Book Hip-Hop as Critical Conscience: Framing Dissatisfaction and Dissent.

pp.1 - 11 , 2017-10-01Palgrave Macmillan
Originating from youth cultures in the South Bronx during the late 1970s, the performative musical genre of hip-hop represents “a form of rhymed storytelling accompanied by highly rhythmic, electronically based music” (Rose, 1994: 2), one frequently portraying narrative experiences born from socioeconomic desperation, structural oppression and other forms of perceived hardship (Flores, 2012; Neal, 1999). The social conditions of the first hip-hop artists were significant in shaping lyrical content. The South Bronx area of New York was known at the time as “America’s Worst Slum” (Prices, 2006: 4) with Black and Latino communities facing “high rates of unemployment, extreme poverty, and other social structural barriers, such as a change from a manufacturing to a service-sector economy, along with urban renewal programs that pushed many black and Latinos from their residences” (Oware, 2015: 2). From this observation it is apparent that the genre of hip-hop is a product of the non-mainstream and, owing to its origins, offers a performative space for those who perceive themselves to be, or wish to present themselves as being, on the outskirts of mainstream society. Rose (1994: 2) affirms the connections between race, culture and status within society by describing how hip-hop represents a form of “black cultural expression that prioritizes black voices from the margins of urban America”.

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