Browsing by Subject "hip-hop"

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  • Valjanen, Tiina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    This thesis is an ethnographic study about rap, rock, and metal scenes in today’s Tehran. The study takes off from hip-hop scholars Pennycook’s and Mitchell’s proposition of hip-hop as “dusty foot philosophy” which is rooted at local dusty ground while articulating philosophies of global significance. This study aims to examine what kind of spaces are these dusty streets in Tehran and how does Tehran’s urban landscape inform music making and music aesthetics. This study focuses on how notions of belonging, space, and place have been expressed by rappers and rockers both in their music making and their embodied use of urban spaces. Followingly it will observe how urban realities, urban space, and geographical segregation are perceived, challenged, and reclaimed through their craft. The study asks how underground musicians are debating questions of authenticity that have risen along music’s localization, and how musicians strive for artistic legitimacy which would verify their street credibility both within their local music scenes and wider society, as well as within global music community. The study is based on an ethnographic fieldwork carried out in Tehran between 2012 and 2014. This is a multi-sited ethnographic research and employs phenomenological approach to analyse subjective and embodied experiences in the urban space. Methodologically it is based on participant observation, semi-structured interviews, and email interviews. The study includes dozens of rappers, rockers, and metalheads, most of whom are young male between 19 and 35 both from lower-class and middle-class backgrounds. Few of the musicians are young female as well. This thesis is a contribution to Iranian popular music studies and to our understanding of everyday realities of Tehrani rappers and rockers and music life in the city. It aims to shed some light to the ongoing democratization of music production which is rapidly changing the demographics of Tehran’s underground music scene. The study aims to underline that Tehran’s underground music scene is a heterogeneous space consisting of musicians from different socioeconomic backgrounds and genres having diverse and contradictory aspirations, music aesthetics, and styles. Accordingly, it applies intersectional approach which helps to grasp multiple experiences within the same and shared social space. The study aims to problematize the persistent understanding of underground music scene as inherently subversive and emancipatory space, and argues that individual musicians don’t have an equal access to these allegedly “emancipatory” spaces nor equal opportunities to make a professional career out of music. Furthermore, it is argued that this highly politicized understanding might do more harm than good for underground musicians who are considered defiant against their own aspirations. The study argues that the spatial surroundings of rap and rock scenes look very different. While rock and metal musicians mainly gather, rehearse, and record indoors, rappers have more visibly taken over public spaces by gathering and battling at different urban locations around the city. The study concludes that socioeconomic background and gender affects to a great extent in how musicians experience public sphere and musical spaces and how they move in them. Simultaneously, the study aims to show that global hip-hop discourse that privileges “ghetto life” and hardships in life can be self-empowering narrative for rappers from lower-class families, mainly from south Tehran which has been historically perceived as poor, traditional, conservative, and backward. The study argues that the democratization is gradually going beyond rap music as well, and there exists increasingly more rock and metal musicians from low-income and religious families. The study concludes that music is a powerful tool for constructing self-identity and demanding social and cultural change. Ultimately, the study aims to show how conscious Tehrani musicians are pushing for wider cultural and global change by telling local philosophies of global significance.