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This page will contain reviews and articles on contemporary Italian music with a concentration on tarantamuffin, hip hop, and folk music influenced sources.
Recent CDs
LA PINA: LA PINA  PolyGram Italia
	In her 1996 album, La Pina,  arguably the leading Italian female 
hiphop musician today, combines top-forty pazazz with a rapper's 
delight, and manages to break into the male-dominated Italian hiphop 
scene. While she lacks the smooth R&B-style of such US groups as TLC 
or En Vogue, she does share their strong feminine voices and their 
unique mix of musical forms. She offers a woman-centered view (often 
missing in Italian popular music) on such things as the unnecessary 
hierarchy between so-called high art and other artistic forms of 
expression (in "Ed è così" and "Entra aria"), and the strength of 
sisterhood and so-called "girl power"  (in "Le mie amiche," "Sveglia," 
"Io non ti ascolto," "Fly Pina," and "Una storia che non c'era"). 
Her lyrics, most written by O. Branzi, may be less directly political 
than those of some of her Italian male rapper companions (such as 
Sud Sound System), but nonetheless La Pina breaks out in forceful 
raps against anyone who keeps her or other women down. For instance, 
in "Io non ti ascolto," a deep beat accompanies her short, colorful 
rhymes: "E non c'è muro che non possa abbattere/non c'è catena che 
non possa rompere/non ci son sbarre che la possan chiudere/ed è una 
cosa che non mi puoi togliere!"  It is a personal and aggressive song, 
but shouts out against interference from anyone: "Si! batti i pugni 
forte, forte in terra/e anche questa volta hai perso la tua guerra/
ho vinto io e non ti guardo, mi volto/ parla, parla pure, io non ti 
ascolto."  Moving into a calmer, yet all the while clever tune, 
"Le mie amiche," La Pina, speaking to what seems to be her male lover, 
explains to him that her girlfriends always come first, and that the 
bond she shares with them can never be broken by him. In one of 
the most catchy refrains on the album she reminds him that: "coolin', 
coolin', coolin', coolin', with friends. Sto bene quando sto con le 
mie amiche."  Moving on to the closing track, "Entra aria," La Pina, 
with a reggae-inspired beat introduces less personal issues and takes 
on the theme of dominant culture:"Ti parlo d'arte che sta fuori dai 
musei/di gente agile, abile nel muoversi di notte/dipinge lettere 
illegali con le tasche vuote." Making use of a musical style associated 
with resistance and difference, La Pina offers a view of culture which 
incorporates a variety of voices and closes with a call to others to 
"fai sentire che ci sei."  All in all, La Pina is one alternative voice 
on the Italian hiphop scene deserving to be heard.

Laura Ruberto

Sud Sound System '91 '96 TRADIZIONE (il manifesto, 1996) SudSoundSystem
Bisca99Posse GUAI A CHI CI TOCCA (io, 1995) Distributed by Flying Records, Napoli fax (39 81) 762 8279 Bisca99Posse



Napoli Sound System is a compilation of the best music Naples has to offer; a music rooted in tradition that shakes tradition by its roots; a music as innovative and exciting as one would expect from Napoli. This compilation is brought to you by La canzonetta a music publisher and producer accessible through the address below ... La Canzonetta
Music Publisher and Distributor


Italian Music in Dialect

The question of language is fundamental in the context of Italian culture and nationhood. The Union of Independent Musician, as the note to this CD explains, “was born in 1990 and is an aggregate of subjects (companies and individuals) who work on projects and musical productions of utmost cultural interest. The Association Union is non-profit, and supports the development and promotion of new Italian music in Italy and around the world. Further, its primary objective is to achieve official recognition for its associates as cultural elaborators, and the accompanying instruments (organizational, economic, and legal) to enhance their activities.” In fact, this compilation reproposes dialects and music in dialect and opens new and future byways for its development and evolution. Oderso Rubini and Stefano Bonagura, who acted as editors for the collection, quote Law 612 on linguistic minorities in Italy, which stresses the protection of languages that originate outside of the sphere of Italian and/or its dialects. Following this with a quote by the noted socio- linguist Tullio De Mauro, Rubini and Bonagura demonstrate that a similar protecionist attitude does not exist for Italian dialects themselves, and this is the responsibility that the Association Union takes upon itself. As an anthology of music in dialect, as I have stated, this offers new expressions and directions. Included are songs from Sardegna, Veneto, Campania, Puglia, Lombardia, Piemonte, Sicilia, Toscana, and so on...all of which bring the dialects together on very diverse musical ground. From the Mediterranean modalities of Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare in “Capera,” to the “tarantamuffin” sounds of Sud Sound System’s “Feucu,” who mix Southern Italian rhythms with Jamaican ones, to a new arrangement of a traditional Tuscan song, “Al barre di Vvasco,” of Dennis & the Jets. Overall, an interesting collection for those who are curious about what might be the present and future of music in dialect, which today offers new expressive opportunity beyond the 15% of the population on the peninsula who today still speak only their own dialect. This CD is dedicated by the editors to “Italians all over the world! That our hearts might be filled by our cultural and human richness!” For further information please contact Union, Associazione Operatori Musicali Indipendenti, via Trionfale 85, 00100 Roma, Italia. Pasquale Verdicchio a version of this appeared in L’italo-americano in 1995

Horizontal Languages and Insurgent Cultural Alignments: National Popular Culture and Nationalism

Pasquale Verdicchio “Unification is falsification/Sicily abandoned by the government of the nation/Falsification of unification/and the government of the nation has abandoned my region.” The refrain of “Unification=Falsification”, by the Sicilian Rap group I Nuovi Briganti (The New Brigands), speaks directly to the issue of Italian nationhood and the relationship of the North and South within that country. The group’s questioning of history on their CD Fottuto terrone (Fucked Southerner) goes to the heart of the matter with clear and unambiguous accusations of falsification of history, neglect and colonization of the South at the hands of the North. Three kilometers of sea separate us from Italy but the distance is even greater for our history 1861 is the year of unification and I ask: is it reality or fiction? Garibaldi slave of power first incites and the massacres great masses of rebelling Sicilians. Victor Emanuel has condemned them. Out with the Bourbons new landlords new taxes and everything’s the same. Not enough water, the earth is hard little to eat and worse than in the war. Illiteracy in the crowd all against all, if you give up you’re lost meanwhile we work up North roads, railroads, and industrialization Ref: Unification is falsification Sicily abandoned by the government of the nation Falsification of unification and the government of the nation has abandoned my region. Italian unification (1861/71) has been propagated as an instance of decolonization by which the Kingdom of Sardinia (actually an area under the rule of Piedmont which included the island of Sardegna), having rid itself of its Austrian governors, supposedly set out to liberate the South of its Bourbon rulers. The contradictory history of this period, known as the Risorgimento, is well documented in the works of writers and intellectuals preceding and following unification, among them the Marxist intellectual and founder of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) Antonio Gramsci. In fact this liberation, as demonstrated by the long and hard fought battles of resistance by what the new state defined as “brigands,” turned out to be nothing more than an instance of re-colonization of Southern regions by a newly autonomous and expanding Piedmontese state eager to take its place among the European nations. Born in Sardegna, a region that had known only foreign domination for over 1000 years before its absorption into the nascent Italian nation in 1861, Antonio Gramsci is representative of innumerable others for whom birth outside of “official” regions meant education into Italianness. This background provided Gramsci with the lens through which to analyze the construction of the Italian nation and its various of components. In his essay “The Southern Question” (1925), Gramsci considers this North/South rapport under the urgency of Fascism’s rise, which represents another instance of nationalist discourse attempting to overwhelm and erase the complexity of the national complex it supposedly represent. Stressing the inadequacy of the Italian state regarding the representation of the majority of its population, in general Southerners and the inhabitants of the Islands of Sicily and Sardegna, and more specifically of the workers and peasants both Northern and Southern, Gramsci delineates the role of culture as a major factor in structuring the Italian socio-political reality. His discussion of the “Southern Question” includes analyses of the development, role and function of intellectuals, the place and province of culture for particular classes, and the possibility of providing a corrective to the social and economic unbalances that had arisen as a result of cultural constructs proposed an anthropologically divergent description for part of the peninsula’s population. No doubt, Antonio Gramsci’s observation that “the South is a great social disintegration” (Gramsci, 22) is no longer applicable in the same terms today as it was in 1925. With the Italian nation’s progress toward its place among the world’s leading industrial nations, the conditions in Southern Italy changed somewhat. The disintegration that continues to characterize the South is identifiable today in the poverty or lack of public services, in the degradation of the educational system, in the continued crises of employment and housing, in the lack of a political infrastructure able to guarantee proper representation at all levels of government and, last but not least, the overwhelmingly oppressive presence of what has come to be known generically as the “Mafia.” The 1994 national elections, in which a Rightist alliance came to government, somewhat reemphasized a North/South division. The newly formed party Forza Italia, representative of Northern industrialism, the neo- fascist MSI, reborn as Alleanza Nazionale, and the Lega Lombarda (Lombard League, a federalist party with a strongly racist platform based in the Northern regions) defeated a Left that actually gained in the Southern regions, but as a fragmented series of parties with very localized agendas. These developments are indicative of a trend that has plagued Italy since 1861, and that take the country toward a centralized “European” vision and culture. The Lega Lombarda, in its meteoric rise as the dominant party in the North, has not been reluctant to adopt 19th century positivist attitudes to explain the straggling of the South as a symptom of the ethnic/racial inferiority of the region’s inhabitants. Views of the South characterizing it as a weight impeding the progress of the North, hand in hand with an historical revisionism that has cast the North as a region colonized by less civilized hoards, are well expressed in the public statements made by Umberto Bossi, leader of the Lega Lombarda: In these little less than disastrous conditions, we witness day after day the imbalanced conflict between an Italy that aspires to become European with its head held high, creating a modern nation, democratic and civil, and the forces that orbit around the public machinery and are fed by it, the forces whose objectives are to become part of the African peninsula. (Bossi, 53) The Italian state, tending toward the establishment of a European entity, has once again instrumentalized negative representations of the South to emphasize its difference from it and its affinity to other Northern European nations. The conditioning of thought regarding the South has been so powerful that, in a recent book on the nature of the Italian nation, Se cessiamo di essere una nazione (If We Cease to be a Nation) (Il Mulino, 1993), Gian Enrico Rusconi identifies the Lega Lombarda’s attitudes toward the South as stemming from “the intentions of Leaguists who want to punish a southernist politics conducted up till now by the state as well as the Mafia stigma that in their eyes marks the South as such”. (29) These views, which Bossi obviously manipulates to the benefit of his political agenda, propagate the myth of a state government has long been representative of, and favorable toward, the South to the detriment of the North. Supposedly, the national government drained national coffers for the sole benefit of the South since the creation of a “Fund for the South” in 1950. Meant as an attempt to balance investment and development in all regions, the “Fund” became instead a scheme by which many of the resources earmarked for the South were deviated via contractual agreements to Northern companies engaged to provide services and fund projects in the South, many of which never actually saw the light. And, in fact, the “ball and chain” South that threatens to drag Italy into the Third World was the most important source of labor for the development and success of Northern industries. During a period in which Northern and Central Italy were undergoing tremendous structural changes, the Southern situation was to a certain extent alleviated with the new availability of jobs in the North. Emigration became part of the solution, while also contributing to the undoing of much of the social fiber of Southern towns and cities. The horrendous amount of emigration from South to North that took place from the 1950s to the 1970s, no less than 10 million, and its apparent resolution of the “southern question,” legitimized the state’s inattention toward the South. Adding to the numbers of internal emigration the millions of emigrants that left Italy altogether in the period spanning 1876 to 1976, one can begin to argue that for the South emigration resulted in a depletion of social, cultural, and economic alternatives. The Post-unification installment of a “national cultural tradition” through the establishment of a national educational system and a standardized language, further aggravated the conditions by which regional and localized cultures might negotiate their future. Unemployment, the absence of a coherent civil structure, and the fraying of the social and cultural fabric through emigration are among the problems that the institution that is the Mafia was fully capable of manipulating to its advantage. The corrupted flow of developmental funds to the South met with full Mafia support and participation. Historically, the presence of the Mafia (Sicily), Camorra (Campania), and ‘ndrangheta (Calabria) is tied up in complex systems of governance in which these organizations functioned as negotiators between foreign dominators and indigenous peoples, between the aristocracy and the masses. Today, these organizations, in as much as they profit from state mismanagement and neglect, and are in some areas the only guarantors of employment, can be said to collaborate with the State in the business of exploitation. The re-effectuation of a Southern cultural voice, plural yet cohesive, hindered by an antagonistic and reactive relationship with the Italian nation- state, must take place away from the fiction of “Italian culture” through the elaboration of intellectuals deeply committed to a sphere of discourse that values the local alongside the global. Aspects of this expression that are of utmost importance, and which inform the following series of considerations, are the re-establishment of local languages (officially demoted to dialects) as viable primary forms of communication, and the explicit and direct affirmation of the South’s colonized condition. It is only through the presentation of an alternative history that the possibility to establish the Italian South within a post-colonial frame of reference by which an analysis akin to Nuovi Briganti’s assessment can take place. These demands have resulted in the exploration of oppositional alternatives to nationalism and the reassertion of subaltern cultures in dialogue with other peripheral cultures outside of their own immediate sphere of contact. Hip Hop’s accessibility and ability to communicate across cultural and national boundaries facilitates its adoption as an instrument to aid emerging or re- emerging cultural discourses. The application of the terms of postcolonialism to the Italian situation requires that this fairly new field of inquiry expand its sense of a fixed adversarial relationships that overlook the inherent complexity of nations such as Italy. While I don’t intend to challenge postcolonialism per se, I imagine it as a concept that can be expanded to include variations on the colonial/postcolonial dichotomy such as e/im-migration and colonial conditions within apparently uncomplicated national situations. I would therefore propose the reformulation of postcolonialism as a category engaging the concepts of hegemony and historical bloc, where all come to be interdependent aspects of similarly drawn cultural tendencies. In addressing the Italian situation in terms of North/South it becomes important, therefore, that the above named terms be seen in function of a shifting yet continuous paradigm of interferences. Through the problemitization of terms and categories it is possible to arrive at a descriptive set of parameters by which hegemony and colonialism, and historic bloc and postcolonialism become articulated pairs of an expansive deconstructive methodology vis-a-vis nationalism and its symptoms, rather than fixed points of reference for describing diachronic and synchronic relationships. If hegemony is taken to be the crossover function of thought and action, then the formation of an active historical bloc is participant in the process of hegemony that goes to define post-colonialism as the acquisition of a conscience of disruption. In “The Southern Question,” the formation of an historical bloc is proposed by Gramsci in the form of an alliance between Northern workers and Southern peasants. Had this taken place, aside from creating a bloc to give representative voice to a large excluded portion of the population, it might also have effectively deflated Fascism’s rise in the late teens of this century. Today, to bring up the topic of a cultural identity that is constituted through alliances and coalitions between groups that share similar yet not identical concerns, but which are mutually supportive and beneficial, is to emphasize that no alliance was constituted in Italy. The effect of this should be to revive a dialogue on the concept of “national popular culture.” In fact, North/South divisions, within the trajectory of a nationalist program, though not those of seventy years ago, persist. The elaboration of a functional “national” political program involves an analysis of what constitutes “national culture,” a culture that in order to be effectively democratic must be reflective of localized concerns and preoccupations. The mechanisms by which the Southern Italian condition, deprived of the terms of postcoloniality by the presumptions of nationalism, has today found in “Occupied Autonomous Social Centers” a new venue by which to negotiate this deferred sense of expansive hegemony are deeply situated in the activity that defines its information of historical blocs. These Centers (from now on CSOA), established without the sanction of any of the traditional social or political institutions such as the state, party politics, and the Mafia, provide support in areas where these beauracracies have either failed or have attempted to stifle organization. Given the history of Italian nationhood, the CSOAs, though present throughout the country, are of particular importance in the South. The emergence of horizontal notions of cultural communication that the CSOAs represent undermine traditional expectations of isolationism and provide an expansion in the network of resistance cultures that goes beyond the separationist/nationalist paradigms. The terms established by the contemporary phenomenon by which Southern Italian culture has, at least in part, come to be identified with Hip Hop, and of which the Nuovi Briganti are but one example, are to be carefully considered and assessed. New cultural products, such as what the hybridization of Hip Hop and local cultures engender, are important because they define points of reference external to their own immediate experience. As such, they become indicative of the failure of separationist projects or, better, the failure of anti-nationalist movements that are nationalist in their own aspirations. What emerges is a notion of resistance culture that aligns itself horizontally with groups or cultures reflective of similar positions, rather than vertically to define themselves in relation to the restrictive camp that is “nationalism.” CSOA: Decentering Culture Toward the Centers The struggle toward the decentralization of cultural norms in Italy has a long history which unfortunately remains mostly untold. Much of this history suffers from a characterization that has served to strengthen ideals of national culture that regards cultures that serve themselves of the languages designated as dialects, or that have emerged from particular areas, as lesser derivants or folkloric manifestations of an officially sanctioned culture. Today, some of the most effective agents of decentralization have become the CSOA. The negotiative position of CSOAs in a post-industrial environment, and the strategy that they employ in creating a distance between themselves and any traditionally active political party or ideology, is reminiscent of the earlier Italian Autonomia movement and its extensive network of autonomist labour groups. Given Italy’s young status as a nation, this sort of political strategy makes perfect sense. The social, linguistic, political and economic specificity of each region, though greatly altered since the end of the Second World War, is still varied enough that an institutionally based classification of Italian polities is intrinsically absurd. This condition, almost unknown in most other post-industrial nations, is one of the factors that facilitated the rise of the “autonomist movement” as a strategy for activism. The PCI (Italian Communist Party), which sanctioned the view of workerist intellectuals, for whom society was made-up of workers and “unproductive workers” (women, the unemployed, students, etc.), failed to properly articulate the distance between the two poles in the dichotomy. Even Autonomia, born in Northern factories in the 1950s, as a movement devised mainly by Southern emigrant workers in defiance of their non- representation by union bosses, did not develop as an alliance of the sort Gramsci had envisioned. A cultural gulf subsisted between Northern and Southern workers which prevented their full collaboration; in addition to which, the interests of immigrant workers also became somewhat divorced from the interests of Southerners who remained home. The lesson of Autonomia, however, was that it proposed a way for collective action, a lesson which is being extended today by the CSOAs. In fact, both the rise of the “autonomist movement” and the emergence of CSOAs can be interpreted as critiques of the PCI’s blind valorization of the workerist model along with compromises taken toward participation in the parliamentary system. The establishment and existence of the centers proposes the need to review certain Gramscian concepts such as “national popular” and “educative alliances,” which, through the PCI’s modified ideology, came to represent little more than compromise. Autonomia and the CSOAs, apparently twenty or so years distant from each other, but in reality forming almost a continuum from the early 70s to today, take the above named Gramscian propositions to their most fully realized level by refusing to “separate economics from politics, and politics from existence [and culture].” (Branzaglia, 9) The stated inter-relationships must be given weight to rescue the notion of “national popular” from divisive interpretations that would represent it simply as either a cultural or a political concept. The history of the most famous of all social centers, the Leoncavallo in Milano, subjected to continued scrutiny and threats of expulsion by the forces of public order, illustrates quite well the struggle for survival of un-official activity. The Southern CSOAs range from the Fata Morgana of Messina, Sicily, to Contro l’emarginazione of Brindisi, Puglia, to Officina 99 in Naples, Asilio Politico in Salerno, and Lavori in Corso in Acerra. In the South, due to the lagging economic situation, the high rate of unemployment, and the opposition of organized crime to any activity that works to empower the citizenry, the difficulties for CSOAs are multiplied. The CSOAs social activism brings them into direct confrontation with local criminality. The Esperia Center, of Catania, for one, became victim of this conflict when it was firebombed four times and forced to relocate. (Branzaglia, 47) Well aware of the criminal mechanisms at work in the locations where they function, the activists involved with Guernica (which replaced the Esperia) testify that: the reproduction and valuation of bourgeois systems is emphasized by the restructuration tendencies at work within the historic center of the city. The Mafia activates their system of control over the proletarian masses on behalf of the bourgeoisie. As such, their illegal activities assume the role of controlling and organizing the population. This in particular differentiates Southern urban renewal from the North. (49) Nevertheless, the CSOAs survive and thrive, they relocate and re-emerge, they organize and overcome. Their coerced urban nomadism provides alternative spaces where to “live negated things” (Branzaglia, 11). As alternatives to traditional institutionalized and apparently stable versions of opposition (voting, political representation, boycotts, etc.) the CSOAs become autonomous social and political spaces and sites of resistance. The philosophy of the CSOAs falls somewhat within a Gramscian optic in that they represent an eventful manifestation of collaborative agency for disenfranchised groups and individuals. This in a society that, while taking less and less interest in their plight, more often than not poses them as the cause of societal ills and decay. The population of the CSOAs is made up mostly of “youth involved in the underground economy or black markets, the unemployed, ex-addicts, students awaiting an opportunity to enter the labor market, extra-communitarians, rural youths in search of places where to spend their empty evenings.” (12/13) The CSOAs primary program is the occupation of unused or condemned schools, apartment buildings, government buildings, university cafeterias, factories, industrial plants. They all become the target of CSOA activists who seek to improve the conditions caused by lack of housing and services through the unauthorized take-over of unused or abandoned facilities. Such activity, by establishing a fracture with institutions, comes in fact to represent the precarious existence that many of the participant members of CSOAs live day to day and offers the possibility of regaining a certain amount of control over one’s own existence (19). The internal activities that define the CSOAs’ existence include informational services, the struggle against heroin (drug abuse), political antagonism, and self- administration of housing, daycare, language classes for immigrants, etc. Self- administration assumes an ideological tone that qualifies the total experience of CSOAs, as based on the value of the “horizontality of decision making” (27), and emphasizes their distance from the influences of organizational and party hierarchy. The concept of allowing differences “to deepen at the base without trying to synthesize them from above, to stress the collaborative power of similar positions without imposing a ‘general line,’ to allow parts to co-exist side by side, in their singularity” (8) is part and parcel of the CSOAs philosophy and history. While these Centers have established a national, as well as an international network, their activity fulfills its role at a local level. Functioning as gathering places, as spaces of autonomous cultural and political strategy, these islands within the urban scape also have a transformative effect on the spaces that surround them. As is made clear by both a member of Officina 99 and a resident in the area of the Center, the choice of neighborhood is not haphazard: This is a neighborhood that lacks everything, the State is truly absent, and the only forms of escape are the artificial paradises of heroin. (Branzaglia, 57) and I believe that the occupation has been a positive thing, because Gianturco lacks everything and they have organized celebrations, concerts and other initiatives. (57) True to the dictum “act locally, think globally,” the CSOAs communicative spaces expand beyond the neighborhood to an international arena in which the particularity of each element is presented and upheld as an important node within a more expansive network. ZEROnetwork, a communication network associated with CSOAs, represents one aspect of this globality through which information, strategy and news are exchanged: We are attempting to connect, as a Neapolitan reality, with the European network of communications of the Social Centers [...] it is above-all a way in which to interact with the reality of the neighborhood in which [the Center] is occupied. (56) Part and parcel of the activity of the CSOAs is the emergence from within their walls of cultural expressions that define the local struggle and identify it globally with similar manifestations. One of the most visible (audible) modes of opposition to emerge from the CSOAs, one which continues to define the terms by which to communicate its location and situation, is music. Associated to musical expression, and an aspect of utmost importance, is the fact that the notion of autonomy extends into the parameters of cultural self-production, in which the Centers function as alternatives to large publishers, recording studios, promoters, and the like. Southern Hip Hop and “National Popular” Culture The influence of Hip Hop culture is readily discernible in the music and art emerging from within the CSOAs. Graffiti and Rap are an integral part of the Centers’ identity. While graffiti is by no means a new presence in the Italian urban environment (political and sports graffiti have a long tradition) the influence of U.S. (New York) graphic elements is undeniable. The urban landscape is defined by graffiti and logos, and the CSOAs themselves are decorated, inside and out, with the work of local artists. Two aspects of graffiti appear to be markedly different in their application and function in the U.S. First of all, while in recent years individual tagging and personalized graffiti have become more common, in general the Italian city is divided in zones and tagged according to political and ideological identification, and not necessarily neighborhood gang affiliation. For example, the move from a Leftist neighborhood to a Rightist neighborhood is marked with the colors, symbols and slogans associated with such ideologies (the hammer and sickle, or the swastika, or countless variations). Secondly, rather than decorating/tagging train-cars and other public transport vehicles, as was/is the custom in North American cities, the walls along the transit route are marked so as to offer all passengers film-like social and political commentary (the access route to the Bologna station is particularly interesting). Musically, there are groups associated with various Centers: Officina 99 gave rise to 99 Posse (Alma Megretta is also associated with this center); in Messina, Sicily, even though no center existed at the outset, I Nuovi Briganti eventually came to be associated with the Fata Morgana; on the east side of the peninsula, in the rural Salento area where no Center exists, Sud Sound System formed and, true to their name, represent a roving band of musicians who hold their communal concerts in town squares or out in the fields of the region. Undoubtedly, Rap has become a universally imitated phenomenon that often has nothing to do with the social and political aspects that it represents for a portion of the African American population. Little more than a novelty, Rap invaded Italy in the late 80s through the figure of Jovannotti, and soon many more imitators followed this successful introduction, picked up by commercial recording studios and packaged for general consumption. While the compositions did touch on social issues now and then, the pieces limited themselves mostly to clever phrasing and word play to offer up the same sort of subject matter that informs most other pop music. Much of the rap in this early period was done either in English or Italian. Just as the identity and activity of the CSOAs is rooted in the specificity of local experience, the cultural expression that emerges from these social organizations is also rooted in local experience. With this premise, the association of Rap groups with CSOAs becomes an important cultural development because these bands, reflecting the regional specificity of the Centers, have replaced English and Italian with the particular languages of their regions in most if not all of their lyrics. Neapolitan, Sicilian, Pugliese, etc. are therefore not only the languages of the audience but also of the cultural product they receive. Most importantly, the subject matter of the compositions concerns social and cultural dilemmas directly connected to the experiences of the audience. Rap music in Southern Italy works much in the same manner as it does for Black youth in the U.S., it “expresses the desire of young [...] people to reclaim their history [...] and contest the powers of despair and economic depression [...]” (Dyson, 15). Therefore, the use of Rap by Southern Italians is not merely a straight across use of the form, and upon hearing the compositions one is struck by the infusion of Southern rhythms within the Rap shell. The rhythms of tarantella and other folk musics are easily distinguished in many works. Not only have folkloric sounds been sampled into the expressive field but old popular tunes have been readapted to reflect their continued importance for today’s young Southerners. The famous “O sole mio” has been redone as “Lu sole mio” by Papa Ricky, from the Salento region, who has cast it as a universal chant to the sun. “O sole mio is not really a song / only for Southerners ... / the sun heats the earth and therefore ... / Let’s all use it together, this heat!” Sud Sound System, also from the Salento, has adapted a traditional piece about emigration (“The Trains of Lecce”) and recast it in Rap style as a commentary against the conditions that impose emigration. Raggamuffin and rappamuffin have engendered tarantamuffin; to rap has become “rappare” in Italian; sound systems, related to those of Jamaican djs, take music and pleasure out to rural working areas. And all, all are expounding a music of autonomy and liberation. Sa Razza, a Sardinian group, reflects that island’s plight for autonomy, as I Nuovi Briganti do for Sicily. Sud Sound System and Alma Megretta emphasize Southern otherness and alliances with Northern African and Mediterranean cultures. The liner notes to Alma Megretta’s first cd release, Hannibal’s Children, read as follows: guidance and inspiration: brother malcom x, on-u sound system, benjamin zephaniah, lkj, sly & robbie, material, sly & the family stone, massive attack, rebel mc and all the funky dreds, lee’s scratch perry, ras robert nesta marley and all the un-recognized popular artists of the mediterranean, north, south, east, and west. (jacket) As the title of the cd suggests, Alma Megretta’s view of Southern history offers an alternative to official history by favouring African influences to emphasize differences between North and South. Hannibal’s army comes to represent the genetic pool for Southerners and a matter of prideful boasting in answer to Umberto Bossi’s view that there is an “other” Italy, not interested in joining Europe but more apt to “join Africa” (Bossi, 53). Unquestionably, Bossi’s reasons for joining Europe are different form what they might be for many Southerners, for whom Europe might represent the only opportunity that will keep the South from further Northern exploitation. It is this sense of alternative fate and history that is reflected in the work of Southern Italian Hip Hop groups, the likes of Alma Megretta and Nuovi Briganti. They, along with Possessione, 99 Posse, Sud Sound System, and others carry out a declaration of place that emphasizes, as one of Possessione’s most popular tunes says, “il posto dove vivo[no]” (“they place in which we live”). The place where I live is like a big sewer / Nothing is recycled but it’s absorbed like a sponge [...] / The place where I live is a jungle / where people kill each other and no-one gets involved [...] / The place where I live is ripe with corruption / connections between the Mafia and the Justice system [...] / The place where I live is a land of sadness / the more you look around the more bitter you become [...] These are the places that, despite their decadence, will only improve with the effort of those who live there. Always neglected, the only hope for an improved life has been emigration. Today that option is dismissed by the generation that forms the nuclei of the CSOAs. As hinted above, the adoption of Hip Hop to Southern Italian situations, the conscious connection made to parallel situations around the globe, the establishment of a horizontality of resistance, is akin to the workings of the Gramscian concept of “national popular.” While this terminology is useful only when referring to a situation within the boundaries of one specific nation, in Italy and elsewhere the “national popular” is being represented by the coalition building between disparate groups with parallel interests, the adoption of Hip Hop and Rap represents cross-national interests. If, for example, we take the work of I Nuovi Briganti, from Sicily, 99 Posse, from Naples, Marxman from Ireland, Apache Indian, a British Indian, and The Boyz from the Rez, Native Americans, the sense of overlap and influence that Hip Hop culture acquires stands as a powerful indicator. These groups’ horizontal connection to each other via a product of African American culture, and their expression of similar, though particularly situated conditions, necessarily cause the sense of “national popular” to shift and expand. In closing, I would propose that Gramsci’s “national popular” might be extended to inter/national-popular in order to reflect the horizontal identification and communication that the language of Hip Hop provides. The revitalization of this terminology most properly represents the terms of the struggle of horizontality in today’s environment of cultural neutralization. Telematic networks and self-produced and distributed cultural products, while apparently participating in the production and consumption of culture, extend the possibilities of communication between previously distant communities by their position within an alternative mode of production. As such, the trend toward an inter/national-popular sense of culture does not aim to unite all subaltern or non-dominant cultures as one but rather, it proposes to represent what is a local minority as a global majority and thereby offer a wider ranging resistance to notions of culture that fall under the purview of nationalism. Bibliography 99 Posse. Curre curre guaglió. Napoli: Esodo Autoproduzioni, 1994. Alma Megretta. Figli di Annibale. Roma: Anagrumba Records, 1993. __________. Anima migrante. Roma: Anagrumba Records, 1993. Bocca, Giorgio. La disUnità d’Italia: Per venti milioni di italiani la democrazia è in coma e l’Europa si allontana. Milano: Garzanti, 1990. Bossi, Umberto. Il Bossi Pensiero. Introduzione di Enzo Biagi. Milano: Panorama Documenti, 1993. Branzaglia, Carlo, Pierfrancesco Pacoda and Alba Solaro. Posse italiane: Centri sociali, underground musicale e cultura giovanile degli anni ‘90 in Italia. I marzzziani. Firenze: Tosca, 1992. Dyson, Michael Eric. Reflecting Black: African American Cultural Criticism. Minneapolis: University of Minnessota Press, 1993. Gramsci, Antonio. The Southern Question. Translated, annotated and introduced by Pasquale Verdicchio. Lafayette: Bordighera, 1995. Nuovi Briganti. Fottuto terrone. Cyclope Records, 1994. Papa Ricky. Lu sole mio. EP. Bologna: Century Vox Records, 1992. Possessione. Il posto dove vivo. EP. Napoli: San Isidro Records, 1993. Rusconi, Gian Enrico. Se cessiamo di essere una nazione. Contemporanea 60. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1993. Teti, Vito. La razza maledetta: origini del pregiudizio antimeridionale. Roma: manifestolibri, 1993. Verdicchio, Pasquale. “Bound by Distance: Italian Canadian Writing as De- contextualized Subaltern” in Voices in Italian Americana, vol. 3, no. 2, (1992).

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