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Rap and cultural change: Authenticity and hybrid identities in the music of rappers of African descent in Finland

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In many European countries, the different local rap music scenes were originally founded by marginalized ethnic minority youths, and in academia, the genre is often discussed as resistance music that these youths employ to challenge oppressive cultural hegemonies. Thus, the focus in academic research has often been on rappers who are openly political and critical towards their societies in their music. However, as rap has become highly popular and influential within global youth culture, many academics have become increasingly concerned about its messages, arguing that commercial rap with apolitical, materialistic and self-obsessed lyrics have replaced rap’s anti-hegemonic resistance messages. This article challenges the idea that the majority of contemporary rap music is either harmful or insignificant and that only openly political and socially critical rap is worthy of academic praise. Instead, by focusing on the music of Finnish rappers of African descent, this article examines how rap music by marginalized ethnic minorities can challenge oppressive cultural hegemonies and foster cultural change because of an element that unites all rap: the central role of authenticity.

Keywords: authenticity; ethnic minorities; hip hop; hybridity; marginalization; music videos; rap; resistance

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000404102071University of Helsinki

Publication date: March 1, 2021

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  • The Journal of European Popular Culture investigates the creative cultures of Europe, present and past. Exploring European popular imagery, media, new media, film, music, art and design, architecture, drama and dance, fine art, literature and the writing arts, and more, the journal is also of interest to those considering the influence of European creativity and European creative artefacts worldwide.
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