Rapping in the margins of Turkish and French
Schneider, Annedith (2011) Rapping in the margins of Turkish and French. In: Preziuso, Marika and Menon, Nirmala, (eds.) Perspectives on the ‘Migrant Cosmopolitans’: Narratives of Contemporary Postcoloniality. Peter Lang Publishing, New York. (Accepted/In Press)
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After the U.S., France may have the largest number of rap musicians and audience members in the world. In terms of numbers, rap is clearly not a marginal phenomenon in France. In terms of politics, however, French rap is still often regarded as a music that eschews commercial success in favor of communicating political messages that challenge the status quo. Songs often focus, in particular, on life in urban housing projects on the outskirts of French cities. Unlike U.S. rap, however, they do not usually describe the problems of urban youth in terms of race or ethnicity. In contrast to U.S. rap which is largely associated with African American experience, French rap is anything but ethnically homogenous, perhaps most famously represented by the expression “Black, Blanc, Beur.” This chapter examines the work of rap musicians in France who are the children of Turkish immigrants, the so-called “second generation.” They were born in France or arrived there at a young age, and all of their education has been in French schools. Yet when they turn to music, they often rap in Turkish or mix of Turkish and French and the identity that they proclaim visually in their clips is more tightly tied to Turkish rather than French identity. Does their critique of their position within French society indicate a desire for belonging, as is the case with many other rap groups, or is their choice of Turkish instead a sign of a rejection of French identity? How do their linguistic choices and the messages of their lyrics place them within the canon of French rap, or on the other hand, indicate their marginalization?
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