3- On Wagner, Disney, Canada, Basketball, Hip Hop, Becoming, and Drake - Jordan Zalis, Memorial University

1:30 PM, Friday 24 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break   03:30 PM to 04:00 PM (30 minutes)
Hip hop and basketball are entangled, associated, and imbued with a sense of urban currency. In Canada, this is exemplified in the “This That New Toronto,” versus “Old Stock Canadian” identity debate. Where the relationship between hip hop and basketball crystallized forty years ago in the United States, today their markets and market-sharing represent platforms for branding identity. In 2013, for example, the Toronto Raptors, Canada’s only National Basketball Association (NBA) team hired hip hop icon and cosmopolitan celebrity, Drake, as their “Global Brand Ambassador.” In that, the entertainer now acts as the key figure in the city’s (and nation’s) hip hop/basketball culture and mediates “Toronto” (read: “Canada”) as it is idealized, represented, mediated, understood by others, and, more meaningfully, believed. As such, this paper takes the official relationship between the musician and the basketball team seriously. First, arguing that the multimodal expression of Canadian identity—the “We The North,” “Drake-as-Canada’s totality”—is in line with Wagner’s (1859) art-work of the future (Gesamtkunstwerk), this paper takes a critical stance against its monolithic expression. Second, the analysis goes one step further, and presents the results of an open, axial, coded, thematic analysis of the musician’s lyrics, post 2013, to examine if and how “Drake as Canada’s” hip hop/basketball idea meshes with Giroux’s (1994), Zipes’ (2011), and Brode’s (2015) theories of hyper-capitalist cross-market expansion: promoting innocence and moral virtue vis-à-vis multiculturalist liberalism, described as a “Disneyfication/Disneyization” of everything. Here, the idea is discussed with reference to the NBA, Canada, and Drake.
Memorial University
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