Posted in Article Review, Female Emcees, Hip Hop References, South Africa

The Effects of American Hip-Hop in South Africa

In her article, Being a ‘bitch’: some questions on the gendered globalisation and consumption of American hip-hop urban culture in post-apartheid South Africa, Lliane Loots explores how American hip-hop has impacted the identities of youth in South Africa. Loots begins her article by discussing her first encounter with hip-hop in Wentworth, South Africa. This town was historically colored and featured a dance studio where many of the local youth would hang out with friends and practice their moves. She noticed that many of the young men would attempt difficult breakdancing moves while most of the young women would “dance like Janet Jackson”, refusing to be labeled as ‘b-girls’ because they did not want to seem “unfeminine”. Loots claims that American hip-hop culture had not only affected the music scene in South Africa, but it had also affected the mindset of many young people. She saw the incoming hip-hop movement as a culture from the North that was being sold to South Africans as superior, and as “defining our entry into this global (American) village”. She notes that many of the songs contained misogynistic and vulgar lyrics. Loots claims that this hip-hop culture is a form of “cultural colonisation”.

Loots spends a great deal of time discussing the gender dynamics in the hip-hop culture of the US. She claims that many women are often objectified and relegated to sexy background dancers while males are the ones who make music. She criticizes American hip-hop because she feels it does not provide a space for black women to be treated as equals. Since many young people in the South are consumers of this culture, Loots argues that hip-hop could have a detrimental effect on the way women and men interact.

Many of the young people in South Africa have adopted some of this American hip-hop culture but they have also subverted traditional hip-hop by adding new sounds, lyrics and experiences. South African youth do have agency and have been using hip-hop as a way to express their own opinions instead of just blindly following American trends.

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