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Title:Roma rap and the Black Train: minority voices in Hungarian hip hop
Author(s):Simeziane, Sarah E.
Advisor(s):Terkourafi, Marina
Department / Program:Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):hip hop
Abstract:As hip-hop has become a world-wide phenomenon international hip-hop artists have applied the core of the genre itself by cutting and mixing African American hip-hop and adapting it to their own sound and experiences. In this paper I examine how metaphor and constraints on language choice interact with the artistic, social, and political aims of a popular late-90’s Hungarian Roma hip-hop group, known as Fekete Vonat (Black Train). Within other genres of Roma music, the use of Romani is common, particularly in traditional music. In Fekete Vonat’s work, however, Romani appears to be a marked choice within Hungarian-Roma hip hop. On the album A Város Másik Oldalán Romani emerges as the in-group code, while Hungarian is the sole language used to convey political and social messages about the conditions of the Roma within Hungarian society. I examine the way that race is used as a metaphor for distinction in global hip hop as well as constraints on code choice that come into play in the production of popular music. I show that code choice in music cannot be viewed as simply mirroring everyday linguistic practices. Several other factors intrinsic to the act of producing a commercial artistic expressive form constrain linguistic choice: notably the intended audience, the subject matter, and marketability. The goal of this paper is to examine how Fekete Vonat works within these constraints in order to establish their own identity and the identity of their intended audience with respect to the various topics they address.
Issue Date:2010-06-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2010 Sarah E. Simeziane
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-06-22
Date Deposited:May 2010

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