I originally planned to present my argument as to the generational divide invading hip hop right now. In the middle of typing that, I realized that the majority of the now generation (those under 25) don’t really know that much about the rich history of hip-hop. The majority of music they are listening to now falls under the category of Rap. Yes people there is a difference between hip-hop and rap. Hip hop is a culture encompassing many things. Rap is what you do on a track for a check.
I felt that, since November is Hip-Hop History Month, I am obligated to give y’all a little history lesson before I start tearing into your beloved artists and the culture that has taken over the music that I once, and still on occasion, loved. I want you to read with an open mind. Maybe then you can understand my frustration with the state of the music industry right now.
Hip hop is formed from five basic elements:
(The study and application of street dance forms.) Originally called the Go-Off, Burnin’ and/or Boy Yong Yong, Breakin is commonly called Break Dancing or b-boying today and it now includes the once independent dance forms Up-Rockin, Poppin and Lockin, Jailhouse or Slap-Boxing, Double Dutch, Electric Boogie and Capoeira martial arts. It is also commonly referred to as freestyle street dancing. The practitioners of traditional Breakin are called b-boys, b-girls and Breakers.
While breakdancing (a term disowned by all b-boys) began with crews like the Nigga Twins, the Zulu Kings, the Salsoul Crew, the City Boys, Freeze Force, Starchild La Rock, the Disco Kids, and the KC Crew, the most influential was undoubtedly the Rock Steady Crew. Formed in 1977 by Jojo Torres, Jimmy Lee, Mongo Rock, Spy and Jimmy Dee, the Rock Steady Crew gathered together the best of the second wave of Latino b-boys who had come to dominate the field since it migrated out of the Bronx in the early 70s.
The RSC main innovation was to make b-boying more athletic, more gymnastic. Many of these moves were pioneered by the two b-boys who are generally considered the greatest: Richie ‘Crazy Legs’ Colon and Ken ‘Swift’ Gabbert. Moves like the windmill, the whip, the 1990, the chair and the spider are credited to Crazy Legs and Ken Swift, who helped the RSC become the dominant crew in legendary battles against the Dynamic Breakers, the Floor Masters and the New York City Breakers. (The Gospel of Hip Hop, Second Overstanding,The Refinitions (I-V pg113 – 114)
(The study and application of rhythmic talk, poetry and divine speech.) Commonly referred to as rappin or Rap, its practitioners are known as emcees or rappers.The emcee is a Hip Hop poet who directs and moves the crowd by rhythmically rhyming in spoken word. The emcee is a cultural spokesperson. Technically, the emcee is a creation of one’s community whereas the rapper is a creation of corporate interests.
The word emcee comes from the abbreviated form of Master of Ceremonies (M.C.). In its traditional sense M.C. referred to the hosting of an event—the master of a ceremony or an event.(Gospel of Hip Hop, 2nd Overstanding – The Refinitions R11 pg 115-116)
The emcee expresses through rhyme what is already on your mind, whereas the rapper tells you all about his or her self. True Hiphop heads are encouraged to study both styles for maximum success.
(The study and application of street calligraphy, art and handwriting.) Commonly called Aerosol Art, Writing, Piecing, Burning, Graff and Urban Murals. Other forms of this art include Bombin’ and Taggin’. Its practitioners are known as Writers, Bombers, Graffiti writers, Aerosol artists, Graffitists and Graffiti artists. (The Gospel of Hip Hop, 2nd Overstanding – The Refinitions, R12 pg 117)
(The study and application of Rap music production, cuttin’, mixin’ and scratchin’ as well as onair radio broadcasting.) Commonly refers to the work of a disc jockey. However, Hip Hop’s disc jockey doesn’t just play vinyl records, tapes and compact discs. Hip Hop’s DJ interacts artistically with the performance of a recorded song by cuttin, mixin, and scratchin the song in all of its recorded formats.
Originally presented by two turntables, first designed by Edward P. Casey of the Bronx in 1955, and connected to a mixer with a “cross-fader” first designed by Grandmaster Flash in 1976, Hip Hop’s DJ used the turntable and mixer as instruments that manipulated the playing of vinyl records.
Deejayin, different from “DJ-ing,” includes speaking, even rapping while presenting recorded music.
Caribbean people still use the term deejayin to describe the vocal performances of rhythmic speech over music. (The Gospel of Hip Hop, 2nd Overstanding – The Refinitions, R12 pg 118-119)
A form of vocal percussion which primarily involves the art of producing drum beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using one’s mouth, lips, tongue and voice. It may also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. Beatboxing today is connected with hip hop culture, being one of “the elements”, although it is not limited to hip hop music.
After that foundation, street elements such as :
Street Fashion – Urban trends and styles. This has been common since the inception. The sense of fashion was one way that was used to stand out from others.
Street Language – Urban communication, slang and dialect. Sort of a code. Different areas have different slang and are able to tell an outsider by their use of outsider language.
Street Knowledge – Ancestral wisdom, common sense and codes to survive inner-city life. These usually find their ways into the music. Whether it 5% teachings, cultural awareness, coke rap, or any combination, imparting your form of wisdom has always been an informal building block for the culture.
Street Entrepreneurialism – Fair trade and business management. Making money in new and varied ways has always been the goal for most artists. From sponsorships to forming their own companies, artists have always been after the goal of retaining more of their income.
When all these blocks are put together, you get the foundation for a culture. Nowadays hip hop has morphed into rap and is no longer as much a culture as it is an economy. Gone are the days of teachers and individuals. Today’s artists sounds like cookie cutter productions that are made for the mere purpose of emulating what is “hot” and generating a buck. Artists are discouraged from having individual thoughts. Deviating from the status quo leads to albums being shelved, artists being dropped from labels and low record sales. Artists are no longer interested in their art. They are interested in the bottom line. They have been duped into signing contracts that basically enslave them and whatever form of artistry they put out to their record labels under the guise of 360 deals. The ones who do have something to say either end up dumbing down their music or going the independent route and risk performing in obscurity or for a very limited hardcore fanbase.
I listen to radio and realize that this moneteriztion of hiphop has permeated the radio stations also. In an hour of listening to any given station, you are liable to hear the same song as least three times. I remember, not too far in the past, where there were about 4 different stations dedicated to our music and you could hear different music on each station. Now you can change stations as much as you want and can’t escape the same round robin of artists. Station managers have become parrots of the record labels. They feed the masses what they are told too and proclaim these songs to be the next big thing. When you are fed the same thing over and over again, you become desensitized to it. The generation now believes that their music is the hottest thing out because they are brainwashed to believe so.
I have taken on the responsibility of being the voice of reason. Many of my topics may make it seem as though I am hating,but if you really take time to listen and think independently and do some research, both physically and audio based, you will realize that you are being fed lies. You will realize the wealth of music that is out in the world that is being pushed down because they don’t fit the “now” demographic. Dare to be different. Dare to really listen. Dare to bring music back!!!!