3 years ago1,000+ Views
Hip-hop was first introduced and accepted on a wide-scale basis in South Korea in the 90s when the South Korean artists Seo Taiji and the Boys released "Nan Arayo." "Nan Arayo" was a song that was the first of its kind in South Korea and it incorporated jack swing-inspired beats, upbeat rap lyrics and catchy choruses. This song was so popular that it forever changed the country’s music industry and has helped create what K-pop is today – a hip-hop laden music scene.
While it is clear that the K-pop industry enjoys and likes hip-hop there have been times where their use and incorporation of hip-hop has crossed the line of admiration and appreciation and has entered into the realm of cultural appropriation.
K-pop artists commonly wear grills, braids, cornrows, chains, do-rags, bandanas and other items for their music videos and their performances, and for the most part, the artists seem to wear these as a costume. Many K-pop artists do not seem to have an understanding of the social and historical significance behind these items besides the fact that these items have been worn by Black hip-hop artists nor do most K-pop artists seem to be aware that hip-hop was created to give a voice to an oppressed group (i.e., Black Americans). In fact, there are some K-pop artists who regularly use hip-hop and claim to love the genre but don’t know any of the history behind hip-hop as can be seen in the below clip where BTS gets schooled by Coolio.
Obviously, not all K-pop artists, especially the new generation, are going to know the founders of hip-hop due to the fact that they are so young and because they did not grow up in the original hip-hop generation. However, while not knowing the founders of hip-hop is excusable, to wear cultural items while completely ignoring any possible cultural significance that the items may have, is not. To do so can be incredibly insulting to the culture and can potentially cause the perpetuation and generation of stereotypes.
The following are a sampling of some of the different Korean artists who are guilty of cultural appropriation.
In this clip, CL from 2NE1 sings her debut solo song “The Baddest Female.” The song is an anthem to all of the women who are confident in themselves, who do as they please and who are just overall badass, cool chicks. The way that this “cool” image is conveyed is through the use of a grill (e.g., CL wears a gold grill with elongated canines), chains, large gold hoop earrings, bandanas and through a pair of shoes that are hanging off of a power line. Not so coincidentally, all of these items are associated with Black Americans. Grills, for example, were made famous by the Black hip-hop artists of the 80s; thick, heavy chains were worn by the originators of hip-hop and were symbols that they had made it despite racism and that they had escaped poverty; hoop earrings are an African fashion; bandanas are heavily associated with gang affiliations like the Bloods and the Crips; and shoes that are tied together and are hanging off a power line tend to be associated with urban African American communities and bullying and death (though it should be said that there are multiple meanings associated with shoe tossing and that these meanings can vary depending on the culture and the area).
While using these elements in themselves isn’t so bad, what turns CL’s music video into a moment of cultural appropriation...
I may not be educated enough to comment on this card and have an impact with what I'm saying, as I'm relatively new to k pop and know next to nothing about the history of Hip-Hop culture. In my personal oppinion, when someone asks me what my I opinion is on Hip-hop, my instinct is not going to be to delve into the rich cultural background of Hip-Hop. When and if someone where to ask me what my I opinion on the genera is I would honestly say, I'm not crazy about hip-hop, but there are some songs I can honestly say I enjoy. In the case of the first link, the one in which Bang tan gets 'Schooled' by Coolio, I think it should be made clear that in the first couple episodes of AHL (American Hustle Life), BTS was charged with the task of researching key events in Hip-hop culture's history, so they, at the very least, have a very rudimentary understanding of the culture. As for GD and CL (or even Big bang and 2NE1 as collective groups), when someone asks them what style/genre they base there music in, they always tend to say something along the lines of 'We base our group/selves in Hip-Hop, but we also branch out into other generals as well' This statement makes it clear to me that they don't explicitly take Hip-hop as a culture, but rather as a genere. This however does not demote their music, even the songs that they stylize as 'hip-hop'. In short, what I believe to be happening in the 'Hip-hop' corner of kpop is that the artists are seeing hip-hop as a genere and not as a culture. There is nothing wrong with this, however, I think it would be interesting to see more artists that find themselves settling into a hip-hop genere being at least rudimentaly introduced to hip-hop the culture. Much like with BTS where they decided to go to LA to train their craft and learn more about their culture. As for the commentary saying things about how artists maybe not intentionally wear clothes that are 'modeled' after Nazi uniforms, I can agree that there have been times where I saw reseblances, such as SHINee's 'Everybody' performance and M/V outfits, I think this may be an overreaction, their outfits, discluding the hats and occasional handkerchief wrapped around wrist or upper arm, their outfits were not in any way Nazi in appearence. I think our minds have become so trained to look for the negative it's easy to misread a situation. I looked up the photoshoot in which @kpopandkimchi referenced in regards to Rap Monster and found an article in which the user...
Oh and when I said "your last comment is the exact problem with this cultural problem" I meant you hit the nail on the head. I hope you didn't take that the wrong way. My apologies if I wasn't clear. ^_^
I'm sorry that you feel that this card is an attack @KatieWarren I personally don't feel that it is. I think we can both like and appreciate something but still look at it through a critical lens and not like certain aspects of something without hating on that something.
@KatieWarren Not necessarily. It's okay to celebrate a culture, but they're breeding a culture based on an incorrect view of another culture. When they use Nazi symbols in their costumes, they aren't thinking of the millions of people the Nazis killed. There are ways to use another culture and have it influence your own - but you need to understand some of the history behind it so it isnt harmful.
@NoelleKimberly Your last comment is the exact problem with this cultural problem. These people are being taught through the eyes of someone who knows little. They have others usually write their songs, direct their videos, style their photoshoots and don't usually get a say in any of that. Even more, certain members are made the "rapper" of the group because they can do it as a sort of skill better than the others. I didnt get into Asian-style Hiphop until many years ago and that was through a group from Japan known as Rip Slyme. But they don't rap about being hard or badass, they rap about love, life, and friendship. As someone married to a man who is black and a minority themselves, I can tell you that when I hear Hiphop or rap from Kpop artists, I like it a hell of lot more than the music here! I like that it's not about big booties, bitches, hoes, dollar bills, being a pimp while spewing the "n" word every other lyric! That sort of rap and Hiphop is a problem in its own right. But the genres are always evolving and changing, I'm glad for the people who do appreciate the culture without making it a joke. I think it's right to blame the industry for little knowledge but not the individuals who have to display it. You don't blame the kids, you blame the parents for teaching them that's how things are. Maybe one day, when Kpop is more worldly accepted, the industry will wise up.
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