Hip-hop and Culture

From classic to ballad, musical genres are widely spread throughout the world. These genres are respected throughout and are the growing part of the culture today. However, hip-hop and rap in Korea it is a different story. Korea, still having the old traditions and views about culture and how to go about sustaining the customs and traditional cultures, are opposed of viewing hip-hop. Although the infamous song, “Gangnam Style” became famous throughout the entire world, Korean elders and culture seekers are strongly against such diverse and new subculture.

It was not long ago when hip-hop was first introduced in Korea. From music, to dancing, to even street tagging on walls, this so called culture was viewed not as a legal thing but as somewhat foreign and held the gangster theme. “Hongdae” is a one of the prestigious Korean universities. It is the Mecca for hip-hop in Korea. With hip-hop clubs, street art cafes, to breakdance battles on the streets, the city is bright and alive with the hip-hop spirit. Created and first introduced by African Americans, hip-hop shows somewhat of blackface and forever foreigner to the Koreans in Seoul. It has been over 50 years since the war has been at an armistice with the North, however, there are still people opposed of such culture that most young generations prefer or should I say follow. Having hip-hop represented from movies and television with the portraying of African Americans and the gangs, it only leaves bad reputation for the hardworking, education first, and culture driven Asians on the other side of the globe.

What differentiates the American hip-hop and Asian hip-hop is that it is viewed that Americans do it for the money, fame and for other reasons. However, in the Asian culture, that is not it. We do it because we want to do it or because we enjoy doing it. For example, although elders in Korea do not appreciate the loud thunderous music and beats, young generations still fight the will and continue on with the culture of music, dance, or other forms of hip-hop. There are many famous rappers like Dumbfoundead, Tiger JK, Dynamic Duo and Leessang. These artists or groups do not represent the hip-hop community because of fame or money, but solely because they like the music and want to sing it out. It might look funny or weird for Americans to look or listen to Asian rap and hip-hop culture since their eyes were “blacked out” by the famous African Americans like Jay Z, lil wayne, tupac and 50 cent, but it is different for the Asians that support the largest hip-hop community. Drunken Tiger, a Korean group of two rappers held their first concert in the States. Out of all the people that came, 80 percent were African Americans. It is very much appreciated when people unite in the subculture of hip-hop however, the issue is that there is a different set of goals behind it and a totally different background and environment back home whether it is supported or not supported due to the main cultural differences. 

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One thought on “Hip-hop and Culture

  1. Good analysis of how hip hop has been taken up in Korea, and how the musicians provide a “resistant representation” to that of the model minority. It’s also interesting to hear how the response from an older generation is similar to the response here to hip hop.

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