chapter  5
Hip-hop as a Global Cultural Phenomenon: The Export and Appropriation of Contradiction, Complexity, and Dialogue
Pages 20

Hip-hop has become a global cultural phenomenon. From America to Britain, South America, Europe, South East Asia, to parts of Africa, hip-hop has seeped into the consciousness of areas of popular music and cultural life the world over. When assessing how hip-hop has traversed its way around the globe we fi rstly have to remember that hip-hop originated in the centre of neo-liberal capitalism: the USA. Secondly, we have to remember that it arose from within particular cultural groupings that had experienced life in the specifi c cultural context of the different parts of America in which they had lived and that initially this was dominated by Black Afro-American experience and culture. In this chapter I aim to concentrate on those parts of the world that have developed their own distinctive variants of hip-hop, look at the genesis of this form, and assess what it might tell us about hip-hop as a global cultural phenomenon, its global reach and how best to research it. I have chosen hip-hop as one element of the musical palette that has become prominent in popular music production in the UK. I could have chosen reggae/ska, Punk, jazz, house, or indie, but have used hip-hop as the example as it, in particular, has been a genre of huge infl uence. I want to show the complexity of the movement of one type of music around the globe and then how it settles in areas and is used differently by people in particular cultural contexts. Bristol’s rise to prominence as a popular music centre has happened through a number of artists who have used elements of hip-hop as the base root or as the backbone of their music. Britain’s own developed dance genres of trip-hop, drum and bass, and breakbeat have all used hiphop’s aural sensibilities as a backbone of the music. Artists as diverse as Soul to Soul, Massive Attack, Portishead, Goldie, Reprazent, Dizzie Rascal, The Chemical Brothers, Roots Manuva, and many others have all used hip-hop as an infl uential music. Earlier artists like The Clash and Malcolm Maclaren were infl uential in bringing hip-hop to the UK and adapted hip-hop into their musical output and style. They also brought graffi ti artists to the UK in the early 1980s. The fi rst UK hip-hop acts, like London’s Newtrament and the Rapologists in the early 1980s, through to the London Posse, MC

Mello, The Cookie Crew, and the Demon Boys in the late 1980s, developed the form in a uniquely British style. I want to show how musical forms like hip-hop travel and develop around the globe and how they are accessed and developed by specifi c milieux in particular locations. I concentrate on three examples of hip-hop; those that have developed in parts of Europe, the UK, and the USA. I start with an outline of the development of hip-hop as a cultural phenomenon in New York in the United States.