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Research Colloquium: Justin Williams
October 17 @ 5:15 pm - 6:30 pm
An event every day that begins at 5:15pm, repeating indefinitely
‘Immigrant Discourse, Humour and Postcolonial Melancholia in UK Hip-hop’
Despite some notable exceptions (Garrett, 2014; Kärjä, 2010), the role of humour in hip-hop music is vastly under-explored academically, reflective of a wider lacuna in scholarship on music and humour. I focus on the Anglophone Welsh hip-hop parody group Goldie Lookin Chain and their depiction of Welsh localism (vis-a-vis England and global culture), white ethnicity and notions of ‘backwardness’ in their music videos. By way of contrast, the second case study analyses YouTube parody videos by the British-Serbian David Vujanic who goes by the name “Bricka Bricka”– depicting an “Eastern European immigrant” rapper/labourer. The videos look at British immigrant stereotypes in parodies such as “Immigrant Bling” (of Drake’s “Hotline Bling”), “Eastern Europe Style” (Psy’s “Gangnam Style”) and “Drunk at Work” (Beyonce’s “Drunk in Love”). Here, I align theories of parody alongside postcolonial theory. Concepts such as Gilroy’s ‘postcolonial melancholia’ show how humour can be used to resist prejudice and xenophobic strands of the political economy while arguably reinforcing problematic stereotypes. To quote from Palmer’s Taking Humour Seriously, ‘what people laugh at, how and when they laugh is absolutely central to their culture.’ (p. 89) These uses of humour reveal deeper meanings about local rap, social critique and the notion of ‘Welshness’ or of the Eastern European ‘Other’, respectively.
Justin A. Williams is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Bristol (UK). He is the author ofRhymin’ and Stealin’: Musical Borrowing in Hip-hop (2013) and is editor of The Cambridge Companion to Hip-hop (2015). He is also co-editor (with Katherine Williams) of The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter (forthcoming 2016) and The Singer-Songwriter Handbook (Bloomsbury, 2017). He is currently on an AHRC-funded project called ‘Regional Rap in post-devolution Britain’ and is writing a book on hip-hop in the UK for Oxford University Press.