Critics of the global media giants claim that global media is increasingly homogenised. Others, in contrast, argue that global media is thoroughly hybridised. Discuss the evidence for each of these positions with reference to hip-hop. I: Introduction
Increasingly over the past twenty years, hip-hop has transformed from “marginalised to mainstream” (Motley & Henderson, 2008, p.243) as more and more of the world’s youth follow the genre. With these growing numbers all over the world there is simultaneously growing concern that hip-hop is increasingly homogenised as artists adopt the genre. This essay will address both the homogenous and hybrid aspects of hip-hop, arguing that true hip-hop must contain an element of localisation, as authenticity underpins the very notion of hip-hop. II: Homogenisation v.s. hybridisation
Homogenisation in the context of hip-hop refers to artists around the globe subscribing to a global popular culture in their music, names and dress fashion in a process sometimes termed “Americanisation” (Omoniyi, 2006). Thus, in this interpretation of hip-hop it is not regarded as unique, but rather as simply reproducing American culture in other parts of the world, and furthermore an example of cultural imperialism (Dennis, 2006). In contrast, hybridisation refers to the “creative adaptation and strategic innovation” (Dennis, 2006, p.271) of traditional hip-hop, to better reflect and preserve aspects of a particular culture. This upholds the idea that “hip-hop is a life-style rather than simply a musical genre” (Omoniyi, 2006, p.203), meaning that hip-hop reflects local concerns and values rather than being globally uniform. In essence, hybridisation in the context of hip-hop involves the melding of the global trends (such as the fashion and aspects of the music), with local issues so as to speak to the people (Motley & Henderson, 2008). III: Hip-hop: origins
Hip-hop’s origins are believed to date back to the late 1970’s, where the music was used as a form of self-expression by those in deprived New York neighbourhoods (Androutsopoulos & Scholz, 2003). Since then the genre has grown substantially, with more than 50 million hip-hop fans in the United States and 100 million people worldwide consuming some form of hip-hop (Motley & Henderson, 2008). Thus, this rapid expansion has put into question the uniqueness of hip-hop, with some unsure about whether the genre is truly inventive or just another form of Americanisation (Omonyi, 2006). IV: Americanisation
Within society, there is a growing concern with the idea of ‘Americanisation’ as more and more of the world’s youth turn to hip-hop (Dennis, 2006). “The rampant proliferation of U.S. hip-hop and rap, and its subsequent acceptance and appropriation as cultural forms of expression in Colombia, signal an increase in mass-mediated, transnational cultural contact in great part due to new technological advances in communication systems that facilitate the exportation of U.S. popular culture” (Dennis, 2006, p.279). Thus, these “technological advances” could be in reference to not only the expansion of music over the radio, but perhaps more importantly the growth of music television; otherwise known as MTV (Omoniyi, 2006). Although MTV is probably considered by most western youth as of concern only to those of the western world, in Africa alone MTV has at least 100 channels (Omoniyi, 2006). This effectively highlights the significant influence of American music over the world. A further issue to explore in relation to homogenisation is the widespread global use of American English (Androutsopoulos & Scholz, 2003). An example of American English is effectively exemplified by U.S. Negro artist ‘Snoop Dogg’ in his song For all my Niggaz & Bitches. Here, Snoop utilises words such as “Nigga”, “motherfucker”, “bitches” and “shit” whilst describing “gangsta” life which appears to encompass sex, violence, drug use and male supremacy....
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