Hip-hop is a genre that has greatly influenced generations and has been used to inspire, motivate, and promote. Although the first thought of hip-hop is hip-hop music, it has involved into a sense of hip-hop culture. There are different categories of hip-hop such as music, dancing, style, and art. These days, hip-hop is expressed in many different ways. Because of its popularity, hip-hop can be used to shine light on important topics. Some of the popular hip-hop artists use it to help promote national crisis, positive social change, and education. However, there are some negativity towards hip-hop that may effect its image, but nevertheless, has inspired generations upon generations.
The origin of hip-hop dates back to ancient African tribal rhythms and music, which traveled to America through slavery. The tribal chants would be known as “rapping”, which is a rhythmic use of speech or semi-sung lyrics. Later on, hip-hop would be known by African-American youths on streets and block parties. Busy Bee Starski, DJ Hollywood, and DJ Afrika Bambaataa are three New York artists who have been credited for creating the term “hip-hop”. (Reese). Rap music can be traced back to the Bronx in the 1970s where rap music was used by black youth to express themselves, along with graffiti, breakdancing, and style. Not only is hip-hop focused in the music industry. There have been styles of art such as graffiti, which was explored on alley streets and urban areas. Graffiti was another form of expression through a more imagery sense. Different styles of dancing were expressed through hip-hop music. Breakdancing was one of the most popular, which went into different styles of breakdance such as, Popping, Locking, Old School, Nu School, House, Krumping, House, and T.U.R.F. Dancing. All these styles would be a competitive hobby within urban areas.
Hip-hop has encouraged political activism within its community on particular issues. As more and more young people are influenced by hip-hop, as they become the age to vote, there have been artists that encouraged them to “get out there and vote” and becoming more involved in politics because it is their future that is being affected. When ‘Public Enemy’ hit in 1989, they focused a lot of issues that were urgent, from ethnic studies to racism in education to affirmative action to college admissions. (Woodson). In 2004, a hip-hop group known as Slam Bush was a group of artists who started an organization called the Slam Bush project in order to raise awareness on the opposition of President Bush in his re-election year. This project raised an 11% raise in voting amongst young adults. (Woodson). Another artist, John Legend, is also known as a humanitarian and has been traveling around to different colleges, talking to students about the importance of political involvement. He has also been named to the board of Teach for America, a group that promotes professionals giving back by teaching in urban schools. (Hart). John Legend has won six Grammy Awards and named one of the “100 most influential people” by TIME magazine. He had also launched a “Show Me Campaign”, which works to break the cycle of poverty and fighting for quality education. (Hart)
The criticism towards hip-hop has been that it glamorizes sex, drugs, and violence. Yes, a lot of black artists have been known for their specific vulgarity in the hip-hop industry. But there will always been vulgarity in any popular culture. Artists such as Lil Wayne is known for glorifying gangs, disrespecting woman, and associate self worth with material possessions in his music. He has even disrespected black women in his songs and turns his focus onto light skinned women. (Henderson). Lil Wayne even goes on to say that “light skinned women make babies with good hair.” Which has upset many proud black people. (Henderson).
When it comes to the hip-hop scene now compared to the hip-hop scene in the 1970s, music these days are more shined on materialistic necessities and being superficial. The popular black artists these days such as Lil Wayne, Drake, Wiz Khalifa, and Kanye West, their music revolve around what’s popular in the media, such as sex, drugs, and parties. Drake’s most popular song, “The Motto” has glorified his slogan “YOLO”, which stands for “You Only Live Once”, has spread all throughout the youth. As compared to DJ Afrika Bambaataa, who was one of the few who originally started hip-hop, cannot even be recognized in today’s youth.
Reese, Renford. "From the Fringe: The Hip Hop Culture and Ethnic Relations" . Popular Culture Review, 2002. Web. 4 Oct 2012.
Woodson, Jay. "Hip Hop's Black Political Activism." . Hip Hop's Black Political Activism, June 1, 2006. Web. 4 Oct 2012. .
Hart, Brittney. "Singer John Legend adds to humanitarian efforts." . N.p., Sept 29, 2012. Web. 4 Oct 2012. .
Henderson, Tara. "Lil Wayne Hates Dark Skinned Women." . N.p., Jan 6, 2011. Web. 4 Oct 2012.