Beyoncé & Jay Z: Celebrity, Culture and Politics?

Beyoncé and Jay Z meet Barack Obama. Photograph: Scout TufankjianThey are the ultimate “power-couple” in music. Both of them global icons in culture and ranked by business magazine Forbes as the number 1 highest earning celebrity couple in 2012/2013, as well as individually being ranked as #4 and #32 on the list of most influential celebrities. As the Jay Z and Beyoncé brand has grown into a giant in music and entertainment the Carter-Knowles’ cultural influence seems on its way to becoming a force in politics, both as a couple as well as individuals. But can their persuasion really build a nation?

By Erik Roshagen

Rebel Rebel: A nomad rock band and its involvement in Touareg rebellion

Tinariwen on stage. Photo by mamarazi17, FlickrHave you ever heard of this band singing in Tamasheq? They reside in different parts of the Malian desert and actually struggle to bring the band members together for world tours due to the obligations many of them have toward their goat herds. Maybe you have, because Touareg blues band Tinariwen has reached unpredicted levels of fame in the last few years, with a Grammy Award in 2012 highlighting their international success. Today, their fan base has reached a far wider sphere than just their Touareg home, but their struggle for the Touareg cause is almost equally appreciated as their music.

by Jacob Berntson

Gangnam Style/Pyongyang Slam Dunk

South Korea’s PSY. Source: Wikimedia CommonsThe conflict between North and South Korea is at a long impasse. Both sides of the Korean peninsula keep waiting to bring their sister country to the point of exhaustion in order to force them into their own version of a reunion. While the South is fully incorporated into global society, the North has closed its doors to the outside world like a “Hermit Kingdom”. Their decades long separation and radically different political systems have produced two countries whose influence on the world’s pop-culture is entirely different.

By Ali Acikgoz and Niklas Hjelm-Smith