Rap Music as Resistance and Its Limits, Two Diverging Cases: Sulukule and Bağcılar Rap

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Umut Mise


In the city of Istanbul where there are problems such as poverty, discrimination and exclusion young people who live in the poorer communities use rap music as an instrument of resistance and as a tool for expressing frustration towards their socio-economic exclusion. In two neighborhoods, Sulukule and Bağcılar, young people who socialize around rap music reflect both the reality of these neighborhoods and their struggle against social stigmatization. Rappers from these communities do not only sing about the local issues, but they also touch upon social inequality, justice and freedom beyond their locality. Yet, rappers who try to disseminate their arts through social media, earn money and become famous. As a result, their lyrics become more moderate. Indeed, the discourse of Bağcılar rappers who prefer to “amateurishly” publish their works on social media – unlike Sulukule rappers who release professionally produced albums – become more moderate in terms of critique and resistance as the competitive market logic dominates their logic when writing new songs.


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