Subcultures created in New York’s South Bronx in the 1970s changed the way people viewed Blacks. A subculture created in the 1970s South Bronx of New York, sparked a worldwide change in perception of Black individuals. Black people face racism, poverty, a lack in opportunities, and other challenges. Hip Hop is often viewed as a cause for the suffering of Black people.
Hip Hop is a culture that has an infinite variety of movements and expressions because it was designed around the individual rather than through him. Contrary of how some European styles might be perceived. The idea is to break the mold and not fit into one. Or several. Each style has its own meaning. I have categorised them so that they truly represent the core of Hip Hop.
Exploration, as seen in styles like popping or locking, is the first of these categories. Styles which break down the body into isolated segments in a scientifically-human manner. The human body is viewed in sections and the various ways that each segment can be moved. The significance of this is magnified if we consider the fact that outsiders perceive the Black body as being inhuman. By exploring the body, you surpass the basic mechanics of human movement.
Breaking is the first category of risk. Today, it is famous for its huge tricks, gravity-defying maneuvers and crowd-pleasing stunts. However it began in New York as a means of bringing together the community. The style’s evolution hasn’t changed the original message. The movement is a way to show society that they are not the only ones who have problems. The movement is a middle finger to society’s problems.
Release, the third and last category I have created, is also one of the categories I think has had most influence. Clowning, which was born in Compton California, is the predecessor of Krump. It’s a more aggressive dance. The dance is sometimes described as having animalistic or sacrificial qualities. The word itself means Kingdom Radically Uplifted Magnificent Praise. It is often said that the dancers are in a trance-like state while competing or performing. The style is designed to “release aggression, frustration and anger in a positive way, without violence”, by exploring feelings such as rage or fear.
Krumping is particularly interesting to me because it makes fun of stereotypes about Black people and transforms the dancer. Images of exaggerated ape-like bodies and faces, which were used to mock Black men and women, are now used in resistance. Black people are being portrayed as having an aggressive, dangerous, and uncivilized character.
Hip Hop also emphasizes resistance in the mind. Rapping or MCing comes from West African Griots who are storytellers for their tribes and responsible for preserving culture and lessons. They use rhythmic patterns and drums to tell stories. The MC will rhyme over the beat in a similar fashion. MC’s teach lessons and tell stories about Hip Hop to educate the country. Their words and their ideas can help them fight inequality. Mos Def and Kendrick lamar are political rappers. Inspire people to think about the world and express ideas of revolution, equality, fear, love and acceptance.
Blacks are just as, if a not more, concerned about the importance of an intellectual revolution. Black people already have a “great physicality” associated with them, so it doesn’t shock the world as much. The White man suppressed the mental intelligence of the Africans brought to America as slaves and has associated it with nothing. The Black community is perceived as being lowly intelligent due to myths like Blacks having smaller brains. Slavery was not allowed in those areas and there were no educational facilities for slaves. The mind is used as a weapon in MCing. It is a combination of vocabulary, musicality, theory and experience that allows you to develop a deep and perfect mentality.
I’ve spoken a great deal about Hip Hop, and the struggle that Blacks have to define their own identity in relation to a defined “norm” culture. This culture of “norm” is White. White culture can’t be defined, as it’s not a style of living but rather a structured system. White people have tried to eradicate the “cultures” that we observe around the globe. Richard Fung is a public intellectual, theorist and writer. He says: “It’s because of their genealogies that racial subaltern (lower-rank) groups are concerned about cultural preservation.” Ethnic groups hold onto the characteristics that define them to avoid being swept away by the colonial waves. Hip Hop breaks away from the idea that White culture is ideal. Instead, it strives to create a Black identity as well as improve the body, mind and soul.
Stuart Hall’s book, “Who Needs Identity,” has a lot of interesting things to say.
Media representation is heavily influenced by identity, particularly in the modern era. Media portrays hip hop culture as violent, uneducated and negative. In order to avoid this, it’s important to not misrepresent or underrepresent groups. Media is controlled by dominant culture, so the world is viewed through a White lens. The desire for intellectual manipulation and to use an aspect from another culture to change our worldview is not the same as subjugating the world. It is not enough for a White person to claim they see Blacks differently.
The stereotypes we have been indoctrinated with are now so ingrained that they no longer allow us to see individuals as such, but instead as part of a collective. This is not what hip-hop encourages. In hip-hop, representation is made in terms such as sex, age, gender and race. This is because hip hop culture is inclusive, and it doesn’t care about your appearance but rather how you move. Stuart Hall calls this freedom “self-identification”. “Focus Attention on Oneself, deciphering, recognising, and acknowledging themselves as Subject …” Self-awareness is the foundation of identity apart form stereotypes and culture beliefs. It’s important to remember that self-identity doesn’t necessarily mean others will see you as you would like.
The way we identify ourselves and our identity as artists is always changing. Without the idea of our identity, we would not have any social field. Because we were taught that the only way to survive is to be powerful, we’ve become numb towards other people’s pain. It is evident in the new dance styles. Hip Hop is just a culture that uses sound and movement to resist. In the same way that artists manipulate and empower underdogs they do it all the time. Exploring, releasing and risking the pain within in order to create something better. We can use what has been given to us in order to become stronger. Finding our identity without depending on outside opinions. We are creating this future. We can learn from each other’s mistakes and depend on them in the future.
The kingdom that is radically elevated and worthy of praise.