On August 30th, my personal website italianrap.com will cease to exist.
Launched in December 1998, it was the first English website dedicated to hip hop culture in Italy. While simplistic in design, it was easy to navigate and filled with information that was not available to non-Italian speakers. It provided a history of rap’s evolution in Italy, a bibliography, a directory of artists bios, and, probably most importantly, translations of what are now classic Italian contributions to global hip hop.
In addition to my work, the site also featured that of people writing about the culture, including Bessie Barnes, Virginia Carlsten, George De Stefano, Fulvio Romanin (C-Sal), Laura Ruberto, Nicky Schäfer, Marco Solaroli, Antonio Ventresco, Aneglo Zeolla, among others.
italianrap.com soon became a point of encounter for members of the Italian diaspora, as hip hop heads from around the world reached out to me. The site’s bulletin board was a place where folks from Australia, Canada, Belgium, Italy, France, United States, and other points on the hip hop planet came together.
Eventually, scholars of Italian American Studies and others began citing italianrap.com's significance including De Stefano's An Offer We Can't Refuse (2006) and Parati and Tamburri's The Cultures of Italian Migration (2011).
By far the most remarkable thing to come out of italianrap.com was “Hip Hop From the Italian Diaspora,” an international, three-day festival/symposium in Tuscany sponsored by Queens College’s John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, the Rassegna di Arti Contemporanee “Cicli” Music Festival, and the townships of Montevarchi and Terranuova (Arrezo province). Lorenzo Brusci and I pulled together rappers, DJs, graffiti writers, and break dancers from Italy, as well as Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United States for this 2000 event.
Piazza Varchi, Montevarchi, 2000.
My web skills were always limited. The design and functionality of italianrap.com has not changed in all this time. In addition, I have not updated the site since 2008. Many of the links are broken. Communication within the community now happens elsewhere, and that’s a good thing. It’s time to let go.
I have met many amazing people through the site: aficionados, scholars, brilliant artists, and many others. Together, we have created a new way of connecting, imagining ourselves, of being, free from the restrictions of parochialism and insular thinking, all to a hip-hop beat.
italianrap è morto! Viva Italian Rap!