Counting the Beatz: Hip Hop Culture, Commercialisation and the State in Aotearoa New Zealand

Jeffs, Nick
Mollgaard, Matt
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Master of Arts (Communication Studies)
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis explores the interplay between hip hop culture, music and the state and commercial entities in New Zealand. Hip hop is a culture which is diverse and unique in that it can be viewed as both a form of expression and a form of empowerment for various cultures. It can also be used to make a profit for commercial organisations such as the recording and broadcasting industries. This study therefore seeks to approach the study of New Zealand hip hop in an innovative manner, and to provide a fresh perspective. There is also the need to provide a plausible definition which captures the complexities of hip hop culture. An assessment of both the American and New Zealand scene will provide a contrast in order to demonstrate that in both scenarios hip hop has the ability for empowerment and to create a new space for communities. Commercial exploitation has transformed hip hop in America, has severely reduced its ability to be seen as a source of public good and has reduced key aspects of the culture. New Zealand has managed to retain many elements of the sense of community and space of community inherent in hip hop culture and music. However commercial entities are gaining prominence in the exploitation of this culture. Hip hop locally has not made the transition to a purely commercial model, but is currently under threat. The means by which commercial organisations are gaining prominence is the unique aspect which shapes New Zealand hip hop and will be a focus of this study. State funding via New Zealand on Air (NZOA) is assisting in the transformation of hip hop from a source of public good to a music form capable of generating profit for organisations such as the recording industry. This study therefore will analyse the relationship between those who embrace hip hop as a culture capable of creating a sense of public good, organisations which are commercially exploiting this culture as a musical form, and the role of the state in assisting with the transition between public good and private consumption.

Rap (music) - history and criticsm - New Zealand; Rap (music) - social aspects - New Zealand
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