The Hip Hop effect

I’m so tempted to write a long post about this as I’m such a fan and it’s a perfect excuse to reminisce over my Hip Hop DJ’ing days but I won’t. I’ll keep it nice and short. Hip Hop turned thirty, with three decades since the release of the of the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight.

Since then Hip Hop has grown from an underground artistic movement in the Bronx in New York in the 1970’s, to a mainstream industry that crossed over not only to millions of Americans but to people arround the globe. But has it all been good?

It has been described by Public Enemy’s chuck D as the “CNN for black people” but again it has proven that it’s about much more than race with white rappers
and hip hoppers in different parts of the world finding their voice through the four main elements of the Hip Hop culture (Deejaying, Emceeing, Breaking, Graffiti).

But while it’s been hailed as the voice of the people by some. It’s been blamed by others for glorifying violence, degrading women, drugs and gangster life. It’s also been criticised for playing up to racial stereotypes.

One criticism for Arabic Hip Hop is that it has nothing to do with Arab culture and that it’s a meek attempt by some Arab youth to imitate a Western style of music. I spoke to a number of Arab rappers and hip hoppers and while most of them admit they haven’t fully mastered the craft, they insist that even though it started in NYC, Hip Hop has no nationality and is a tool for self expression.

If you’re in the USA, what do you think Hip Hop added to your culture? And do you think it had more of a positive  or a negative effect? If you’re outside the USA, are there any well known Hip Hop or Rap acts in your country? What do you think of them?

7 Responses to “The Hip Hop effect”

  1. October 14, 2009 at 05:16

    It is definitely a very interesting medium of expression but frankly the style is getting a bit monotonous and old hat.

  2. October 14, 2009 at 08:53

    Hi Shaimaa,
    Quite an interesting topic. Unfortunately I am one of those people mentioned in the link provided above (http://www.villagevoice.com/2004-12-28/news/hiphop-turns-30/) that get really mad when the beautiful art of real hiphop is mentioned in the same sentence as the hiphop industry.
    To me, hiphop is older than 30 but commercial rap is. DJ Kool Herc was doing Hiphop way before the SugarHill Gang went platinum.
    The pioneers of hiphop were creating a platform for expression for oppressed peoples regardless of their color and not the type of music we see on TV today winning awards as the best hiphop act or other.
    In many downtrodden societies poverty and crime are commonplace so its no wonder that these themes got their way into hiphop spawning what you call gangsterism and the like. But that’s a just a sideshow that has been exploited by many commercial artists, the message is more deep and intense.
    I am Kenyan but can still claim hiphop to be mine because the issues that real hiphop tackles are also the same issues my community faces. Here we have a lot of ‘dope’ hiphop emcees like Ukoo Flani Mau Mau, Mwafrika, Abbas Kubaff, among many more. And of course Yours Truly ocasionally drops a rhyme or two though just as a hobbyist pastime.
    What I think of them? Very positive and conscious compared to the mainstream music played and replayed on Kenyan radio.

    • October 14, 2009 at 11:00

      Muthee your comment is very interesting and I’m glad to know you’re a fan and drop a rhyme every now and then. I agree that people like DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa are the legitimate fathers of Hip Hop. However you cannot ignore the massive effect Rappers Delight had commercially and that it did take Hip Hop to mainstream level which has won the genre great following and financial backing.
      It’s true there are many acts that ‘want to be’ Hip Hop and can’t but we’ve also had great talent over the years all thanks, I believe, to Hip Hop going mainstream. By the way , I really like Justice by Muki Garang and Mwafrika (even though I don’t understand what Mwafrika is saying!.

  3. 4 patti in cape coral
    October 14, 2009 at 12:49

    I really love the hip hop beat, and sometimes I will be humming along, not really thinking about the words. When you really listen to what their saying sometimes, it can be shocking or embarrassing, but I’m still a sucker for the beat. And there’s nothing like angry gangsta rap when you’re cleaning the house.

  4. October 14, 2009 at 15:00

    @patti thanks for making me smile with your comment.

    Rap came to my smallish ruralish midwestern USA hometown when I was a teen, and I remember how Other it sounded. All the music I knew – Rock, Metal, Oldies, Country and even Disco were all related somehow in the back-when and even as a kid you could hear how one genre tied to another. And rap was on a different trajectory, from a different back-story and heading in a different direction. I felt like I was watching a musical comet go by – not much impact on my little world, but it shone brightly in the distance.

    What did it add to the culture? Suddenly where the music had been somewhat monolithic and all related, having this other dynamic in play balanced it off and made room for all kinds of very different music in the marketplace of ideas – electronic, techno, ethnic for example. Suddenly there was a yin to the yang of most listened to music in the US, and it enriched the whole spectrum of available music.

  5. 6 Tom K in Mpls
    October 14, 2009 at 16:55

    Is there any recorded discussion of the evolution and effect of Rock? We can do a cut’n’paste to put Hip Hop in place of Rock and then change some group names and call it done.

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

  6. 7 BoB
    January 19, 2010 at 17:06

    Hip Hop turned thirty? is Rappers Delight hip hop? Commercial rap is 30 years old, if you think that is hip hop then your head is up your ass

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