Hip Hop

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Hip-hop as a musical form began among the youth of South Bronx, New York in the mid- 1970’s. Individuals such Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash were some of the early pioneers of this art form.(Fernando 43) Through their performances at clubs and promotion of the music, hip-hop consistently gained in popularity throughout the rest of the 1970’s. The first commercial success for hip-hop was a song “Rapper's Delight” by the Sugar Hill Gang in 1979.(Potter 45) This helped bring hip-hop into the national spotlight. The 1980’s saw the continued success of hip-hop with many artists such as Run DMC (who had the first rap album to go gold in 1984), L.L. Cool J, Fat Boys, and west coast rappers Ice-T and N.W.A becoming popular. Today, in the late 1990’s rap music continues to be a prominent and important aspect of African- American culture.

Hip-hop was a way for youths in black inner city neighborhoods to express what they were feeling, seeing, and living and it became a form of entertainment. Hanging out with friends and rapping or listening to others rap kept black youths out of trouble in the dangerous neighborhoods in which they lived. The dominant culture did not have a type of music that filled the needs of these youth, so they created their own. So, hip-hop originally emerged as a way "for [black] inner city youth to express their everyday life and struggles" (VOT, 125). Hip-hop is now seen as a subculture that, includes a large number of middle to upper white class youths, which have grown to support and appreciate it.

Many youth in America today are considered part of the hip-hop subculture because they share a common love for a type of music that combines catchy beats with rhythmic music and thoughtful lyrics to create songs with a distinct political stance. Hip-hop lyrics are about the problems rappers have seen, such as poverty, crime, violence, racism, poor living conditions, drugs, alcoholism, corruption, and prostitution. These are serious problems that many within the hip-hop subculture believe are being ignored by mainstream America. Those within the subculture recognize and acknowledge that these problems exist. Those within this subculture consider "the other group" to be those people who do not understand hip-hop and the message its artists are trying to send. The suppresser, or opposition, is the dominant culture, because it ignores these problems and perhaps even acts as a catalyst for some of them.

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