Hip Hop at Europe's Edge: Music, Agency, and Social Change

By Milosz Miszczynski; Adriana Helbig | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
UNMASKING EXPRESSIONS IN
TURKISH RAP/HIP HOP CULTURE:
Contestation and Construction of Alternative
Identities through Localization in Arabesk Music

Nuran Erol IşIk and Muran Can Basaran

PATTERNS IN VARIATIONS in the characteristics of cultural groups can provide an opportunity to study different dimensions of narratives, musical forms, and identities. Hip hop culture is one such cultural language through which it is possible to decipher a certain formation, which can also be defined as a suitcase carrying hybrid identities as well as musical forms. The hybrid character of Turkish hip hop culture stems from the way in which it has merged with what is called “arabesk music,” which combines different musical forms of Anatolian and Middle Eastern influences. This new form of music made an impact on the emergence of a reaction among the populace, whose meaning-making practices involved listening to authentic local music that expressed their own lifestyles. The theme of arabesk lyrics strongly emphasized fatalism, hegemonic masculinity, and love, which combined as a form of cognitive dissonance. It first emerged in the 1990s as a language and indicator of the demand for recognition among the lower classes, but after 2000 it developed into an integral part of the mainstream popular culture, a cultural form that permeated every sphere of society.

The impact of arabesk music on other genres of cultural formation has grown to the extent that hybrid forms of different genres have become widespread, a process facilitated by internet technology. The youth, especially those living on the “other side of the tracks” in big cities, and those who are unable to feel empathy for the majority of the cultural formations around them, appropriated hip hop music into a localized form; that is, they integrated it into arabesk music, borrowing from the lyrics as well as musical character of hip hop. The so-called “arabesk

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