Hip Hop is more than Music

Ever since Rap Music has transitioned into Mainstream Corporate America the elements have been replaced with Misogyny, Money and Violence. The stereotypes and misleading of Hip Hop Culture has set an unethical view to the world that the movement is dangerous and hazardous to the youth. Emcees are the voices of storytelling and healing the wounds that Black America has had to endure from Social injustice, Racism and Poverty. When Violence, Crime and Drugs became the new sound of rap music there was a major shift in behaviors and mindset. The Lyrics became belligerent with images of gun-clapping, blood-shedding and genocide in the black community. Many believe the horrifying images and lyrics of Rappers are setting back the Black Youth.

Hip Hop was formed in the 1970’s out of the Civil Rights Movement and the voices of Black and Latinos who lived in Ground Zero of the burning Bronx. The South Bronx was in crisis with the widespread burning buildings set by landlords to collect insurance money. The Decay of the Bronx community has caused an Economic Depression as many businesses and property owners were relocating into the White suburban areas. The Financial Crisis and infrastructure of the abandoned building left by the Property owners was shifted into a new hub for gang members and house parties. The gangs dominated their territories and went to war with their rivals, however, they protected their community, stood up against the social injustice and confronted city officials on the condition of the South Bronx. Members of the gangs held a large meeting to bring peace as the birth of Hip Hop was building its foundation.

During the crack era, teens who later became Hip Hop legends had created an underground moment. The up-rise of Social Changes and transformation of the Bronx had spread to other parts of the world that a new movement of self-expression was born. The origins of Hip Hop originated from House Parties into creative Elements of Graffiti, DJ (Disk Jockey), Breaking, Emcees, and Knowledge. The Elements of Hip Hop plays an important part of the culture from extending of the Break Beat by the Dj’s, Emcees battling or giving a shout out over the Microphone and the B-boys taking over 50% of the floor with their dance moves. The Graffiti writers created the promotional flyers, beautified the community, and sent messages on the trains through art.

Fashion had changed from the 70’s, Cut Sleeve Jackets to the Sweat Suits, Chuck Taylor’s, Kangos, Cazles, and Bomber Jackets. Jheri Curl was a popular hairstyle to many Black and Afro Latinos. In the 80’s, at this time, emcees became the focal point of the culture and change the content of flow and delivery as an artist.

Around 1986, the powerful voices of Emcees delivered lyrics of Black Empowerment, Racism, and Economics. This Era was considered The Revolutionary Movement and the shortest era in Hip Hop History. Emcees continue to challenge the issues and being the voice of the streets. The West Coast rappers shed a new light on the issues of police brutality and gang violence. Even though the west coast represented the gang-life, they also expressed the same Social issues related to the East Coast.

In the mid 90’s the sound of Social Consciousness had vanished. Drugs, Money and Violence had become the new trend called “gangsta’ rap”. The Back Pack Emcees still dominated The Underground Movement but the main focus was to keep the gangsta’ sound as the primary voice of the culture. Radio Stations had begun to program music in replace of the Dj’s. Record labels had paid radio stations to promote a certain song in heavy rotation around a certain hour of the day in difference Urban Demographic Areas. It seemed like the same song was being played every 13 minutes targeting a younger audience from the hours of 3:00pm-7:00pm.

In the high-light of Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and other cities that are dealing with violence, why aren’t there any songs that can heal these cities and put it into heavy rotation on every FM radio station? In the late 80’s and 90’s, the Black community was fighting Crimes and in the wake of the violence KRS One (Stop The Violence Movement) with various of Emcees deliver a power song called “Self Destruction, Slick Rick “Hey Young World” and the West Coast Rap All-Stars “We’re All in the Same Gang”. Today’s generation believes in becoming a successful Rapper, the lyrics must include genocide, corruption and verbal attack on Black woman. Artists promoting a false narrative by displaying a life they never lived and prison sentences they never served.

Positive music and the uplifting of the generation was never a factor, but rather use of lab rats. Music and instrumental beat taps into the body of human life, the affects can be positive or negative. A certain sound or sound effect can change one’s feelings and thoughts. It also can put the person into a deep thought and if interrupted it can be scary. When artists deliver their lyrics of violence it can cause a person to react in a violent way.

There are rap artists who make music about poverty, homelessness, and financial hardship, as other can relate. Our youth has stated how a rap song brought them out of depression and changed their lives for the better, especially children who lost their parents or dealing with a personal crisis in their lives. The purpose of Hip-Hop Culture was to re-inform and help shape the lives that are being affected by a crisis through music, art and dance. All Elements of Hip Hop still serve a purpose and a need to the culture, Hip Hop Culture will continue advocating peace and unity through the Streets, Schools and Universities. Hip Hop Culture is more than music; it is a movement that speaks a universal language.

Michele Hairston Hip Hop Educator/ Historian

3 thoughts on “Hip Hop is more than Music

  1. What a great piece of history, like any great artist you told the story beautifully. You should be credited and recognized for your contributions to the Hip Hop culture and you are owed a great deal of gratitude for the lives you change and the youths you inspire as well as encourage. Salute!

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