Intrigue in the Big League

A uni student's intrigue in marketing and media

Hip Hop Hybrids and International Success

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Hip hop has changed a lot since it was first introduced in the 1970s. Originating with African-American artists in the slums of New York City, hip hop has evolved and hybridised over time. From artists such as ‘Xzibit’ to those like ‘Die Antwoord‘, there has been a big change in what people may categorise as traditional hip hop.

The following clip is Xzibit’s track ‘Paparazzi’, which he released in 1996. It shows the more original kinds of hip hop that were popular when the genre became well known.

‘Paparazzi’ is an obvious example of hip hop, however as the genre has been globalised and become interpreted by different music artists across the world, the rules for what songs can be defined as ‘hip hop’ are becoming very vague. Different cultures and aspects have been incorporated into the genre, and in this way hip hop has been hybridised.

Some elements of hip hop include; MCing, DJing, Graffiti and Breaking. While these are the main elements of hip hop, many people refuse to only define hip hop with just those elements because they believe there are many more aspects to the genre. One major aspect of hip hop is the representation of the artist’s culture through their music.

‘Die Antwoord’ is a South African hip hop group that was formed in Cape Town in 2008.  The group is made up of three members: Ninja, Yo-Landi Vi$$er and DJ Hi-Tek. Ninja (aka Watkin Tudor Jones) was part of the South African hip hop scene for many years before starting ‘Die Antwoord’. One of their first songs: ‘Enter the Ninja’ starts off with Ninja talking:

“Check it. I represent South African culture. In this place you get a lot of different things. Blacks, whites, colourds, English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu, Basotho. I’m like all these different things, all these different people, fucked into one person.”

While ‘Die Antwoord’ claims to represent South African culture, the response to their songs in South Africa was actually worse than the response to their music internationally. According to Rob Boffard, critics in South Africa believe ‘Die Antwoords’ music is not very good.

So while ‘Die Antwoord’ is successful internationally, they aren’t very successful locally. There could be many reasons for this, however one of the main reasons could be the fact that their music is hybridised. The traditional hip hop in South Africa is not the same as Die Antwoord’s version of hip hop. Also, traditional South African culture is not really incorporated into their music. The hip hop performed by them includes different aspects of hip hop culture from around the world.

This shows that hip hop hybridity can be very successful internationally.

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