Agitprop Rap?

“Ill Manors” and the Impotent Indifference of Social Protest

Authored by: Miguel Mera

The Routledge Companion to Global Popular Culture

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415641470
eBook ISBN: 9780203081846
Adobe ISBN: 9781136175961


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In Music and Politics (2012) John Street argued that the protest song is both a form of political communication and a mode of political representation, and he suggested that the former is only possible because of the latter: “It is not enough to be able to speak up; you must also be able to speak for a people or a cause” (2012: 42). This theorization nuances R. Serge Denisoff’s classic but problematic text, Sing a Song of Social Significance (1983), where protest songs were defined as either “Magnetic” or “Rhetorical”. “Magnetic” songs, according to Denisoff, attract people to movements and promote group solidarity, and “Rhetorical” songs are intended to change public opinion.

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