Review Essay: Humans as Monuments. Notes on the Mediating Aesthetics of Hip-Hop

Benjamin Stingl


This book dedicates itself to an exploration of the hip-hop culture from an internationally comparative perspective, but with a clear emphasis on Germany. From the outset, a thesis of a technologically-mediated interrelation between global culture and local practices is not outlined in a specific way. The predominantly well-crafted contributions to the volume, however, implicitly succeed in elaborating important issues. First, the introduction of the essay reviews the structures of historical development of youth culture studies and their connection to music. In the second part, the editor and exponents of this field of research, their approach to and composition of the anthology and selected readings are presented. These readings address the issue of how the buzzwords "media appropriation" are substantiated throughout the volume. Under consideration are the notion of cultural globalization, the interrelation of aesthetic production and social experience, the logic of economic globalization and its effects on the adjustments of identity, the stricture of a minority discourse against a migration background, and the social modeling of the hip-hop culture. An attempt to overcome an explicit deficit of the anthology is undertaken in an independent third part. Here, basics of the hip-hop culture—"sampling" and "signifying"—and the social differentiation of the scenes are raised for discussion and brought into connection with the aforementioned threads vis à vis the historical development of preceding youth cultures. The objective of the additional section is to show, beyond a narrow minority discourse, how even mainstream hip-hop aesthetics in Germany mediate a complex crisis in the process of articulation of individual and collective identity. Through a paradoxical transaction, the very technological basis and its socio-cognitive effects which have led to the crisis are now engaged in overcoming it. This about-face finds its way into both to the process of aesthetic mediation as well as the social mediation between one's self and the community of the hip-hop culture.
URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0502231


hip-hop; rap; cultural studies; popular music research; youth culture; construction of authenticity; media studies

Copyright (c) 2005 Benjamin Stingl

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