Tecmerin. Revista de Ensayos Audiovisuales
Nº6 2020 (3)
From “Choni” Aesthetic to Trap Music: The Representation of the Working Class in Spain (2008-2018)
Fidel Enciso Durán (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)
This audiovisual essay offers a panorama of the evolution of media representations of the working classes in Spain in the last decade. Our thesis is that the progressive disappearance of the “cani” and “choni” stereotypes – used in the context of 2008 economic crisis by mass media to stigmatize the Spanish working class youth (Oliva, 2016) – coincides with the emergence of trap music between 2013 and 2015. Trap music is a youth movement that, in Spain, among many other things, is characterized for the working class background of many of its members, as well as for the introduction of popular culture elements in a style that originally stemmed from rap and electronic music (Castro, 2019). As it happens with the “cani” and “choni” stereotypes, trap music should also be interpreted within the context of the 2008 crisis, to the extent that, for certain authors, it is related to the young generation’s reaction against economic precariousness (Castro, 2019).
Our analysis intends to remark how many of the working class cultural markers, previously attributed to “canis” and “chonis, are still present in trap music aesthetics, allowing us to identify a continuity between both phenomena. The taste for music styles linked with popular culture, like “flamenquito” or Latin music, as well as the taste for a personal aesthetic of the excessive (artificial nails, over-the-top and discordant clothing styles…) understood against middle class’ moderation and legitimate taste, are some of the distinctive elements associated with the “choni” and “cani” stereotypes (Oliva, 2016). With the emergence of trap music, many of these cultural markers, which had previously been a cause for stigmatization and discrimination, acquired greater visibility within mainstream culture up to the point of becoming a crucial element of very succesful mass phenomena, even being adopted as identitarian markers by young people coming from the middle class. The case of Rosalía, a white middle class woman, who has obtained international recognition with her particular flamenco style and her urban periphery aesthetic crystallizes this success.
How can we interpret this evolution? Is the disappearance of the pejorative image of the “cani” and the “choni” a real acceptance of working class tastes by the middle classes? Or rather, should we speak about a middle class appropriation of these cultural markers? Can we interpret trap music as a youth movement with a working class background that has attempted to challenge the middle classes’ taste, forcing the music industry to accept the popular tastes of the unprivileged? Or it is, conversely, a capitalist standardization and assimilation of some of the working classes’ cultural markers? These are some of the questions that our video essay tries to answer.
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- Castro Córdoba, E. (2019) El trap: Filosofía millennial para la crisis en España (2ª ed.). Madrid: Errata Naturae.
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- Oliva, M. (2016) “Totes xonis?” Baixes Passions.
- Ramírez, N. (2018) “¿Quién mató a la ‘choni’ española?” El País, S Moda.
How to cite this article: Enciso Durán, F. (2020). From “Choni” Aesthetic to Trap Music: The Representation of the Working Class in Spain (2008-2018)/De la estética Choni al Trap: La representación de la clase trabajadora en España (2008-2018). Tecmerin. Revista de Ensayos Audiovisuales, 6(3). ISSN: 2659-4269