Global Hip-hop Diaspora

Hip-hop culture originated in the 70s on the streets of New York and south-central Los Angeles, and since has rapidly spread across the globe, expanding from traditional forms. Authentic hip-hop culture was a form of expression, communication and a way to raise awareness of cultural and societal issues. Early genres provided meaningful messages of political consciousness, inclusion, activism, equity, justice, education and success – however commercial hip-hop culture exposes modern manifestations of more negative stereotypes. There is now a stigma associated with hip-hop culture and stereotypes that are predominantly represented in music, gaming and television. The overwhelming repetitiveness of “gangsta-rap” music videos tend to glorify inappropriate behaviour, criminality, brutality, vulgar sexuality and misogyny. Commercial exploitation of hip-hop culture has reshuffled to this commonly presented “gangsta-rap” stereotype, is problematic for youth as they internalise these negative images of racialised ethnicities in the media (Pieters, 2007).

“Music, like identity is both performance and story, describes the social in the individual and the individual in the social. The mind in the body and the body in the mind; Identity, like music, is a matter of both ethics and aesthetics.” (Mitchell, 2007)

Western perceptions of hip-hop are that it is a culture that derived from a genre of music and the derogatory associations the media has portrayed. Hip-hop is in fact a powerful, ancient culture formed by many elements – it is a style, how one dresses, speaks, expresses and carries themselves. Despite all the positive aspects of hip-hop, the media chooses to focus primarily on the negative – seldom exploring the many positive influences that hip-hop culture has brought to the world.

I encourage you to watch (even just 30 seconds) of these two music videos that I feel explore the contrast between traditional and commercial hip-hop culture. As you watch each clip, consider the differences or similarities of elements such as attire, atmosphere, culture/identity, product placement/consumerism, portrayal of men/women/children, instruments, lyrics or any others you can think of.

Pete Rock & C. L. Smooth “They Reminisce Over You”    

50 Cent – P.I.M.P. (Snoop Dogg Remix) ft. Snoop Dogg, G-Unit

The first music video provides a more authentic sense of hip-hop culture, yet is not the kind of clip you would see on MTV’s top hits. The second clip, dramatically varies from traditional elements of hip-hop culture, however is extremely similar to mainstream music videos in this genre.


1. Mitchell, T 2007, 2nd Generation Migrant Expression in Australian Hip-hop, Local Noise,  viewed 22 May 2014, <>

2. Pieters, G 2007, Hip Hop Cultures Identity Crisis, The Star, viewed 22 May 2014, <–hip-hop-culture-s-identity-crisis>


The nerd is the word!

It’s difficult to define what’s cool and what isn’t. Throughout my adolescence I noticed that the trend of being ‘cool’ would typically be doing something different to stand out, but at the same time act like you’re not trying to. For me, one of the first signs of nerds or geeks becoming ‘cool’ was stemmed from a popular teen television series “The OC“. The role of Seth Cohen played by Adam Brody was depicted as a nerdy and shy teenager who had no friends but came from a wealthy family. His time was devoted to comic books (he actually created his own), superheroes, drawing, video games and the like. Money is continuously outlined in the show, as Seth went to an elite high school and then on to college which is contrasted to other characters who didn’t have that opportunity (who were not ‘nerdy’). It was obvious Seth was not ‘cool’ or accepted by his peers at school as he was bullied and portrayed as a social outcast. Throughout the series, Seth’s quirky personality and witty humour began to draw the attention of others not to mention viewers of the show fawned over him. Why? Because he was not considered the ‘norm’ and even though he tried to blend in and not be noticed, he stood out because he was so different to the other teens. I noticed more and more people posting things online (especially blogs) about superheroes, comics and intellectual pieces of work such as poetry, stories etc.

Fashion is also a massive factor during the transition of nerds becoming cool.  Websites have even been produced to get the character Seth Cohen’s fashion. Headings such as “Geeks get the girls”, “Geek chic”, and “Targeting teen trends” are a great example of how nerds have made their way acceptable into society. Collared shirts buttoned all the way to the top, skinny jeans rolled up above the ankle and thick black framed glasses are some prime examples of what is ‘cool’ and accepted now – yet if you were seen in any of these items just 5-10 years back you would have been considered nerdy of course, but with a more negative connotation. The minority has moved to the majority and people are continuously trying to find ways to be different but they eventually become mainstream.