Developed vs. Developing Hip Hop

Above Ground Magazine (2010) defines hip hop as the four elements of “Em-ceeing, DJ-ing, B-boying and graffiti art”

As a group presenter for this weeks topic “Global and Local Selves in Hip Hop” I was privileged enough to complete extra research and readings that expanded my knowledge on the branching of hip hop and the effects of different nations characteristics on the spread of this global culture.

What would happen if particular countries had more influence on the effects of globalization?  Would it give them greater power over these hip hop elements? The answer is YES! This notion of power will identify how local selves in hip hop are heavily affected by controlling host nations, which in turn made hip hop such a global identity.


Throughout the 1980’s, hip hop in the USA was simply a movement in popular culture that spread indefinitely throughout the rest of the world. However, for many small developing nations it affected the local culture in a much more personal way.

This is the infamous Suga Pop, who is identified by Henderson as ‘a proginetor, an islander, a dance legend, and Maori’ p194. Many islanders look up to him as a role model who has enabled the movement of particular styles such as ‘popping and locking’ and who’s traveling body connects ‘Samoa, Aoteroa, Hawaii, LA and NYC’ (Henderson, 2012, p195). But why was it so important for developing nations, in particular the islanders, to have such multicultural hip hop role models?

  • Indigenous Footsouljah’s (Samoan)
  • K.O.S-163 (New Zealand)
  • Suga Pop (New Zealand)
  • Electric Boogaloo’s (African-American)
  • Boo-Yaa Tribe (American)
  • Snoop Dogg (African-American)
  • MC Khas (Samoan)

Henderson (2012) elaborates that the hip hop role models encouraged pacific islanders to ‘break their confidence barrier’ by experimenting with imported dance forms such as “bop” p190. This exerted confidence in the local culture and therefore groups and individuals started mixing island culture in their dance formations.

A Samoan Hip Hop dancer, Petelo Petelo stated that rather than contradicting or opposing traditional forms, street dance enabled the children of migrants to have the confidence to learn and perform traditional dance at Samoan gatherings’ (Henderson, 2012, p190).

The mixture of different cultures through hip hop, in particular the influence of USA on Pacific Islands has allowed for the diversity of people, lyrics and languages, recognition of coloured people, learning, experimenting, spreading of knowledge, acceptance, integration and allows one to re-visit connections in history.

How does hip hop spread around the world? Transnational transfers of popular dance and music filter down in order from “USA, Hawaii, US Samoa, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia” (Henderson, 2012, p188). Why does USA sit at the top of the hip hop food chain?


A recent study “The structure of international music flows using network analysis” by Yon Soo Lim, Moon, S. & Barnett, G.A. (2010) has revealed that “developed countries hold a leading position as both the dominant exporters and importers in the music trade network, whereas the developing countries are net importers of music goods” p394. This is very important in recognising the spread of hip hop globally, as rap music and beat boxing comprise a large division of the music industry.

Also revealed in the study were that Germany, USA, Netherlands and the UK hold the top four positions in the degree centrality of the international music trade flow network, whereas Samoa is placed down the bottom of the list. (Lim, Y. Moon, S. & Barnett, G.A, 2010, pg387-389)

Funnily enough these central countries correspond with the top four music companies in the world.

  1. Germany = Sony
  2. USA = Warner
  3. Netherlands = EMI
  4. UK = Universal

This result implies that the core nations have expanded and controlled the international music and hip hop market as a consequence of media globalization. “Technologies have not enriched all nations equally, large media companies are enhancing their economic positions” p394, whereas the developing nations, such as the Pacific Islands are depending on these countries for global imports. As mentioned earlier and identified by a smart member of my BCM111 tutorial group, you could say that America is an exporter of “CONFIDENCE”.

The cultural integration of hip hop has proved beneficial for many countries, specifically those of Pacific Island heritage; however the unequal integration of these nations has also identified some issues in the spread of the hip hop culture.

 Following these findings, my group’s collaborative idea was a rap battle activity in which the class would be divided into two groups, one side with a list of Islander rap words, and the other with a list of American rap words. The activity involved both groups to create a small verse of their own rap song using the given words, they then had to rap against each other. Surprisingly this worked quite well, however, it was visible that many of the English and American words were still used throughout the Islander rap. Has the effect of these developed nations on developing nations caused too much loss of cultural identity? It’s your choice!

Reference List:

Brydon, G. 2010, “Hip-Hop: A Culture of Four Elements?” Above Ground Music Fashion Culture, 30 September, p1

Henderson, A. 2012, “Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and the Samoan Diaspora” vol. 12, pp180-199

Russel, H (2013), “The Rap Battle (Parody)” accessed 18/08/2013

The Ellen Show (2010), “Check Out These Amazing Kid Hip-Hop Dancers” accessed 18/08/2013

Top Nation Japan (2012), “Freestyle Session Japan 2012 10th Anniversary” accessed 18/08/2013

Yon Soo Lim, Moon, S. & Barnett, G.A. 2010, “The structure of international music flows using network analysis”, New Media & Society, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 379-399.


One thought on “Developed vs. Developing Hip Hop

  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. The hip-hop culture is emerging, even today, and I totally agree that it was an opportunity to express yourself in a new, artistic, and original way. It increased confidence as well as self esteem and gave the performers a new sense of identity.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s