Monday, December 13, 2010
In defense of Hip Hop
Sorry guys I'm sick so I haven't posted my regular monologue jokes but as soon as my health improves I shall. Instead I want to talk a little bit about hip-hop.
I'll begin with the premise that most know very little about hip-hop and the few that have an opinion on hip hop or "rap" hate it. However, those that follow hip hop or were a part of the scene like I was have a great appreciation for it. The purpose of this posting is to stand up for an artform that has been somewhat bastardized and under appreciated. It is my desire that if you are a skeptic of the artform that you would be open to it's rich history before dismissing it out right.
According to K.R.S One. Hip Hop as we know it began with in the South Bronx with Cool Herc. Before Hip Hop was the money making machine that is is now, it was the art of the poor youth in the Bronx. Kids would meet at the park or in the community centers and just dance and have fun. Kool Herc had the loudest sound system and he had "break beats" which were instrumental beats in soul or funk records. He discovered that if he had two of the same break beats, and he played them at the same time, he could go back and forth on his mixer. Thus spawning the birth of the modern day d.j!
He was Jamaican and in Jamaica, they used to have these parties were the emcee or M.C (Master of Ceremony) would act as a "Hype man" encouraging the party goers to have fun and party. He brought that format from Jamaica to New York and brought that party atmosphere. Back then, the music had different vibe. It was all about unity, partyng, having fun and peace. During this same time in the 70's, New York had a gang problem but one gang member from the "black spades" decided to focus his energy on uniting everyone through hip-hop. His name was Afrika Bambaataa. He is probably best known for his song "Planet Rock" but he was an advocate of using music and art to unite people. He started the Zulu nation which is in existence today.
As the parties became larger, the artforms became more developed. It is generally accepted that hip hop has several elements: The M.C, The Dj, Graffitti, beat-boxing and dancing or b-boying. The Bronx looked like a war zone in the 70's. The place was tore up and there was alot of white flight as many of the Whites in the Brons moved to the suburbs. In addition, building owners were burning down the buildings to get paid on the insurance money. The place was a shit hole.
Yet in the midst of this hell, these poor Black, Puertorican, and Jewish kids survived by inventing an artform that is now a world-wide phenomenom. These poor kids wrote songs, created dance moves, made music, and were the pioneers of so many things that are taken for granted today. It was through their art that they escaped their environment. Their contribution to pop culture today can't be over-emphasized.
Even the art of Keith Haring was copied from the graffiti writers that he met in New York. But like many inventors, it was the future generations that reaped the rewards of their labor.
Below is a clip of the Best hip hop movie ever made. The acting is sub-par but what the movie "Wildstyle" did is it captured an era in hip hop when the art was pure. Many in the film are now well known legends. For example "Lady Pink" opened an art Studio and her pieces have been featured on the Metropolitan Museum of American Art. Lee Quinones (The main actor in the film) has sold his artwork to Eric Clapton for hundreds of thousands of dollars. His work is also well renowned. Fab 5 Freddy was the host on Yo MTV Raps.
I hope that even the most skeptical of readers can have an appreciation for an artform that has been lost to corporate interests. I'm just asking that you guys keep an open mind.