Nov 10–12, 2011

Translating Hip Hop

Concerts, Workshops, Congress

Originally derided as “Black Noise”, Hip Hop has spread around the globe in the last 30 years. The various dimensions of this energy-laden form of culture are practiced all over the world: Rap, DJ-ing, Breakdance, Graffiti. The body language and gestures are understood almost ubiquitously and translations can pass unnoticed.

This common “language” has given rise to a virtual “Hip Hop nation”. At the same time, local scenes have developed completely different styles, slangs and codes, which in turn require translation. This is where Translating Hip Hop comes in: it celebrates Hip Hop and translation in the same measure. MCs from Bogotá, Beirut, Nairobi, Berlin and Manila have been working together on Rap translations into their respective languages since February 2011, taking part, among other things, in workshops in all four cities. In two concert evenings during the festival, they present their Babylonian performances. The congress brings together international artists, activists, and Hip Hop experts for a series of performances, lectures, talks and films.

They all explore new scenes, discover global connections and weave new networks. In many cities, MCs are not only well-known musicians, but also chroniclers, guides and activists in their own neighborhoods. They stand for empowerment, especially of young women, and for the establishment of alternative networks that take young people away from the gangs. This, too, is an appropriation from this culture that emerged from nothing in the Bronx. Pictures taken by the legendary New York photographer Joe Conzo recreate the link back to the Bronx. It is with this original idea of Hip Hop that the MCs of Translating Hip Hop fan out into Berlin schools and work with students on their stories in different languages.