Review in Journal of World Popular Music
by Karim Hammou (author of Une Histoire du rap en France) Published 29 December 2018
“In Flip the Script: European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality, J. Griffith Rollefson provides a dynamic and detailed examination of hip hop scenes in Berlin, Paris and London using “the lens of (African) Americanization” (59). The author seeks to capture how hip hop is recontextualized outside of the United States, moving beyond the one-sided narrative of cultural imperialism and imitation, but also beyond the more complex model of creolization, in which a foreign form is progressively adapted to fit a new (often national) context.
Through the concept of African Americanization, Rollefson underlines the limitations of seeing European hip hop scenes in terms of hybridization. When Europeans adapt US hip hop, they are adapting an American popular culture that is “always already creolised” (58), a commercial mix of black vernacular and white European expression. Hence, a dialogic relationship exists between European hip hop scenes and North American hip hop rather than a new phenomenon of hybridization. This suggests the well-known pattern of the double consciousness described by Du Bois. Indeed, for Rollefson, hip hop expresses double consciousness and is a postcolonial expressive form. The author thus proposes three overlapping paradigms with which to approach this subject: postcoloniality as double consciousness, hip hop as double consciousness, and hip hop (studies) as postcolonial (studies). In arguing this view, Rollefson offers several valuable conceptual tools for understanding European hip hop. He also expands hip hop scholarship through his serious engagement with musical sound, offering a welcome advocacy of musicological tools and knowledge….”