Hip Hop-Stepping Up or Standing Still?


Hip Hop-Stepping Up or Standing Still?

 

Hip Hop can't stop and it won't stop. Through out many of the struggles and battles the hip hop culture has seen and survived that statement has rung loud and clear in the hearts of many youth that were around during the birth of hip hop or were raised on hip hop music. Hip Hop came from block parties and socials thrown in recreation rooms in New York project housing complexes to stages and venues across the world including Madison Square Garden. Hip Hop started out as a language spoken amongst inner city youth in the burroughs and back streets of New York City, filled with anger and ambition to being the very signal used to broadcast the voice of millions of youth on social and political platforms alike. Needless to say Hip Hop was become one of the biggest cultural phenomenons to hit the world since Jazz and Rock Music. But over the past few years Hip Hop doesn't seem to be as progressive as it used to be. Trends and clever marketing schemes have all but overshadowed the actual content of an artists album and radio stations barely play local artists music creating a divide in the underground scene and the mainstream pool thus cutting off a wide variety of music to the masses. Most of the elements in hip hop such as break dancing and graffiti have taken a back seat to Emceeing. So with all this said only one question remains... is Hip Hop stepping up and rising higher or standing still in a stagnant state of emergency while wallowing in a "recession like" puddle of urgency?

When I was young man my journey with hip hop started with Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Before I heard these two emcees I wasn't really aware of hip hop being a culture in itself. I just thought it was cool music with dudes rapping over some cool beats. But the first time I heard The timeless Black Star Single "Respiration" it made me consciously think about hip hop and how I felt about it. This was the start of what would be my independent studies on hip hop. Soon after I heard of Black Star I started trying to find more and more music by Mos Def and Talib Kweli. One of the next songs I stumbled across was "B Boy Document '99". That song is still one of my favorite songs to this day simply because of the hook alone and it goes a little something like this.

It was a jam at the center, and the party was shakin
and the poppers was poppin, and the breakers was breakin
And it won't be long til everybody know that
b-boys rock the document!(document)

The hook to me summed up what Hip Hop was all about. Having a good time, expressing yourself, and staying true to that. But now a days I seldom experience that feeling from most of the hip hop I hear. At times I find a lot of the music on the mainstream end very redundant and unoriginal often times getting down right boring. Saul Williams actually summed up the state of hip hop in a very dope way by comparing it to a piece of steak you might eat at a restaurant. Chewing and chewing and chewing till it loses all of its sustenance and flavor and before you know it... you're just chewing on that worn piece of meat just to say you have something in your mouth. Now don't get me wrong... I do enjoy mainstream music and I'm not a total backpacker (Not like I used to be anyway) but I wish there were more to listen to on the radio at times. For instance I love listening to T.I., Rick Ross, Ludacris, Outkast, Young Jeezy, Jay Z, Nas, Kanye West, Busta Rhymes, and many other artists but I'd like to hear more J.Cole on the radio. I would like to hear Slaughterhouse on the radio. All in all I'd really like to hear more diversity on the radio rather than the same songs that constantly play on the radio 50 times a day. I loved that joint by Drake, Kanye, Wayne, and Eminem called Forever... but everytime I hear it riding with the crew I can't help but express my disdain for these radio stations because they play out the music I actually like hearing. But that's the beautiful thing about the internet... The World Wide Web has everything you could possibly want if it's infact out there. With that said I believe the internet has been one of it not the only medium that has been a good means to advance the hip hop culture. Yea... you have your corporations like BET and MTV but they only play what you hear on the radio. So there isn't much diversity on the television networks out there as well. Speaking of which I will say I do applaud KRS-One on his attempt at making a television channel dedicated to hip hop music and culture 24/7, 365. But aside from getting little to no promotion his attempt has only produced a half functioning and for the most part dead website with little to no activity whatsoever. I went on it a few weeks back and the front page was the same as it was when I first visited. But hip hop doesn't seem to be moving anywhere now a days... well except in the business world.

Yes... The hip hop culture has been a hot commodity and its only become bigger since 2000 but I find that growth that it has come through has only been on the business end. More and more rappers are becoming moguls and businessmen, making more and more money and advancing themselves up the corporate ladder. For instance Jay Z is the biggest icon Hip Hop has seen in a long time. He's come from a thriving record label like Roc-A-Fella... to become the President of Def Jam and then on to running his own label RocNation. He owns Rocawear and has his hands in different markets outside of hip hop... He even has his hands in the arena of sports. He attained all this through hip hop but at the sametime the culture has taken a back seat with advancements like this. Yes more and more people know who Jay Z is because of this growth but I question how many people know what hip hop is. How many people know where it came from and how many people know what kinds of battles hip hop has faced just to get to this point in time? Now I do realize some people just wanna hear some dope music and theres nothing wrong with that. I don't fault them because thats all they want and thats all good. But to those that claim they love hip hop music and follow the trends and the fads that come with it it's almost disheartening to hear that they don't care about b-boying or dj'ing anymore. The art that once came with the culture seems to have been for the most part washed down by commercialism and materialism. I know it may seem like people like me sometimes seem like we sit in our own little corner playing our sad song on the violin while singing the words to "Where Is The Love" by the Black Eyed Peas but as someone that loves the Hip Hop culture and wants to see it grow and expand more and also as someone who wants to see more people appreciate the culture I just want people to understand why I continue to show my love and why I continue to support it. Because to me it's more than just a dope beat or hook. It's a big part of my life. I've dedicated a lot of my time and energy to this. I just want others to see where I'm coming from. All in all I still think the future holds big things for hip hop and it's lookin brighter and brighter all the time. I can only pray that the culture just grows with it as well.

 

~Written by Caeolian

 



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Comments  

 
0 #1 JOSHROCK 2010-02-01 21:32
Nice read. It's good to know that you found an interest in the culture that brings forth the music, rather than just the music itself. You said it yourself that the information is out there, all you need to do is start digging. There are some good editorials here at this site that address the culture from its inception beyond the music. Thanks for the share.
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