Text topic: Hip-Hop
Text author: Ива Ненић
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’.