Parappa the Rapper is a perfect illustration, in the video gaming world, of the appropriation of Hip Hip culture by the mainstream. In the game, gamers control the main character, Parrappa, and try to get him to follow to the beats of songs in order to accumulate points. The cartoon-like character is dressed in Hip Hop clothing and advances in the game by becoming a better “rapper.”
While I have absolutely no problem with the game, it does speak to the growing integration of Hip Hop culture into mainstream United Statesian culture, and international culture. This can be viewed in two ways:
– The mixing of cultures and subcultures is a natural part of society and it is even a positive sign that the majority White culture of the United States has so readily accepted and popularized a subculture largely created by African Americans
– The appropriation of Hip Hop culture has weakened Hip Hop’s stance as a counter-hegemonic culture of resistance, and the appropriation is a common part of hegemony, which absorbs bits of subcultures while maintaining the dominance of, in this case, White middle and upper-class culture and standards
My thinking leans towards the latter theory. Hip Hop has been appropriated in many ways, mainly in the pursuit of money. But, in how many circles is Hip Hop speech, dress, and ethos, viewed as appropriate, intelligent, and important? Not many. It is only when people of that culture gain wealth and power that small niches are created where a Hip Hop ethos can flourish and not be demonized or appropriated for financial gain.