Hip-hop and rap are here to stay. Bakari Kitwana and Michael Ralph state that rap, rhyme, and “keeping it real” are now the fashion, voice, music, and lifestyle of a new generation.
From the very beginning, African- American music-making aims for high density of performance events within a relatively short musical space. There tends to be a profusion of simultaneous musical activities, as if an attempt is being made to fill up every available niche of musical space. This may well correspond to the sound ideal of certain West African traditions that favor collective improvisation of equal instruments (Nelson et al., 1991). The rules of performance have over time been partially absorbed by American popular culture and honed by and adapted to a multiethnic audience. Second-generation American Jews and Italians have been instrumental in translating this black energy into mainstream culture. This ethnic collusion has made these items irresistible to oppressed groups or to individuals around the world trying to break out of their shackles. Not only Ghanian asylum-seekers in Munich, but Tungusian youth in Siberia, Senegalese hip-hop groups and German-Turkish adolescents in Berlin mimic the playful African-American ritual gestures of existential transgression and mock defiance and create their versions of rap, hip-hop, and break dance.
According to scholars, concerning the period of rapid spread and increasing popularity of the rap, we can largely include the same strongest exterior force and encouragement of commercial side to influence the acceptance and appreciation of hip hop in the U.S.
Thus, rap's complex attitude toward mass circulation and commercialization reflects a central feature of postmodernism: its fascinated and overwhelming absorption of contemporary technology, particularly that of the mass media. While the commercial products of this technology seem so simple and fruitful to use, both the actual complexities of technological production and its intricate relations to the sustaining socioeconomic system are, for the consumer public, frighteningly unfathomable and unmanageable. Mesmerized by the powers technology provides us, we postmoderns are also vaguely disturbed by the great power it has over us, as the all-pervasive but increasingly incomprehensible medium of our lives. But fascination with its awesome power can afford us the further (perhaps illusory) thrill that in effectively employing technology, we prove ourselves its master. Such thrills are characteristic of what Jameson dubs the “hallucinatory exhilaration” of the “postmodern or technological sublime” (Shusterman, 2000).
Hip hop powerfully displays this syndrome, enthusiastically embracing and masterfully appropriating mass-media technology, but still remaining unhappily oppressed and appropriated by that same technological system and its sustaining society. Rap was born of commercial mass-media technology: records and turntables, amplifiers and mixers. Its technological character allowed its artists to create music they could not otherwise make, either because they could not afford the musical instruments required or because they lacked the musical training to play them (Shusterman, 2000). Technology constituted its DJs as artists rather than consumers or mere executant technicians. “Run DMC first said a deejay could be a band / Stand on its own feet, get you out your seat,” (Chang, …