Language, localization, and the real: Hip-hop and the global spread of authenticity

Lawrence Erlbaum Associates
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 2007, 6 (2), pp. 101 - 116
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This article addresses the relationship between the call for authenticity, its relocalization in other contexts, and the use of English. Hip-hop forces us to confront some of the conflictual discourses of authenticity and locality, from those that insist that African American hip-hop is the only real variety and that all other forms are inauthentic deviations, to those that insist that to be authentic one needs to stick to one's "own" cultural and linguistic traditions. The global spread of hip-hop authenticity provides an example of the tension between a cultural dictate to keep it real and the processes that make this dependent on local contexts, languages, cultures, and understandings of the real. Looking at various contexts of localization, this article suggests that the horizons of significance that constitute what counts as locally real open up useful perspectives on the local and global use of languages. The multiple realities of global hip-hop challenge ortholinguistic practices and ideologies, relocating language in new ways that both reflect and produce local language practices.
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