chapter  3
15 Pages

People in the corner

The weird success of rap
ByStefano Barone

The chapter describes analyses the Tunisian rap scene along the lines of sceneness and fragility. The first section sketches the history of Tunisian rap and explains how rap’s popularity upsurged with the revolution. Factors such as the end of censorship, the symbolic importance of protest music in the aftermath of 2011, and the role of rapper El General’s anthem Rayes Lebled in the epic of the Arab Spring are therefore cited. At the same time, the section focuses on the limits of rap’s popularity: incapable of building a profitable industry, the rap scene remains, for the most part, confined within the virtual realm of the internet. In this context, scene members stage different strategies to overcome their incomplete success and their cultural marginalisation. Attention is then devoted to the lines of organisation (and conflict) within the scene. The coexistence of different crews and their spatial references, and the relationship between different generations of rappers, embodies disagreement on the profound meaning and legitimate structure of the scene, thus presenting different forms of sceneness whose interplay models the reproduction of Tunisian rap.