Hip-Hop and Resistance 

By Clare Smyth


Hip-hop brings together a tangle of some of the most complex social, cultural, and political issues in society, emerging out of the Bronx in New York as a response to the increase in violence against African-American and Latina communities, post the civil rights movement. Two key elements of Hip Hop’s manifestation in New York continue as hip-hop spreads around the world, communal identity and resistance (Harris 2019:14). My research will aim to track the trajectory of hip-hop from its Western origins in the Bronx and map it against the historical development of this musical genre in East Africa. I will highlight the importance of oral culture in African and Afro-Diasporic music from the blues to traditional African poetry to demonstrate how hip hop is transcultural- a reflection of the collective experiences of African peoples. Building off Ntarangwi’s (2009) autoethnography, I will engage with the economic aspect of hip-hop as I argue that commoditisation does not always lead to alienation or an absence of meaning but rather can serve as a tool that enables agency. Furthermore, hip-hop can be used to foster a sense of inclusivity and resistance within marginalised communities.

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