Sunday, 4 August 2013

Breaking down hegemony with Hip-Hop

'Hegemony is achieved when the power of the dominant groups in a society appears natural. It is … one where those who have power maintain their position through the creation of a particular worldview. Newspapers, TV and radio can be used to communicate the viewpoint of the ruling elites’ (Steven 2003, p. 43).

When I read Steven’s definition of hegemony, I am inclined to reflect back to a time when I believed everything I was fed by the dominant social groups in Australia.

Muslims have been labelled various terms pertaining 
negative connotations in recent times.
Shaped by what I viewed on mainstream news programs, I recall a time when I feared Muslims and viewed their religion as deviant and oppressive against women.

However, as I entered my teenage years, these perceptions drastically changed.

With my affection for music taking off at a rapid pace, and after a few years of tinkering with different genres (rock, pop, techno, to name a few), hip-hop entered my life and, undoubtedly, changed it forever.

Particularly, my discovery of what is termed by some as conscious hip-hop has been remarkably influential in determining my perceptions of the world.

Dyson defines conscious hip-hop as 'rap that is socially aware and consciously connected to historic patterns of political protest and aligned with progressive forces of social critique' (Dyson 2007, p. 64).

One influential artist of this subgenre is UK rapper Lowkey.

Lowkey is a Muslim, and his lyrics have persuaded me to alter my view on what Islam is, and what it actually stands for.

Many of his topics attempt to combat Western hegemony by questioning dominant Western depictions of Muslims.

He also lyricises of the importance of women and how they should be valued and respected by everyone, which contradicted my previous theory of Muslim women suffering under domineering males.

Indeed, as fate would have it, I ultimately resided in a predominantly-Muslim nation for twelve months during 2012, while I am now married to a Muslim woman.

If it were not for the conscious hip-hop lyrics of Lowkey and similar artists (such as Akala), I struggle to comprehend how I would have opened my eyes to Islam beyond what I digested in the mainstream media.


Dyson, M 2007, 'Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip-Hop'. Basic Civitas, New York.

Lowkey - Something Wonderful (Official Video)+ Lyrics 2010, YouTube, Globalfaction, 11 October, retrieved 4 August 2013, <>

Steven, P 2003, 'Political economy: the howling, brawling, global market place', The no-nonsense guide to global media 2003, New Internationalist/Verso, Oxford.


  1. Hi Rusty, I really enjoyed reading your post for this topic, and what a fateful turn of events! It is interesting but unsurprising to see how many people chose music for this week’s topic, as I am sure you would agree that music is such a powerful medium for sending messages and influencing perceptions.

    It is unfortunate but so true regarding the discourse surrounding Islam, and the image you used in your blog definitely re-iterated your points about hegemony. I had a listen to the video and there are some really thought-provoking lyrics in that song. I had never really heard of conscious hip-hop before this post, so thank-you for sharing and keep it up!

  2. Hi Rusty,

    This is a really great post that has inspired me to truly listen to the lyrics of all songs from now, no matter the genre.

    I also really liked how you were able to highlight the fact that your original view was wrong about Muslims and Islam. I think this adds great depth and consideration to your post. It shows your ability to question the media and its influential stance in Australia.

    It is a very concise and well thought out post! Well done!

  3. Hey rusty really insightful blog you have written here. The quote you used at the start was a good choice, relevant and made me want to read on. The photo of the Muslim with the paper headlines is a good one hammering the point home of the labels that are placed on them. How you talked about your personal beliefs from start to finish where you had a bad belief of Muslims to where you literally fell in love with one should be a movie. The page looks great I like the colour black with white text, it’s structured well and gave me a few good links to try out. Good stuff I could see this post meant a lot to you and I enjoyed reading it.

  4. Greato pening to this blog post, reading the title of your post and seeing the hegemony, a lot of readers may not bother continuing due to a lack of understaning. However the definition that you provide in the very first paragraph clears it all up.
    I enjoy how your writing is very personal. As someone who isn’t huge fan of hip-hop nor the artists involved I appreciated your hyper links to more information about the topics.
    It is very interesting to read that you have gone from being somehow who feared Muslims to being someone who appreciates their music and their message.
    By providing the YouTube clip of Lowkey’s song you are providing your reader with a direct example of what you are trying to say. I really enjoyed listening to the song and understanding your point of view and how this artist has changed the way in which you think.
    Regardless Of th fact that I am not a fan of hip hop I side with you in saying that music has the ability to change the way we think. To affect us sometimes more than the artist may have intended.