Flow—an artistic connection to the beat—is essential to the experience and cultural mix of Hip Hop. “Flow” is also a term from positive psychology that describes a special out-of-body state of consciousness, first articulated by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. When Hip Hop performers get into artistic flow, they sometimes become immersed in psychological flow, and this article examines the combination for Asian American Hip Hop. Based on my national survey of Asian Americans in Hip Hop, I argue that dual flow inspires spiritual transformation and mitigates the dehumanization of social marginalization. However, the combination of terms presents problematic possibilities, given that Hip Hop emerged in diasporic communities and applying psychology can seem like an imposition of Western science on peoples dispersed by Western imperialism. This article takes up my argument as a theme of a cypher, with each voice authentically coming from me yet embodying its own flow and perspective, and each subsequent voice critiquing the previous with evidence, insight, and dignity. In this way, like the non-hierarchical conversational style of Hip Hop, the article does not come to definitive conclusions about Asian American Hip Hop, but rather debates the utility of dual flow and Asian Americans’ cultural location within Hip Hop.
Esaki, Brett J.
"Spirituality Countering Dehumanization: A Cypher on Asian American Hip Hop Flow,"
Journal of Hip Hop Studies: Vol. 8
, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/jhhs/vol8/iss1/5
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