hip-hop diplomacy

Aitken's jazz classes are part of American Voices' "YES Academy" or Youth Excellence on Stage. The U.S. funded non-profit offers free professional training in unique American performing arts such as hip hop and Broadway musicals. YES Academy also runs in Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan and Syria, but Aiken says they work the most with Iraq.

The worlds of hip hop music and dance merged into a melody of artistic expression last week when the internationally acclaimed Rennie Harris Puremovement Dance Company (RHPM) visited Egypt in a cross-cultural exchange program aimed at preserving and disseminating the hip hop culture globally.

Culture defines the lives of Americans. Humans all over the world tend to find that common ground in points of cultural crossover. It’s a reasonable place to start. If Hip Hop has been its own diplomat until now, the logic goes, the U.S. Government shouldn’t be allowed to use it to begin build anything.

A better question to ask today is, what has really changed since Harlem Rep. Adam Clayton Powell Jr. urged the State Department to set up the jazz tours as part of its cultural-diplomacy efforts during the Cold War?

January 20, 2012

Hishaam Aidi, writing for Illume Magazine, emphasizes the central role played by hip-hop in the Arab Spring; indeed, as Aidi points out, Time Magazine not only rated Tunisian rapper Hamada Ben Amor ("el General") as being one of the 100 most influential people of 2011...

The "hip hop jam session" between African American hip hop musicians and Sfax native El General is at the core of the hip hop diplomacy: critical cross-cultural exchange and dialogue achieved through musical collaborations. The interaction between youth through a shared global language (hip hop and social media technologies) may be a "bab" for this bilateral political and cultural education.

While America's image through much of the Muslim world has been dominated by war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the music that sprang from its inner city black populations in the 1980s is popular everywhere from the West Bank to Kabul.