In my last blog post, I talked about my journey into discovering Korean underground rap and analysed some of the tracks I found. This post featured my epiphanies on the genre, a common feature found in Autoethnography. In this blog post, I will be delving deeper into my own analysis of Korean underground rap, and my autoethnographic approach to the genre.
At the beginning of the blog, I presented a video created by music company 88Rising called Rappers React to Higher Brothers, in which a bunch of American rappers watch and react to the Chinese rap group. This video, I believe, was a perfect example of not only an autoethnographic experience, but also the ideology of east vs west, and the similarities and contrasts between the two cultures. I found myself having similar reactions with the American rappers, even though Australian and American culture is different, the overwhelming presence of western, particularly American, culture in Australian mass media has seen an increase in the cultural bond between Australia and America.
The video was also perfect for another thing, the closing of the gap between east and west, in terms of rap music. The music company producing 88Rising, is considered to be one of the few music companies bridging the gap between the two separate cultures. And it’s becoming more obvious in the music itself, where Korean and other Asian rappers are incorporating Western cultural references within their songs to create more of a connection with fans from a western culture.
The further I delved into the genre, the more and more I found myself comparing it to western rap. When reviewing the track MV 뱃사공 – 마초맨(Feat.차붐,deepflow), I found myself comparing it New York rap, the reason behind this being that I had been listening to Action Bronson’s new album all week and had found the instrumental on the track to be something that could easily feature on the album. Even when I was talking about the music video, I found myself comparing the video to a specific time period, something that can somewhat be seen as a bias towards western culture, and that may show the lack of originality from Korean rappers.
My autoethnographic analysis of the text had no real variety in the approach. There were no different methodology styles, a pretty basic, standard autoethnographic analysis. Using Ellis et al’s Autoethnography: An Overview, I could have had an Indigenous approach to the songs and discuss the power and who has the power in the scenario. There were multiple levels of power present in my discovery of underground Korean rap. You have YouTube who has probably the most power, being it is the main platform where the artists and the music companies can provide the music videos for the audience the watch. Then you have the YouTube channels, which may be either a music company or the artist themselves, for example STONE SHIP, LEGIT GOONS and MKIT RAIN. These companies had levels of power that somewhat influenced my journey into finding underground Korean rap, with YouTube being the place where I could find the majority of the songs, but the search was based on number of views and other factors that easily could have promoted some songs over others, and could easily have had an effect on my autoethnographic experience.
When I was listening to the tracks, I had many assumptions and stereotypes already in my head about underground Korean rap. Some of these assumptions and stereotypes ended up being true in my situation but again, these assumptions had an effect on my autoethnographic experience. One of the assumptions was that the majority of Korean rap would be similar to Korean pop, in terms of randomly inserting English words and western cultural references to create a connection between the audience. Another assumption I made was that the themes of American and western rap culture, such as money and girls, will be prevalent throughout Korean rap, again to create a sense of connection for the audience to have with these songs. I also had the stereotype that the rappers will be feature clothing brands associated with hypebeasts. For those who don’t know what a hypebeast is, according to trusty academic resource Urban Dictionary, “A hypebeast is a slang for someone who is a beast (obsessed) about the hype (in fashion), and will do whatever it takes to obtain that desired hype. The term is meant to be derogatory by ridiculing of such with a lack of style.”
My original autoethnographic analysis of the genre of Korean rap was a more personalised analysis which featured many comparisons to western culture. I believe with a much wider approach using the methodologies Ellis et al’s Autoethnography: An Overview, I can continue to grow and appreciate an understanding of autethnography and use that understanding to continue my research into the genre of underground Korean rap.