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Hiphopistan: Representing Locality in a Global City cover photo

Hiphopistan: Representing Locality in a Global City 2007

Recommended with reservations

Distributed by Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212-947-9277
Produced by Çiğdem Akbay
Directed by Çiğdem Akbay
DVD, color, 88 min.

High School - General Adult
Anthropology, Dance, Middle Eastern Studies, Music, Popular Culture, Urban Studies

Date Entered: 08/08/2011

Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

Rap music, graffiti, break dancing, disc jockeys and certain clothing styles characterize hip hop. Originating in New York City in the late 1970’s, its cultural elements and attitude have spread around the world. In this film, made in 2006, the then-emerging hip hop culture of Istanbul, Turkey, is explored. While some local influences, such as rap in Turkish instead of English and the use of traditional musical instruments can be heard, there is also an overlay of a more global youth culture. In this iteration, the basic art forms are shown as evolving into a local/regional style while still retaining or imitating their New York City roots.

The short film features interviews with several Istanbul hip hop artists, all of whom assert the individual importance of hip hop and its significance for the society as a whole. Short clips from both Turkish and American music videos are mixed with man-on-the-street reactions to rap, graffiti and fashion. In a freshman effort by Turkish-American student and filmmaker Akbay, some of the fundamental questions and arguments related to hip hop are raised. Although it is interesting to see a variation of the culture presented through a Turkish perspective, some of the opinions and examples presented feel somewhat superficial and dated.


  • Best Short Documentary, Atlanta Hip-Hop Film Festival 2008
  • Top Ten Hip-Hop Films, Hip-Hop Odyssey International Film Festival 2007
  • Distinguished Contributions to Turkish Documentary Filmmaking 2008