We all know about the cars, the bling, the girls, and the money. We hear about it every time a rap song comes on the radio. Sadly some people may think this is all hip-hop is about. Which is another false allegation against hip-hop. The mainstream has painted a picture of a materialistic culture which is completely irrelevant to what hip-hop was based upon. Actually it’s the complete opposite. Now we have these impostors of hip-hop representing the entire culture. In order to completely understand why I call them impostors, we will need to look at the foundation of hip-hop.
Hip-hop is a cultural movement. Its made up of some basic elements including, but not limited to rapping, graffiti, djs, bboys. Furthermore its an ideology of awareness. Hip-hop was formed in the 1970s, in New York City. To be more specific the Bronx. This emergence didn’t come abruptly. The Vietnam war had begun and heroin was flooding the streets of New York. The teenagers and young adults weren’t enthused about this environment of chaos. They now just needed an outlet to express themselves. Than came along “Afrika Bambaataa” and “Kool Herc”. Simply put the forefathers of hip-hop. It’s a heated debate questioning who officially started it. None the less, they began becoming what is now known as Dj’s. They started recruiting people to perform spoken word while they used their techniques. This developed into what is now known as rapping. This entire process was a lot more complex. I’m just giving a quick overview. Finally the poor inner city kids had an escape to express themselves. They wouldn’t ever be forced to give that up.
In 1989, Kool Herc said in an interview “I wanted rap to always be a positive, beautiful music. I wanted it to be political. I want it to stay that way. We got kings, queens and jokers. There was some women complaining about the lyrics of a Slick Rick, but she gotta understand that he’s like a Eddie Murphy in our business and there are selective people out there that want that. It’s not like he’s gonna go to play in front of the youngsters. The radio is not supposed to give a lot of air time to records like that. That’s the people’s choice. That’ll spread like wild fire through word of mouth. It don’t need no airtime.”
Unfortunately the culture of hip-hop didn’t appeal to the masses. Which means it wasn’t making enormous amounts of money. This is where big business found opportunity. At the end of the 1980s N.W.A emerged with “Straight Outta Compton”. A conscience look at problems facing the society. While literally condescending themselves as they promoted violence. This is arguably the turning point in hip-hop. This is where the commercialized industry began. In the 1990s small record labels became obsolete. As big business began to control the marketing of hip-hop.
In 2006, Nas made an album claiming “Hip-Hop is Dead”. This has stirred up great interest in the hip-hop community. Nas stated on this album that we (hip-hop) don’t respect our past. He also summarized various reasons through-out the album explaining his position. Even though this title stirred a lot of controversy. This isn’t a new concept. Many people who love hip-hop have been claiming this for almost a decade.
My conclusion is Hip-Hop isn’t what it was meant to be. Though there are many people who are making music that is note worthy of hip-hop. If you look at it on a broad scale. Hip-hop is quite tainted right now compared to its origins.
This article shouldn’t be looked at as absolute fact. Historians will need to be exonerated because of the lack of attention during hip-hop’s primitive stages.
In my next article, I will be examining the hidden concepts in hip-hop. If we’re not suppose to be rapping about materialistic things. Than what are we suppose to be rapping about. I will compare various rappers. Than once again reach a conclusion.