Indigenous Hip-hop: overcoming marginality, encountering constraints

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Abstract:

This paper discusses the creative and contemporary performances of young Indigenous hip-hoppers in two seemingly disparate places (Nowra, NSW, and Torres Strait Islands, QLD). Visiting two Indigenous hip-hop groups from these places—and drawing on interviews and participant observation—we explore the way in which emerging technologies, festivals, programs and online networking have helped enable unique forms of music making. In contrast to racist discourses depicting Indigenous youth as idle or inactive, our research participants demonstrated musical aspiration, creativity and a desire to express love of country and culture. Rather than assume cities and urban centres are hubs for creativity, hip-hop production is geographically mobile, operating in locations removed from large population centres. Indigenous hip-hop links up-and-coming with more experienced performers in what amounts to a semi-formal, political, transnational and anti-colonial creative industry. Geographical distance remains an ongoing challenge, but more than this, wider patron discourses framing what is expected from 'proper' Indigenous performance are the more profound coalface of marginalisation.

Keywords: Indigenous; Nowra; Torres Strait Islands; creativity; hip-hop; marginalisation; patron discourses; performance; young people

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00049180903535659

Affiliations: University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: March 1, 2010

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