What is Hip Hop?

What is Hip Hop? There are a lot of different answers, depending on who you ask. Before I give my definition, let me start with what isn’t Hip Hop:

  • Gangstas
  • Pimps
  • Hustlers
  • Drug Dealers

Basically, all the negative stigmas of urban life glorified in today’s rap music. It’s downright insulting to call the rap (or crap) music of the last few years Hip Hop. The early foundations of Hip Hop culture were built on the desire to escape the dreary existence of street life. Deejays, emcees, B-Boys, and graffiti artists all contributed to what shaped it. However, mainstream only latched on to one aspect of the whole, emceeing (rapping), ran with it and slowly discarded the rest. I guess it was the only portion they figured could be effectively pimped for a profit.

Corporate Puppet Rapper

What mainstream America now views as Hip Hop is but an illegitimate child that was bred and nurtured by corporate executives. Today’s rap artists are true sell outs whom are all too happy to reinforce negative stereotypes of Black [and Hispanic] America to line their own pockets. Wait, I’m sorry. They’re keepin’ it real! Yeah, they’re keeping it real ignorant, but I digress. I can expound on these issues in future posts. Let’s get back to the topic at hand…

What is my definition of Hip Hop?

Hip Hop pioneers in all areas broke the rules. Think about it. Deejays not only extended break beats, they used the cross-fader to manipulate scratching noises to create unique rhythms. Emcees complimented those rhythms with melodic poems detailing the fantasy adventures of their alter egos. Graffiti artists took spray cans of all things and painted masterpieces using trains as a canvas. B-Boys started a new form of dance involving acrobatic moves that defied gravity while practicing on cardboard boxes.Hip Hop to me is a melting pot of styles and genres mixed together to form something new. It’s taking an existing thing and putting a new spin on it. Much like Deejays extending the break beat of a familiar song giving it a whole new sound and perspective. That’s part of the excitement of Hip Hop; breaking the rules in creativity. Finding fresh ways to use what came before and pointing it in a different direction.

We didn’t have hi-tech computers or audio equipment, expensive paints, or an air conditioned dance studio. We weren’t taught these skills through any school curriculum. We took what was available, accessible and affordable and created something positive as an alternative to the negativity of the streets. That’s downright amazing if you ask me!

That, to me, is the essence of Hip Hop.

I miss those days, but the heart of Hip Hop still exists. It retreated back to the underground away from the mainstream. It’s also revered and nurtured in foreign lands where it’s more highly respected in its pure form. And maybe it’s better off that way, safe from the blood-sucking corporate machine.

That’s just my opinion, but I think I’m right!

 


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