African-American Hip Hop’s Influence on Ethiopian-Israeli youth #4 Brochstein B.

A subculture is most commonly and broadly defined as a social group organized around shared interests and practices, or a cultural group within a larger culture. Subcultures are generally groups that are perceived to deviate from the normative standards of the dominant culture. They are often positioned socially and analytically as disenfranchised, and they also often distinguish themselves as being oppositional, alternative, and countercultural. Subcultures often represent different ethnic groups and other groups that are not represented by the majority of the population. This can refer to people in the LGBTQ community, people with physical and/or mental disabilities, people who dress in fashions that aren’t commonplace, and even people who listen to different kinds of music.

In Israel, pop-rock, MidEastern pop, and trance are all mainstream genres of music, the types of songs that you would hear while out in public or on the radio. However, Israelis of Ethiopian descent, a minority group in Israel, have chosen black/African-American hip hop music as their major source of identification. According to author David Ratner, many immigrants from Ethiopia settle in areas that are dominated by Sephardic Jews and often feel that they suffer from discrimination. Ratner adds that the hip-hop trend may signify an identity crisis and a refusal to integrate into Israeli society. Several Israeli youths of Ethiopian origin feel that African-American hip hop is relatable and helps them establish an identity as black youth in a “white” nation. They believe that they currently face the same struggles and discrimination that African-Americans faced in the USA, and that the music gives them the tools and inspiration to cope with being a part of this Ethiopian-Israeli minority group and to understand what is going on in Israel. According to Ratner, “black music…gives [them] the power to carry on… Israeli youths of Ethiopian origin create an imagined geography — a space of black identity associated with the global black diaspora”.  Ratner identifies rapper Tupac as the biggest source of inpiration to Ethiopian-Israelis due to his unwavering stance on racism. In fact, Amos Harel, a military analyst for Haaretz Daily, explained that a leader in the Ethiopian Protest of 2015 said in an interview that “you wouldn’t find a home in the Ethiopian community where teens live without a poster of Tupac decorating the walls”. It is extremely interesting to hear about how Tupac is a major role model in Israel, considering he died in the United States in 1996. Still, the Ethiopian-Israeli youth counterculture keeps his legacy alive today by fighting to improve Israeli society  not just for themselves but for all Israeli citizens.


Avivi, Yuval. “Tupac Shakur: Hero of Israeli-Ethiopian Musicians – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Israel Pulse. Al-Monitor, 18 Mar. 2016. Web. 03 May 2016.

Herzog, Mitchell, and Soccio. “Introduction.” Invisible Culture. University of Rochester, 1999. Web. 02 May 2016.


African-American Hip Hop’s Influence on Ethiopian-Israeli youth #4 Brochstein B.

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