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AN ESSAY ON THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE FOUND IN THE HIP HOP CULTURE
AN ESSAY ON THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE FOUND IN THE HIP HOP CULTURE
How Hip Hop was born and how through a variety of relationships it continues to evolve.
A BRIEF ESSAY ON THE RELATIONSHIPS THAT ARE FOUND IN HIP HOP CULTURE
In hip hop there are many relationships that can be found in the genre. Originated in 1970’s New York it was a form of expression that was shared by many community artists and leaders. As an evolved art form it became a source of social consciousness. It saw the dawn of the crack epidemic and gang violence in many urban areas of the U.S. during the late 80s to early 90s. The relationship between the two governed how the Hip Hop industry would be run. A worldwide phenomena, Hip Hop grew as an expansive art form reaching 100 million people. It’s powerful message and imagery are what gave it such a strong relationship with people around the world. The relationship between Hip Hop and technology has allowed for a wide array of artists to channel their creativity creating more niches in hip hop than ever before. Hip Hop as an art form is truly a great form of expression reaching out to other people and ideas for relationships that propel or rectify the genre.
Hip Hop was the artistic creation of a group of individuals who took elements of afro-Caribbean music and blended with popular music in the 1970s. This marriage of dancehall, Caribbean and American music gave birth to an entirely new sound. With the new genre came a group of performers willing to push the music to the public. A more specific example of early hip-hop artistry was a man known as Kool Herc. A pioneer of the art of playing different records in succession and mixing them, he was an active community member and known to play live sets in the streets of New York to dancers and audience members. As New York’s music scene was busting with new sounds , a community grew. The relationship between early hip hop pioneers was marked by innovations within the buroughs of New York and experimentation to where Hip Hop’s foundations were laid. As a fan of Hip Hop music I have listened to many records and the thing that strikes me the most about Hip Hop is that it is an ever-changing genre. Just as different sounds are blended together in a song so are different styles, and perspectives on culture and life itself.
As a culture hip hop had many ties and connections to the consciousness of those who participated or enjoyed the scene. The early relationship between Hip-Hop and the people was one of Social awareness and one of an urban narrative. The strength behind hip hop’s popularity these days was its ability to express the plight of lower income minorities and turning it into creative expression. Thus fathered a culture of clothes that don’t fit tightly around your waist, art created on a public canvass, break dancing to the beat of urban music, and rapping or emceeing to buddies in your neighborhood. It was a time of reflective thought on the problems of being poor, discriminated, and in an urban environment but was also a time for aspirations for those downtrodden. As a hispanic male, I sympathize with Hip Hop’s social consciousness. I understand the situation of the underprivileged because I am underprivileged. It is with this story , of the urban underdog, that I am passionate about because i can relate to many of Hip Hop’s stories firsthand.
If the 70s was the birth of hip hop and early 80s was the growth of it the late 80s and early 90s were the troubled adolescence of Hip Hop. A new factor was introduced to the Hip Hop scene during the late 80s to early 90s- crack cocaine. While drugs were prevalent in the 70s and 80s none had the disastrous impact that Crack did especially to the urban community. A drug infamous for its addictive and detrimental qualities it was an inescapable part of city life. And so the relationship between the people, hip hop, and drug-fueled violence was one which pushed hip hop to a more sadistic terror filled path. This path manifested itself in the form of Gangsta rap. Gangsta Rap as the title suggests was a sub-genre of rap solely dedicated towards portraying and catering to the lifestyle of a gangbanger. These times were marked not only by violence in the hip hop aesthetic but advancements in the popularity of hip-hop. This era of hip hop was the first time a multiple artists achieved Platinum status. Because of the popularity of this new hip-hop the music industry catered to artists that reflected the violent drug-ravaged culture. Among the most successful examples of Gangsta Rappers were the group N.W.A. , solo acts Ice Cube, Tupac, and Biggie. Unfortunately the culture it produced at the time wasn’t as successful or productive as the monetization of hip hop music. Controversy and scathing lyrics aimed at authority figures and other rappers fueled feuds around the Hip Hop world causing the death of two prominent rappers at the time, Tupac and Biggie. This relationship between wealth within the music industry but shared poor, and violent tendencies by those within the industry caused an explosive reaction. Hip hop would never be the same. I myself remember being impacted by the hyper-aggressive Hip Hop. As a young boy I was aware of the deadly East coast- West coast feud, and naively was afraid to go play in the park because of this fear.
So as Hip Hop saw firsthand, what a rivalry could cause there were more peaceful negotiations between Hip Hop artists. The late 90s early 2000s had an explosion of rappers working together and making new musical collaborations. It was around this time that RnB and Hip Hop frequently mixed elements together to make hit records. The verses were usually governed by the ferocity or intricate story-telling of the rapper while the chorus was anchored by an RnB artist who could bring a melodic angle to the table. It was also around this time that Roc-A-Wear and FUBU and other clothing lines run by Hip Hop-oriented people were launched. The business acumen of the once thought urban, regressed Hip – Hop head began to see itself realized. With contemporaries such as Jay-Z , Cam’ron, and Pharrell Hip-Hop saw itself increasingly breaking barriers both racial , reaching a larger more diverse fanbase and career level, selling hip-hop wardrobe to people and creating entire record labels governed by Hip Hop artists themselves. The beginning of this new Era saw what happened when the power of a Business Executive was given to the urban kids making Hip-Hop music in their rooms dreaming of becoming a star. Hip-Hop was now as successful and regarded a music form as Rock’n’Roll and the kid dreaming up how to sample a record to make a whole new composition back in the 70s would stand in awe at the multi-million dollar industry the art form became. So the relationship between the hip hop head and the culture grew as did its fame and reach. I relate to this Era of Hip Hop the most because of its neutralist attitude towards Hip Hop beef and the heightened scope of its success.
As the 2000s came to a close so did the day when the industry was run by record executives and men at board meetings. We can see the internet age and social networking sites now ruling as top dog serving as both talent scouts and distributors for Hip Hop artists around the world! This is an age where the relationship between hip hop artists and fans became closer than ever able to reach one another in real-time and sending music to each other to be reviewed and listened to with just the click of a button. Artists who took advantage of this and used social networking online were Kid Cudi, Chief Keef, and Hoodie Allen among others. These are acts who were able to garner attention for themselves and build a following on the weight of home-made or low budget productions. Finding success online and able to reach an audience abroad and locally these are example of the future of Hip-Hop culture. A digital age where a gathering of like-minded rappers and producers who want to make good music and distribute it in the World Wide Web for all to hear is now, gone are the days of becoming a celebrity by going out and seeking record labels to sign to. So the relationship between the technological advancements of the past 20 years has crossed over and has been able to affect the hip-hop world in productive ways. As a hip hop musician the world is open to infinite possibilities as every door that needs to be knocked on for success can be accessed by a working computer and access to internet. My own hip hop music is online for everyone to hear and I have enjoyed the benefits of distributing online and making my music popular with the help of social networking sites.
So the history of hip hop and the intricacies of its relationships are apparent in its passage through time. As a form of expression in the 70s it was viewed as a way of life. To also give the residents of 70s New York City a new music scene to vibe to, hip hop was seen as an escape from the turmoil of being a minority in the inner city. As pioneering in hip hop went to different forms of artistic creation, a new growing epidemic threatened the vibrant community. By the late 80s to early 90s Hip hop was experiencing the crack epidemic which led to increase in gang violence, drug addictions, and poverty to urban areas. This was also evident in the Gangsta Rap music which served as either a lament or glorification of the violence that ravaged the community during the time. As the time passed so did the popularity of Gangsta Rap and new more aspirational rap acts such as Jay-Z acted as a dawn of a new age pushing the art of hip hop to unchartered economic and artistic terrain. As the digital age came to new heights so did the culture of hip hop. With the global impact and popularity it had in the early 90s to the 2000s the right time came for hip hop to reinvent itself. With the relationship between the rising use of social networking and hip hop the genre was able to propel itself and stay relevant. So the relationships between hip hop and other aspects of the world, whether it be as dismally destructive as crack cocaine or infinitely progressive as the world wide web it was there for Hip Hop and Hip Hop was there to step to the beat.
Contributed by Freddy Vaquerano A HIP HOP aficionado scheduled to appear as a guest on upcoming Callalloo Relationships Radio show, Wed 31, Dec 2:00p - 4:00pm
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