Spatiality of rural and non-urban hip hop

Art & Design

Hip hop culture has an impact far beyond the dense urban cities with which it is usually associated. While its origins are firmly rooted in urbanism, hip hop has evolved to a point where the core elements of the culture – graffiti writing, DJing, Bboying, emceeing, and knowledge – have a clear regional context.

For hip hop historian and cultural theorist Adam De Paor-Evans, this development of hip hop is a focused research area. In his research, he looks not only at hip hop pioneers, but also at the spatiality of new, hybrid forms of hip hop – in particular rural and non-urban hip hop.


Adam chose Devon as the location to explore some of these themes. Specifically, he wrote about Reimagining urbanism and rurality through the spatio-cultural practices of hip hop In: Rurality Re-imagined: Villagers, Farmers, Wanderers, Wild Things. Applied Research and Design Publishing, USA – San Francisco Bay Area.

In this chapter Adam writes about the emergence of a transatlantic hybrid culture that was counter to the traditional non-urban vernacular of everyday Devonian life. He explores the tradition of hip hop being approached as an exclusively urban phenomenon for discussion, representation and documentation.

Using literature reviews and analysis of photography and artefacts, the research considers a series of questions in an ethnographic and autoethnographic framework.

Is hip hop wholly urban, and is each of its incarnations also urban? What is it that attempts to affirm hip hop as solely urban, and is the ruralising of hip hop a threat to the culture? Furthermore, can the actions of a rural form of hip hop culture engender new urban-rural network through its spatial and material representations? Could this network be translated to forms of spatial practice?

The conclusions of the study reimagine the territoriality, practices and representations of hip hop culture with broader social significance and application across other discipline areas.


As an extension of his research work, Adam is involved in the mini festival Rope-A-Dope in Bristol. Taking place three times a year, the inaugural Rope-A-Dope in July 2017 coincided with Bristol’s annual Upfest festival. It saw discussion panels comprising artists, practitioners and academics, addressing the issues of responsibility, education and well-being within the hip hop community. The overarching agenda is to reach across cultures and reach, support and have an impact on those outside the world of hip hop.

The discussions are designed to synergise with practice, performances and skill-based and knowledge-based workshops.

Rope-A-Dope 2 took place in November 2017 and featured a discussion panel on men’s mental health and the role of hip hop in supporting and encouraging discussion. The panel consisted of hip hop artists Kinsman (One K Records), Specifik, Whirlwind D, Carpetface (B-Line Recordings) and Adam. Whirlwind D’s latest single ‘Falling’, which openly discusses mental health issues in males, was used as a starting point to discuss hip hop as therapy, support or mental outlet.

Rope-A-Dope gets hands on. Image: Paul Taylor

Discussion group at Rope-A-Dope. Image: Paul Taylor

Adam Evans speaking at Rope-A-Dope. Image: Paul Taylor

Adam in action. Image: Paul Taylor

Rope-A-Dope performances. Image: Paul Taylor