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98 In any analysis of appropriated genres, it is important to identify their understandings in particular locales. Michael Urban’s study on the blues in Russia shows that the blues, known as a musical expression of black people in the southern United States, functions as an expression of class distinction among the Russian nouveau riche through its association with American culture (Urban 2004). Urban states that for Russian listeners, the English language takes precedence in defining the music’s function and meaning because it aurally reinforces geographic imaginings of the West. Their consumption of Western culture signifies economic and social status in post-socialist Russia. Similarly, ethnomusicologist Claire Levy identifies rap acculturation in Bulgariaasalocalizedmusicpracticethatarticulatesamovetowardintercultural dialogue between Bulgaria and the West (2001). Levy’s study reveals that genres such as rap are not appropriated as essentialized African American musical expressions in non-Western contexts. Rather, they take on specific forms and meanings that are influenced by and reflect “local and cultural realities” (135). The appropriation of hip hop in Ukraine departs from such “unrelated”understandingsbecauseAfricanUkrainianandethnicUkrainian groups play with multivalent racial imaginaries connected with U.S. hip hop. While according to Urban, the blues, a musical genre historically associated with marginalized black people in the United States, does not embody politicalpotentialinitsRussianequivalent ,ithascometoinfluenceunderstandings ofraceandclassamonglocalsandimmigrantsinUkrainesincethelate1990s. The rise in hip hop performers and clubs and the breadth of locally produced hip hop has become more salient through increased access to music from the United States via the internet and (mostly) pirated CDs. The strengthened post-socialist economy and growth of travel into and out of the country have T H R E E COMMERCIAL AND UNDERGROUND HIP HOP IN UKRAINE 99 Commercial and Underground Hip Hop in Ukr aine spurred the development of a variety of music scenes that have solidified with a music industry that has grown due to economic development, increased interest in leisure activities, access to digital media, and decreased media censorship since the 2004 Orange Revolution. In the last decade, Ukrainian radio and television stations have regularly aired hip hop music and videos from the United States, Europe, and the Russian Federation. The Kyiv-based record label Moon Records has emerged as a keyfigureinthedistributionof hiphopCDsandDVDs.Smallerindependent labels and recording studios are also succeeding in the expanding free market economy. Since the 2004 Orange Revolution, there has been a steady increase of concert tours in Ukraine by international musicians capitalizing on Ukraine’s burgeoning music market. Similarly, a growing number of groups from Ukraine have performed and participated in music projects abroad, particularly in Western Europe and the Russian Federation. Interethnic and interracial hip hop collaborations have become common as well, particularly among local Ukrainian musicians and African immigrants. Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kherson, Odessa, Poltava, Vinnytsia, Yalta, and many other Ukrainian urban centers host hip hop scenes. Hip hop “brotherhoods” organize hip hop events in clubs and advertise rap battles and concerts in their cities. In Lviv, such networks are fostered by the “Lemberg Family”; in Donetsk, by “Juzhnyi Tsentral”; in Rivne, by “Brudna Tusovka”; and in Kharkiv, by the aptly named “Black and White Family.” From among these cities, Kharkiv is traditionally considered Ukraine’s “Capital of Hip Hop.” It is the hometown of Ukraine’s preeminent hip hop group Tanok na Maidani Kongo. As the most financially successful hip hop group in Ukraine for more than ten years, it opened for rapper 50 Cent in 2006 when he gave the first concert by a U.S. hip hop artist in Ukraine. Throughaccesstoonlinenetworks,hiphopinUkrainehasengagedmore directly with its U.S. and European counterparts in terms of beats, sampling techniques, dance moves, fashion, and music video aesthetics. It can be best described at the present time as melodic, upbeat dance music. Ukrainian hip hop oscillates between the highly politicized and the farcical. GreenJolly, a group from the western town of Ivano Frankivsk, inspired by protesters’ slogans against government corruption and fraud during the 2004 presidential elections, recorded the song “Razom nas bahato” (Together we are many) in four hours. The lyrics, rapped in Ukrainian, function as a narrative against political corruption, lies, and censorship in Ukraine. The refrain, “Together 100 Hip Hop Ukr aine wearemany;wewillnotbedefeated,”indexesthecommunalforceofapproximately half of Ukraine’s population that opposed the presidential election results. This song reportedly was downloaded 100,000 times in the first two days of being on the internet and became the “anthem” of the 2004 Orange Revolution (Helbig 2006). On the other side of the spectrum are groups such as Khid u Zminnomu Vzuti (Walk in...


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