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This is a very interesting question. Is there something called a "common
culture?" If there is, is it a singular one? Is there a single "American
common culture?" Or are there many parts of a common culture, with numerous
When I was in Paris summer before last, my wife and I walked through the
large flea market just north of the city. There was a young man, dark,
probably Algerian, selling hip-hop t-shirts and cds and d-jaying some rap
stuff. He tried to sell us some of his wares. We laughed, said we were from
Chicago, home of House Music, and kidded him that we didn't come all the way
to Paris to by air-brushed hip-hop t-shirts.
Now, here is a case of something called American common culture, popular
culture, which is very influential in France and throughout Europe. But what
is it in the experience of African-American music and culture that is so
powerful for French teenagers, particularly Algerian immigrants in Paris?
And do we want to think of that in the same way we think about Baywatch and
Beverly Hills 9210?