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Essay: The story of hip hop

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  • Subject area(s): Music Essays
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  • Published: December 9, 2019*
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  • The story of hip hop
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Nowadays, hip hop is part of one of the most influential music type around the world.  As one of the most influential rapper called JAY-Z said: «Hip-hop gave a generation a common ground that didn’t require either race to lose anything everyone gained hip hop”. Indeed hip-hop has brought many positive changes nowadays, especially for African American people

Through the past few years, the wave of this new type of music has been really famous and helped people to obtrude themselves without any shame or shyness. Hip hop has become a footprint to the entire society nowadays and more people are adopting this type of junk music due to the fact that it helps people to emancipate themselves and their state of mind. Moreover, hip-hop is a style shifting the others.

The HIP-HOP was born in the United States in the 70s, in the district of Bronx in New York, but also at the same time in Los Angeles. It was also born in Philadelphia in order to answer against the violence engendered by living in precarious conditions, undergone and accumulated for too long in the fight (wrestling) of the black population’s native of Africa; for the equality of the rights and the definitive stop (ruling) of the racial segregation of the leaders Martin Luther King, Malcolm X. And, at the other hand, because of the social poverty and of plagues which it generates crime, drug, racket and war of gangs in the ghettos where the population does not stop increasing with the important arrival of the Latin American communities come from Mexico, from Porto-Rico, from Jamaica in search of a better future.

The hip hop music and movement have succeeded to reduce racial tensions, forge an influential image of colored people, and influence a whole generation who wants to make a difference and voice their need.  Hip-Hop impact in a way: social justice, equality, recognition and much more.

The story of Hip-hop is a story of a global industry who dominates today’s popular music. In other words it has a long history and lots of obstacles. In order to try to understand this social movement of a musical gender, there were a few periods in hip-hop history. Indeed, the idea of «cultural hip-hop ” has several godfathers like Africa Bambaataa or Kool Herc for example. They had for common to lead the street-parties of Bronx in the middle of the 70s in New York. Moreover, it is certain that the term hip-hop was born in these block parties, that were at the same time places of musical admixture between disco, electro music, funk and Jamaican sounds. In the blocks-parties for example, the rappers and the dancers practice were literally held by the rhythm and the questioning of the Masters of ceremonies.

Indeed, the exchanges of the dancers and the rappers between them and with the public transform the ritual fights of district into stages choreographed by breakers perfecting their style in several moves.

Hip hop has developed itself through the years. Indeed, to really understand in which context the hip-hop’s culture was born, it is necessary to know, the precarious economic and social situation of the Afro-American and Latin American classes in New York City. While after the Second World War, the districts such as Harlem, Brooklyn or the Bronx represent the hope for the African-American, Puerto Rican, Irish, Italian and Jewish families, in the 60s, the industrial jobs leave the districts to concentrate in the north suburbs. Whites follow and the value of the real estate collapses. The real estate speculators prefer to shave their old buildings rather than to restoring them. In 1989, we can say that hip-hop graduated from its humble, thrilling origins as innovative party music in the Bronx in the late 1970s. As people know, hip-hop started as a platform for African-American youth to voice their frustration and to fell free. This year wasn’t really the year where hip-hop started shinning; it was still seen as a sort of underground and lacked the big pop starts of genres like R&B or rock.

The identical movements form and are repressed: murder of Martin Luther King in April, 1968, and of Malcolm X. The communities of big cities, in particular New York, withdraw on themselves in ghettos where gangs take a more and more marked social importance. The insecurity, the crime and the drug are then a part of the everyday life.

In the districts of Harlem, Brooklyn and of Bronx, it is the excitement, in the face of the ineffectiveness, even constants brutalities of law enforcement, the riots are frequent and the violence is omnipresent in these New Yorker slums.

From 1970, every house’s street of every ghetto possesses its own gang which protects itself from dealers and from other gangs; emergencies and even the police do not dare to venture into these suburbs where the anarchy reigns and where only these violent bands lay down the law.

Later on, Young African Americans and Puerto Ricans connected illegally their stereo systems on the municipal streetlights. The party began. Taking vinyl records for partitions, two platinum’s, mixing desk and amplifier as instruments.

At that time, an immigrant disc jockey from Jamaica, Kool Herc, is slowly having a reputation in the Bronx thanks to the “break dances”.

These rhythmic buckles become the real metaphors of freedom. A new musical gender pulled by the funk, by the disco, by the rock, by the jazz, by the afro beat or by the reggae allows new forms of acrobatic dance, which we shall call breakdance or b-boy.

The poets of the Black Art or the Black Panthers and other revolutionary fanatics harden the tone, by using their words as their weapons. This new generation of rappers try to escape themselves from the street chaos throughout their poems. The American popular culture always made a wide place for the creative ways of expression of working classes.

Since thirty years, numerous intermediaries make a fortune by spotting right and recognition of a black identity

Other intellectuals of the Black Power emphasize the cultural legacy, in particular the African roots of the black identity. This conception encourages the study and the celebration of the historic and cultural past of the African Americans. At the end of the 70s, owners of African Americans and Jewish labels of Harlem notice the popularity of the hip-hop and hurry to record the most known artists. These businessmen are personally and geographically close to this music. In 1980, Kurtis Blow publishes the maxi first one of rap to a big label.

At this moment, Hip-hop culture is going to become the most popular and the most influential and especially for the youth of the 20th century in the world. The very fashionable movement of the graffiti artists supplies the visual contents off young artists whom Paint with sprays their hieroglyphs in sensational colors. At that time, the Reagan Administration attacks “the welfare state” and deletes the helps in favor of the poor people. Hip-hoppers counter-attacks by sending their angers as messages: ‘’do not push me to the limit, I am on the edge of the abyss. It is as a jungle sometimes, and I wonder how I make not to dive.” Furious Five warned.

On the technological front, hip-hoppers progresses with large steps. Most of the rock musicians remain perplexed in the face of the new techniques. Unfortunately the producers of rap make a machine for more and more serious rhythms.

Martin Luther King is a symbolic figure of hip-hop culture Founders whom are at the head of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference), Martin Luther King, claims out his disapproval in front of anti-white provocative messages that are associated with Black Power. Quite, they encourage the African Americans to be proud of their identity and to set consciousness of their inheritance: “to avoid the error which would consist in developing one Distrust towards all Whites people» he said. Moreover, he pronounces a famous speech In August 28th, 1963 in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington during his Walking for the employment and Freedom called: “I have a dream”.

He is supported by John F. Kennedy in the fight against the racial discrimination; most of these rights will be promoted by the “Civilian Rights Act” and “Voting Rights Act” under him. Martin Luther King is murdered in 1968, by JamesEarl Ray, of whom the guilt and the participation are always discussed. Since 1986, Martin Luther King Day is a public holiday in the United States. After those tragedies, the hostility to Black Power strengthens in 1968 with the appearance of the movement of Black Panthers which becomes the most important organization militating for the black power.

During the 70s in the United States when the hip-hop movement is born, fights then rage between rival groups in Bronx strike. In 1973, Kevin Donovan, the leader the Bronx River gang Project, discovers the art of Djing. Inspired by the movie Shaka zulu (1964 ), which describes the legendary battle in 1879 Between the British colonial troops and the South African tribe Zulu, he takes  the pseudonym of Afrika Bambaataa, which is the name of the tribe’s leader.  He collects, in his circle young people whose ways of expression are the rap, the graffiti, the DJing and the break dance combined under a common denominator, under a group’s name called ‘The Bronx River Association.’

In January, 1975, the best friend of Afrika Bambaataa, Soulski, dies from a shooting during an intervention of the police in a fight between gangs. This event marks the definitive aversion of Afrika Bambaataa for gangs. He leaves Black Spades and becomes a partisan devotee of the nonviolence. The Organization becomes then Zulu Nation which is based on transforming the negative energy into a creative positive energy through miscellaneous artistic ways of expression such as the music, dance or painting. Bambaataa takes back the unifying and positive symbolism of the tribute’s leader Zulu which becomes the ethical basis of the hip-hop culture: «Peace-Love-Unity, Moove! Having Fun! “. Whereas, the young people of ghettos invented and developed their various ways of music’s expression, Afrika Bambaataa and Zulu Nation gave to hip-hop a unity, a consciousness: Hip-hop was born.

This fight joins in the lineage of the figh for the civil rights impulse in the 60s by Black Power which had charismatic leaders as Martin Luther King and Malcom X.

Four artistic expressions of the hip-hop were reunited (Djing, rap, dance, graffiti) and for Bambaataa, it was some ways to reveal a universal message in the tradition of The 5 percents Nation or the Black Panthers: ‘knowledge, wisdom, understanding, freedom, justice, and equality in the face of the violence and the oppression’ said Bambaataa.

To conclude, the strongest impact of the hip-hop’s culture is maybe in its capacity to create a way that allows young people (who are now young adults) and use to have different faith belonging, races, cultures, and ethnic origin to express themselves in a self-determined way, individually and collectively. The culture of hip-hop does not  only influenced the  American culture  but many more English languages of the whole world. The multicultural countries which possess community’s hip-hop dynamics had to find a sense in these new words and expressions. The hip-hop influenced the languages of numerous countries and cultures, of the German hip-hop in the Australian hiphop, in the rap ” Pinoy ” (Philippine) including the Azeri rap (Azerbaijan) or the rap of Niger (Niger).

Whether it is by the addition of the “bling-bling” in Oxford English Dictionary in 2003 or the inclusion of the term ” crunk ” in the 2007 publishing  of Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, the hip-hop culture aims to upset the nature, the sound and the rules of the English language. Words such as “hood” , “crib” usually became used in daily English. Expressions such as ” what’s up “, ” peace out ” or and the extremely popular expression “chill out ” are frequently used in television programs, movies and even in the advertisements of multinationals. American English is an alive body and, with mechanisms so dynamic as the culture hip-hop or the explosion of the technologies, which can predict how people shall write or shall speak in 30 years? That the United States are ” a nation hip-hop “, as asserted it the magazine Time on its cover of February 5th, 1999, or not, it is obvious that English was strongly influenced by the hip-hop’s culture.

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