Representing the Marginalized Other
Hip-hop artists are often perceived as societal critics who speak for, or represent a marginalized other, while at the same time re-presenting or staging themselves as individual artists. This article sets out to provide a more detailed account of the representation of such a marginalized other in Swedish Hip-hop by tracing the ways in which representation – as both speaking for and staging – is connected to the marginalized other in the lyrics of the Malmö-based Hip-hop group Advance Patrol. In their lyrics, Advance Patrol not only stage themselves as artists who speak for a marginalized other and artists who distance themselves from such representations by creating an externalized other. Their lyrics also stage them as what will be called a transnational other in-between Chile and Sweden and thereby connect them with a migration history in-between Chile and Sweden. It argues that the representations in their lyrics between 2003 and 2006 shift – between criticizing the logic of 'we' against 'them' that creates the marginalized other, and an affirmation of such marginalization. These shifting representations thus represent it as a concept that can never be fully assimilated into a dominant hegemonic structure, a concept that resists appropriation into forms of solidarity that claim to know or speak its 'truth'.
Hip-hop, Swedish Suburbs and the Marginalized Other
Husby, a suburban district of Stockholm made international headlines in the spring of 2013. The New York Times observed that Swedes reacted with bewilderment and surprise to the ‘spasm of destructive rage’ that was unleashed during riots in the immigrant-dominated suburb (Higgins, 2013). The nation´s ‘reputation for tolerance’, it read in The Telegraph, was being tested (Freeman 2013).
The fact that such violence erupted in spite of an in comparison still well functioning welfare state was explained as a result of an increasing income inequality, unemployment, discrimination and hidden racism. As Spiegel Online put it, a ‘new urban underclass’ felt ‘well taken care of, but not needed’ (Lüpke-Narberhaus, 2013).
The emergence of such an ‘urban underclass’ can be traced back to the growth of a number of low-income, immigrant-dominated areas during the 1980s and 1990s. Youth living in these areas – most notably the suburbs of the country´s three largest cities – Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö – soon developed a deep sense of alienation and exclusion from mainstream society.
The 1990s and 2000s witnessed the eruption of violence related to issues of segregation and increasing income inequality in a number of such suburbs as Hjällbo in Gothenburg or Rosengård in Malmö. The riots in Husby are thus only the most recent example of youth violence in Swedish suburbs (Nilsson and Westerberg, 2011).
In this context, Hip-hop, that had its public breakthrough in Sweden in the mid-1990s quickly developed into a viable alternative identity for youth with parents from a wide range of different backgrounds (Sernhede 2007). Based on a strong identification with the experiences of African Americans in the United States, it became a platform for making audible marginalized voices from the suburbs (Sernhede and Söderman 2011).
Although Swedish Hip-hop today has developed into a cultural phenomenon that attracts artists and fans across the social spectrum, those artists who claim a suburban background in their lyrics are often perceived as societal critics who speak for, or represent marginalized others, while they at the same re-present, that is, stage themselves as individual artists.
Earlier research on the representation of marginalized others in Swedish Hip-hop has primarily focused on this first aspect of representation as speaking for. It has defined Hip-hop as an expression of collective solidarity located in the suburbs that represents the grievances of marginalized others (Sernhede 2007).
This article takes a closer look at such representations by analyzing the connection between both forms of representation – as speaking for and staging – and the construction of different forms of ‘others’ in the lyrics of the Swedish Hip-hop group Advance Patrol between 2003 and 2006.
Their lyrics are especially interesting in this context as I here aim to make visible different forms of representation of the marginalized other in Swedish Hip-hop. In their lyrics, Advance Patrol not only stage themselves as artists who speak for a marginalized other and artists who distance themselves from such representations by creating an externalized other.
Their lyrics also stage them as what will be called a transnational other in-between Chile and Sweden and thereby affiliate them with a number of Swedish Hip-hop artists who claim a past in-between Chile and Sweden. Such artists include Pato Poohand Stor, as well as groups and collectives such as Hermanos Bernal, the rappers surrounding Chorizo Records and the pioneering group The Latin Kings.
This article outlines these different representations in Advance Patrol´s lyrics and discusses the way in which they shift – between on one hand affirming, and on the other hand criticizing the concept of the marginalized other. It thereby also makes visible different forms of representations through which they both become and distance themselves from being the representatives of a marginalized ‘we’ that has been the basis of earlier research (Sernhede, 2007).
Representation and the Other
In defining the double meaning of representation and the other that I consider necessary for the analysis of the societal critique voiced through Hip-hop, I mainly draw on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak´s essay Can the Subaltern Speak? In it, Spivak amongst others argues that in the attempt to discuss marginalized or subaltern voices, a careful distinction has to be made between two meanings of representation.
On one hand, as re-presentation as in the arts, that is, as in a portrait or in staging, and on the other hand as political representation, that is, speaking for an individual or a group. In this article, such re-presentations are outlined as Advance Patrol´s stagings as Hip-hop artists, as well as the transnational other in-between Chile and Sweden. Their representations on the other hand are defined as those instances in which they speak for others in different contexts.
It is important to note however, that representation as staging and speaking for are here not seen as categories that can readily be distinguished from each other in the analysis of Hip-hop lyrics. A number of Hip-hop artists dubbed ‘conscious’ or political who find their skills as artists ‘frequently overshadowed by (their) message’ (Locker 2013), would most likely agree with John Street´s assessment that the boundaries between music and politics are ‘largely illusionary’ (Street 2012 p. 11).
I nonetheless argue, that in order to outline the societal critique voiced through Hip-hop lyrics, an analytical distinction has to be made between the two meanings of representation. Such a differentiation becomes necessary, as Hip-hop lyrics not merely present a political point of view, but explicitly set out to speak for and stage the marginalized other.
While discussing this marginalized other, there is also a careful distinction that has to be made between two meanings of the other – the other inside, and the other outside of the binary logic of ‘we’ against ‘them/the others’ (Birla, 2010, p. 88).
The other inside such a binary logic is here defined as a concept that can be created and used to make concrete suggestions to end marginalization (Moreiras, 1999, p. 392). As such, it is utilized as a form of what cultural theorist Alberto Moreiras calls ‘tactical essentialism’ that draws on a ‘fictitious register’. That means that it tactically creates imaginary or ‘fictitious’ essentialisms in order to reach certain political goals (Moreiras, 1999, p. 392). In this article, those representations – staging and speaking for – in the lyrics of Advance Patrol that offer concrete solutions to the problem of marginalization are seen as related to this first meaning of the other.
The other outside of the binary logic of ‘we’ against ‘them/the others’ is also described as ‘radical alterity’ by Spivak (Birla, 2010, p. 88). ‘Radical alterity’, or inherent difference means that this other cannot be captured through the language of binary logic. It is here defined as a concept that remains outside of the binary logic by embracing and affirming marginalization without offering concrete solutions to end it.
Although Moreiras does not explicitly connect his argument to the two meanings of representation and the other, I claim that this second meaning of the other draws on what he calls the ‘negative register’ (Moreiras, 1999, p. 393). In this article, those representations (staging and speaking for) in the lyrics of Advance Patrol that affirm marginalization without offering concrete solutions are seen as examples of this second meaning of the other.
In the following, I describe my method and design and briefly introduce the group Advance Patrol before setting out to discuss the ways in which the two meanings of representation and the other are connected in their lyrics between 2003 and 2006.
Method and Design
The lyrics of the Hip-hop group Advance Patrol are here studied as a source that refers to the world outside of their music (Lindberg, 1995). By focusing on their lyrics, rather than the interplay between rapped lyrics, music, images and videos or on their individual ‘flows’, that is, their rhythms or rhymes as individual artists, this article can be seen as connected to sociolinguistic studies of Hip-hop lyrics (Alim et al., 2009, Terkourafi, 2010). In a Swedish context, it is related to Kalle Berggren´s sociological study of Swedish rap lyrics by male artists (Berggren, 2013).
As all song lyrics, the lyrics of Advance Patrol exist in both oral and written form and can therefore be understood and interpreted in a number of different ways depending on the mode of analysis (Lilliestam, 1998). Even if audio and video recordings do have an impact on Advance Patrol´s lyrics and although my initial selection process consisted of listening to their rapped lyrics and watching their videos, I have here primarily chosen to focus on their lyrics. My final analysis thus remains more within the tradition of reading, rather than listening to their lyrics and music.
I only consider the interplay of lyrics and videos in one case – the joint video of ‘Ett Land som är Tryggt’/’Betongbarn’ – in which the lyrics were adapted to fit the video, which thereby becomes what can be called an ‘authorized interpretation’ of the two songs (Lindberg, 1995, p. 14). At this point I also point out the way in which Advance Patrol create a connection to Chile through their choice of music.
After reviewing Advance Patrol´s lyrics directed at the Swedish market between 2003 and 2006, I developed three categories for the different types of representations that I identified in them. In the following, these categories will be exemplified by excerpts from three albums – Utskrivna (2003), Ett Land som är Tryggt (2005), and Aposteln (2006). All excerpts are presented in both their Swedish original and my English translation. The first category that I will discuss concerns itself with Advance Patrol´s representations as Hip-hop artists, both in a Swedish context and within the framework of the global Hip-hop community.
In a second category, I outline their representations as the transnational other navigating in-between Chile, the former home country of their parents and Sweden, while the third and last category addresses Advance Patrol´s representations in the context of their constructions of externalized others. All three categories are then discussed under the term shifting representations in order to answer the central question of this article, namely, how Advance Patrol represent the marginalized other in their lyrics between 2003 and 2006.
Advance Patrol most prominently consists of rappers Juan Havana (Juan Hektor Paez Larraguibel) and Gonza (Gonzalo Rodrigo del Rio Saldias) whose parents emigrated to Sweden from Chile in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as DJ Lucutz (Lucas Simon Alsén). Chafic Mourtada, an earlier member of the group died in 2002. Both Juan Havana and Gonza were born in 1981 and grew up in low-income, immigrant-dominated suburbs in Malmö, a fact that they frequently address as Hip-hop artists.
Advance Patrol released their debut album ‘Utskrivna’ (The Undocumented) in 2003 and a follow-up featuring five songs under the name ‘Ett Land som är tryggt’ (A Country that is Safe) in 2005. Their second full-length album ‘Aposteln’ (The Apostle) that contains three of the five songs featured on ‘Ett Land som är tryggt’ was released only a year later. Whereas most of the lyrics on these first albums are performed in Swedish, their third album ‘Enligt AP’ (According to AP) from 2007 includes more samples of Latin American rhythms and more raps in Spanish.
Following a successful collaboration with Chilean artist Cestarfrom the Shamanes Crew, Advance Patrol went on tour in Chile between 2006 and 2009. Their fourth and last album to date ‘El Futuro’ (The Future) released on The Pirate Bay in 2009 solely features lyrics performed in Spanish, as it was mainly aimed at the Chilean or Latin American market. As this article focuses on representations in a Swedish context however, it solely includes excerpts from Advance Patrol´s Swedish albums Utskrivna (2003), Ett Land som är Tryggt (2005) and Aposteln (2006) (Wikipedia 2013, confirmed by Juan Havana via e-mail).
Representation – the Artist(s)
In her book Black Noise Tricia Rose calls attention to ‘hip-hop´s prolific self-naming’ as ‘a form of reinvention and self-definition’ as artists take on Hip-hop names and identities that refer to their role, their expertise or their ‘claim to fame’ (Rose, 1994, p. 36). A discussion of the ways in which Advance Patrol stage themselves as Hip-hop artists will thus have to start with a discussion of their group name, as well as their individual names as artist.
As the lyrics of ‘Operation Sverige’ (Operation Sweden), a song featured on their debut album ‘Utskrivna’ (The Undocumented) suggest, one way of understanding the group name Advance Patrol is to view it as a reference to the military term ‘advance guard’.
Gatuvan, gatusmart, hoppar över lumpen
Alltid på min vakt för vi är lämnade åt slumpen
Trampar genom djungeln tillsammans med en armé
Alla av samma rank, pass på att ha nån officer
Vi är en ny generation vars operation
Är att upplysa vår nation om vissas situation
Samlad i en pluton från andra sida klyftan
Vi är rösterna som dom där uppe vill ha tyst
Löser våra tvister, men jag har fienden i sikte
Operation Sverige (2003)
Street skilled, street smart, I skip military service
Always on my watch as we are left to chance
I tread through the jungle together with an army
All of the same rank, pass on having any officer
We are a new generation whose operation
Is to inform our nation about the situation of some
Gathered in a platoon from the other side of the gap
We are the voices that those up there want to silence.
Solving our disputes, but I have the enemy in sight
Operation Sweden (2003)
Society is here described as hierarchically divided into an upper and a lower stratum, with the former leaving the latter ‘to chance’. As a consequence, the members of a ‘new generation’ from the lower stratum have created an army with the aim to inform the nation about the ‘situation of some’. By staging themselves as those who speak for this army in which all are ‘of the same rank’, Advance Patrol blur the distinction between their staging as artists and their speaking for ‘(their) people’ on a national level.
As this strong and coherent group is constructed within a male-dominated military context, Advance Patrol´s representations as staging and speaking for a group also entail a mobilization of ‘elements of masculinity’ (Berggren, 2013, p. 205). As their staging as artists, it can also be seen as referring to an avant-garde in the arts.
Both Juan Havana and Gonza,the most prolific members of Advance Patrol have used different names during their careers. By way of his most commonly used artist name, Juan Havana, Juan Paez refers to a location or place, namely the city of Havana, Cuba. This choice of name can be regarded as a staging of a South, or Latin American artist.
Through yet another alias – Magyver Juan – he refers to MacGyver, the star of a popular like-named U.S. television series aired between 1985 and 1992, known for his resourcefulness and preference of non-violent conflict resolutions. As Magyver Juan – with a slightly altered spelling –he thus stages himselfas generally non-violent, and as someone who can skillfully turn difficult situations to his advantage.
Advance Patrol´s other member, Gonzalo del Rio Saldias has most commonly used the artist names Gonza Blatteskånska, Extravagonza or simply Gonza. As Gonza Blatteskånska includes the word ‘blatte’, a derogative term referring to racialized Swedes with an immigration background, it can on one hand be seen as a way of staging the other in a Swedish context, and thus as a means to combat negative connotations by appropriating or parodying racist discourses (Berggren 2013 p. 204).
On the other hand, it can also be interpreted as a means to stage himselfas an artist in an international Hip-hop context, and thereby a means to establish credibility as a Hip-hop artist. ‘Skånska’, the second part of his artist name simply refers to a person from Scania, the southernmost province of Sweden in which the city of Malmö is located. Finally, the artist name Extravagonza stages Gonza as an ‘extravagant’ artist. 
The group continues to stage themselves as artists in a number of ways in their debut album ‘Utskrivna’ (the released/the undocumented) – first, as artists within the global Hip-hop community by describing themselves as inmates or patients who have just been released from (possibly) a mental institution in its title.
They thereby allude to what Jeffrey Ogbar calls the Hip-hop concept of ‘the badman’ or the ‘gangster’ who poses a challenge to virtually all authority (Ogbar 2007 p. 76). By that they also stage themselves as the criminal other/immigrant-youth that refers to a stereotype of youth or immigrant criminality in a Swedish context.
In the lyrics of ‘Vi är dom’ (We are them/those), the first song on the album they nevertheless also stage themselves as redeemed and inoffensive artists.
Jag är den som ser till att klubben välter
Den som talar om folk som svälter
Allvarlig, inte alls farlig
Kärlek och holk precis som Bob Marley
Vi E Dom (2003)
I am the one who sees to it that the club tips over
The one who talks about people that are starving
Serious, not at all dangerous
Love and weed just like Bob Marley
We are them/those (2003)
Gonza here stages himself as a ‘not at all dangerous’ artist and entertainer who stands for ‘love and weed just like Bob Marley’, a form of staging that is the opposite to the stereotype of ‘the badman’ described above. In the same song he also stages himself as someone who ‘loves to play the clown’, which he connects to both taking drugs and staging himself as an artist in a Hip-hop battle.
Jag e den som älskar att spela pajas
Min hjärna har pajats för mycket maja
Den som suddar din stad från atlas
Varje gång du försöker battla
Vi E Dom (2003)
I am the one who loves to play the clown
My brain has been broken, too much weed
The one who erases your city from the atlas
Every time you try to battle
We are them/those (2003)
In a Hip-hop context, Gonza displays what Halifu Osumare calls a Hip-hop ‘attitude’ by staging himself as an individual artist capable of erasing cities ‘from the atlas’ (Osumare, 2007, p. 27). Marihuana both ‘makes him a clown’ and enables him to ‘battle’ even though it has ‘broken his brain’. Aggression is in other words contained within the Hip-hop community and not directed against society at large.
In the excerpts discussed under this first category, Advance Patrol thus re-present or stage themselves as artists within the global Hip-hop community, as well as the (often inoffensive) other in a Swedish context that represents or speaks for those who are located in the ‘lower stratum’ of society while containing aggression within a Hip-hop context.
Representation – the Transnational Other
Whereas the excerpts discussed so far do not address the other as connected to a specific immigration history, the song ‘Dialogen’ (The Dialogue) on Advance Patrol´s second album ‘Aposteln’ (The Apostle)displays what I call their staging as a transnational other in-between Sweden and Chile.
De va de han, han snackade du vet
Vi och Dem, vadå Vi och Dem?
Mmm, liksom, hur kan man liksom uttala sig på det sättet?
Helt svensk, liksom ja vi ska sätta in blatten i systemet,
vi ska få han svensk, o vi få ska han,
blanda sig med alla kulturer.
Aah, de går inte sånt där
Saken e att, som du sa innan Juan,
jag drar till Chile, va e ja där?
ja vet shi egentligen.
Svensk? Ja e en svensson där,
en potatis, rakt av.
Va e ja här? för folk en blatte.
De var flera år sen tretton år sen
jag kom hit flyttade hit
Kom bort från skit stället
som styrdes av Pinochet en bandit
Uppväxt här släkten där
svensk historia den jag lär
Men lyssna här jag är väldigt stolt
över den fetta blod som jag bär
Jag svär blodbandet där, hemlandet där
Dialogen (98års områdesversion) (2006)
It was that he, he talked, you know,
We and Them, what about We and Them?
Mmm, like, how can you like express yourself in that way?
Entirely Swedish, like yes we will put the ‘blatte’ into the system,
we will get him to be Swedish, and we will get him,
to mix with all cultures…
Aah, stuff like that does not work.
The thing is that, like you said before Juan,
I go to Chile, what am I there?
I know sh… actually.
Swedish? I am a ‘Svensson’ there,
a potato, straight off.
What am I here? For people a ‘blatte’
It was many years ago, thirteen years ago
I came here moved here
Got away from the shitty place
that was ruled by Pinochet a bandit
Grown up here relatives there
Swedish history is what I am teaching/I am learning
But listen up I am really proud
of the fat blood that I am carrying
I swear blood ties there, home country there
The Dialogue (area version of the year 98) (2006)
In this excerpt, Advance Patrol stage the transnational other by describing themselves as outsiders in both a Swedish and a Chilean context. They thereby also affiliate themselves with a number of other Swedish Hip-hop artists who claim a past in-between Chile and Sweden through their music. Such artists include Pato Pooh and Stor, as well as groups and collectives such as Hermanos Bernal, the rappers surrounding Chorizo Records and the pioneering group The Latin Kings.
Advance Patrol here create a transnational other through an external essentialism and identification as ‘blatte’ in a Swedish context, and as ‘Svensson’ (son of a Swede) or ‘potato’ in a Chilean context, while it has to be noted that ‘blatte’ has a much more negative connotation than ‘Svensson’ or ‘potato’.
As a result, the transnational other resists becoming ‘Swedish’ and ‘mixing with all cultures’, while at the same time insisting on learning and teaching ‘Swedish history’. In the following excerpt from the song ‘A Country that is Safe’ Advance Patrol once more stage themselves asthe other/’blatte’.
Naj jag är inte som mina föräldrar
vad jag vill förmedla är att tiden har förändrats.
En Chilenare är ju aldrig punktlig, men jag e.
För jag e multi kultig.
De e min situation och då e
Sveriges nästa generation
Denna blatten kan bli Sveriges nästa ledare.
Det låter skrämmande i mångas öron,
jag är ju främmande i mångas ögon.
Ett nytt Sverige håller på att växa fram
där alla blandade raser tar varandra i hand.
Ett nytt Sverige håller på att växa fram
ta min hand så skapar vi ett underbart land.
Ett Land som är Tryggt (2005/2006)
No, I am not like my parents
What I want to convey is that times have changed.
A Chilean is never punctual, but I am.
For I am multi culty
This is my situation and then is
Sweden’s next generation
This ‘blatte’ can become Sweden’s next leader.
It sounds scary in the ears of many,
For I am strange in many people´s eyes.
A new Sweden keeps evolving
Where all mixed races take each other’s hand.
A new Sweden keeps evolving
Take my hand and then we will create a wonderful land.
A Country that is Safe (2005/2006)
In this song, they also further stress their connection to Chile and other musicians with a Chilean background working outside of Chile by using a sample of the song ‘Alturas’ by Chilean folk music ensemble Inti-Illimani that was featured on ‘Viva Chile’, their first album recorded in exile in 1973.
After repeating his staging as harmless (‘I am not prone to violence’) Gonza also stages himself as multicultural and part of ‘Sweden´s next generation’ by distancing himself from the stereotypes and the negativity associated with Chileans (‘a Chilean is never punctual, but I am’). There are thus two types of others in this excerpt as the staging of the other/Chilean is externalized and rejected, and being replaced by the staging of the other/’blatte’.
In this other/’blatte’, the two meanings of representation as staging and speaking for coincide, as he can become the future ‘leader’ or representative/speaker of a ‘new Sweden’. Nevertheless, such a scenario is located in a utopian future and can only be realized by distancing oneself from the stereotypes of the past in a hostile present in which the other/’blatte’ is externally identified as ‘scary’ and ‘strange’.
In this hostile present, the connection of the transnational other to Chile through ‘pride’ and ‘blood’ discussed above is extended to include those living in the suburbs in the song ‘Children of the Concrete’. Here, the staging of the other/immigrant-youth located in the suburbs collapses with his speaking for immigrant youth:
Betongbarn, knyter vidare på blodsbandet
Aggressivitet är vår personlighet
Jag är uppväxt med föräldrar som är långtidsarbetslösa
Jag blir så trött på att bli dåligt bemött
Så jag blandar upp en fet holk
För att mitt hopp har dött
Children of the concrete, tying on the ties of blood
Aggression is our personality
I have grown up with parents who are long-term unemployed
I am so tired of being treated badly
So I roll a big joint
As my hope has died
Children of the concrete (2005/2006)
The harmless artist is here replaced by representation as both staging and speaking for the other/immigrant-youth, the child of the concrete who is aggressive and ‘tired of being treated badly’.
The two songs - ‘A Country that is Safe’ and ‘Children of the Concrete’ – are then also joined in a video that can be seen as an ‘authorized interpretation’ of the two songs (Lindberg 1995 p. 14). In it, the grim representation as staging and speaking for of the other/immigrant youth is made to stand in stark contrast to the positive attitude towards Chilean immigrants displayed by the social democratic party under the leadership of Olof Palme during the 1970s.
När Olof var boss, sträcktes handen mot oss
Palme gav oss skydd, ett jobb, ett ställe att bo på
när många blundade hjälpte Sverige min familj
Snabba ryck när man är på flykt från förtryck
Till ett land som är tryggt
Ett Land som är Tryggt (2005/2006)
When Olof was in charge, a hand reached out to us
Palme gave us protection, a job, a place to live.
When many closed their eyes Sweden helped my family.
Quick moves when you are fleeing from oppression
To a country that is safe.
A Country that is Safe (2005/2006)
I therefore argue that the lyrics of the joint video can be viewed as an attempt to ‘teach Swedish history’ with a ‘lesson’ to be learned from the 1970s in which Swedish politicians extended a helping hand to Chilean immigrants, as opposed to the present in which the children of these immigrants living in the suburbs grow up with parents who are long-term unemployed, facing a hopeless future.
In the excerpts discussed in this second category, Advance Patrol thus stage the transnational other as connected to a past in-between Chile and Sweden, a present in which the other/’blatte’ remains an outsider, and a future in which the other/’blatte’ potentially can become the speaker of a ‘new Sweden’. They also stage themselves as speakers of all those who are externally identified as the other/’blatte’ by extending their ‘ties of blood’ that result from the transnational other´s connections to a past in-between Chile and Sweden.
Representation – the Externalized Other
The following excerpts nevertheless question such a universal staging of and speaking for all those who are externally identified as the other in a Swedish context. In the song ‘Åsiktsfrihet’ (Freedom of Speech) featured on their 2003 debut album, a homogenous immigrant ‘we’ is disturbed, as criticism is voiced against honor killings.
Låt mig säga några ord, (lyssna)
vill inte ge mig på nån kurd (men)
Vad fan e hedersmord?
Ey, det vill vi inte ha ombord
Let me say a few words (listen)
I don´t want to attack any kurd (but)
What the hell is an honor killing?
Ey, we don´t want to have that on board
Freedom of Speech (2003
‘Kurds’ are here externalized as violent others who commit honor killings and those who have to be expelled from ‘onboard’ of the ‘we’. They are also not included and confronted through a ‘battle’ within the Hip-hop community. The song ‘Estupidos’ (The Stupid Ones) on the same album extends such critique to immigrants who ‘talk about Sweden here and there’.
Den här går ut till dem som bara klagar och klagar
Men inte gjort en minsta lilla skit i sina dagar
Invandrare som snackar om Sverige hit och dit
Var kommer du ifrån kompis?
Ba stick då dit!
This goes out to those who are only complaining and complaining
But have not done the least little shit in their days
Immigrants that talk about Sweden here and there
Where are you from my friend?
Just leave for that place then!
The Stupid Ones (2003)
The others to be expelled from Sweden by returning ‘to the place they come from’ are in this context complaining ‘passive’ immigrants. Yet, as there is no clear definition of the term ‘immigrant’ or ‘the place they come from’, it remains unclear who is allowed to ‘talk about Sweden’, and who is supposed to ‘leave’ to what place. While the firm connection between nationality and freedom of speech suggested here is highly problematic, I here read the externalized ‘passive’ immigrant in contrast to Juan Havana´s staging as ‘active’ in the lyrics of ‘A Country that is Safe’:
Jag ska bli president nån dag
Låta viss general få ta sitt ansvar
Min mamma sa ‘Juan, du har egna strider
Din kamp är när du berättar och skriver’
Vill inte låta alltför naiv, men jag är aktiv
Klarar inte av att stå brevid
Vill kunna mer om politik
Och skriva om många människor liv
Förtryck och krig
Skriv berätta, skrik av lättnad
Håll inte tyst om saker världen bör veta
Det här är vår kamp och du har säkert din
Ett Land som är Tryggt (2005/200
I will become president some day.
Let a certain general take his responsibility.
My mother said Juan you have your own fights
Your fight is when you narrate and write.
Do not want to sound too naïve but I am active
Cannot cope to simply stand aside.
Want to know more about politics
And write about many people´s lives,
oppression and war.
Write narrate, cry of relief
Do not keep quiet about things the world should know
This is our fight and you for sure have yours
A Country That is Safe (2005/2006)
Juan Havana thus connects his staging as the transnational other to being ‘active’ and learning, that is, ‘knowing about politics’ and expressing that knowledge. Being ‘active’ is here associated with speaking for others in writing, while the externalized other/complaining immigrant in ‘The Stupid Ones’ is connected to passivity without any reference to political representation as speaking for.
In the excerpts discussed under this third category, Advance Patrol thus construct two externalized others – the other/’Kurd’ and the other/complaining immigrant that both stand in contrast to their representation as staging and speaking for the other/’blatte’ outlined above.
In the following, I will summarize the three categories of representation outlined above and discuss the way in which they are shifting between the two meanings of the other by simultaneously (not dialectically) drawing on the fictitious and the negative registers. I will thereby also make visible different forms of representations through which Advance Patrol both become and distance themselves from being the representatives of a marginalized ‘we’ that has been the basis of earlier research (Sernhede, 2007).
The first category - ‘representation – the artist(s)’ - addresses three different forms of representations. First, Advance Patrol´s staging as artists in a Swedish context as the mostly harmless other; second, their staging as artists in the context of a global Hip-hop community, and third, their attempts as artists to speak for those who are located in the ‘lower stratum’ of society.
In this first category Advance Patrol stage themselves as the other that speaks for the ‘lower stratum’ of society by blurring the distinction between the two meanings of representation. They use a form of tactical essentialism that creates a ‘we’ that is being ignored by ‘them’ and offer a concrete solution to end marginalization, namely making society, that is, ‘them’ live up to the democratic promise by including ‘us’. By offering a solution they thus draw on the fictitious register.
Yet, they also simultaneously draw on the negative register in this first category as the artist name Gonza Blatteskånska stages Gonza as a permanent outsider in both a Swedish and a global Hip-hop context. Instead of staging himself as an artist who speaks for the other in order to abolish marginalization, the other/’blatte’ here serves as a reminder that hegemonic politics can always abolish some marginalities ‘but can never abolish them all – it needs them as that upon which it constitutes itself’ (Moreiras, 392).
The second category – ‘representation – the transnational other’ – then addresses the staging of another permanent outsider, in this case in both a Swedish and Chilean context. Although this transnational other is primarily described through an external identification as opposed to the self-identification of Gonza as ‘blatte’ in the first category, its staging can also be seen as an example of the use of the negative register. I here claim that Advance Patrol, instead of offering a solution to end marginalization, argue that pure national essentialisms necessarily create marginalized others that have to remain permanent outsiders in order for the essentialisms to function.
They then describe the transnational other as connected to Sweden through learning and teaching ‘Swedish history’, and to Chile through ‘pride’, ‘blood’ and ‘home’. The latter connection is then imported to a Swedish context as the connections of ‘blood’ that are initially attributed to ‘Chile’ are extended to include all those who are identified as the other/immigrant-youth in Sweden.
This import becomes possible as Advance Patrol stage themselves as their representatives/speakers by advocating a brand of social democratic solidarity from the 1970s connected to the immigrant past of their parent generation.
Such a renewed collapse of the two meanings of representation only works once the staging of the other/Chilean is replaced by the staging of the other/’blatte’ who can become the future representative/speaker of a ‘new Sweden’. The solution to end marginalization suggested here – ‘learning from the past’ – does nevertheless not entirely succeed. The other that speaks for ‘a new Sweden’ remains the ‘blatte’, that is, the permanent outsider even in future projections.
Their representation as both staging and speaking for thus shifts from the fictitious to the negative register as it initially offers a solution only to then withdraw it. Advance Patrol here once more reject and exclusive reliance on the fictitious register to then move on to reject an exclusive reliance on the negative register through the representations in the third and final category – ‘representation – the externalized other’.
In this category, Advance Patrol construct two types of externalized others – the externalized other/’Kurd’, and the complaining other/immigrant. The other/’Kurd’ can be contextualized in a number of different ways. First, as an affirmation of an already existing hegemonic image of an externalized other in a Swedish context, and thereby as staging of Advance Patrol as hegemonic ‘insiders’ drawing on the fictitious register.
Second, as further stressing their staging as nonviolent and inoffensive artists that distance themselves from the violence of the other/’Kurd’. Yet, the in this context most significant aspect of the construction of the other/’Kurd’ is that Advance Patrol here not only create an other that differentiates them from other immigrants such as the transnational other discussed above. Here, they go one step further – they distance themselves from being the representatives of a unified marginalized ‘we’ by externalizing the other/’Kurd’.
Although the second construction of an externalized other – the other/complaining immigrant is highly problematic as it suggests a firm connection between nationality and freedom of speech, I in this context see it as a rejection of a pure reliance on the negative register. While the ‘passive’ other/immigrant is described as someone who solely complains, that is, solely draws on the negative register, Juan Havana stages himself as an ‘active’ representative/speaker.
He at first ‘complains’ about those instances in which democracy does not live up to its promise of equality, while at the same time making suggestions to end such inequality. He thereby draws on both the negative register (by ‘complaining’) and the fictitious register (by offering solutions). So how can these shifting representations be used to answer the question of how Advance Patrol represent the marginalized other in their lyrics between 2003 and 2006?
This article has set out to provide a more detailed account of the representation of the marginalized other in Swedish Hip-hop that might become even more detailed by taking into account the impact of music and performance on Hip-hop lyrics. It has argued that while Advance Patrol, here used as an example of Hip-hop artists claiming a suburban background, often speak for the marginalized other, they do not at all times voice the grievances of all ‘immigrants’.
They thus disrupt the notion of a unified ‘we’ that is represented through Hip-hop and thereby also describe the marginalized other as not entirely representable or knowable. That means that while they are critical of segregation and marginalization in Swedish society, issues that have ignited violence in Swedish suburbs since the mid-1990s and most recently in Husby, Advance Patrol do not claim to be able to speak for a homogenous marginalized group.
That means that their shifting representations do not make truth claims about the marginalized other but represent, that is, speak for and stage it as a concept that can never be fully assimilated into a dominant hegemonic structure. The marginalized other represented through Swedish Hip-hop here remains both within and outside of the hegemonic system, resisting appropriation into forms of solidarity that claim to know or speak its ‘truth’.
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 These artist names – especially Magyver Juan and Extravagonza – could also be analyzed as as ironic play with words. Gonza could in many instances discussed in this article also be discussed as a ‘trickster figure’.
 As mentioned above, Gonza who here stages himself as a ‘clown’ could also be discussed as a ‘trickster’.