Skrr is the screeching sound that a car would make if you were driving and suddenly slammed the brakes. According to Urban Dictionary, a South African teen that is heavily influenced by street hip-hop culture and artists such as The Migos and Travis Scott, is sometimes referred to as [a] skrr or skrr skrr. This is because of the sound that can often be heard in their favourite artists’ music or their imitation of these artists. These types of individuals supposedly have dreads, wear lots of jewellery and hang out in urban spaces. Are they misrepresenting American rap culture or – even worse – are they just a figment of our imagination?
Skrr Skrr as a culture
The popular song titled ‘Skrr Skrr’ by American hip hop artist Dear Silas is evidence that skrr skrr is in fact a culture and is not imagined. The song was so well received by members of the skrr skrr community that a fan made a viral Dexter’s Laboratory meme which features his song.
In the video clip, two girls are infatuated by the words (skrr skrr) which Dexter is singing that they urge him to sing it again. The video clip has been watched over 168,702 times on YouTube . As for the music video of the song, it has been watched over 833,000 times.
‘Skrr Skrr’ made it to the top 40 on ITunes’ Hip Hop/Rap chart. The song was also streamed over 1 million times on both Apple music and Spotify and was named number 1 on Spotify for 12 consecutive days.
Silas said that he was not surprised with the impact the song had on the culture. Besides being extremely catchy, the song serves – rather humorously – as an anthem for members of the Skrr Skrr community.
Just like any other group of people, skrr skrrs have had to deal with backlash and discrimination from others who can’t quite grasp their nonconformist futurism.
South African skrr skrrs are often ridiculed for their outlandish behaviour when they venture out of their natural habitats. When skrr skrrs visit the more conservative homelands, for example, they are questioned about their behaviour to which a typical response would be “I’m doing it for the culture, fam.
The impressionable nature of South African kids
Hip-Hop culture is infectiously pervasive. The trap movement has been sweeping across the globe for years, claiming impressionable youngsters in its wake. Existing in an increasingly globalised society, South African kids are not immune to this. They mindlessly appropriate this culture and choose to overlook the more traditionally South African cultures like Pantsula for example.
Panstula dance emerged in Alexandra and Sophiatown between 1950 and 1960 as a protest movement opposed to the country’s apartheid government and has undergone several transformations since then. By the 1980s, pantsula was practiced by black South Africans of all ages not only as a form of protest but also to raise awareness of issues such as AIDS.
After the end of apartheid in 1994, pantsula persisted as an expression of cultural roots for many black South Africans but today’s Insta and Twitter generation could not be further removed from a culture that is reminiscent of a bygone era. They have understandably moved on to the skrr skrr culture, which itself might be done away with as soon as another more trending culture becomes fashionable.
It is fascinating how the sound a car’s brake pads make has somehow become an inalienable part of popular culture. In terms of the misappropriation of American culture; it is unrealistic to expect that everything that has its origin in the United States will remain exclusively American. Just like how dabbing has come and gone, the skrr skrr phase will also soon be over and forgotten – hopefully not in a hurry because personally, it is pleasantly amusing.
Henderson, S. (2019) Bigger than the Dexter meme: a hip-hop artist I changing the narrative of making it in MississipiAvailable from: Bigger than the dexter meme how dear silas is changing the narrative of making it in Mississippi