Let’s Talk About Hip Hop


When fans of music talk about Hip Hop and Rap, most people will start to think about who’s the hottest rapper, or who has the best selling records on the charts. Hip Hop fans can also be quick to tell you their opinion on the newest sneaker releases and juicy celebrity gossip in the scene.

Many popular social media outlets that look to bring hip hop culture to a more mainstream audience, like New York-based Complex, never really seem to talk about the essence of Hip Hop culture.

The Zulu Nation along with Afrika Bambaattaa were one of the original pioneers to ever speak about the four elements of hip hop culture. I would be surprised if the generation of today’s hip hop fans can name the 4 elements that make up hip hop culture that date back the the early 90’s, so I’ll list them here for you:

DJing

Image courtesy of DJ AM

Any club-goer, or hip hop fan would know that DJs are responsible for keeping the crowd moving. That’s done either by playing a set before a rapper comes on to perform, or maintaining the pace while rappers take stage like the legendary DJ A-trak, who toured with Kanye West during the early 2000’s. Another great example is the famous DJ Adam Goldstein, best known as DJ AM, who was one of the first pioneers to bring celebrity status to the DJs of today.

MCing

Otherwise known as rapping, is one of the clearest elements of hip hop culture in today’s age of the culture. Who can forget the line; “Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f**k with!”, as well the timeless track of “Rapper’s Delight” when thinking about the early emergence of hip hop music. Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” is arguably the first rap song to ever be recognized as a hit when it hit Billboard’s Hot 100, and peaked at No. 36 in 1980.

Image courtesy of SHG

Graffiti 

The overall aesthetic of the culture can be highlighted through graffiti murals. Graffiti culture is one of the most “slept on” aspects of hip hop culture. Back then, tt wasn’t just about vandalizing subway cars in New York; It was about self-expression and rebellion against cultural norms during the emergence of the sub-culture. Though graffiti is responsible for much national revenue being spent on cleaning trains and billboards, I still believe that graffiti and its art style is one of the most ignored elements. Its influence still lives on today through streetwear brands like Stussy, and The Hundreds.

Image courtesy of Stussy

Break dancing (Also referred to as, breaking)

Break dancing was a huge movement in the early days of hip hop. Music videos during the 80s almost always featured break dancing. Fast forward to the 90s and into the early 2000s and dancers became one of the highlights of music videos on MTV. When MTV launched America’s Best Dance Crew it was a huge deal both in the break dance world and the urban dance community.

Image courtesy of Red Bull

Overall, I feel like hip hop has finally made its mark on mainstream culture. With the rise of Soundcloud too, it is becoming easier for independent artists to display their talents to the world. The sneaker culture has also seen a rebirth and is making its way into the mainstream media as more celebrities are seen wearing the latest Jordan and Yeezy brand sneakers. Hip hop is here to stay, if you like or not. I just hope that as we move forward, we can appreciate its roots.

I hope to expand on each of these elements throughout the month and share with you all why hip hop means so much to me. Each of these elements have played an important role in my life through the roughest and happiest times. Stay tuned! ‘Till then, be easy.

-MiggySB

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