August 3, 2021

In Poland, the booming nationalist rap


Rap, a musical movement born as the cry of pain of excluded minorities, can it be right-wing, even nationalist? A quarter of a century after its establishment in Poland, some representatives of this culture, born in the black American ghettos, have taken an atypical turn. Inspired by the non-conformist and anti-system message, they adopted a discourse imbued with patriotic values ​​with nationalist and ultracatholic leanings, which espouses that of the national-conservatives of the PiS (Law and Justice) in power in Warsaw.

It is this specific phenomenon that the work entitled Rap at the service of the nation. Nationalism and popular culture (Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar, 282 pages, 42 zlotys, untranslated), by Piotr Majewski, researcher in cultural sciences at the Warsaw School of Social and Human Sciences (SWPS).

He underlines that the rightization of certain currents of rap has been a progressive phenomenon for nearly a decade, but that he is now living its golden age under the governments of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s party, whose representatives do not hesitate to exploit its potential for cultural propaganda.

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Poland and its huge gray building bars inherited from the Communist has always been a fertile ground for street art, rap and hip-hop. When, in the 1990s, rap was booming in the United States, it was also firmly established in Poland. The chaos of the post-1989 democratic transformation, the abrupt transition to the market economy and its social consequences provided an environment conducive to its development. Amateur rap groups then abounded in the decrepit buildings of the immense working-class district that at the time constituted most of the country.

Patriotic ideals

The young rappers vehemently denounced the deep economic and social inequalities engendered by democratic transformation, the lack of prospects for groups from the unprivileged classes, the massive corruption of politicians in collusion with the business world, around a privatization process seen as a plunder of national property. These criticisms were already the business of Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s party. Rap was nonetheless an anti-political phenomenon.

Until 2012 and the release of Tadeusz’s album “Tadek” Polkowski, precursor of patriotic rap. Uncomfortable truth (“An Inconvenient Truth”) is considered the first opus of its kind, to the glory in particular of controversial Polish heroes of the Second World War and openly promoted in the circles of the nationalist right.

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