Hip Hop Scene: As with a number of international scenes we have covered in the past Italy’s hip hop scene owes its birth to the influence of movies like Wildstyle, Beat Street and Breakin’. In the mid to late 80s, locals emulating the B-boys and emcees in the movies began to grow their own hip hop scene. Hip hop spread throughout the country primarily through the ‘œcentri sociali,’ cultural hotspots where left wing young people would regularly meet. A 2nd wave of hip hop heads emerged from the ‘œcentri sociali’ at the end of the 80’s with writers and emcees becoming the focal point and acts such as Isola Posse all Stars, Onda Rossa Posse, Radical Stuff, Sacco n Vanzetti Syndicate, and Codice Rosso took root and began performing in their native tongue.

Of these crews Isola Posse All Stars, which consisted of six members – three of which would split to form Sangue Misto in the early 90’s, became one the most influential music acts on the scene with their release of ‘œStop al panico’ detailing the state of repression following the murder of three national policemen. At that point much if not all of the music was released strictly underground through an informal network of ‘œcentri sociali.’

This was changed when an ‘old school’ movement was ushered in by those outside of the centri network creating music from their bedrooms. These artists, notables include Frankie Hi Nrg Mc, were the first to sign major label deals. Over time Italian hip hop has become less focused on political rhymes and more attentive to the day to day struggles of the youth. The scene today is still active, especially international b-boyin’ events such as Hip Hop Connection (reaching its 6th edition). There are also many artists on the scene including Kaos One, Dj Gruff, the Next One, DJ Trix, Moddi, Colle Der Fomento, Cor Veleno, Turi, Beatgym, DJ Shocca, Mistaman, Giuann, Karma 21, Katana Shop, 80’s vibe, and Gatekeys. Moreover underground labels such as Vibra Records serve as a reference point for quality music in the hip hop community. However, according to Italian Hip hop aficionado Max Mbassadò, ‘There are many acts but too often these new acts have no clue about the foundation, don’t have the proper respect they should for it nor the hunger and thirst to know [about it].’

Sources: Huge, huge thanks to my man Max Mbassadò at The Manhattan Agency for hooking me up with the info.

Italy is one of the most culturally rich countries in the world and has a long storied history. It has been the home to a number of civilizations and its capital, Rome, has been historically important as the center of the Roman Empire and the home of the Catholic Church. After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476, Italy was shattered and preceded through centuries of war, plague, and corruption for many centuries. The rise of cities and a merchant class culminated in the Renaissance period of the 15th century. Painters, architects, poets, philosophers and sculptors produced unsurpassed works of genius, despite the turmoil of intercity warfare and invasion by countries to the north that continued.

At the end of Napoleon’s rule in 1815, a movement began to once again create a united Italy. Garibaldi, one of the most respected of all Italian heroes, led a number of campaigns to unify the city-states before Italy became a nation-state (with the exception of Rome) in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor Emmanuel II. In 1871, after also reclaiming Venice, Rome became the capital of the newly formed country. The Vatican, however, didn’t yield its territory to the new order, despite guarantees of nonintervention offered by the government, and relations between the pope and the country of Italy remained rocky.

Economic crisis and fickle politics dogged the new nation in the ensuing decades, as Italy muddled through WWI and became riddled with industrial unrest in the early 1920s. In an unwise employment decision, the king asked Benito Mussolini to take the reins of government under the auspices of his Fascist Party. Il Duce soon became head of state, granted the Vatican autonomy, outlawed the opposition, controlled the press and trade unions and cut franchise by two-thirds. Mussolini tried to spread his authoritarian ideology to other European countries and dictators such as Francisco Franco in Spain and Adolf Hitler in Germany were heavily influenced by the Italian examples. Italy supported both German Spanish invasions entering World War II on Germany’s behalf in 1940. Following several defeats Italy was invaded and Mussolini was arrested by his own cabinet.

After Italy’s defeat in WW II a democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed. However, even to this day Italy’s parliament has a reputation for scandal, corruption and resignation, and at times it has left Italy virtually ungoverned and utterly chaotic. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.

Sources: Wikipedia.com, CIA.gov, Frommers, Fodors, and Lonely Planet.

Date: December 18, 2012