(Re)making the city through music events: the case of two rap festivals in Paris and Atlanta

Authors: Severin Guillard*, Université Paris Est - Lab'Urba
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Popular music, rap music, festival, cities, France, United States
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Oakley, Sheraton, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


If urban space has long been a privileged site for music scenes and activities, music recently started to play a role in the transformation of cities. Resulting partly from a cultural turn in urban policies, with cities being branded as “creative” or “festive” places, this evolution is also linked to an urban turn in cultural practices. In recent years, music has been more and more experienced through mega-events, in a context of “festivalization of culture”. This new way of performing and consuming music has an impact on the development of cities, and festivals have become a way to legitimize new urban images and projects. In this chapter, I will observe this dimension through the cases of Paris Hip Hop and the A3C Festival, two significant rap events taking place in two capitals for this genre: Paris and Atlanta. Following a long-term association between rap music and urban space, these festivals are deeply rooted in their city. Therefore, using extensive fieldwork carried out in 2012 and 2013 for a doctoral thesis, I will show how, in opposition or in addition to institutional policies, these initiatives contribute to the fabric of the city on several levels. Firstly, in their promotion, rap music is used to transform the dominant image of the city. Secondly, with the sites of the events, the festivals create a new type of urbanity, challenging the way the city is usually practiced. Finally, through the performances in specific shows, they support some social changes in marginalized neighborhoods.

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