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Niggers and Japs: the formula behind Japanese hip-hop's racism

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Contextualizing Japanese artists’ writings, performances, and media, the present work illuminates the logics among a conservative right-wing faction within Japanese hip-hop, which, ironically, takes United States Black sociopolitical freedom movement as a model. Unlike other studies of ‘respectful politics of cultural affiliation’ between Black and Japanese artists, the present study locates a complicated dynamic in mainstream Japan, wherein Blacks are admired, yet held at a distance. Japanese hip-hop artists and fans close this distance by likening themselves to Blacks as encapsulated in their analogy of ‘Jap’ to ‘nigger.’ They appropriate Black cultural symbols to signify their victimization, while using these to rationalize the xenophobic, nationalistic and racist ‘Othering’ of minority groups.
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Keywords: Japanese rap; cultural appropriation; hip-hop; racism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Cornell University Graduate School, Ithaca, USA

Publication date: March 3, 2016

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