Gastvortrag Florian Coppenrath (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

31.05.2023 18:00

„‚There’s everything but money and a music industry‘: Mobilising resources to make hip-hop music in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan“

Mittwoch, 31. Mai 2023 – 18:00 Uhr – Institut für Musikwissenschaft, Hörsaal 2

At the beginning of 2020, with more than ten years of music career behind him, Belyi takes the stage of the Youtube live video platform Curltai to perform the 16 bars of his song ‘Molodye vetra’ (Young winds) over a sample of Nina Simone’s ‘Strange fruit’. In this ‘represent’-song, he asserts that he continues to make music ‘for myself, not for the showcases’, despite all the difficulties of this activity in a country ‘where there is everything but money and a music industry’. 

Rapped in passing, this line expresses a feeling widely shared in Bishkek’s hip-hop community about the chronic lack of resources and music infrastructure. In the absence of institutions dedicated to supporting musical activity, music makers are left to organise the resources needed for their musical activity themselves, taking advantage of whatever opportunities are available.

Viewing music-making as labour, this presentation explores how those involved in the production of Bishkek’s hip-hop music interact with their surrounding social worlds, private sponsors and donors in an attempt to secure the conditions for their art. Neither the state nor big business – the usual suspects when it comes to limiting the creative autonomy of artistic workers – intervene much in musical creation. However, music makers continue to negotiate their ‘making music for themselves’ against external demands. After reviewing the sources of support that hip hop artists deal with, I will focus on how they position themselves in relation to different audiences.


Florian Coppenrath is a PhD-student at the Institute for Asian and African Studies of Humboldt-University in Berlin and an affiliated researcher at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO). In his doctoral study, he looks into the organisation of musical labour and careers within the art world of hip-hop music in Bishkek. He is also the co-founder of, one of the main European online media about Central Asia.

Open access publications based on that PhD project: