About

“Detailed, innovative, and exhilarating…  At last we have a critical survey that can match the complexity and power of the music.” –Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic

“A brilliantly textured portrait of European hip hop…  An inspiring and hopeful book.” –Ellie M. Hisama, Columbia University

“Simply stated, this is a powerful book with a killer flow.”  –Murray Forman, author of The ‘Hood Comes First

Flip the Script is highly original and ambitious, and a substantial contribution to research on hip hop and postcolonialism.” –Thomas Solomon, University of Bergen

Read all the Endorsements!

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What does twenty-first-century Europe sound like?  Let’s have a listen.

This book examines how the children and grandchildren of immigrants from the former colonies and peripheries of Europe are employing the African American musical protest strategies of hip hop both to differentiate themselves from and relate themselves to their respective majority societies. Drawing on music, media, observations, and interviews from fieldwork in Paris, Berlin, and London (as well as a conclusion centered in Ireland), this book situates musical analyses in the postcolonial and globalizing contexts of the three cities, demonstrating how this black American music structures local concerns and enables syncretic expressions that are at once wholly local and definitively global. It concludes that hip hop is both a product of the postcolonial contradictions that hyphenate citizens within their own nations and a form of cultural politics well suited to flip the script on the inequalities those hyphens imply.

Hip hop’s music, poetry, and style remain exhilaratingly fresh as the culture continues to spread to every corner of the world. Yet, in continuing to be dazzled by hip hop’s globalizing novelty as it expresses new collisions of local and global cultures we have a tendency to buy into the narrative that this thing called “globalization” is something new and unprecedented. As the postcolonial frame continually reminds us, it is not. If nothing else, the field of postcolonial studies asks us to rehistoricize globalization in all its contexts from exploration, encounter, and exploitation, to structures of racialized imperial dominion, the rise of global capitalism, and its continuing technological disintegration of our borders. Never have the continuities between postcoloniality and globalization been clearer, as Europe faces a post-Brexit realignment and the nations of the world figure out how to liberate goods, capital, and media while limiting the flow of people. This book thus shows how hip hop sits at the confluence of dehumanizing neoliberal globalization and the gritty human realities of postcoloniality. What’s more, it offers a much-needed critique of the binary of neoliberal capitalism versus ethnoracial protectionism to which Western political discourse has been reduced in, this, our post-truth era.

In Europe’s present context of perpetual crisis (that is always already racialized)—from refugee “crises” and constant fears of terrorism to the rise of neonationalist parties, the isolationist Brexit fruits they bear, the normalization of boom-and-bust economics, and the new reality of permanent austerity—it is the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of settlers from the former colonies and peripheries of Europe who are on the front lines and are best equipped to offer new insight into current affairs… if we have the sense to listen. And make no mistake; these local insights will take wing on the global commercial networks of popular culture through the sonic force of hip hop.

What does twenty-first-century Europe sound like?  Let’s have a listen.

 

Xiao-Front

“They do not know who we are” — Xiao of Blackara

 

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J. Griffith Rollefson is Associate Professor of Music at University College Cork, National University of Ireland. He has served on the faculties of music at the University of Cambridge and at UC Berkeley, where he served as UC Chancellor’s Public Scholar, implementing the community engaged scholarship initiative Hip Hop as Postcolonial Studies in the Bay Area.

Rollefson’s work on hip hop, jazz, and popular musics has been published in Black Music Research Journal, American Music, Popular Music and Society, Twentieth-Century Music, and Music & Letters and appears in the edited volumes Crosscurrents: European and American Music in Interaction 1900-2000 (eds. Meyer, Oja, Rathert, and Shreffler), Hip Hop in Europe (eds. Grünzweig and Nitzsche), Native Tongues: An African Hip Hop Reader (ed. Saucier), The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Studies (eds. Burton and Oakes), and elsewhere.

His research has been recognized and supported by the British Academy/Leverhulme Trust, Berlin Program, DAAD, Volkswagen Stiftung/Mellon Foundation, American Musicological Society, and ACLS, among others, and he was a finalist for the 2016 European Research Council Starting Grant. His book, European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality, based on fieldwork with hip hop communities in Paris, Berlin, London, and Ireland is published the University of Chicago Press.

 

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You can find more at Griff’s webpage here.

He tweets under @cybergriff.

Contact for interview here.

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