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Marc Dietrich

To person

is a PhD sociologist and research assistant at the Institute for Media and Communication Studies at the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt. His research focuses on pop culture, scene and racism research, media analysis and qualitative methods. [email protected]

It is no exaggeration to claim that hip-hop has "somehow" touched almost every part of pop culture in the past few decades: [1] Rap is the soundtrack to popular series as well as blockbusters and video games, played in boutiques during the superbowl break and supermarket chains, and sometimes a track even becomes a political anthem in conflict. The relevance of hip-hop on a macro-sociological scale can hardly be doubted - not only because even the search engine provider Google believed it had to declare August 11, 2017 the "44th HipHop Anniversary", but also because it has long since arrived in research. HipHop is "by far the largest youth culture in the world," wrote youth researcher Klaus Farin years ago. [2]

In view of the fact that in Germany now not only Wu-Tang T-shirts are sold at H&M, but also a hip-hop party has been founded and rap albums are discussed in the features section alongside films by Jim Jarmusch and dramas by Elfriede Jelinek, journalists and Academics even think about whether hip-hop has not become a very important part of a cross-age and cross-generational mainstream culture. Because "35 years of rap in Germany" [3] have left their mark - in the hip-hop scene, actors from the early days now associate with teenagers who are just joining the scene. This strong generational heterogeneity shows that hip-hop is lived beyond biological adolescence, that is, in addition to the general cultural "impact", it is also about an age-independent lifestyle of "juvenility". [4]

The establishment of hip-hop in media and educational institutions has to do with the older hip-hop fans who have brought their culture to the editorial offices and universities. The latter led to a thematically and perspectively broad-based hip-hop research in the social and cultural sciences, the main lines of which will be presented below.

Delayed research start

The purely journalistic occupation with and documentation of hip hop is almost as old as the subject itself and began in the late 1970s. With a few exceptions, however, scientific research did not flourish in the United States until the 1990s. [5] The reasons for this delay may in part have been public perceptions and media debates that reflect the increasing relevance and influence of the blackculture to a white audience with concern and, in some cases, clearly had racist undertones. [6]

It took a while until rap, which for a long time did not even take place on the radio, was able to gain acceptance in the media. The journalists Dan Charnas and Bakari Kitwana see the cultural breeding ground for the acceptance of Afro-American-dominated pop culture by a broader white audience as being prepared by a number of actors and formats, some of which were also influential in Germany: Eddie Murphy with the film "Beverly Hills Cop ", Oprah Winfrey with her TV show of the same name or Spike Lee, who helped create the so-called New Black Cinema as an author, but of course also the early hip-hop films" Wild Style! " and "Beat Street". In the 1980s and early 1990s, primarily cultural battles were fought over an establishment and at least partial public recognition before hip-hop could gain a foothold as an academic subject in the USA.

There was a little more delay in this regard in Germany, where the American culture first had to solidify in order to gradually develop its own cultural identity. The time-shifted examination of the research topic hip-hop is, however, also related to two other factors.

On the one hand, a normative perspective had to be overcome in the sciences, based on an elitist understanding of culture and art. After all, pop culture has long been considered not worthy of or worth investigating: the view of pop culture was largely shaped by culturally pessimistic assessments, which ideologically reflected not least in Theodor W. Adorno's and Max Horkheimer's influential work on the culture industry and other contributions to pop (ulary) cultural Topics such as jazz and film served. [8] British cultural studies offered a perspective that upgraded pop culture and thus hip-hop and also gave the supposedly superficial, "equilateral" products a subversive content. [9] This power-critical discipline, which is focused on pop (ular) culture, has been conveyed to German-speaking countries in the past 20 years through the work of media scholars Rainer Winter, Lothar Mikos and Udo Göttlich, and pop culture research has become more "socially acceptable". [10]

On the other hand, hip hop first had to be subjected to a substantial theoretical subject indexing. If social and cultural science disciplines demand "legitimation strategies" from researchers to examine an object, then in the case of hip-hop, too, a cultural and socio-theoretical embedding service had to take place. This became essentially only in 2003 through a sociological publication on authenticity respectively realness launched in hip-hop. Gabriele Klein and Malte Friedrich's statements in "Is this real? The culture of HipHop" subsequently became the starting point for further considerations, [11] because they helped to model two basic cultural establishment and transformation dynamics.

First, based on the work on habitus, field and capital types of the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, they showed how realness is produced and reproduced in hip-hop: if realness for hip-hop actors means to credibly connect to common, often implicit concepts of being authentic and hip-hop, which is primarily done through the integration of the fashionable style, the use of specific codes and body language, so the body can play an important role Context can be understood sociologically. Realness is then the result of a physical achievement of internalizing hip-hop orientations and values, as occurs through hip-hop socialization. Hip-hoppers have gone through a habitualization in which circulating values ​​and codes have been incorporated in such a way that they can act "authentically" in hip-hop contexts without much reflective effort, and this "practical sense" ensures that others can also be assessed as authentic.

Second, the authors identified a worldwide distribution and establishment logic of hip-hop culture in a critical demarcation from the concept of McDonaldization of the sociologist George Ritzer in favor of the glocalization concept of his colleague Roland Robertson. [12] According to this, rap functions in the USA as a local culture that is staged through media products such as tracks and music videos and reaches people around the world through music television, for example. The hip-hop media presentations are received and adapted beyond the country of origin. In a further process, a country-specific musical identity is formed, insofar as the US-based patterns of rapping and performing are re-contextualized against the background of local conditions - in the mid-1990s, the Stieber Twins from Heidelberg combined the New York beat aesthetics with raps from the Palatinate region.