This is an essay I wrote for History last year when I was a freshmen. I hope ya'll like it. I got a B- on it by the way. Know the ledge.
HIP HOP: THE CULTURE THAT UNITES CULTURES
An Evaluation of Hip Hopís Impact on the World
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements of 1 English H at Evanston Township High School, Evanston, Illinois
May 23, 2005
Behind every great movement, there is great music. In between the late sixties and late eighties, there was a cultural movement going on in New York City. It started in the South Bronx, and is now international. This movement was for the forgotten children, the ones the government didnít care about. This movement was known as Hip Hop. It was used as a form of self-expression and individuality and still is today. Hip Hop was founded my people such as DJ Kool Herc, Afrikaa Bambaata, Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Super Rockiní Mr. Magic, the Fearless Four, Coke La Rock, and many others. It started out with Herc spinning records at a back-to-school party on 1520 Sedgewick Avenue in the Bronx (Jenkins and others 19). It caught on and people started to rap in parks, school, everywhere. Before long, Hip Hop was everywhere. Hip Hop is more than music, it is a culture, a way of living. Hip Hop had a huge impact on the world and it changed the way people expressed themselves. It is probably the most misunderstood movement and does not get enough credit for shaping the personalities of our youth. Well it does get some credit, the negative credit. In the Golden Age of Hip Hop, it did get some positive recognition. Edward Koch, the mayor of New York City at the time, and also a person with the reputation of a blatant racist, proclaimed May 3, 1985 ďRap Music DayĒ (Jenkins and others 21). Koch, later contradicted his award by attacking graffiti, one of the main elements of Hip Hop.
Now, in the modern age, Hip Hop has broken off into subgenres, and the messages of Hip Hop have decayed, with songs about material things or songs degrading women. It is important for the public to understand the difference between Hip Hop and Rap. Hip Hop is universal now, and itís easy to tell that it had a profound impact on the world. As the classic Hip Hop proverb goes, ďRap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live!Ē. One of the greatest things about Hip Hop is that it brings many people together, regardless of race, social class or gender through concerts and the love of the art.
Hip Hop unites many different races and ethnic groups. Although Hip Hop was originally a predominately African American culture, it has grown into a culture that anybody and everybody can enjoy and live with an open mind. There are many graffiti artists, emcees, DJís, and breakdancers of different colors. A lot of times, if a person goes to a Hip Hop concert, he or she can meet somebody of the opposite race that they usually wouldnít have met or talked to. Despite the mediaís attempts, race has almost no place in Hip Hop. It is one of the few colors that invites all races and ethnic groups to be members. Hip Hop has helped bring many different people together. They get to a concert and realize they have the same interests. As Ice-T once said, ďRap is really funny, man. But if you donít see that itís funny, it will scare the shit out of you (Chang 331).Ē Sometimes in Hip Hop, race is taken as a joke. There are many comical songs downplaying race, but yet many serious songs speaking on racism. Hip Hop has educated people about other peopleís cultures. A good example of the diversity of Hip Hop, is the actual groups. There have been many successful interracial Hip Hop groups like the Cold Crush Brothers, Company Flow, Comptonís Most Wanted, Cypress Hill,
Digital Underground, Dilated Peoples, Fearless Four, Jurassic 5, 3rd Bass, and many more. Unlike Hollywood movies that sling stereotypes around, true Hip Hop gives people an insight towards other cultureís views and beliefs. Race is an aspect of Hip Hop that attracts some people, people that donít know many African Americans may find Hip Hop adventurous and exotic. Hip Hop is a means of education for people, they can learn about the real world, a world they wouldnít have learned about if it werenít for Hip Hop. Thatís the beauty of Hip Hop, it breaks down racial barriers. It also brings together people of different social classes.
Although Hip Hop is mainly for and by the urban, lower class people, as of late, many of the upperclass youth has taken an interest to it. There is some intangible quality to Hip Hop that makes it so appealing to people of the upperclass. Even though a lot of Hip Hop songs are about the struggles of being poor, many upperclass people feel they can relate to it. Although their environments and situations are different, the youth goes through a lot of the same things, regardless of whether theyíre rich or poor. They go through school problems, family problems, and social problems. The youth of the classes can also relate to each other because they both share a common neglegence from the government. Itís not that the government doesnít care about the lower class youth, they donít care about the youth in general. Thatís why so many people that listen to Hip Hop can relate to each other, because they feel abandoned.
A poor kid might work a double shift just so he can go to a Hip Hop concert, and then sit next to a rich kid that had his butler drive up there in a Mercedes. Hip Hop is so diverse, there are tons of people devoted to it. And the actual Hip Hop artists are turned into the upperclass. Some make so much money that they end up on the opposite side of their social class. But the true Hip Hop artists, that make music for the love of the art, donít let money change them. As Gary Grice said in the Wu-Tang Manual, ďWe get paid from it, itís about selling records, but itís also an art form (Diggs 213). Upperclass Hip Hop artists have yet to emerge. The main reason for that is because Hip Hop is about the struggle, and most listeners will find it hard to believe in a personís struggle if they are rich. In order to gain respect and sell records, most Hip Hop artists need to pay their dues, survive the struggle. Hip Hop can often be political, a cry for help. When Grandmaster Flash released ďThe MessageĒ it educated a lot of rich people about what poor people were going through. Thatís a main goal of Hip Hop, to educate. Or as KRS-One liked to call it, ďEdutainmentĒ a word that combines Education and Entertainment. Many upperclass youth are eager to learn about the problems lower class people were going through. Hip Hop united classes and let people know we are all the same, just with different environments and situations. Hip Hop had a harder time uniting genders, thanks to itís counterproductive nemesis, Rap.
Gender doesnít have a huge part in Hip Hop. Hip Hop is so accepting that as long as the person is a good emcee, they are respected. There have been many females to make it big in Hip Hop. Lady Pink became a very successful and highly respected graffiti artist (Chang 166). There have also been many talented female emcees such as MC Lyte, Missy Elliot, Roxanne Shante, Salt N Pepa, Jean Grae, and Lauryn Hill, who is considered to be one of the top twenty emcees of all time (Jenkins and others 36). However, Hip Hop is often confused with Rap, a genre that has a bad reputation of degrading women. In order for Hip Hop to start uniting people of different genders, there needs to be a change in Rap. The girls in the Rap videos need to stand up for themselves and need to make it clear that they wonít walk around the set half naked. Those women are making it harder for other women to be successful in the Hip Hop world. Women like Lil Kim need to refuse to keep being treated like objects and portrayed as prostitutes. The women in Rap videos standing up for themselves is unlikely to happen. As the Wu-Tang Clan put it, ďCash Rules Everything Around MeĒ (Wu-Tang Clan). These women are getting so much money to degrade themselves, that it is hard to turn down. They need to choose their dignity over their material needs and take a step forward for Hip Hop. Hip Hop cannot evolve without bringing itís evil subgenre, Rap, along with it. Still, female Hip Hop artists receive as much respect as men if they are talented. There are many female Hip Hop listeners too, and they too are treated with respect at concerts and gatherings.
There are many stereotypes about females and lots of people believe them. But Hip Hop is in the direction of breaking down those stereotypes and taken a step forward to the Hip Hop culture, no, to society. Of course it is harder for female emcees to get respect at first, but if they are talented, then they will eventually achieve it. Hip Hop is given a bad reputation of being degrading to women. But before Hip Hop can change that, the women need to stand up for themselves. Women have fought to gain the same rights as men, and they should be treated the same way too.
It is important for the average person to understand Hip Hop, so they donít ridicule it. In order to understand it, they must first comprehend the difference between Rap and Hip Hop, a rapper and an emcee. As KRS-One puts it in a movie heís featured in, an emcee is a representative for the Hip Hop culture, but a rapper is a representative for corporate interest (The MC: Why We Do It). Rap is stupid music, while Hip Hop is a culture. There are four basic elements of the culture; Emceeing, Deejaying, Breakdancing, and Graffiti Writing. Hip Hop is a way of life. Once the culture educates the public about the difference between the two, it will gain respect as a movement that has a positive effect on the youth of the world.
Hip Hopís future is unknown. Although itís been popular for approximately 25 years, many still consider it a fad. Many music genres have became extinct within time. But Hip Hop has been around for nearly four decades, and itís future seems promising. In order for Hip Hop to improve, it needs to educate the public, achieve independence and separation from Rap, and remain positive. Whatever happens to the people of Hip Hop, will happen to the culture of Hip Hop (Mos Def). Hip Hop has already brought people together regardless of race, social class, or gender. It can still improve on those three things though. Hip Hop is a beautiful culture, and if it patches up some holes, it has the power to do anything.