Hip-Hop Diplomacy

Hip-hop is a phenomenon that has captured hearts around the world. Its musical form ranges from party anthems to critical social commentary. But the genre plays another role: it is an influential soft-power tool for the United States. Like its predecessors jazz and rock, hip-hop is utilized by the U.S. State Department to connect with young minds, and its unique ability to inspire goodwill toward the United States offers a significant advantage over adversaries such as China and Russia. How did hip-hop become a go-to diplomatic instrument?

 

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
x
Host
  • Gabrielle Sierra
    Director, Podcasting
Credits

Asher Ross - Supervising Producer

Markus Zakaria - Audio Producer and Sound Designer

Rafaela Siewert - Associate Podcast Producer

Episode Guests
  • Toni Blackman
    Alumni Outreach Director, Next Level
  • Mark Katz
    John P. Barker Distinguished Professor of Music and Director of Graduate Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Show Notes

Every country has a hip-hop scene, and, around the world, millions of people cite hip-hop not just as a passion but an identity. The hip-hop movement can be traced back to New York City in the 1970s, and it remains a font for goodwill toward the United States, even as perceptions abroad of U.S. standing have declined in recent years. Today, music and foreign policy experts alike acknowledge that hip-hop can make inroads where other soft-power tools cannot.

 

 

From Mark Katz

 

Hip-Hop World Diplomacy with Mark Katz,” Hip-Hop Can Save America 

 

Episode 14: Mark Katz On Music And Cultural Diplomacy,” The Institute Podcast

 

From Toni Blackman

 

Rhyme like a Girl: Toni, Polaryss & Sincerity at Restoration Rocks Festival

 

How To Freestyle with Toni Blackman: Lesson 1

 

I Love and Approve (Of Myself)

 

 

From CFR 

 

Hisham Aidi, “Hip-Hop Diplomacy,” Foreign Affairs

 

 

Read More

 

Adam Bradley, “In this U.S. government program, diplomacy has a hip-hop beat,” Washington Post

 

Billy Perrigo, “How the U.S. Used Jazz as a Cold War Secret Weapon,” TIME

 

Danny Lewis, “When Rock Was Banned in the Soviet Union, Teens Took to Bootlegged Recordings on X-Rays,” Smithsonian Magazine

 

Lara Jakes, “‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ With a Diplomat’s Road Trip Music,” New York Times

 

Marie Zawisza, “How music is the real language of political diplomacy,” The Guardian

 

 

Watch and Listen 

 

Brubeck at 100: Jazz Ambassadors & Cultural Diplomacy,” Jazz Congress Podcast

 

Iraqi Dancers in US on First Hip Hop Diplomacy Tour,” Voice of America

 

The story of X-Ray Audio: What would you risk for the sake of music? | Stephen Coates | TEDxKraków,” TEDx Talks

 

Why Hip Hop is World Culture | Ian Lawrence | TEDxMauerPark,” TEDx Talks

 

 

Toni Blackman's Hip-Hop Artists to Know

Alesh (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Ashs The Best (Senegal)
Awadi (Senegal)
Bidew Bou Bess (Senegal)
EJ Von Lyrik (South Africa/Netherlands)
Fid Q (Tanzania)
Jah Baba (Benin)
MC Yallah (Uganda)
Meta & the Cornerstones (Senegal)
Modenine (Nigeria)
Ngaaka Blinde (Senegal)
Noel Grass (Kenya)
Oumy Gueye (Senegal)
Rema Namakula (Uganda)
Shadow Barazizo (Democratic Republic of Congo)
Shay Mane (France)
Stogie T (South Africa)
Valerie Belingha (Cameroon/France)
Xuman (Senegal)
Zeus (Botswana)
Zubz the Last Letta (Zimbabwe)
 

 

Mark Katz's Hip-Hop Artists to Know

Afroto (Egypt)

Ami Yerewolo (Mali)

Nash MC (Tanzania)

Yas Werneck (Brazil)

India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most popular man in India. On track to be elected for a third term, he has transformed the country’s economy and global standing while silencing dissent and galvanizing majoritarian support for his Hindu nationalist agenda—all while growing closer to the United States. How could Hindu nationalism reshape India?

Media

In a wide-ranging conversation, Foreign Affairs Editor Dan Kurtz-Phelan joins Why It Matters to discuss nonpartisan publishing in a polarized political climate, the state of press freedom around the world, and the future of journalism.

Genocide and Mass Atrocities

Thirty years ago, Rwanda’s government began a campaign to eradicate the country’s largest minority group. In just one hundred days in 1994, roving militias killed around eight hundred thousand people. Would-be killers were incited to violence by the radio, which encouraged extremists to take to the streets with machetes. The United Nations stood by amid the bloodshed, and many foreign governments, including the United States, declined to intervene before it was too late. What got in the way of humanitarian intervention? And as violent conflict now rages at a clip unseen since then, can the international community learn from the mistakes of its past?

Top Stories on CFR

Mexico

Against a backdrop of widespread violence, a record number of voters will look to elect Mexico’s first woman president in a June election that polls predict will go to Claudia Sheinbaum.

Taiwan

In his inaugural address, Taiwan’s new president Lai Ching-te signaled broad continuity on cross-strait issues. China, however, is likely to respond with increased pressure. 

Election 2024

The European Union (EU) began implementing the Digital Services Act (DSA) this year, just in time to combat online disinformation and other electoral interference in the dozens of elections taking pl…