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.
This paper analyses the turbo-folk music genre as one of the important elements of modern pop culture in Serbia as a significant representative of the Serbian cultural identity and politics, together with its many clashes and contradictions. By using a research of Edward Said and his basic assumptions of Orientalism as a dominant view of the West’s Others, we continue with regional applications of this theory by Marija Todorova, Milica Bakić-Hayden and others to question the development of internal identities developed in former Yugoslavia within these discourses and to attempt to provide an explanation for the contested values and positions of the turbo-folk phenomena to this day.