Hip Hop Culture for Grown-Ups
Hip Hop isn’t new, even though a slew of artists would have you thinking it was invented in the year 2000. Bboying, MCing, Graffiti, DJing, & Knowledge are the essential five elements that make up the foundation of Hip Hop, & these guidelines were established back when some of your parents were bumping Sugar Hill Gang on a monaural turntable.
But, the internet changed all of that. Now, new elements are in place. & if Hip Hop is to avoid the same fate(s) as jazz or RNB, it must evolve & revolve, continuously, until it is no more.
No elements can ever replace the originals (which I suggest you learn up on, for cultural purposes), but for the sake of speedballing towards a limitless future, we must adapt.
If we truly break down all the elements that form this ruggedly beautiful compound, it may be in the hundreds, but here are 5 other elements of Hip Hop.
5. Free Music
Real fans support their favorite artists. There’s no question about that. But with rap, the market for selling music has been turned on it’s ear, due to a decade of rampant downloading & illegal album releases. So Hip Hop – being the burgeoning, resilient compound that it is – turned free music into a marketing & promotions campaign that not even the most clever A&R could’ve achieved years ago. Now the fans
want demand free samples before even considering your main course. If you don’t have a mixtape floating around somewhere in cyberspace, your game needs up-steppage.
4. Body Art
It’s 2012. Shit is real. If you rap & don’t have skin tags, you might as well be kicking rhymes about clean underwear or how to make a girl fall in love with you. In Hip Hop, more specifically rap music, nobody is taking you seriously without the proper regalia. Tattoos are the modern day stars, stripes, & bars of the soldiers who survive this raucous culture. & just like in the armed forces, people only respect the uniform when it’s properly decorated (whatever the hell that means.)
3. Soft Porn
Seriously, a lot of rap music is audio pornography. (Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with that, but there’s a time & place for everything.) There’s a recent interview with Too $hort where he admits being surprised that “Shake That Monkey” was being played on the radio in 2003. & if it isn’t in the words themselves, the saturation of ass cheeks & cleavage veins in some of the “videos” on WSHH is more than fapworthy, which gives some explanation why kids these days have no idea what a “Playboy Magazine” even is. (Shoutout to “Cinemax After Dark,” the original Pornhub.com.) Speaking of Too $hort, his XXL debacle brought Hip Hop’s relationship with sexuality back to the forefront of discussion. For the record, though, I have no problem with cheeks & cleavage.
I can’t stress how this as permeated so much of normal, daily life. Hate fuels the news broadcasts. Hate keeps the internet friendly. Hate is the new way to celebrate an event – any event – no matter who or why. I’d hate to “blame” the hatesplosion on President Obama, but it’s his fault, so to speak. & by that I mean his unyielding success was the straw that broke the proverbial (American) camel’s back. That progressive moment’s substory is that the racism & bigotry that had been concealed & dormant for some decades once again had a platform to rise from. My point is that hate in Hip Hop, or anywhere else isn’t new, but there’s a comfort zone in vocalizing & acting upon today’s prejudices that didn’t exist in recent memory.
Beefs & battles have always been a part if Hip Hop. Aggression & frustration, not so coincidentally, are also equally as prevalent to the culture. It’s no surprise that so many “headlines” involving “rappers,” usually an unknown or local artist, ended in death. Some of today’s biggest rap names openly brag about gun charges & such, & some have even been directly linked to events that ended in homicide. Violence is a systematic link in the societal chain that binds humanity together. I suppose it’s no more than the “trickle down theory,” but either way, it’s a new element. If you don’t believe me, you need to look harder. •