Popular Music And Community Identity Essay

1233 words - 5 pages

Identity is defined by the cultural differences of individual people, groups or communities of people that express economic and political views that we identify with (Barker qtd. in Shuker 142). The construction of identity is not to look at it as a ‘production’, incomplete but “always constituted within, not outside, representation” (Hall qtd. in Weedon 5). Community identity, as one of the forms of identity with self-identity and national identity, is used in popular music to identify with a group of people that share invested interests to form a community (Shuker 142-143).
Though an individual may be a producer of a piece of music, it is the audience that shares their like for it and makes it popular. The audience of each piece of music is a community in itself. The significance of the piece is conveyed through what the artist produces and what they call “meaning”. From the audience, the “meaning” lies within the interpretation of the music produced. This meaning can be affected depending on different factors involved in the listening experience. These factors are the lyrics, the form, performance style among others. The piece that demonstrates a “meaning” according to the audience is something they enjoy, what is called popular music and something the audience can identify with as a community (Robinson, Buck and Cuthbert 15). This can be associated with music in the past. Past meaning of music refers to the “material and aesthetic environment in which it was once playing” (Denora 144).
Different communities of people have tastes and identify with different forms of music. Rap music is associated as part of the identity of a particular youth community that have defined themselves as ‘rap univores’. This term is synonymous with Urban Music Enthusiasts and means, according to Peterson and Bryson (qtd in Tanner), that they are “individuals who appreciate a few musical styles while disliking everything else” (705). Rap was rising in popularity and by 2003, only rap and hip hop artists had made the top ten in an American recording industry magazine called Billboard indicating its popularity. There has been some controversy as to the influence rap has had on the youth community. Rap has been defined as a devalued genre that causes more harm than good, according to older people e.g. parents, in society. Part of this might have come from the lyrics which are seen as very explicit and provocative, and not good for the youth (Tanner 693-694).
Rap scholars have stated that rap is a form of expression to indicate resistance from societal pressures at school, the streets, or at work and also resistance against exploitation. This claim is made without much input from the youth community, the primary listeners of rap, but it has been indicatory that similar views of resistance are still a common factor within the youth community (Tanner 698).
The production of music combines different eras and communities of people, it also “mediates...

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