Rap Around the Globe

Fad-hungry kids are dressing down and acting up in a worldwide rhythm revolution

IN ITALY, ONE SINGER CALLS IT "REDIScovering the tribal rhythms of our ancestors." In Brazil, another calls it "the ideological music of the street." In Russia, yet another performer says it is simply "a new feeling, a new experience." In France, they say le rap. In any language, it is a certifiable, global rhythm revolution.

Rap, which began as a fierce and proudly insular music of the American black underclass, is now possibly the most successful American export this side of the microchip, permeating, virtually dominating, worldwide youth culture. It is both a recreational vehicle and a form of social commentary:...

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