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Book Project

Hip-Hop From the East of Europe – Edited by Milosz Miszczynski and Adriana Helbig

Manuscript under review

Hip-Hop from the East of Europe contextualizes hip-hop's polysemous nature through the prism of local experiences and regional musical expressions. The volume synthesizes ethnographic research, music, media, and policy analysis with recent theoretical developments in order to examine how localized forms of hip-hop create social and political spaces for debates, narration and expression for local artists and musicians. The volume's comparative dimension allows insight into a variety of hip-hop scenes and artists whose experiences, goals and actions have a common grounding in the history of the region and contemporary realities. Over the course of this book, it will be clear that hip-hop, in its global and local fusion forms, carries many meanings for participants of various backgrounds. As a worldwide language of social protest, hip-hop offers ways through which artists comment on their everyday life, problems of a political nature, economic marginalization, ethnic discrimination, gender dynamics and existential problems. As we show in the volume, for young populations in particular, hip-hop serves as a medium through which they negotiate their socio-economic place, share their life experiences as well as engage with dominating discourse of mass media. Gender, class, ethnicity, race, and individual processes of representation are negotiated through musical lyrics, dancing, music videos, clothing, and engagements with commercial and underground genres.
The presented case studies from a variety of Eastern European countries reinforce the different ways that hip-hop is performed, understood and received by the audience. The data in this book show that on the one hand, post-socialist and global transitions are similar in terms of the anxiety they create for social economic and political stability. On the other hand, hip-hop musicians and local audiences engage differently with historically and geographically mediated circulations of hip-hop patters, updated by local elements of popular culture. Such differences stem from differing levels of access to Western media and based on ways "the West" is perceived and interpreted in local contexts.
This book brings into question Cold War concepts such as "Eastern Europe" and how these shape emerging English-language popular music scholarship that until recently focused primarily on traditional musics of the region. As the present cases prove, the framework of the volume acts against the static analytical categories in social science literature that posits "post-socialism" as a category of systemic transitions. We ground our analysis in rich ethnographic data and argue that the musical experience of post-socialism is one of globalization, cosmopolitanism, and capitalism that young people engage with through their choice of musical genre, language, lyrics, instrumentation, video imagery, physical representation, vocal aesthetics, dance, and how, where, and with whom they participate in musical activities. In the chapters that comprise this edited volume, we learn as much about post-socialist musical expressions as we do about the complex ways young audiences relate to popular music associated with the U.S. and the E.U. and how they use this music to further their social and cultural agendas.