Hip Hop Geography (International)

Posted Mar 18 2006

An exercise I used to show the global influence of hip hop and as a way to engage students about historical and cultural facts. The students worked in groups and really enjoyed this activity. The students who knew a lot about hip hop could contribute if their academic skills were weaker and the students who weren't big hip hop fans could contribute if they were stronger in the academic areas. Fortunately, all of my students fell in either or both of these categories. After identifying the location, they needed to identify it on a map. Numerous discussion arose from information that was listed in this activity. Please note that these questions should be updated from time to time to keep the info relevant as new artists come out everyday. See the key on page 2.

1. Panjabi MC, who recently did a track with Jay-Z, ancestors are from this sub-continent near Asia and the Middle East.

2. Orishas are divine beings worshiped by the Yoruba in West Africa. Because of the slave trade, they are also worshipped in the Americas in religions such as Santeria. The hip hop group Orishas is from an island that is known for Santeria, as well as Fidel Castro.

3. The Zulu Nation was formed by Afrika Bambaataa in the 1970’s to promote hip hop and help combat gang violence. The Zulus were famous for resisting British colonialism in Africa in the 1800s. They currently live in this African country known for apartheid and Nelson Mandela.

4. Big Pun, Fat Joe, and J. Lo’s cultural roots are from this Caribbean Island whose name means “rich port” in Spanish.

5. Kardinal Offishall is from the “T Dot,” which is a city located in a country known for its “mounties.” This city has a professional sports team called the Blue Jays. What is the city and country?

6. DJ Honda is from this small island country which is known for import cars and Godzilla. The United States also dropped atomic bombs on two of its major cities, ending World War II.

7. Jin of the Ruff Ryders, the Mountain Brothers, and Chris Wong Won (Fresh Kid Ice) of the 2 Live Crew share ancestors from the same country as Bruce Lee, Yao Ming, and Jackie Chan. What is this country?

8. The name of 50 Cent’s neighborhood shares a name with a country known for it’s national music of reggae.

9. Wyclef Jean and Pras are from this French Creole speaking island that is also known for a major slave revolt in the 1800s.

10. The video for Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful” video was filmed in what country? Hint: This country has the largest population of people of African descent in the world.

11. When Aaliyah passed away, she died in a plane crash after filming a video in this island country that rhymes with “Da Mamas.”

12. Busta Rhymes, Funkmaster Flex, and the Notorious B.I.G. are just a few of the rappers who share the same motherland as Bob Marley; which is?

13. Many of the most well-known DJs are from the San Francisco Bay area. Incidentally, a high number of them have ancestors from this island country in the Pacific, whose culture is often called a cousin of Spanish and Latino culture. This country is also known for dishes such as pancit and lumpia.

14. Even when breakdancing stopped being a fad, crews such as The Rocksteady Crew kept it alive. Many members, including Crazy Legs are ethnically of the same background as people such as Ricky Martin, J. Lo and Benito Santiago of the San Francisco Giants. What island country are their families from?

15. DJ Nick Toth, MC Maya Jupiter, and Koolism are from the only country that is also a continent. What is it?

16. Mystikal and Shaggy fought for the United States in a Middle East conflict that is currently being repeated in which country?

17. Talib Kweli and Mos Def formed a group called Black Star, which comes from the name of a shipping line started by Marcus Garvey, an African-American leader of the 1920s. Besides places such as the United States and Jamaica, Garvey was active in this European country known for Winston Churchill, Princess Diana, and Monty Python.

18. M.C. Solar is from a key European country (not Germany) who disagreed with the United States’ attack on Iraq. This country is also famous for escargot and one of its towers.

19. The Bay area’s DJ Vlad is from this country, which was the U.S.’s enemy in the Cold War.

20. The Beastie Boys share a religious background whose homeland is surrounded by Arab countries. This country is the only non-Muslim country in the region and has had major conflicts with Palestine since it was formed.

21. Dancehall reggae superstar Buju Banton is known for doing hip hop mixes with mcs including Big Pun. He is also known for being very pro-African and often mentions this eight-lettered African country that starts with a “B”.

22. Sydney, Australia-based DJ Nick Toth is the son of a diplomat of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s home country. What is this country?

23. Both DMX and Aaliyah starred in a movie with Jet Li who is from which former British colony?

24. Wyclef Jean produced a song for Carlos Santana. Which border town (U.S. and Mexican border) is Santana from? Hint: many U.S. Marines get arrested in this city.

25. The group House of Pain scored a big hit with “Jump Around.” Although they’re an American-based group they strongly represented the culture of which country? Hint: The northern part of this country is actually governed by England and is known for its conflicts between Catholics and Protestants.

26. Shyne moved with his mother to New York from this small English-speaking country next to Mexico.

27. Charli Baltimore is bi-racial. Her father is African-American and her mother is from this European country known as the birthplace of the Nazi party and whose capital used to be divided by a wall.

28. Lumidee’s parents are from this Caribbean country which shares an island with Haiti and is home to merengue music.

29. Carlos Santana and Mellow Man Ace remade and sampled, respectively, Latin percussionist Tito Puente’s “Oye Como Va.” Tito’s home land is a U.S. territory and recently home to protests against practice bombings by the United States Navy.

30. Lil’ John sports dreads and used to remix reggae songs. Both dreads and reggae are associated with the Rastafarian religion. Which East African country do Rastas revere due to it being the birthplace of their spiritual leader Hallie Selassie?

DJ Craze is from a Central American country that some people closely link to the rise in the drug trade in South Central Los Angeles. There is a theory that the CIA helped fund the drug trade in South Central to help raise money for rebels to overthrow the government of this country, that starts with the letter “N”.


1. Mireille said at February 1, 2009 10:18 pm:

This is great. Teaching the youth these days is all about making connections with something of their interest and that they are familiar with. I will certainly use it

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