Hip Hop in Finland: Genres and Generations

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Keynote lecturers

Murray Forman (Northeastern University, USA)

“OG Means Original”: Aging in and with Hip-Hop

With special attention to the sponsoring organization’s interests in “Genres and Generations,” this presentation isolates age and the ways in which artists, audiences, and entrepreneurs negotiate the cultural meanings and values associated with processes of growing older in and with hip-hop. I will discuss age difference, generational dissonance, and ageism within hip-hop while also emphasizing related temporal issues encompassing tradition, legacy, and preservation.

Professor Murray Forman studies media and culture with a primary focus on popular music, race, and age. For over twenty years he has engaged in research about hip-hop culture, contributing to the emerging field of hip-hop studies. He is author of The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop (Wesleyan University Press, 2002) and co-editor (with Mark Anthony Neal) of That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (Routledge, 1st edition 2004; 2nd edition 2011). His most recent book is One Night on TV is Worth Weeks at the Paramount: Popular Music on Early Television (Duke University Press, 2012). Professor Forman is an inaugural recipient of the Nasir Jones (Nas) Hip-Hop Fellowship at the Hip-Hop Archive, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University (2014-2015). He is a proud member of the Universal Zulu Nation.

Mads Krogh (Aarhus University, Denmark)

Assembling “Aarhus V”: Heterogeneous relations of music, genre and milieu

In the context of Danish hip-hop, so-called Aarhus West rap music constitutes a dominant tendency. Throughout the 2000s, a number of rappers with a common background in specific areas in the western part of Aarhus (Denmarks’ second largest city) rose to national fame, setting records regarding record sales and popularity while bringing issues of ethnic and socio-geographical marginalization to the Danish popular music and cultural mainstream. Meanwhile “Aarhus V” or “8210” (after the areas’ postal code) was promoted by artists, media and local entrepreneurs as a specific label within Danish rap, that denotes an ‘authentic’ match of ghetto conditions and inspirations from American gangsta rap.

In this presentation, I present “Aarhus V” as a case to discuss (sub)generic developments within hip hop as a globalized phenomenon. While considering current developments in popular music genre theory, I argue that predominant notions of ‘glocalized’ rap as “resistance vernaculars” or “global noise” (cf. Hawkins et al. 2004, Mitchell 2001) risk maintaining overly homogenous understandings of genre. I look in particular to the Deleuzian concept of assemblage, which is advocated in a context of genre theory by among others Georgina Born (cf. 2011). In this respect, I attempt to highlight heterogeneity – and more specifically continuous de- and re-territorialization within a heterogeneous milieu of rap music, hip hop culture, social, ethnic and geographical conditions, media, political and commercial interests etc. – as a key issue in understanding musico-generic development, persistence and strength.

Mads Krogh is associate professor at the School of Communication and Culture – Musicology, Aarhus University, Denmark. His research interests relate to popular music culture, media and practice. He has published on musical genre theory, issues of globalization and locality, censorship, musical practice, mediation and ontology – with an empirical emphasis on rap and hip hop in Denmark. He is the co-editor of Hiphop i Skandinavien (“Hip hop in Scandinavia”; Aarhus University Press, 2008) and currently a member of the collective Danish research project RAMUND – A century of Radio and Music in Denmark (funded by the Danish Research Council for Culture and Communication).

Johan Söderman (Malmö University & Gothenburg University, Sweden)

Hip Hop in Sweden – learning processes, folkbildning and raptivists

Sweden has undergone major changes during the last decades with regard to a growing immigration of people from all over the world. It has been transformed from a relative homogeneous country with a traditionally Nordic culture to a multicultural society. In the same way as the Swedish working class once found a way out of their marginal position through activism and voluntary education (folkbildning), today’s immigrant youth, ‘new Swedes’ access Swedish society by articulating their position through hip-hop. In addition, there is a strong identification with African-American experiences among young people with immigrant background. Simultaneously, there are many Swedish rappers (raptivists) who use hip-hop as a tool or medium to educate others. Accordingly, the purpose of this lecture is thus to show how the learning processes of hip-hop and its connection to emancipatory pedagogy and social activism parallel the Scandinavian tradition of folkbildning, which can be seen as a movement to provide voluntary education for the general population. In conclusion, cultural expressions, like hip-hop, provide an ideal starting point for building bridges and creating encounters between different social, ethnic, and religious groups in the society. In this way, young people can play an important role in building civil society. This is now beginning to take shape in Sweden. Finally, studying hip-hop might not only be seen as a barometer of our time and development of society in general, but also as a well-established practice of learning outside school and formal institutions which has the potential to contribute valuable knowledge to the fields of general education and hip-hop studies.

Dr. Johan Söderman is working as an Associate Professor in Music Education at Malmö University and Gothenburg University and received his PhD from Lund University. He has been a visiting scholar at Teachers College, Columbia University and is a board member of the Swedish Council for popular adult education. Söderman is the editor-in-chief of the scientific educational journal Educare, and his publications include Hip-Hop within and without the Academy (with Karen Snell; Lexington Books 2014) and Planet Hiphop: om hiphop som folkbildning och social mobilisering (“Planet Hip Hop: on Hip Hop as Folk Education and Social Mobilisation”, with Ove Sernhede; Liber 2010). His research interests are community music, social mobilization and informal learning in youth culture and music.

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