Americo Paredes Center for Cultural Studies

Professor Ward Keeler Raps About Burmese Rap

Mon, October 5, 2009

Seeking to account for rap's enormous international appeal, Professor Keeler looks at Burmese rap and asks how it resembles and differs from U.S. rap.  He suggests that, whether in Burma or the U.S., rap trades in a widespread fascination with youthful masculine power, a fascination that explains consistent features of its style and its ultimately conservative vision.

Although older Burmese associate contemporary Burmese rap with an indigenous call-and-response genre, younger Burmese rap fans link it only to international models.  The content of Burmese raps strikes an outsider as tame, but rap in Burma resembles foreign prototypes closley in its preoccupation with youthful masucline power.  in Burma and elsewhere, rap's lyrical contents reflect a libertarian ideology in keeping with its emphasis on the autonomy of individuals and widespread anxieties of and about young males, in particular--this depsite many commentator's wish to see in rap an empowering political voice. [rap musoc, Burma, masculinity, globalization, resistance]

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