Abstract

This article uses ethnography and music analysis to compare the intertextuality of Mizrahi music and rap by two generations of hip hop artists in Israel. The perceived compatibility of the two genres is often motivated by apparent similarities between Mizrahiness and Blackness as two ethno-racial categories associated with disenfranchisement. We argue that varied musical approaches to combining Mizrahi music and rap reflect the ways that different generations have negotiated local and global cultural spaces. Early rappers in Israel, who regarded Mizrahi music and rap as two distinct genres, tended to compose a rather mechanistic juxtaposition between them that suggests a perceived ontological gap between the local and the global. Conversely, contemporary rappers have been socialized in and make use of a virtual and borderless musical environment, a realm that arguably breaks down the logic of coherent musical genres and the cultural and spatial compartments they once seemed to occupy. This is reflected in their typical compositional style, which merges the two genres into a seamless, indistinguishable form. The case of “Mizrahi rap” demonstrates how global trends are inscribed into local negotiations of ethnicity and how the perceived relatedness between ethnic and racial categories (i.e., Mizrahiness and Blackness) defines new conceptions of the global sphere itself.

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