Not that we haven’t touched on this in the past but if you mosey on down to, the tool developed by supporters of Wikileaks’ recent decision to dump a quarter million of United States classified diplomatic cables, and type in a search for “Hip-Hop” you will be provided with a snapshot of historical examples of “cultural programs” and other associated propaganda schemes devised by U.S. government employees as a method to improve our great nation’s image amongst the youth of countries throughout the world (although notably focused on countries with high potential for anti-US sentiment). Although not entirely new information, especially if you follow news releases, it is still interesting to have it all in one place, neatly chronicled and in the voice of diplomats. Hopefully this can at least instigate discussion on the topic and raise the question of when exactly it was that Hip-Hop, in the eyes of those with political influence, went from being a profane and explicit Public Enemy to a powerful political tool?

Here is a prime example from the U.S. Embassy in Lesotho (Mar 2008):


PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: Embassy Maseru requests a speaker to capitalize on the growing influence of hip hop music and associated poetry among youth in Lesotho. In connection with Embassy Maseru’s MSP goal of “Promoting Mutual Understanding and Support for Foreign Policy,” post requests a speaker qualified to speak about the history and development of hip hop as a popular music form in the United States…..

PURPOSE OF THE PROGRAM: Through presenting hip hop as a global phenomenon which is deeply rooted in the American experience, we hope to show youth audiences the impact which the United States has in defining “cool” in the global youth culture. We hope to use hip hop as a tool to persuade young Basotho audiences to take a second look at America apart from certain negative images in the world media which have taken hold among Lesotho’s college students. As stated above, this request is firmly supported by post’s Mission Strategic Plan.