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Journal of Linguistic Anthropology

Cape Verdean Creole and the Politics of Scene-Making in Lisbon, Portugal

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Abstract

The performance of Kriolu rap in Lisbon, Portugal has emerged at a time when Western European countries are reassessing the relationship between national territory and identity. Attractive to some and disturbing to others are the attitude and flair of Kriolu rappers. A group of mostly young men of Cape Verdean descent, these rappers insist on speaking and singing in Kriolu, a creole language that lacks official-language status in both Portugal and Cape Verde. In this article, based on analyses of rap lyrics, excerpts from my fieldwork conversations with rappers, and structural features of the Kriolu language itself, I propose that Kriolu rap is a renewed interrogation of diaspora and of place-based identity. More generally, I propose that, when contextualized in terms of cultural history and (post)colonial politics, Kriolu rap offers insight into the relationship between words and music as part of a process of combining aesthetics with social claims. [creole, rap, diaspora, chronotope, Cape Verde, Portugal]

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