "Beyond Beats and Rhymes," about rap music, its cultural origins and its co-option by big record labels. It started out in the South Bronx as a cultural art form. It came from the streets and was about the desire for liberation. In the 1990s, when the recording industry executives took over, its lyrics became overtly misogynistic and homophobic.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:31:50 PM PDT

  •  Can't leave out DAM and a stack of other (7+ / 0-)

    Palestinian crews.

    Around the world, there's an overwhelmingly socially conscious although not always political content that never left American Hip Hop but which only occasionally been seen in the mainstream since the 1980's.

    This is resistance

    This is rebellion

    This is revolution

    dEar Ellois: U send Fud down holez, we no eaTz u. That iz deAl. No forget. MooRlockz Haz 2 eats. Stoopid Elloiz.

    by JesseCW on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:33:29 PM PDT

  •  Myanmar (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jck, JesseCW, OLinda

    They just competed their first US visit.

    It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.

    by GrinningLibber on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:37:04 PM PDT

  •  Is This Why Rubio Is Attacking Hova - Years Too (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jck, Shahryar, MeToo, TheDuckManCometh


    American conservatives - dimbulbs though they may be - understand that they have lost the culture wars though they will, apparently, fight to their last dollar.

    We should have seen it coming. Back in 1999 — on the cusp of George W. Bush's presidency, and as Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress — conservative leader Paul Weyrich issued a controversial open letter declaring that conservatives "probably have lost the culture war."
    As Weyrich wrote:
    In looking at the long history of conservative politics, from the defeat of Robert Taft in 1952, to the nomination of Barry Goldwater, to the takeover of the Republican Party in 1994, I think it is fair to say that conservatives have learned to succeed in politics. That is, we got our people elected.

    But that did not result in the adoption of our agenda. The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has failed because of the collapse of the culture. The culture we are living in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it simply overwhelms politics.

    What they see as America's cultural "collapse" is actually a social movement sweeping the networked globe. Like the oligarchs of old, these austerity-preaching dinosaurs can't leave the stage soon enough.

    Occupy the culture!

    •  They don't see the kindness and the community (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      majcmb1, TheDuckManCometh

      and how acknowledging empathy and struggle makes us human citizens of this world- and not commodities or political puppets to toy with and scare.

      Love > The Universe

      And as we all know, the Universe has a vibration... and it becomes music- the heartbeat, the drumbeat, the fusion, the open mind, singing, creating the Universe.

      Pay attention to how people use their voice... is it to create beauty or to disturb and condemn?

      The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. Paul Cezanne

      by MeToo on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 08:54:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Watching Coachella as I read this diary (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        on YouTube... Look at all the twitter feeds from every nation on earth... this is democracy- the internet connects us all like the Live Aid concerts only you can replay them!

        btw: We do NEED more concerts like Live Aid- multiple cities- global entrainment- ride the waves!

        The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution. Paul Cezanne

        by MeToo on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:22:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  American music has taken over the globe (7+ / 0-)

    for damn near a century. If we'd quit invading people, we'd have a lot of admiration.

  •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oaktown Girl

    I'm sending this to hip hop lover I know who is not that crazy about DK.

    Libertarianism is something that most people grow out of, not unlike, say, hay fever or asthma. Bob Johnson

    by randallt on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 06:48:58 PM PDT

  •  that music is utter sh^t (0+ / 0-)

    in fact... let's agree its not music as we understand it

    Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

    by SFOrange on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:00:12 PM PDT

    •  So, are you talking about specific MC's linked (10+ / 0-)

      in the diary, or just shitting all over an art form that doesn't speak to you personally?

      dEar Ellois: U send Fud down holez, we no eaTz u. That iz deAl. No forget. MooRlockz Haz 2 eats. Stoopid Elloiz.

      by JesseCW on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:04:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  4th chorus of "The Message" by grand master flash (3+ / 0-)

        A child is born with no state of mind
        Blind to the ways of mankind
        God is smiling on you but he's frowning too
        Because only God knows what you'll go through
        You'll grow in the ghetto, living second rate
        And your eyes will sing a song of deep hate
        The places you're playin', where you stay
        Looks like one great big alley way
        You'll admire all the number book takers
        Thugs, pimps, pushers and the big money makers
        Driving big cars, spending twenties and tens
        And you wanna grow up to be just like them, huh,
        Smugglers, scrambles, burglars, gamblers
        Pickpockets, peddlers even panhandlers
        You say: "I'm cool, I'm no fool!"
        But then you wind up dropping out of high school
        Now you're unemployed, all non-void
        Walking 'round like you're Pretty Boy Floyd
        Turned stickup kid, look what you've done did
        Got sent up for a eight year bid
        Now your manhood is took and you're a may tag
        Spend the next two years as a undercover fag
        Being used and abused to serve like hell
        Till one day you was found hung dead in a cell
        It was plain to see that your life was lost
        You was cold and your body swung back and forth
        But now your eyes sing the sad, sad song
        Of how you lived so fast and died so young

        Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge
        I'm trying not to lose my head
        It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under
        It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder how I keep from going under

    •  It ain't for those who don't understand. (6+ / 0-)

      Actually, I'm not much of a hip-hop fan, but that's what I tell friends who don't understand my free-jazz obsession now or my punk rock obsession in high school.

      "It ain't for those who don't understand."

      I think Joe Strummer said that about people who don't get "dub" reggae, and it's true.

      You don't get it. Just move on.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:50:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Some of u really need to get out (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MeToo, mamamedusa, TheDuckManCometh

      And open your've probably danced to a hip hop song or one heavily influenced by a hip hop artist.  If not, sucks to be u. I don't particular care for  acid rock but in high school I was introduced to many classic rock bands by team mates and you know what? I appreciated some of the music , not all mind you.

      After 30 years, it is no longer just music, it a cultural phenomenon with a Global reach and billions in revenue.

      There are global music festivals that feature house music with hip hop DJs, in the UK, Croatia, brazil and other parts of Europe. They are sold out months in advance and are attended by enthusiast all over the world.

    •  Well, I enjoy Rock. (6+ / 0-)

      Its white & suburban. And old. I like the bands I like. But I wouldn't dismiss as not being music just because I wouldn't pay money to hear it live.

      Couple of generations ago people said the same thing about Jazz. Not music. Black. Ghetto. Crap. Now you can't go to a jazz concert without seeing a whole sea of old, well off white folks. Blues rapidly getting to that point as well. Rock is headed there for sure, and at some point, so will Hip Hop.

      There's been nothing on the scale of Hip Hop in the history of the world. In terms of his global reach into every nook and cranny of some of the poorest places in the world and the rapidness with which it spread thanks to technology. Its the first music of the information age.

      No other music has done this. Ever. Know why? Because you can make it without any formal music training or even an instrument. That's the secret sauce. It comes straight from the heart without the intermediary of a wealth and education barrier. That's why it appeals to the young and poor.

      •  In some ways.... (0+ / 0-)'s even more punk rock than punk rock.

      •  Cheap to make (0+ / 0-)

        It's being pushed because it is so cheap to make yet sells for the same price.  Don't need a band, don't need a singing talent...same as that Auto-tuned stuff the record companies are trying to sell us.  

        I support singers and musicians by not listening to this new "music" that doesn't include them anymore.  

        The Julianna Michigan Show on Itunes and Podbean.

        by libnewsie on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:48:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not "cheap" at all. There's a lot (3+ / 0-)

          of work that goes into mixing a track, sometimes working with as many as 64 different tracks in the mix.

          It's being "pushed" because it was highly successful as a DIY art form and there's money to be made, but it's not like three or four MC's and a DJ or two are somehow innately cheaper to record than a classic rock four piece with a lead singer.

          When we start talking about serious production in a studio we're talking about professionals doing every bit as much work to get a mix right as they would ever do with a rock or jazz group.

          Hip Hop doesn't necessarily require any melodic ability but it certainly requires an incredible sense of meter, rhythm, and flow.  Additionally, the percentage of performer/writers is much higher.  The vast majority of artists write all their own lyrics.

          dEar Ellois: U send Fud down holez, we no eaTz u. That iz deAl. No forget. MooRlockz Haz 2 eats. Stoopid Elloiz.

          by JesseCW on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 09:58:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I am a DJ (0+ / 0-)

            I am FM DJ and it is being pushed even though it is a niche genre at best and is cheaper to produce.

            A quite annoying thing about hip hop also is: don't call me "shorty" or I will look down on you before stepping on your foot.  As a woman, I find the genre demeaning to women.  

            The Julianna Michigan Show on Itunes and Podbean.

            by libnewsie on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 10:25:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Rock music is loaded with misogynistic (0+ / 0-)

              shit...and the reverse.  So is hip hop.

              There is much, much more to Hip Hop than crap some music studio is trying to get air time for.

              It's a "niche genre" that 70% of people under 30 and 40% of people 30 to 45 are heavily into.  

              dEar Ellois: U send Fud down holez, we no eaTz u. That iz deAl. No forget. MooRlockz Haz 2 eats. Stoopid Elloiz.

              by JesseCW on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 10:36:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Where are these people that listen to Hip Hop? (0+ / 0-)

                I don't know anyone who listens to or likes it.  You might hear it in NY but I'm in the Midwest.  My 17 year old doesn't listen to it nor his friends.

                I also DJ as a hobby on Second Life...there is zero demand for Hip Hop there.  The Djs there that play Hip Hop play to empty rooms.  Tossing in a Hip Hop song is an easy way to clear a room hence I won't take a Hip Hop request.  What is most popular there?  Classic Rock and Pop '60s-'90s...that is what sells there.  You know the time before Auto-tuned & Buzzy dance music or the Rap and Hip Hop.  Old school rap had a political message at least thus had value for that.  

                The Julianna Michigan Show on Itunes and Podbean.

                by libnewsie on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 11:02:06 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  You're on FM. You're already a dinosaur. (5+ / 0-)

              My two teen girls haven't listened to a radio station since they were in the single digit years. Even when their in the car with me they want it off because they've got their own stuff to plug into the USB port. These kids build their own playlists and share them. Their homegirl at school is their radio station because she's known around the school for having the hottest mixed playlists of NBH (that stands for "never before heard").

              How does a method and medium from 70 years ago compete with that?

        •  Meh. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mamamedusa, Fire bad tree pretty

          Every generation there are horse and buggy complainers. I've done it myself.

          I don't tell young people what they ought to listen to. What they like is what they like.

      •  Agree (0+ / 0-)

        But as a Berklee trained musician and an early hip hop artist myself, I'm torn a little.  I do have a hip hop song on my upcoming jazz-funk album.   But I really haven't liked any hip hop since Run-DMC.  

        Bad things aren't bad! And anyway, there's mitigation!

        by Nada Lemming on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 11:49:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  hip hop is already there (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        i still go to hip hop concerts like Rock the Bells where they tend to headline old school artists from the 80s - 90's.

         Its nearly all older & younger white folks there, very few minorities.

        •  Been there for a while (0+ / 0-)

          I saw WuTang in NJ right before ODB died (literally, he may have already been dead by the time the show went on - he wasn't there), and while the crowd wasn't old (mostly in their 20s it seemed) it was largely white.

    •  I found that when I approached it the same way (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I approached Native American drumming I could find its musicality. It is different than Beethoven. Different is not wrong.

      When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

      by Alexandra Lynch on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:21:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  if it isn't music as you understand it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      then the flaw is in your understanding of what music is.

  •  Thank you, so much here I knew nothing about. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Texknight, MeToo

    Very interesting and swinging.

  •  Your only problem with that would be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fire bad tree pretty

    that hip hop is not American per se, it is a reaction to America. It is; and I don't say this lightly, slave music - which is why it is so popular globally. Hip hop is extremely popular in EVERY country, and has been for some time.

    There is no 'exporting' of hip hop - it just IS. Hip hop is folk music, period. It really has very little to do with 'America'.

    I have some indy 'rapper' friends who recently collaborated with some Turkish rappers - male and female. Language barrier, smanguage barrier. This is another thing which may surprise the old folks. Women are very into rapping, globally. The media-fabricated gangsta stereotype has only succeeded in souring the whole idea to Americans, I'm afraid. By design imo.

    •  "a reaction to America" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fire bad tree pretty

      ... by America.

      The dominant social paradigm is not the only America, and those who belong to it are not the only Americans.

    •  I would replace (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fire bad tree pretty

      "slave music" with "the voice of the oppressed"... it is a response to oppression and exploitation and being ignored by the society at large and is not supposed to be about making one "feel good". Go back to Ice-T's early stuff and early NWA... they were reporting to the rest of the world the reality they lived on a daily basis that the media utterly ignored... particularly regarding LAPD... hence Fuck tha police and Copkiller... the music was condemned because there was no attempt to understand it or the circumstances that created it... and there was no attempt to understanding it because "those people" didn't matter... and from that US inner-city root, it has flourished into a worldwide voice for the oppressed... whether in Myanmar or Gaza or Abidjan or Beijing or Moscow.

      Having a voice is empowering; that is why this form has taken root where other american musical forms have not...

      Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

      by awesumtenor on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:18:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Pax Americana" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've often thought about writing a diary about "American Culture," where I would just throw the question of "What is American Culture?" on the table, and let everyone give their own opinion as a sort of Rorschach Test. The question of American Culture has allowed college sociology departments to write reams on the subject for a long time, and there is still no good answer to it.

    My own personal opinion is that American Culture is both amorphous & undefinable. The United States is a melting pot/salad bowl of many cultures that have come together. And while this has caused misunderstandings, prejudices, and resentments, it is also the source of our strength & appeal.

    Given the position of the United States during the 20th century & the start of the 21st, as well as the popularity of American movies, music, TV shows, consumer products, etc. during that time, things like Mickey Mouse & Coca-Cola became global symbols of Americana and spread with other American trends, memes, and tropes throughout the world. It's always interesting to see how all of this is ultimately assimilated into foreign cultures (for example; Japanese hip hop or the western influences in South Korea's K-Pop, where our pop music trends are emulated).

  •  Personally, I think it was born in Jamaica. (4+ / 0-)

    And imported to the Bronx by Jamaican immigrants.

    "Toasting" over b-sides of records by portable sound systems was a big deal in Jamaica years before hip-hop, and I remember reading one or two of the early Bronx guys were from Jamaica.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:12:36 PM PDT

    •  More. (4+ / 0-)
      During the mid-20th century, the musical culture of the Caribbean was constantly influenced by the concurrent changes in American music. As early as 1956,[22] deejays were toasting (an African tradition of "rapped out" tales of heroism) over dubbed Jamaican beats. It was called "rap", expanding the word's earlier meaning in the African-American community—"to discuss or debate informally."[23]

      One of the first rappers in the beginning of the hip hop period, in the end of '70s, was also hip hop's first DJ, Kool Herc. Herc, a Jamaican immigrant, started delivering simple raps at his parties, inspired by the Jamaican tradition of toasting.[24]

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:16:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well if you want to take it back even further, (3+ / 0-)

        it's blues (same progenitors as caribbean music - all slave culture/worksong related) with a stepped up beat.

        Also, caribbean immigrants had a huge hand in birthing the UK techno culture, just around the time MTV et al were co-opting true hip hop culture here in the US. It really is a global phenomenon, and always has been.

        •  Field songs, yeah. (3+ / 0-)

          I'm just talking about the rapping over records part, which seems to have started with the sound trucks in Jamaica, from what I've read.

          "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

          by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:29:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yeah yr probably right about that (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Bush Bites, Fire bad tree pretty

            But who can say what was going down in the wider US underground at the same time - there was thriving club culture, already established in the early disco era - from then on there  was just avalanches of undocumented innovation, from what I can tell from talking to people involved. All lost to the sands of time.

        •  Taking it back even further than that (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fire bad tree pretty

          hip-hop is the present-day incarnation of the african griot...part newscaster; part historian; part storyteller... who is omnipresent where there are communities of africans... even among those of us who are children of the diaspora...

          Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

          by awesumtenor on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:23:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Good point (4+ / 0-)

      but I always shake my head at the NYC-centric Disneyfied history of hiphop. So many cities in the US had thriving underground music scenes at the time, it all sort of flowed together. Chicago, Detroit...these cities are also very important to the story, notably for their contributions to production techniques, 'club culture', the revival and revolution of the synthesizer as a main production tool, dancing, fashion, etc etc etc.

      That said ITA that Jamaica had huge influence on hiphop in the US. Proto-reggae evolved from mirroring US pop music into something completely different, out of creative necessity. It became protest music, as all music eventually does if it's given to the people. That's basically what we're talking about here, people's music.

      Forgive me if I don't include Jay z in this conversation - he may as well be Perry Como at this point, truth be told.

    •  Wow, beat me to it, by 20 minutes! eom (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Bush Bites

      If there is no accountability for those who authorized torture, we can no longer say that we are a nation of laws, not men.

      by MikePhoenix on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:36:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  yes (0+ / 0-)

      even so many of the popular artists in the golden age of hip hop were jamaican immigrants or children of jamaican immigrants. the whole lingo & attitude is very jamaican

      •  which is (0+ / 0-)

        the root of the machismo which has been turned into misogyny and the objectification of women on the one hand and the stereotypical 'gangsta' violence on the other

        Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

        by awesumtenor on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 11:27:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  " American leaders should pay attention to what... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Batya the Toon

    ... is happening among the youth of the world."

    I agree without exception. Youth culture moves people towards America, not away from it.

    So...Obama is unaware of the power of youth culture? Of hip hop? Obama--singing Al Green instead of Jay-Z--needs to pay attention to this?

    I don't think so. I think, from observation, that Obama doesn't tell the Pentagon what to do...they tell HIM.

    "I feel a lot safer already."--Emil Sitka

    by DaddyO on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:27:16 PM PDT

  •  LIVE Detroit Hip Hop Soul: Black Bottom Collective (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

  •  thanks for reminding us of how universal music is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nada Lemming

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 GOP Rep. Steve Stockman (TX):"If babies had guns, they wouldn't be aborted"

    by annieli on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:28:58 PM PDT

  •  Being a big reggae fan, I have found a lot (3+ / 0-)

    of artists that crossover between the two genres that are really sweet. Damien Marley, son of the legendary Bob Marley is one. Ever listen to Dr. Israel? He's one of your homeboys from Brooklyn.

    Of course, the whole concept of rapping over another rhythm, which is what hiphop is based on, was originated by Jamaican DJs like U-Roy, Dennis Alcapone, Big Youth, and King Stitt back in the 70's. Hiphop probably owes its existence to reggae.

    If there is no accountability for those who authorized torture, we can no longer say that we are a nation of laws, not men.

    by MikePhoenix on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:35:03 PM PDT

    •  And the DJs "Toasting" over instrumental versions. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...of the latest songs from sound trucks was earlier than that.

      Timothy White's biography on Bob Marley gives a good picture of the scene when Marley was just coming up, and talks a lot about the sound-truck DJs of the time.

      "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

      by Bush Bites on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:44:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Listening in some dance clubs in China (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    protectspice, JesseCW, tvanel, a2nite

    I heard some very good Hip Hop even if I didn't understand a word of the lyrics.  

    "Senators are a never-ending source of amusement, amazement, and discouragement" ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:43:01 PM PDT

  •  Rap Off not Yap Off. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Lets have token wars.    We nominate our Hip Hop champion to dual theirs.  Winner take all.  Throw words not bombs.  Make music not war.  Power to the people and all that.  Historically valid concept that is cheaper and a hell of a lot less bloody.  

    I don't understand Hip Hop anymore than my parents understood Rock and their parents understood Jazz.  Although my mother thought Elvis was cute and she came around when he started releasing gospel tracks.  It's a generational thing.  What I do understand is the universal power of music.  I also understand that the politicians, being "Old and And In The Way"--Grateful Dead, never know what's really going on in the world and therefore have no clue how to play to their strong suite. The young people in Iran would have already settled that situation if everybody over 30 had stepped aside.


    A bad idea isn't responsible for those who believe it. ---Stephen Cannell

    by YellerDog on Sun Apr 14, 2013 at 07:46:51 PM PDT

  •  Fascinating, utterly fascinating! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  I'd feel more enthusiastic about this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if I didn't despise hip-hop with the heat of a million sons. I have never heard a single minute of any of it that's remotely listenable.

  •  Hip-hop and metal have.... (4+ / 0-)

    ....a truly international reach. I read a fascinating book by Mark LeVine called Heavy Metal Islam, which studies the influence of metal and hip-hop culture in the Islamic world. It appeals to young people because it's rebellious and allows for expression in cultures where there's a lot of post-colonialist bullshit and oppressive governments. And also, it's not just anger, but hope. Take the Israeli metal band Orphaned Land. They are a Jewish Israeli band who is all about bringing Christians, Jews, and Muslims together and bringing about peace in the Middle East. They have a strong following in a lot of Muslim countries. They're not allowed to play in most Arab countries, but when they play Turkey, they have huge, sold-out, mostly Muslim audiences.

  •  This is super cool (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    As a child of the 80s, I went to shows in Oakland featuring lots of the early rap greats, was one of the very few white kids there.  It was like modern poetry to me, and I enjoy almost all music types. It's great to see youth in other countries using this genre to communicate the issues of their generation. It makes me sad to see some here dismiss rap out of hand, saying only "their" music is legit. That's like telling someone their religion is the wrong one because its not just like yours.

    Thank you for this, I appreciated it and plan to look up more from these artists. You should check out what's coming out of India these days- some awesome beats!

  •  Arguably!! (0+ / 0-)
    Arguably, America's music, movies, arts, images, and books, are more popular than they have ever been.
    Arguably indeed! I think that there is a confusion between "american" popular culture and what is now world popular culture. I dont mind if americans in their own country look to their own idols an cultural icons, but outside of it, people have long made their own independent amalgam out of modernity. I dont think that French rappers look particularly to the US for inspiration, nor Brazilians, nor Indians.

    I would be hard pressed to even name current American cultural luminaries, but according to a recent UK poll, I am a member of the new technocratic middle class, which is characterized by its cultural destituteness :)  

  •  I kinda of get it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It is quite easy to dismiss an entire genre you don't understand.

    Some of the politically and socially conscious rap song speak of ills that most of you have never experienced. The word play and the references might as well be in a foreign language.

    How can you understand the anger and lyrics of NWA's fuck tha police if you have never experienced police harassment and brutality?

    If you are from the Midwest or south, would you get the lyrics of the Message from grand master Flash?

    If you are ignorant of black and African history, the X-Clan's lyrics might as well be gibberish. Hip hop artists have been at the forefront of political activism

    •  I dunno ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... as a pretty sheltered white kid, I got the first glimmerings of what life was like for inner-city African-Americans from listening to hip-hop.  Not a complete picture by any means, and not enough by itself, but I was profoundly struck -- or stricken might be a better word -- by lines like plus nobody I know got killed today and everything is free, so leave your guns at home.

      The foreignness of it could be a turn-off, but could as easily be a way in.

  •  Who says there's no North Korean hip-hop? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Here's Korean-American comedian David So's take on what a North Korean rapper would be like:

    "Ça c'est une chanson que j'aurais vraiment aimé ne pas avoir écrite." -- Barbara

    by FogCityJohn on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 12:13:45 AM PDT

  •  Awesome diary! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When I was in college, I was dating a European woman.  When visiting her home, I met her younger brother who spoke flawless American English.  I asked him how he learned it so well, and he told me American music, movies, and culture.  When my own child started studying a second language, I wanted to key into that phenomenon, and so I looked for popular music in the language that she is learning (and even started a blog to track what I have found called Open World Music).  In that search, I have found a huge variety of amazing artists performing Hip Hop in their own language.  This truly is a musical genre that knows absolutely no linguistic or cultural boundaries.  

  •  Excellent points. (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this.

  •  The best non-English hip-hop I've heard yet (0+ / 0-)

    is from the Israeli hip-hop group Hadag Nachash, whose "Sticker Song" is composed entirely of slogans from bumper stickers one can see around Israel -- social, political, comic, religious -- juxtaposed together in startling ways.  It's an astonishingly revealing look at a deeply divided culture.

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