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Exchanging the Currency of Authenticity

In: Other Topics

Submitted By Youngkr21
Words 5766
Pages 24
Engl 503
S.M. Rabillard
Term Paper
Dec 6 2001

Exchanging the Currency of Authenticity:
Live Performance and Mediatization in Hiphop Culture
Baba Brinkman

Welcome to the wonderful
World of entertainment
Where art imitates life
And people get famous
Welcome to the world
Of show-biz arrangements
Where "lights, camera, action"
Is the language.
-Jurrasic 5
Performance studies in the last few years has begun to reject essentialist notions of live performance as ontologically distinct from the influence of recorded media, or mediatization. Philip Auslander deconstructs the traditional binary of live versus mediatized forms in his recent study, Liveness: Live Performance in a Mediatized
Culture. Since hiphop culture and rap music originated in a post-industrial urban setting, they have always been inherently mediatized to some degree. However, if there is no unmediatized performance in hiphop culture, a huge premium is still placed on immediacy. Since the appearance of rap records in the late seventies and MTV rap music videos in the mid-eighties it has become increasingly easier for rap artists to achieve success without having to first build a local following. In response to this phenomenon, music critic Nelson George has made a political analogy: recorded media "has made rap more democratic--but is democracy good for art? Hiphop was, at one point, a true meritocracy"(George 113).i Hiphop culture struggles between its status as meritocracy and its status as democracy, and this dichotomy has created an aesthetic division, manifested both in the lyrics and in the critical response. For those who see hiphop as a meritocracy, respect as an artist necessarily precedes commercial success, and the response of hiphop-savvy audiences to local live performance is essentially a regulating mechanism. In hiphop as a democracy, record sales…...

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