Hybridizing Hip-hop in Diaspora: Young British South Asian Men Negotiating Black-inflected Identities

By David Drissel.

Published by The Diversity Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper theorizes that hip-hop has become a key factor in the subcultural negotiation and construction of hybridized, black-inflected identities among South Asian young men in the U.K. Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis are examples of ethnic minority groups living in the Desi Diaspora (i.e., South Asian émigrés and their descendants who are physically detached from their ancestral homelands). “British Asian” rappers and their relatively youthful diasporic fans appear to be involved in a complex process of reconfiguring and synthesizing relevant idioms and vernaculars found not only in global hip-hop and their ancestral homeland, but also their “host” country’s local environment. Because of hip-hop’s primary ties to African-American culture, British Asian teens and young adults have been exposed vicariously to “black” concerns, argot, and values – including respect, coolness, and authenticity (“keeping it real”). This paper reveals that hip-hop and related identity markers of “blackness” and “masculinity” are especially appealing to British Asian young men, many of whom are enamored by the cultural positioning of African-American rappers as rebellious, powerful spokesmen for a beleaguered minority underclass. This paper analyzes a wide variety of qualitative sources, including the transcripts of previously published interviews with British Desi hip-hop artists and the lyrical content of selected rap songs recorded by Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs in the U.K.

Keywords: Hip-Hop, British South Asians, Desi Diaspora, African Diaspora, Muslim Diaspora, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Youth Subcultures, Rap Music, Bhangra, Jihad, Black-inflected, Collective identities

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 10, Issue 5, pp.199-222. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 700.642KB).

Prof. David Drissel

Professor, Department of Social Sciences, Iowa Central Community College, Fort Dodge, IA, USA

David Drissel is a professor of social sciences at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. His undergraduate work included a double major in political science and sociology. His graduate studies focused on comparative politics, international relations, social change and development, and social movements. Research interests include transnational social movements and computer-mediated communication, nations/states undergoing political/economic transition, youth subcultures and collective identities, the global politics of Internet governance, juvenile delinquency and subterranean values, diasporic youth and social networking, and the role of interactive media and popular culture in mobilizing social networks. Professor Drissel is a two-time Fulbright Scholar who has studied extensively in China and the Czech/Slovak Republics, among many other countries. A frequent speaker and conference participant, he has had several papers published in various academic journals and compilations. He is an alumnus of the Oxford (University) Roundtable in Great Britain, where he presented a paper which was later published in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs.


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