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Title: Japanese hip hop in Kyoto, 2000-2002: localizing a global pop culture idiom 
Author: Armstrong, Andrew Barton
Date: 2003-05
Publisher: University of Hawaii at Manoa
Abstract: Nearly thirty years since its inception in New York City in 1974, hip hop culture and style have become worldwide phenomena with local scenes appearing somewhere on nearly every continent. In the case of hip hop in Japan, the local scene has a relatively long history and has already developed into a "subculture" (Hebdige 1979) with an extensive infrastructure that is widespread across the archipelago. I chose Kyoto, Japan as the site for this study of the localization of hip hop outside of the U.S. The basic problem is to understand how a transnational pop culture form, which originated as an empowering expression among urban minorities in the U.S., has managed to take root in a city such as Kyoto where both social conservatism and Japanese traditional "high art" culture are prominent. The thesis argues that the Kyoto hip hop scene has taken root because it allows the performers and fans to reconstruct an identity for themselves which challenges discourses of essentialized "Japaneseness" which are manifest both in Japan and in the West. At the core of the Kyoto hip hop identity is a challenge to the hegemony of the Japanese socio-cultural mainstream. This mainstream is of course partly a discursive construct, but also stems from a daily reality lived by salaried workers, students on the university track. and mothers who struggle to keep stability in the family under stressful circumstances. Hip hop identity in Kyoto entails refusal of this "mainstream" through rap lyrics and on levels of personal style and lifestyle. The local hip hoppers' identity also entails a correlated refusal of white American culture and of the perceived economic and military subjugation of Japan by white America. I use the term "Japanese hip hop" to refer to hip hop which is produced by Japanese people and which is rapped mostly in the Japanese language. When I talk about "hip hop in Japan" I am referring to a number of categories including U.S. hip hop and Japanese hip hop which includes both locally and nationally recognized performers. "Kyoto hip hop" and "the Kyoto hip hop scene" refer to hip hop that is produced and performed in Kyoto by Kyoto residents, and also that which is produced by other people who perform in Kyoto on a regular basis. In nearly all cases these performers are ethnically Japanese. Within my discussion of "Kyoto hip hop," I at times switch to the designation "Japanese hip hop" to indicate an aspect which is not unique to the Kyoto scene but is common among Japanese hip hop scenes nationwide, including the Kyoto scene. I use the term "Japanese" without quotation marks to refer to ethnically Japanese people or in reference to culture (including language) which exists within the boundaries of present day Japan. The term "indigenous" is used to refer to socio-cultural elements, both traditional and modem, which have existed in Japan since several decades prior to the influx of hip hop culture. The thesis contends that hip hop, too, is in the process of becoming an "indigenized" Japanese music, in multiple senses of the word. The topic of Kyoto hip hop and the hypothesis of this study are connected to a complex body of inter-related theory and discourse. To set the stage for an overview of this body, I will first provide a brief history of hip hop and its arrival in Japan. Next, I will introduce Kyoto and the hip hop scene there. I will then give a theoretical overview and explain my field study methodology and transcription method. I then present the field study results in Chapters Two (performance), Three (text), and Four (analysis of musical form, style, and content).
Description: vi, 244 leaves
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/7093
Rights: All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.

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