Backpacker (US slang)

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In US urban slang, a backpacker is one who listens to backpacker hip hop (alternative hip hop).[1]

In the 1980s, backpacker was a slang term for a graffiti artist who always wore a backpack containing his music collection and graffiti equipment. Typically, the music collection would consist of local alternative hip hop artists. The term gradually came to refer to someone with this musical taste, and now has almost nothing to do with graffiti (although certain "backpackers" may participate in graffiti "tagging.") It later became a derogatory epithet for alternative hip hop.

To the desert trackers of the American southwest, the term backpacker is slang for a drug trafficker.[2]


  1. Hess, Mickey. Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide. 2009. p568.
  2. Jimmy Breslin The short sweet dream of Eduardo Gutiérrez 2002 - Page 62 "To desert trackers, the term backpacker means a drug carrier, not some Ohio State student on summer break. Sensors are often made futile by all these centuries of hunting and tracking that run in these border agents."

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