Popular Music and Society
Hip hop emerged as a musical and cultural force during the late 1970s in the United States and has followed a global trajectory ever since. Artists and fans around the world filter North American hip hop styles through their own local musical, social, and linguistic environments, making hip hop a highly visible (and audible) example of the intersection of global and local youth cultures. Young people in Tanzania and Malawi, neighboring African countries in the eastern region of the continent, are no exception to this creative process. Both countries have vibrant hip hop communities that draw on youth knowledge of international, as well as local and national, hip hop music and culture. Youth in the two countries listen to the same popular American stars and hold similar ideas about and interpretations of their lives and music. Yet, Tanzanian and Malawian hip hop scenes diverge in the social and cultural significance of local musical practices, which include performing as well as dancing, dressing, and talking about rap music. This tension between the similar and the different serves as an analytic backdrop for what follows.