By Angela Diane Steele
14 December 2006
An abstract of the thesis of Angela Diane Steele for the Honors Program in Cultural & Social Anthropology at Stanford University submitted December 14, 2006.
Title: Zai Beijing: A Cultural Study of Hip Hop
From urban hipsters spendingtheir nights in the clubs dancing and drinking to the sounds of Hip Hop, to Bboys sweating out their days perfecting power moves in the studio, the seeds of Hip Hop culture are sprouting throughout Beijing. Hip Hop emerged around the year 2000 and currently a small number of casual consumers and cultural producers create, support, and maintain Hip Hop culture. Despite its fledgling status, Hip Hophas already influenced popular music, youth fashion, entertainment culture, and corporate marketing.
This work will answer many questions concerning the establishment and growth of Hip Hop culture in Beijing. I posit Hip Hop as an object of cultural study and use the circuit of culture model introduced by Paul du Gay et. al in the book Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkmanto explore the ways in which articulations of representation, identity, production, consumption, and regulation operate within four distinct categories - translation, localization, racialization, and resistance. I map the original sources of Hip Hop in Beijing and argue that consumption is valuable for the growth of Hip Hop culture. I analyze the performance of Hip Hop and argue that sites oflocality lie within language, message, and style. Situating Hip Hop within Chinese racialism and the racialization of Hip Hop as a Black art, I argue that the production of Blackness is involved in the construction of style and that articulations of race perpetuate the Chinese race-nation paradigm. Lastly, I expose how Hip Hop artists navigate government censorship and argue that Hip Hop haspotential to affect change in the lives of Beijing youth. This work is important for establishing a method for examining Hip Hop culture, exploring shifting cultural forces in Beijing, contributing to the canon of Hip Hop scholarship.
Dedicated to Gram
Table of Contents
History of Hip Hop in Beijing
My Interest in Beijing Hip HopMethodology
Section I. Translation
I Want My Channel [V]
Hip Hoop Dreams
Consumption and Legitimacy
Section II. Localization
My Rhymes Are the Type of Fly Rhymes That Can Only Get Down with My Crew
It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes, It Makes Me Wonder How I Keep From Going Under
Section III. Racialization
OverviewHey Mister DJ
The Perception and Performance of Blackness
I am a CHINESE MC
Section IV. Resistance
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Liberate the Minds, Then You Go On Home
…….Mom, Steph, Ed and the whole Steele family, thank you for your unconditional love and support. Whatever path I take, I know youare behind me every step of the way.
…….Percy, Meghan, Jackie, Sok, Griff, Casey, and Cess, thank you for reading early drafts. Your comments and critiques were invaluable.
…….Olivia and Griff, thank you for lending me your laptops and helping me get back on track.
…….Gaosh, Evan, Bai Ling, Adam, Rox, Ian, Liang, Max, Azat, Sarah, Wynn, “Jenny”, Li Yanju, Ge Dong, Mark, Christina, LiXin, thanks for keeping things crazy in Beijing. I’ll meet you in Lush in 2008!
…….Professor Yanagisako and Shelly Coughlan, thank you for your patience and encouragement. I know it seemed like I would never finish!
…….Professor Ebron and Professor Wilcox, thank you for supporting this project. I appreciate you taking this on at the last minute.
…….Denise Chu, Lu Hongyou, Chen Minqian,...