Friday, March 24, 2006

Maps I Would Like to See : A Chrono-Topo-Hip-Hop-ological Map of the World

The next installment in our absurdly sporadic "series":

It does not need to be said again that hip hop is an international phenomenon. But not all corners of the world arrived at the hip hop party at the same time, nor have they progressed equally far along the path of hip hop evolution. Some latecomers are still making stuff that sounds a lot like the Humpty-Dumpty rhymes of Eighties American rap. Others have picked up the fast/slow switchups of the nineties. That grime stuff from England sounds to me like its out of the future.

I would like to assert that all countries can be placed with reasonable precision along a "hip hop timeline":* Mongolia - 1988, Ghana - 1994, France - 2002, England - 2009.** And if they can be precisely plotted, then they can also be graphically represented with a nice, color-coded map. I would like to see that map.

* Using American hip hop as the measuring stick.

** Now I really don't know what the hell I'm talking about, but that's never stopped me before.


  1. Would you prefer the map to take into account regional differences within the US? I guess the question is whether those differences are
    1) Real
    2) Evolutionary
    3) On the same scale as the differences with other nations

    Or would you like two maps?--a world map wherein the US is monochrome, and a US map that accounts for the differences--and not just the East Coast/West Coast/Gulf Coast stuff.

  2. Dude, shh! Is the intention of your pointed and incisive questioning to expose my shoddy pseudo-science for the crumbling house of cards which it is?

    Hmm, for the purpose of the though experiment I was treating American hip-hop as a unit, disregarding regional styles or evolutionary gradations within our borders. I suppose you could attempt a U.S. map analogous to the global one though I suspect the evolutionary gradations are too fine and would be impossible to properly differentiate from "non-evolutionary" regional differences.

    You make me think of another intersting experiment which is to try to map global hip-hop styles to specific regional U.S. styles. Are some parts of the world more heavily influenced my New York? Are others more influenced by Cali? The Dirty South?

    I'll expect your report Monday, 8:30 sharp.