Rhythm Road and Jihadi Rap

This morning, The Atlantic published an article that aligns seamlessly with Thursday’s class discussion. The post explored the role of hip-hop music in American foreign policy. Much like jazz and rock ‘n’ roll, hip hop has emerged as a prominent cultural diplomacy strategy. Hip hop music has become a platform for marginalized people to come together, a place for aspirations of rebellion and divergent thinking to thrive.

Within the past decade or so, there has been a strong emergence of jihadi rap. This has added another intricate layer to the “war against terror” and the U.S.’s foreign policy towards counter-terrorism. From a cultural diplomacy standpoint, the U.S. has worked towards promoting “good Muslim hip-hop” in an effort to de-radicalize  rap. The U.S. State Department continues to sponsor hip-hop workshops throughout the Middle East, such as Rhythm Road. In an effort to change this major threat of jihadi rap into an asset and tool for the State Department, Rhythm Road sent various “hip-hop envoys” throughout the Middle East and North Africa. This initiative not only promoted democracy and provided a structured platform for dissent, but it mainly focused on the integration of American and Islamic culture by highlighting the stories of American Muslims.



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