Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Thinking Transnationally, Part 2

Posted by nathanpowers22 on April 25, 2017

I think Chapter 7 of Spreadable Media offers a good, even-handed analysis on the transnational spread of media texts. While I recognize there are many factors at play (enough to write a chapter on), I found Arjun Appurdai’s description of why some fans seek new media texts from other countries (“irregular desires and novel demands”) to be quite accurate to my own reasoning in exploring these avenues. At the same time, particularly in the case of the East Asian hip-hop scene, I definitely agree with the sentiment that “‘impure’ products create openings for pop cosmopolitans to find something familiar even amid their search for diversity.” For example, arguably one of the greatest points of entry for this scene in recent years was Keith Ape’s “It G Ma,” [1] which many people have compared to OG Maco’s “U Guessed It” for its similarities in production and aggressive hook delivery. As a result of this shared style, the song achieved early success that led to collaboration with several American artists (Waka Flocka Flame, A$AP Ferg, Father, and Dumbfoundead) on the remix [2] released later that year. As I’ve looked into less well-known material more recently, the trend continues.

KOHH (featured on “It G Ma,” and sometimes called the Japanese Chief Keef) collaborated with J $tash and Andy Milonakis on “Hiroi Sekai” [3]; the Higher Brothers have made waves in the Chinese rap scene by collaborating with Famous Dex on “Made in China,” [4] which begins with an audio clip from a skeptic (“…What is this Chinese rap music? Sounds like they’re just saying ching chang chong”) before a mostly English chorus; Keith Ape has collaborated with up-and-coming Soundcloud rapper Ski Mask the Slump God on “Dr. Eggman,” [5] which samples a clip from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends and, more recently, “Going Down to Underwater,” [6] which samples the South Park theme; and there are many other examples. Even when making songs on their own, artists like those above frequently include bits of English in their music, rap over heavily trap-influenced beats, and make references to American pop culture. For instance, Keith Ape’s “Swanton Bomb,” [7] is rife with references to wrestling moves and wrestlers in the WWE, including Jeff Hardy, whose signature finisher the song is named after. In all, I guess this is probably to be expected in something like hip-hop considering it’s such a uniquely American phenomenon. For any rappers outside the country, at least some level of catering to American audiences is a necessity to achieve mainstream recognition.

[1] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPC9erC5WqU

[2] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rz-_mstXfr0

[3] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md0jjLB6wuk

[4] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rILKm-DC06A

[5] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU7QlGl88z8

[6] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roEZqhB_V50

[7] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ec5DuUzppdg


One Response to “Thinking Transnationally, Part 2”

  1. Drake Kizer said

    I think you made a lot of great points in this post, specifically your insights about the East Asian hip-hop scene. I have actually heard Keith Ape’s “It G Ma” before, and until I read your post, I had not even realized how similar it is to “U Guessed It” by OG Maco. Even though I have consumed those songs before, I had never realized their similarity in a transnational sense. I also enjoyed your analysis that rappers outside of the United States must cater to Americans, at least a little bit anyway, or else it will be very hard for them to achieve widespread attention and fame. As you said, hip-hop is uniquely American, and many aspects of American culture can be seen through this form of music, even if it does not always originate in this country.

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