Sampling the Hip Hop Movement in Bogotá: the Serenata Rap 2014

Hundreds of Bogotanian youths congregated last Sunday August 31 at the Parque el Sol, a green public area located in the neighborhood of Puente Aranda, in order to listen to the second Serenata Rap for Bogota, a hip hop concert for the 476th birthday of the city. Featuring 10 renown Colombian artists and crews, and 3 emergent local artists that won a contest organized by the Canal Capital TV program Sonido BTA, the Serenata Rap was a great introduction to the local hip hop sounds. The event had a familial, positive, and safe environment and it even had the presence of children among the audience. Beyond stereotypes, the growing hip hop movement in Bogota, demonstrated that is conscious, critical, and transformational. I enjoyed la Serenata Rap a lot. It was fun, peaceful, and had lots of love. It gave me a chance to listen, photograph, and meet many of the local hip hop practitioners and to get a sense of how the movement keeps expanding, empowering youth. Hip hop in Colombia is certainly creating spaces of social change, and Bogota has been a great laboratory for the movement across all its pillars (graffiti, break dance, rhymes, music and knowledge).

The diversity of emcees´ styles and lyrics was very revelatory for me. While growing up in Bogota in the 1980s and 1990s I became familiar with an earlier Colombian hip hop generation of artists that addressed the brutal reality of war, narcotrafic, and forced displacement that characterized the country at the time. As the local movement and the country have changed, the lyrics have also started to reflect another reality that is more conscious of the potential of social transformation, the need for ending the war, and criticizes corruption, narcotrafic, and gang violence. It seemed to me, from what I heard from the artists as well as the organizers who were at the stage, that the hip hop movement in Bogota has not only grow in numbers but also in its social and cultural vision. Through the interactions with the audience, they mentioned several times the values of unity, family, love, and community. They also mentioned the importance of “respeto”, being “real”, “hardcore” and “guerrerro/as”, with positive connotations of resilience, and agency. Such kind of social consciousness has been also supported by the policies of the Bogota government, and especially, through the public TV channel Canal Capital and the Escenario Movil (movil stage) of IDARTES (Distrital Institute of the Arts).

Among all the performances I would like to highlight the works of Radical Coherencia:

Xar Xup-pleX from Delirium Tremenz:



Miyi Rodriguez:


More photographs of the artists who participated at the Serenata Rap 2014 can be seen at this flickr gallery.

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