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Sunday, February 1, 2015

An Opening of the Mind... to Hip-Hop?

It's easy for babyboomer-aged old white guys ("blue-eyed whitey" is what they call me in some circles) to decry the death of culture as they point to rap and hip-hop as cultural phenomena with no redeeming social value.

But take a closer look: One sees an entire universe of life- and culture-affirming music, art, activity and lifestyles surrounding hip-hop around the world. The tendency we have to generalize and condescend (Mexicans are lazy, Jews are sneaky, Muslims are terrorists, etc.) can quickly be overcome by an opening of the mind, via travel and education or just plain luck. That's the very best of what it means to be "liberal."

The Internet being the global library that it is, I just came across an interview from 2006 with Cristina Veran, a Peruvian-born journalist who grew up in New York City and writes about these things. It is a very enlightening PBS piece. Who would have thought that the global hip-hop scene could be as complex and divided as the world itself?

/// In the U.S., Indian Country's parallel "Reservation Hip-Hop" scene remains virtually excluded from an African-American dominated mainstream which doesn't really even acknowledge its existence. In Australia, the mainstream is controlled and dominated by White Australians, leaving Aboriginal hip-hop in a kind of virtual apartheid in their own country/// 

Sao Paolo hip-hop? Maori hip-hop? South African hip-hop? "Reservation hip-hop?" You mean it's not just one monolithic art form dominated by African Americans based in the Bronx and  Hollywood? The mainstream American media would have you think so, no? One more reason to Turn Off the TV.


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