As an international affairs major, my practice is to examine all aspects of a society without prejudice or over-analysis. I become an amateur anthropologist whenever Djordje takes me on a tour around town. My mind habitually examines everything from food, advertisements, social interactions between friends to the graffiti on the walls.
As a New Yorker, my understanding is that most graffiti is not brainless scrabble; it is an individual creating commentary about something important in their life. I’ve seen pieces in Belgrade that show their love of hip-hop to some that show contempt for the 1999 bombings by NATO. If you look closely enough, you can use these street canvases as a way to understand Serbia’s unspoken narrative.
It’s funny to think that hip-hop is one of America’s greatest exports, especially if you consider the fact that it was born as an outlet for oppressed minorities in the United States. During the years immediately following the breakup of Yugoslavia, hip-hop gained mass appeal among Belgrade’s youth dealing with the woes of urban hardship. Out of violence and poverty came solidarity and purpose. I could probably write an entire academic article about it.