The primary goal of this paper is the solution of the problem of translating the term real from English to Serbian when it is used in Hip-Hop culture. The paper describes the roadmap of the process of finding the adequate word in Serbian for the term ”real” – the term ”прави”. The secondary goal of this paper is the improvement of the communication among members of the Hip-Hop community by offering an argumented recommendation for the use of the term ”real”/”прави” in Rap music. The conditions for the usage of this term are given from both theoretical and historical perspectives, as well as the argument for the advantages of interpreting the term ”real”/”прави” as synonymous to the term ”hardcore” when used in reference to Rap music, lyrics and artists.
Serbian hip-hop scene rose during the nineties and quickly blossomed into several historical, stylistic and ideological orientations, sometimes seen as “waves” in popular, emic discourse of hip-hop fans. Its grasp over the concept of authenticity mostly deals with the construction of an imagined, localized “ghetto”, ranging from urban neighborhoods of Belgrade to an idea of neoliberal Serbia as ghettoized state and cultural territory where various forms of resistance take place. In the present dispersion of the scene, discourse on ethnicity (and locality) can be pinpointed as an important, albeit not overtly dominant axis of Serbian hip-hop, that yet steadily gains recognition. This reach towards ethnicity initially was propagated by the members of rap collectives such as Belgrade-based Beogradski sindikat, and in recent years followed by other hip-hop performers as well. Although the idea of national culture thus became visible in overall discourse of hip-hop community, the use of particular local, “ethnic” sounds, motives and manners wasn’t so common for rap songs. However, this has been changing recently, as so-called “ethno” music consisting of neotraditional or popularized local traditional music forms, became a source for rap music’s current endeavor to propose a viable alternative to dominant political and cultural discourses – both dominant ones and those within rap. Serbian hip-hop performers use ethnic music as a clear indexical sign pointing toward the authenticity and historicity of traditional music, and thus attempt to add a “flavor” or a local rendition to globalized, popular and common rap tropes and sounds. The songs “Next year in Prizren” by group Beogradski sindikat and Nikac od Rovina by rapper RIZBOw SENSEI can be taken as separate case studies that indicate how Serbian rap music utilizes sounds labeled as ethnic, as well as the forms of cooperation with hip-hop ‘outsiders’, in order to promote a powerful call of interpellation possibly reaching beyond the community of ‘hip-hop nation’.
The paper presents some of the most important mysteries of the last generation of hip-hop performers in Serbia. It is a generation marked by a special, anything-goes attitude toward (sub)cultural heritage, demonstrated at all levels of representation: sound and performance (music, lyrics), visual (video clip aesthetics, dress code), and finally literary – their anything-goes politics is also demonstrated in essays. It is precisely the last component – an essay – that perhaps differentiates the latest generation of hip-hop artists in Serbia, since it is a discourse that advocates and promotes certain left-wing and socialist ideas.
First products of the hip-hop culture reached the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in the first half of the 1980s, about the same time they arrived in Western Europe. Still, hip-hop, taken as a rounded lifestyle, did not establish itself as a separate subculture within a thin layer of urban middle-class youth until the early 1990s, with help of satellite television, foreign magazines and bootleg tapes. Some fifteen years after, hip-hip became one of the most widespread youth cultures in Serbia. The objective of this paper is to research the evolution of this process, showing how more and more youth from different social strata have adopted hip-hop while simultaneously adding new local meanings to the imported culture. The article argues for the thesis that the spreading of hip-hop was allowed through acceptance of a diverse local heritage of turbo-folk, funk influences in the pop-music and the urban Roma culture. The rappers’ imitation of the dressing styles, slang and diesel subculture attitudes from the early 1990s, which promoted criminal lifestyles, is given as an example.
Through the concept of ‘Yugospotting’ this article explores how some established post-YU rappers, armed with the rap language and the strong generational knowledge, have constructed common identities in the new supranational social context before their shared rap audiences. What kind of transnational post-Yugoslav rap scene has been constructed by employing inherited ex-Yugo-knowledge and rappers ’hiphopographies’? Could this (mis)sampling of Yugoness and Balkanness be a significant identification base for the future rap generations of the “region”?