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Diversity in DiasporaHmong Americans in the Twenty-First Century$
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Mark Edward Pfeifer, Monica Chiu, and Kou Yang

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780824835972

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824835972.001.0001

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“Reharmonizing” the Generations

“Reharmonizing” the Generations

Rap, Poetry, and Hmong Oral Tradition

Chapter:
(p.233) 10 Reharmonizing” the Generations
Source:
Diversity in Diaspora
Author(s):

Nicholas Poss

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824835972.003.0010

This chapter investigates how two Hmong artists musically vocalize those experiences shared by other minorities: as refugees, as persecuted subjects in the diaspora, as targets of racism, and as ethnic groups with similar forms of linguistic and musical oral traditions, from African griots to jazz and poetry slams. Brothers Vong and Tou Saiko Lee capitalize on the resonances between contemporary American art forms—such as rap and performance poetry—and the traditional arts practiced by their elders, not only to entertain audiences through spoken word poetry and rap but to educate people about Hmong history and culture. Their work raises awareness about ongoing crises in the Hmong diaspora and offers a starting point for dialogue between generations. They promote a message of community empowerment through education and respect for the older generations. The chapter concludes by finding similarities between rap and Hmong kwv txhiaj—unrehearsed, sung poetry.

Keywords:   Hmong artists, rap, performance poetry, Hmong oral tradition, community empowerment, kwv txhiaj, Vong Lee, Tou Saiko Lee

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