Like Charles, I also chose to look at I Love Hip Hop in Morocco. Our class discussion about cultural appropriation really interested me, particularly how Litvin’s ideas about the appropriation of Hamlet might relate to Arab hip hop as well. On a visual level, the “I Love Hip Hop” phrase expressed with a heart references the “I Love New York” t-shirts, and while this “I” plus a heart is fairly common now, it made me think of international marketing techniques. In the film, the organizers’ efforts to find corporate sponsors include meetings with Coca-Cola, who represents this same kind of multinational corporate marketing. On the website for the film, ilovehiphopinmorocco.com, you can buy a variety of different products with this phrase.
In terms of the hip hop artists themselves, they do seem to be engaging with American rap from the 1980s and 1990s in ways that are responsive. Rather than simply sampling the sounds or the style, as some American hip hop artists now do with Arab music (like in Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’”), the artists do have a particular understanding of the context of this hip hop and rap and can relate that context to their own struggles. In a similar way, the themes of Hamlet really resonated with many in the Arab world, and thus Hamlet was incorporated into the Arab theater canon in new ways. Are there more connections between Hamlet and hip hop? The phrase “words, words, words” comes to mind. Also, are American artists engaging in similar appropriation of Arab hip hop? The scene where the group meets with Chuck D might be an example of this.