Thursday, May 17, 2007

Exporting McCulture Through Hip Hop

Even though you can't understand the lyrics it's not difficult to see the export of American culture all around the world through music. Unless you speak Korean, you won't understand this video. But this South Korean pop star shows the influence of American culture everywhere in Asia. The video itself is emulative of American rap and pop star videos, from the stolen theme of Beverly Hills Cop to the Ecko Ltd. shirts. The video revolves around the popping & locking line style of dance made popular during the funk period, and features break-dancers stuck in poses that freeze in red, white, and blue. The song itself is about being a DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) champion I think, hence it's title Champion. At one point in the video we see a screen reading "Select your player" as in a DDR game. It then shows the arrows moving up the screen, leaving no doubt. That seems to be the only genuine Korean icon, however.

Or take this video, from the Gaza Strip, featuring Palestinian group called Dam--meaning "Blood"--rapping about the troubles of living in Palestine under oppressive Israeli inspections and regulations. Subtitles are offered in Hebrew, leaving a no doubt who the video's audience extends to. In this video the only thing distinctly American is the fact that it's hip hop and in music video format. Other than that the Arabic lyrics pertain to the destruction of thier homes and issues about land rights. It's a call-to-arms music video, but the interesting thing is that, in order to make it, they would have needed Israeli cooperation in getting the trucks and the officers to act. "Ethnic cleansing knocks at the door," the chorus says, "Like a bird that breaks out of the cage, she'll spread her wings and fly."

The French have many big-time rappers, such as MC Solaar. If his video Solaar Pleure was in English you wouldn't be able to tell that it was French! The German hip hop artist in this video tries to immitate the off-beat vibes of American hip hop from a few years back. Abroad they seem to always be a few years behind, and still getting almost all of their ideas from Americans. I wonder what they rap about in Germany? Brazil? Iraq? Iran? Venezuela? In most of the videos their gestures are indistinguishable from Americans'. They unfortunately tend to rap about American ideas and problems as well.

Hip Hop has spread to almost every nation on the planet. And with it comes American culture, American ideas, and even American dance moves. At least some of the nations are retaining their distinctive cultures and ideas, however. Americans are largely unaware of the world of hip hop that has been created outside their nation's borders. As a revolutionary musical force it ironically exports only ideas of the status quo, with few exceptions.

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