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A word to the young hip-hoppers... can you be a part of hip-hop and not spend any money on it (karma: 3)
By Invent Comments: 1693, member since Wed Jan 14, 2004
On Sat May 21, 2005 03:38 PM

This is something I wrote for a friend struggling to answer questions some young people had for him... mainly on what is the hip-hop culture about.

I can tell you this. To live the culture of hip-hop, you don't need to spend a single penny on it.


South Bronx, New York City, 1973. The civil rights era had just passed not but several years earlier. It was a time when race relations were still tense, and those of color were STILL trying to be heard.

A Jamaican born kid was continuing the popular Jamaican style of DJing in his bronx home. He was becoming a skilled DJ at a young age. So his sister asked him to DJ her birthday party. It was at a community center on Sedgewick Ave...

While Djing, this kid, known as Kool Herc, notcied something in particular while spinning records... people particularly responded when the "break" section of a song would come on. The break was a "breakdown" in funk tracks (like those of James Brown), where there was a heavy, but fast percussion solo.

Kool Herc decided he would mix together two of the same record, and keep it so the "break" kept playing over and over...

This was the birth of the hip-hop culture.


In a time riddled by gang violence, tense race and class relations, depressions of war, a change was needed. The youth of the ghettos of New York City not only wanted a voice, but they felt they NEEDED a voice. This voice was hip-hop.

The different elements of hip-hop (dancing, music, MCing, graffiti, fashion, etc...) did not come together as a culture called hip-hop until the late 70's and early 80's. Those that did graffiti were bombing (creating works) on the outsides of trains because they knew, those trains traveled all throughout the city... from the best to the worst neighborhoods. They wanted their canvas' to travel around the city so that people could view their works.

The bboys, we getting down... creating for themselves and themselves only... to be the best out there. They couldn't afford dance classes... but they could make their own dance... that anyone could be a part of as long as they were original and came hard with it... they were trying to kill their opponent with their dance. No smiles... no hugs... everyone was out to get everyone. Expressing the mood of the music through their footwork and freezes.

The DJs, spinning tracks at local parks for parties... creating the grooves that all of the south bronx would move too. They were creating with what they had. Two decks... a mixer, and some funk tracks. The breaks was their music, and the tables were their instruments.

The MCs... not a part of the picture until around 1976. When Herc wanted to keep ahead of the DJing game by introducing his friend, Coke La Roc as an MC... spitting simple rhymes to keep the crowd hyped. "Y'all came to see the show, I'll spice up your life with these flows, what you listenin' to is hip-hop, keep rockin' and ya don't stop!"

Fastforward to the mid-1980's. Hip-hop is hitting its "peak" in the public eye... the "breakdancing" (as it was mislabeled by the media) "craze" was dying down. Popping and locking included. MCing was taking the forefront. People like KRS-one, LL Cool J, Run DMC were taking the place of the original MCs. The party rhymes changed to being more socially aware as the dancing and graffiti was before it. Conditions were changing in the bronx but they were not improving.

The point of MCing, or rapping... has always been to put out one's point of view. Let the world know how things are where you live. Since hip-hop was becoming something that was spreading throught out the country (and especially into the suburban neighborhoods), the time was right.

I'm not going to lie. Rap talked about killing, drugs, unprotected promiscuis sex (this is in the time when the AIDS epidemic first began). But it was to let the world know HOW THINGS WERE in the South Bronx. The S.B. was at that time, THE MOST dangerous place in America. There was a lot going on there... but the people wanted a change. The people who discussed these things in rap, NEVER EVER had the intention of glamorizing it. They were talking about the bad and the ugly... They were trying to educate the world on THEIR reality.

Fastforward once again to today. The recording industry and big businesses have got a hold of hip-hop. It's being passed of as something you can eat, drink, smoke, snort. You can be a participant in it by wearing certain clothing, listening to certain music, acting a certain way. NONE OF THIS IS TRUE. I am going to break this down as simply as I know how.

To the recording industry... hip-hop means money. (this came true after they saw how Tupac sold... and trust me... Tupac was REAL). The more you can maket as being hip-hop, the more money you can make. McDonald's uses "hip-hop like beats" to promote the big mac. Sprite uses basketball players and slang. Tommy Hilfiger is a known racist. The Timerland Boot company is owned by members of the KKK. Record execs don't listen to what they sell, just as a drug dealer never gets his high off his own stash.

Usher, R. Kelly, Micheal Jackson, Brittney Spears, Christina Aguilara, Ciara... they ARE NOT HIP-HOP. Some of them are R&B at best. Most are pop icons. None of them do real hip-hop dancing, unless they are ONLY purely POPPING, BBOYING or LOCKING. The breaks made by Herc and others are the MUSIC of hip-hop. There ain't no "hip-hop singing." The only vocal thing to hip-hop is MCing and spoken word. MC's are socially conscious. 50 Cent, Chingy, Lil Flip, T.I. ARE NOT.

Do you want proof of all this?? Listen to old school hip-hop. Talk to some of the OGs... the ORIGINATORs of this culture... I know I have. They can tell you what it was, is and always will be about.
Hip-hop never went "underground". And it's not now. There IS NO underground movement. It's been there since day one as this culture, and it will always be like that.

What you see on MTV and BET and hear on the radio... AIN'T hip-hop. If you don't get or believe this next statement, I suggest you stand up after it, go to the local store, and spend all your money on CDs and clothes you think are hip-hop... because you're never going to do anything productive with your life...

Hip-hop can not be bought or sold. Hip-hop is something that latches onto your soul and becomes an everyday part of what you think, feel, how you express yourself, how you view the world. You will LIVE the hip-hop culture EVERY waking and sleeping moment of your life. And you don't need to spend a SINGLE penny to do it. Most MCs will spit their dopest track for you right there on the street corner, no music... just their SOUL to guide them.

If you can live hip-hop without spending a single dime on it in the next year... stand up, express yourself, and boycott the fakeness that is in the public eye.

Assad "Invent" Conley
Funkacidal Maniacs Crew
Generations Popping Crew

PS- if you would like to use any portion of this. Email me first. As it is copyrighted material.

4 Replies to A word to the young hip-hoppers... can you be a part of hip-hop and not spend any money on it

re: A word to the young hip-hoppers... can you be a part of hip-hop and not spend any money on (karma: 1)
By TrippyJing Comments: 395, member since Tue Nov 09, 2004
On Sat May 21, 2005 10:18 PM
I remember posting this on a different site some time ago in response to someone who claimed that he was living hip hop. This was my response.

Timberland started out as a boot company in 1973 to market its brand for its original waterproof boot. Hip hop connection...none.

Baseball and basketball both have jerseys. I do not see any connection with baseball, so I'm ignoring that. Basketball was invented over half a century ago, well before hip hop. Connection...none.

I don't see how one can "speak" hip hop, as there are hip hop heads in other countries and languages. The stereotypical sound of hip hop speak now is ebonics, I think. And I hate that.

Despite my not "living" hip hop from the day I was born, I still believe I'm living it now. I believe that it is not about what you wear or say, its about what you do. I put myself to work at an aspect of the culture and and do what I can within it. It doesn't require me to talk or look in any one way. That's what I like about it.

www.urbanthinktank.org . . .
re: A word to the young hip-hoppers... can you be a part of hip-hop and not spend any money on
By Invent Comments: 1693, member since Wed Jan 14, 2004
On Sun May 22, 2005 03:40 AM
Trippy...
I'll probably have to make another essay...lol.
This time, on the difference between hip-hop culture and )what I call) GHETTO URBAN CULTURE.

A lot of the philosophies, clothing, speach paterns etc... that are in main stream hip-hop, are actually parts of ghetto urban culture (habits you find IN the projects), as opposed to intelligence due to a negative environment.
Invent

PS- I do not mean to offend anyone with the phrase "ghetto urban culture." I lived in the projects for some time. Latimer Gardens, Flushing, New York. So I know that what goes down in theprojects is of its own making and is separate from hip-hop.
re: A word to the young hip-hoppers... can you be a part of hip-hop and not spend any money on
By damon_k Comments: 228, member since Tue Nov 19, 2002
On Sun May 22, 2005 09:28 PM
Great post. It is interesting to read about and it is good that you layed things out like that.

On the outer layer, I have never been one to adhere to these contrivances which may reflect a possible internal state or direction. As far as my dress style is concerned, I look like a regular academic with a hint of rebellion. Also my mannerisms don't reflect any sence of pimpness or ballerism. haha

On the inner layer, I also don't really consider myself hip-hop either. I love hip-hop music, dance, artwork, and the political side of things, but my love for those things doesn't tie in with any kind of cultural heritage or sense of belonging.

If hip-hop is about self expression then that I am. I am a dancer and a producer...but of many musical styles. I understand the drive behind the artists who support the real culture and wish I could make similar contributions within my own culture or mainstream culture. This essence that a person has to use art to convey messages and help themselves and those around them grow is what you call hip-hop, but I believe that it is something broader than that name could encapsulate.

I was raise in good circumstances and was given many great opportunities that many others would never have. Those originators of the hip-hop culture who spoke out and those who still do today, did and do so for rights and freedoms (usually more to do with pyhsical boundaries).

As a middle class white young man, I don't have such issues to discuss and rebel against. The issues I would speak on would be ones that are more complex and less obviously abundant. The would have to do with the subjugated nature of the real self, lack of expression and creativity in general middle class working society and the apparently unmoveable social conventions.
The fight that we as people are having within ourselves and the need for an awakening of a boyant and lively spirit which isn't clamped down by the drudgery of morbid daily activity based upon satisfying a need to aquire money in order to buy happiness which is the top seller right now. Unfortunately the beast of today's form of hip-hop is preaching the opposite by the fistful.
Materialism, subliminal media based mind games, and the general belief in wealth as an indicator of status...How about the state of your mind and health of your spirit...

Well I got a bit of topic I know. I have a tendancy to do that, because I let my feelings guide me....and thats what all you young people out there who feel pressured into repressing need to do...

damon.
re: A word to the young hip-hoppers... can you be a part of hip-hop and not spend any money on
By Invent Comments: 1693, member since Wed Jan 14, 2004
On Sun May 22, 2005 10:11 PM
You Damon, I would call a hip-hop head because you carry the ideals. You may not view yourself as one, but in though you are.

Even though your "struggle" is a different one, it is one none-the-less that can personally be alleviated by self-expression, and art can be used to draw awareness to the plights you see.

I guess that's all I have to say for now... too many posts, I'm getting burnt out.
Thanks for joining!!
Invent

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