Hip Hop Culture

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Hip Hop Culture Since the early to mid 90’s, hip-hop has undergone changes that purists would consider degenerating to its culture. At the root of these changes is what has been called “commercial hip-hop". Commercial hip-hop has deteriorated what so many emcees in the 80’s tried to build- a culture of music, dance, creativity, and artistry that would give people not only something to bob their head to, but also an avenue to express themselves and deliver a positive message to their surroundings. What does the term “commercial” mean? It can take on various meanings, but in essence that term is used to label artists who have alienated parts of the hip-hop culture in their work. The High and Mighty, a duo from Philadelphia signed to Rawkus Records, summed up what commercial hip-hop is in their 1999 single release “The Meaning”. Mr. Eon says: “…they’re tryin’ to turn hip-hop to just plain rappin’/let the poppers pop/and the breakers break…” But the disenchantment with artists who don’t appreciate hip-hop as consisting of emceeing, breaking, graffiti art, beat boxing and dj-ing is not new. Underground artists, predominately hip-hop purists, have lashed out at biters and perpetrators for many years. For example, in 1989 3rd Bass released their first album, The Cactus Cee/D. Throughout the album, MC Serch and Prime Minister Pete Nice scold the commercialized booty shakers like MC Hammer for corrupting hip-hop, particularly on the track “The Gasface” they specifically call out Hammer for his antics. Inside the album jacket, Serch sums up hip-hop in ‘89: “There was a time when nothing was more important than the New York Rap Scene.” It’s dilluted, but not divided.” To hip-hop afficionados, Serch’s quote sounds like the equivalent to a Vietnam soldier’s letter home. Obviously, the group saw the possibility of the hip-hop culture being tainted. Another good example of a group combatting the increase in commercial hip-hop was The Boot Camp Clik, consisting of Buckshot, Helter Skelter, Cocoa Brovaz, OGC, Illa Noyz and The Representativz. The Clik’s slogan throughout the duration of their 1997 release Album for the People was: “Commercial rap get the gun clap”. A descendent of the early backpacker days, Buckshot has always been opposed to mainstream artists who sacrfice artistic integrity in the lure for more money. The underground hip-hop scene has e... ... middle of paper ... ... ability to rock a crowd with sheer lyricism, explaining why you are doper than the other man, and having a Dj who could support you with dope beats were essentials in old school hip-hop and still are in the underground scene. Underground hip-hop is filled with groups such as The Pharcyde, The Roots, Jigmastas, and Jurassic 5 who use live instruments to not only enhance their lyrical talents, but also to give audiences a great show. All four of these groups are dedicated to preserving hip-hop culture. Emcees battle to prove they are iller, Djs do the same thing, and breakers, break dancers, poppers, whatever you want to call them, continue the tradition of mixing their dance art form of popping, locking and spinning using the music to help create different techniques. What has been great for the underground scene is its ability to sell more records now, and that is by and large due to the increase of smaller, independent record labels(see chapter 1). Labels such as Rawkus, Fondle ‘Em, Stones Throw, Goodvibe, ABB Records, and others can compete with majors like Bad Boy and Def Jam now because they are backed by people who have money and want to see hip-hop culture survive.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that commercial hip-hop has deteriorated what many emcees in the 80's tried to build- a culture of music, dance, creativity, and artistry.
  • Argues that dj skribble's appearance on mtv is a feeble attempt at representing hip-hop and the art of dj-ing.
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