It’s Like a Jungle Sometimes

With a hip, hop and a hippity what?
I gotta ask, what is hip hop?

To Be Hip Hop You Must First Know Hip Hop

The history of hip hop is not crystal clear but it’s believed to have originated from the Bronx (A suburb of New York City) as a medium to express political views. On a deeper level hip hop is said to have it’s roots in Samoan and African rhythmic music.
Hip hop is often stereotypically seen as a form of media associated mostly with African Americans. and is synonymous with gangster culture, misogyny and rebellious youth. Looking at the history and contexts of hip hop I have found it to be a quite deep and cultural theme.

“Hip-hop has been accused of glorifying violence, misogyny and homophobia, and at the same time has been lauded for its ability to simply “tell it like it is.” Such controversial debates over forms of expression can rarely be boiled down to a simple case of wrong versus right. Instead, they are complex and multi-layered and must take into account the larger cultural context.” (PBS Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes)

It is widely accepted that Hip Hop consists of four (arguably five) elements; Break dancing, DJing, Mcing and Graffiti (With Beat Boxing being the possible fifth). These four elements combined empowered people of The Bronx to lyrically and visually express their discontent with society considering majority of people living in The Bronx are considered low class.

Hip hop as a form of music is often ‘hybridised’ by adding elements from other cultural forms of music to give it a sense of place and character. The term “glocalisation” has come up again and again when researching this topic, it refers to when something is globalised but in a way that it is customized to suit the locality e.g French Rap.

The Dark Side

Due to the hybridisation of hip hop, there are often cases where it is appropriated in a modern context

This 2010 car add can be seen as drawing commons between their car and being ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ but can also be viewed as trivialising the political and socio-economic issues in Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s hip hop song “The Message”.

The topic of hip hop appropriation is a complex one. Some would argue that hip hop belongs to it’s Samoan and African/ African American roots as well as any other minority or any member of a low socio economic class. On the other hand white males such as Eminem and Macklemore as well as white females such as Iggy Azalea and Miley Cyrus continue to dominate the charts around the world (See: Macklemore and Ryan Lewis). I see hip hop as not belonging to a group of people but people belong to hip hop, and through my tutorials, I’ve found others agree. If you have the talent and you have a message to share, hip hop is a global media form to be shared.


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