Freestyling in war and peace: Rap and transitional justice in Colombia

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch Articlepeer-review


Rap, as with other musical genres, can contain narratives about Colombia's armed conflict. Members of armed groups, such as the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo ('Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army'; FARC-EP), and civilians have used rap as a means of expressing war-related issues and their causes and consequences. Following the signing of the peace agreement with the FARC-EP in 2016, Colombia's new transitional justice system mainly has focused on a restorative rationale rather than a retributive one. Transitional justice, as a set of mechanisms and processes designed to overcome a violent past, demands peace-building narratives that protect the memory of past horrors while setting the stage for reconciliation. This article analyses the interplay of transitional justice and rap from the personal experiences, perspectives and lyrics of two former combatants and two groups from civil society that rap based in Bogotá, other cities and rural municipalities. These cases provide insight into how rap can relate to transitional justice, sometimes acting as a supportive tool for its goals and sometimes by providing a counter-narrative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-545
Number of pages19
JournalPopular Music
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Music


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