Lynne d Johnson

 

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09.08.03 03:57 AM

since when was being African-American synonomous with hip-hop?

The slug on this made me worry:

Eh yo, trip*! *Check this out!
They look like African Americans, dress like them, move like them and even use hip-hop terms like them. With rare exceptions, the hip-hop lookalikes are Malay. ARLINA ARSHAD reports on a phenomenon that is worrying some people in the Malay/Muslim community.

But after reading it I realized it wasn't that bad. This one is interesting too:

Hip-hop mad and still a good Muslim
I just hate the fact that although hip-hop has arrived, it is still considered nefarious. It's also interesting that hip-hop becomes a global product that gets to represent American Black Culture Worldwide. If it ain't got to do with hip-hop, then those abroad won't believe it's authentically black. Shit, there are some white folks right here in the states who won't believe it either.

Peep this statement I wrote in an abstract for a paper I once delivered:

Hip-hop is the most commercially successful black cultural product of the last twenty years. Its wide global transmission relies heavily on the networks of America's recording industry and its distribution mechanisms. These controlled channels of distribution in turn lend to a controlled worldwide distribution of black culture.

And here it is more to the point in how I wrote it for the subject, "Hip-hop's Transformers: Technological Production and Distribution in Hip-Hop"

As a producer the DJ has been able to survive and to become a more evolved robot. And while this better, stronger, faster machine, steers the creation of America's most commercially successful black cultural product of the last twenty years, the music's wide global transmission relies heavily on the networks of America's recording industry and its distribution mechanisms. These controlled channels of distribution in turn lend to a controlled worldwide distribution of black culture. "In this case, the purported authenticity attributed to so much of what is received as black culture might be regarded a definition imposed by those who profit most from it," writes Ellis Cashmore in The Black Culture Industry. In this "commodification of authenticity," it doesn't really matter who creates the product, but instead, who distributes it.

And...

With the development of the CD (compact disc) the record labels found a cheaper means of production and distribution, but hip-hop's creators also found a way to jack that technology, making their own CDs, and distributing the music they wanted the people to hear via underground pathways. Yet the major record labels continued, and still continue, to control the major distribution of popular music. Because of this, the labels control how hip-hop music is defined and perceived, and further alter the listener's method/mode of decoding hip-hop music and black culture.

In Conclusion...

Hip-hop music and its videos, as distributed by the recording industry, play a significant role in the globalization of black culture-how it is received, interpreted, and appropriated. As we have seen with models of production, hip-hop's transformers have been able to use technology to their own advantage. While only on a grass roots level, these transformers have also held a significant role in the transmission and transportation of the music they create. They constantly push the envelope, push technological tools, and will eventually push the recording industry. But in this equation, the consumer is the variable that everyone has to be most concerned with. And if hip-hop's creators can get the consumer to listen to their music, over what the recording industry provides, then they could win the battle. I think they will. And what that they will not only take control of the music, but they will offer more options in the portrayal of black culture on a global scale.

ADDENDUM 09.08.03 10:26:00 PM In response to a question, I state: "The above commentary is not meant to suggest that hip-hop culture or rap music is not a black cultural form or black cultural product. The point of this post is that "being African-American does not mean hip-hop." Further, I stress that what's pushed by major distribution channels of culture - film studios, record labels, cable networks, radio broadcasting conglomerates - comes to represent blackness and that most black folks, in America, are thought of in that context - the context of what is presented in the cultural product. Rap music has a direct linkage to various African traditions of vernacular culture and musical culture. So yes, hip-hop, by-and-large is black. But being black does not have to equal hip-hop. Point made, I hope. To state it plainly, my father was not a pimp and my mother was not a ho'. I am not a gold digging chickenhead. Get my drift? Though I am down with hip-hop and definitely the struggles of people of color all over the world - other places hip-hop is revolutionary and political - and though in many ways I am hip-hop, my blackness is not defined by it. The ground always gets shaky when you mix culture with product - that is as it's meant for mass consumption and not product in the sense of production, which means creation. In America, culture ends up meaning entertainment. Simply stated, hip-hop can not be used as a lens by which to study the behaviors and personalities of all black Americans, and conversely, all black Americans should not be expected to look, act, sound, etc. like rappers. I could go further on this, but I think I've overstated my point already. Peace."

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