The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves

By Moody, David L. | Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA), June 2008 | Go to article overview

The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves


Moody, David L., Journal of American Culture (Malden, MA)


The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves Halifu Osumare. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.

From the deejay to the emcee, the artistic expression of the graffiti artists, and the athleticism of skilled b-boy and b-girl breakers, The Africanist Aesthetic in Global Hip-Hop: Power Moves, is a powerful reflection of the diverse voices of the hip-hop nation from a global perspective. Once considered by critics to be just another passing youth trend, hip-hop has become an influential voice for youth around the globe. Halifu Osumare takes the reader on a cultural journey exploring key components of African artistic expression as they relate to global hip-hop. "Hip-hop culture," he writes, "has become international in breadth and depth, with thousands of cultures throughout the globe having embraced it in various forms ... Given the impact and pervasive confluence of global communications and postmodern chic, it should come as no surprise that hip-hop youth culture has proliferated internationally" (2, 21).

Within the construct of the "global-hood," Osumare examines how an expressive culture that began in the impoverished working-class black and Latino communities in New York has developed into a performative and social phenomenon that incorporates verbal skills and other creative elements such as dance and music. Central to Osumare's argument is the concept of an Africanist aesthetic, a term coined by dance scholar Brenda Gottschild and defined by Osumare as "a processual mode of Expressivity that privileges the negotiation of the self in the moment through a complex use of rhythmic timing, verbal or non verbal rhetorical strategies, and multiple layers of meaning that draw from its sociocutural context and audience" (12). Moreover, the African aesthetic continues to reflect the African performance practices of West and Central Africa thus creating a performative stage that allows for the exploration of cultural identity by the hip-hop artist. …

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