chapter  6
Selling, selling out or resisting dominant discourses? Rap and the uses of hip-hop culture
Pages 25

This chapter continues the theme of transnationalism in pop and its relationship with local hybridities by turning to rap and its position at the centre of wider hiphop culture. Rap can be seen as rebel music as much as commercial machine or as educational tool. In this chapter then I will attempt to say something about, to paraphrase Richard Hoggart, the ‘uses’ of hip-hop culture and the way that a range of different rap scenes co-exist in different situational settings in the early twenty-first century. This demonstrates how youth creatively fashion contextdependent musical-cultural forms in street-speak vernacular tongues that reflect their local environments, potentially providing a counter-balance to the negative version of globalisation whereby a top-down process of cultural homogenisation forcibly flattens cultural diversity. We saw in the introduction how ‘being hard’ and ‘not selling out’ have been longstanding youth cultural qualities. In hip-hop culture authenticity is of key importance with ‘keeping it real’ being the phrase to connote this. Rap is closely associated with the US but I will, for comparative purposes, take a closer look at rap music in contemporary France as well as drawing on examples in the UK. Indeed I want to begin with a preliminary scenesetting ethnographic episode that flags up some of the ways that hip-hop culture is being played out in contemporary British urban settings today.