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European Gangsta Rap

Riccardo Benassi, Phonemenology

(DE/FR 2016, 24 min) 

For his video installation, Riccardo Benassi invents a new genre of music called ‘European Gangsta Rap’. The Berlin based artist and writer deals with the manifestations of this branch of hip hop in Europe, where online video hosting sites like YouTube are easily accessible ways of distributing music and reaching a wider audience outside of an artist’s direct social and peer group circles.

Benassi rearranges 27 videos – one from each country of the EU – through sharp cuts, their original texts often promoting violent ideas and ideologies becoming nearly incomprehensible. Recalling elements of existing musical genres like footwork, Phonemenology — European Gangsta Rap, is also witness to the disappearance of its protagonists through Benassi’s editing process. All that is left visually are the mundane images of suburban architecture and social housing, homogeneous across most European cities. The cuts create a sort of extended postcard from these often forgotten urban areas with their own logic and rules. An accompanying text by Benassi – with images of these areas from different cities around Europe melding into one – becomes a portrait of a unique, all-encompassing suburb; a apart of contemporary Europe that the artist says is “pervaded with a feeling of self-exclusion masked by the idea of belonging”.

European Gangsta Rap is a new chapter of Phonemenology, a video-installative project with which Riccardo Benassi is researching how the daily use of smartphones could affect the role of the human body as interface within a constructed environment (as much as the role of a subject as interface within a Democratic State).


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