The Discursive Creation of a Subculture by Conscious Rap Adherents in South Africa
The early hip hop made in South Africa in the 1980s was politically conscious and openly critical of the apartheid system. Hip hop has proliferated and diversified since its beginnings, and according to several contemporary researchers, this development has entailed a shift from an emphasis on black consciousness towards a focus on individual achievement, sensuous pleasures, and materialism (e.g., Künzler 2011; Watkins 2012). This article shows that conscious rap still exists in South Africa. It studies the discourses of contemporary conscious rap artists and adherents and argues that they construct putatively distinct subcultural factions according to the music styles followed by the youth. The distinctions are driven by both the musical and socio-political considerations of the interlocutors. Theoretically, the article contributes to subcultural studies by arguing for the significance of both affective attachment and political context in the analysis of the subcultures.
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