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Reviewed by:
  • Hip Hop at Europe's Edge: Music, Agency, and Social Change ed. by Milosz Miszczynski and Adriana Helbig
  • Brandi A. Neal
Hip Hop at Europe's Edge: Music, Agency, and Social Change. Edited by Milosz Miszczynski and Adriana Helbig. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017. [ix, 311 p. ISBN 9780253022738 (hardcover), $80; ISBN 9780253023049 (paperback), $30; ISBN 9780253023216 (e-book), $9.99.] Interviews, discographies, bibliographical references, contributor biographies, index.

In 2009, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a curious appearance at the "Battle for Respect" rap battle presented by Russia's MTV cognate, Muz-TV. Although the appearance was nearly ten years ago, some news outlets referred back to Putin's appearance on Muz-TV to contextualize his recent comments on Russian rap. In a meeting with cultural advisors on 15 December 2018, Putin declared that rap music in Russia should be controlled by the state. Reactions to and commentaries on Putin's declaration were varied. The Daily Show, a comedy-news television program aired in the United States by the cable channel Comedy Central, overtly used Putin's 2009 appearance at the "Battle for Respect" to demonstrate the visual incongruity of the Russian president's engagement with Russian rap. Trevor Noah, host of The Daily Show, noted Putin's stiltedness at the 2009 rap battle and described how conspicuously Putin appeared as an authoritative figure—the "worst undercover cop ever" ("Prada's Blackface Controversy, Vladimir Putin's Rap Crackdown & an Awkward Moment for Cardi B," The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, clip, original airdate 17 December 2018, [accessed 19 March 2019]). It is fitting that Milosz Miszczynski and Adriana Helbig use Putin's Muz-TV appearance in 2009 to open Hip Hop at Europe's Edge: Music, Agency, and Social Change. They note that despite the engagement of rap music by a global power like Russia, scholarship on hip-hop in former European socialist countries is lacking. Hip Hop at Europe's Edge fills that gap and is a timely contribution to a world that has become increasingly sensitive to political affairs in the former Socialist Bloc.

Rather than a purely phenomenological approach that reports how disparate communities in Central and Eastern Europe have appropriated hip-hop (a topic that solely could fill multiple volumes), contributions also examine hip-hop as politically embedded within communities that rose from post-Socialist rule. Accordingly, the work is divided into four parts that "elucidate a wide range of theoretical issues relevant to the study of global hip hop," but specific to the unique occurrences in the geographical region of study (p. 2). [End Page 101]

The editors contextualize the first section ("Hip Hop, Post-Socialism, and Democracy") by reiterating problems within music scholarship with ties to the former Eastern Bloc. Earlier scholarship from the 1980s and 1990s on Western genres imported to then socialist Europe neglected to analyze the cultural, racial, class, and gender issues within the imported genres. Consequently, the neglect blurred scholars' understanding of how hip-hop's inherent critique of agents of power made it a "genre of choice for young men and women because it gives voice to their present-day experiences" (p. 4). The very title of Jasmin Mujanović bution, "Nothing Left to Lose: Hip Hop in Bosnia-Herzegovina," resonates with hip-hop's origins in marginality in low-income, black, and brown New York City from the late 1970s. Whereas, in New York, party rap existed alongside political commentary, evolved to include wide commercialization, and provided a way out of the hood, this was not the case in Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH). In BiH, rap music has been consistently political and expresses a memory of cultural leaders that have now been reduced to marginal voices. There is no commercialization in BiH, and individuals must fight to get out of their circumstances due to governmental ruin.

The section on "Hip Hop and Emergent Market Economies" analyzes how hip-hop functions within systems where the government no longer subsidizes the music industry. While socialism collapsed, musicians were forced to find alternate...


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pp. 101-103
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