Though it may be locked in a sonic loop back home, global of Hip-hop music keeps on expanding. Just today the New York Times ran an article on Cuban Hip--hop which raised some eyebrows -- including mine -- with its headline claim that Cubans, because they had little "access"to US music, had to "make it up" on their own. Of course, as the article itself makes clear, Cubans have been making antennas out of old coat hangers and tuning in Miami's WEDR since the 1980's; it turns out that the shortage that mattered was a shortage of technical equipment - digital samplers, mixers, even a decent mixing board - and that, once again, it's the 'beautiful limitations' that matter. Cuban crews even gained government support, the vital juice without which no Cuban artist can thrive; there's even a state-sponsored annual Hip-hop festival in Havana.
The globalization of rap music began in fits and starts. They dropped an EP in '92. but was Zimbabwe Legit legit? The London Posse pioneered the way back in 1988, but there weren't many successful UK artists until The Streets and Dizzee Rascal more than a dozen years later (Rascal was only three years old when LP's "How's Life in London" briefly charted). Japan, a reliable funhouse mirror for all things American pop culture, gave us the pioneering "Scha Dara Parr" back in 1988, but again it was several years before anything one could call a J-Rap "scene" emerged, and as usual it was a mad scramble of elements -- including several "burapan" groups who performed in blackface makeup. One might think that African popular music, which had already attained regional and global successes, would be a logical seedbed for Hip-hop, but it wasn't until later in the 1990's that such artists emerged, many of them from Sénégalese communities in France such as MC Solaar and Daara J. Solaar's combination of spahetti western themes and smart, sharp beats -- see "Nouveau Western" for one great example -- gave him an early edge, and he's been one of the few non-US artists to have chart success stateside.
The past decade has seen Hip-hop claim a foothold in some of the seemingly unlikeliest places -- Canada, for instance, which has given us the Rascalz, Kardinal Offishal, and K'naan (as well as Francophone artists such as Dubmatique and Roi Heenok) - and even Greenland's own Nuuk Posse, a band of west Greenland Inuit whose work has attracted the interest of figures such as DJ Spooky, who intermixed their music with a talk by Antonin Artaud on one of his CD's.
Where next? Hopefully, it's impossible to predict. One thing is for certain, though: the next wave of innovation in Hip-hop may very well come from outside North American shores.