Andrew Green (University of Glasgow, UK)


The concept of profesionalización – professionalization – has become increasingly important in the hip-hop scene in Mexico City, where I have conducted field research since 2012. A deceptively simple term, profesionalización can refer to a variety of changing practices relating to artistic presentation, the organization of hip-hop events, and the hip-hop scene’s model of creative production. It is, further, inflected by class and age, associated at some points with hip-hop’s youngest generation, who have no qualms with making money from music; and at others with artists who are well-organized, arrive punctually, and do not overrun their designated performance times. The emerging power of professionalization relates to the increasing specialization of hip-hop production, and the increasing importance of the digital reproduction of music; increasingly, success is made on YouTube and Spotify. Informal “crews” are, in some cases, giving way to more formal “teams; and there is increasing emphasis in some arenas on the formalization of live performances. Equally, profesionalización is related to the increasing importance of image within hip-hop.

In this paper I explore profesionalización as an emergent, negotiated value within the hip-hop scene. Drawing from the sociological literature on the professions, I emphasize that this value is not confined to rap, but is rather constructed through dynamic practices across hip-hop as broadly defined. Efforts to encourage “professional” modes of behavior are reflected not only within recorded music, but are also a property of hip-hop pedagogy, event organization, and the ways that production is structured. Ultimately, I argue, we must understand profesionalización within hip-hop as a means of exploring citizenship in an emerging multiparty democracy.

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