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Cultural Appropriation: Is K-Hip-Hop Taking Over?



Is K-Hip-Hop Taking Over?

K- Hip Hop is a subgenre of K-pop. The Wikipedia entry on this Korean cultural phenomenon seems slightly incorrect (Wikipedia is not a reputable source because anyone can edit its entries at any time); the musical genre is credited with beginning in the late ’80s. If the people of Korea were monitoring and experiencing African American culture intimately at this time, then this is possible, but it otherwise would not make sense to be practically as old as Hip Hop. When it comes to the chicken or the egg, in this case, we know which one came first. However, it seems that aside from Black American K-pop fans, the genre is hardly recognizing itself as a child of African American culture; however, bastardized or illegitimate, it may be given its subtle differences. 

Cultural Appropriation & K-Hip Hop

K-Hip Hop music videos are full of beautiful girls leaning on cars, wearing hoop earrings, and clothing fit for the fashions of the late great Aaliyah. A concerted effort is put forth to distinguish it as it’s on musical form rather than an offshoot of what they refer to as simply American Hip Hop. Here are 50 K-Hip Hop songs, their artists, and music videos.


A few seconds into this particular video revealed the same posturings, body language, instrumentation, and overall themes as indigenous Hip Hop. The world has spoken: African American culture is more beloved and appreciated than the actual African American him or herself. Many prefer to see hip hop performed on other than black bodies. Hip Hop is more palatable to anti-black communities when it is othered onto nonblacks.

K-hip hop is a subgenre of K-pop

White American rapper Marshall Mathers, professionally known as Eminem, mused about this in a song he wrote about being Hip Hop’s Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley is known as the King of Rock and Roll, a genre not only appropriated by white Americans from African American culture but even down to the very song lyrics, posturing, and dances – Elvis copy/pasted onto himself the ingenuity of America’s formerly enslaved population without ever giving them credit. BIG MAMA THORNTON – HOUND DOG – WITH BUDDY GUY Elvis Presley was seen as a sage, a trailblazer, and a creative when in reality he was the character Big Red from the Early 2000’s movie Bring it On who filmed the inner-city Compton clovers bringing their routines back to her all-white cheer squad the Toros who reigned as first place champions in cheer competitions. Bring It On – Toros & Clovers Cheeroff


Black culture on Non-Black Bodies

The music and culture of rock and roll, blues, and jazz during the ages they were exclusively black were seen as low culture by mainstream Americans. Any white person interested in patronizing these black musical geniuses was diagnosed as a person afflicted with “negrophilia”. However, once nonblack Americans were able to mimic the production of sounds and visuals composed by their black counterparts, it became an award-winning genre that is held so dearly by mainstream American culture that the thought of calling it a Black American art form is laughable to those who do not know the origin of the genre. 

Is K-Hip Hop Taking Over?

In reality, all music belonging to American pop culture except for the drumless, beatless, cadence deficient genre known as classical music has its origins in the African American community. Today we are watching the same play out with K-pop and K-hip hop. The music is good, the girls are pretty, and the men are talented; their music will sell to all, including members of the African diaspora. Their international fanbase is passionate about defending K-hip hop as something dissimilar to African American Hip Hop altogether. However, they fancy the use of the n-word and make no apologies for using it in their music. They feign cultural ignorance when it comes to why they should avoid the word but can form their tongues to sound like Busta Rhymes on a beat which makes for pretense.

Is This Cultural Appropriation or Appreciation?

The K-Hip Hop genre is as attractive as it is an affront to those that bled to create the culture initially. Black American K-Hip Hop fans find themselves routinely disappointed by their favorite Korean rappers when they are caught being candid about their feelings when it comes to Black Americans, who are the birthplace of their new cultural expression. Yet, they cling to the culture after many upsets whenever one Korean pop star who is truly a passionate hip hop fan comes out to apologize for the blatant racism that is cavalierly shoved in the cultural faces of the Black Americans. K-pop and its subgenre K-hip hop is looking a lot like how this Dreamgirls – Cadillac Car became this Rory O’Malley “Cadillac Car (Reprise)” in Dreamgirls 2006

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