How Do You Hip-hop?

There are so many interpretations of hip-hop. Before we can get into different perspectives, we should first acknowledge where this culture comes from. Yea that’s right, hip-hop is a culture not just a genre of music. Declared as a culture in front of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) by KRS-One and a committee of like-minded individuals who wanted positive change in society in 2001. Before that, hip-hop originated in the Bronx from a combination of different genres; funk, disco, and soul. It quickly became a platform for society to reflect on urban culture. Many became aware of what injustices were going on in the inner city more than ever, and with hip-hop, the people became equipped to inform and advocate for change.

The exact year and date is still a battle between scholars, but it is safe to say hip-hop was born in the mid to late 70s. What is not arguable, are the elements that constitute hip-hop in its truest form; emceeing, graffiti art, Deejaying, and beatboxing. The other 4 elements include street fashion, street entrepreneurialism, street language, and street knowledge. Just like any culture, with time comes change. Many believe mainstream rap is not the same or as rooted in the culture as the first hip-hop songs like “The Message,” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5. If you are looking for culture inside “mainstream,” you are least likely to find it.

Rahman Jamaal, National Executive Director of Hip Hop Congress, declared “I don’t see enough of the elements being brought together as a full representation of the culture all at once, that is in a way bigger than the mainstream capacity to harness all that knowledge. It would completely change the mainstream. The elements can definitely come together in an educational form.” Hip Hop Congress is a nonprofit, international grass roots organization. Its mission is to evolve hip-hop culture by inspiring social action and creativity within the community creating programs within public schools. “The perspective of hip-hop has changed over the years. However, hip-hop does change things, right now it is changing education,” Rahman Jamaal added.

Every culture will have many perspectives, Aubry Williams, an avid listener and Mass Communications student at Chabot says he likes hip-hop because “of the freedom of hip-hop. There’s no specific sound to make a hip-hop record. You can do whatever you want as long as it sounds good.” The musical genre does much more than providing listeners with a good time. It can also inform and empower.

“I like that hip-hop always touches on things that happen in America, there hasn’t been one thing historically that hip-hop hasn’t touched,” asserted Robert Knox III, on-air personality at KCRH 89.9 FM. Hip-hop is a culture that we are a part of and therefore constantly changing. A few of the Spectator staff, voiced their opinions about hip-hop, its origins, innovators and top five artists, on the latest episode of “Behind the Headline” coming soon to spectatorpodcast.com.

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