Japanese Hip-Hop Culture By Ian Condry

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Ian Condry’s engaging and intimate ethnography of Japanese hip-hop performance is both a vivid portrait of a local scene and a subtle analysis of how media forms circulate among such locales in the process of cultural globalization. With a focus on place and performativity, Condry’s take on hip-hop’s globalization in performative genba (Japanese for “actual places”) is an attempt at a new methodological approach to this process. Throughout the book, the author’s conceptual development is enlivened and “kept real” by evocative fieldwork references and a wealth of translated lyrics. This rich ethnographic material sustains the reader through a succession of intellectually challenging discursions in which Condry’s take on hip-hop is often less…show more content…
This multifaceted approach is stitched together by Condry’s conceptual development of the genba, the “actual places” where hip-hop performance and interaction occurs. He analyzes the activity in genba—in his study, primarily small-scale sites of hip-hop performance in Tokyo—as key to understanding how hip-hop is globalized in Japan, and he suggests a similar methodological orientation could prove useful in comprehending cultural globalization…show more content…
Genba reveal how hip-hop’s globalization is neither Westernization nor Japanization, nor the expression of some other such binary but, rather, a nuanced “circular interaction” of artists, fans, producers, and others who are engaged in diverse, shifting, and even contradictory reinterpretations. In his first chapter, Condry addresses the question of Japanese hip-hop’s authenticity by exploring race in hip-hop and criticisms that Japanese hip-hop is an inauthentic or unjustifiable appropriation of African American experience. He notes that while race is dealt with differently in U.S. and Japanese hip-hop, “in both countries ... hip-hop creates a space for questioning race and power by laying bare the constructedness of racial identity” (p. 46). Condry suggests that this, in turn, can lead to greater numbers of Japanese affiliating with people beyond their national boundaries. His second chapter discusses the historical development of Japan’s hip-hop scene and the competitive dynamic that has shaped this history. In a generative process he describes as “battling samurai,” this type of competition has driven a diversification and decentralization of the hip-hop scene. In his third chapter, Condry addresses the cultural influence of hip-hop performance and discusses the relationship between

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