Our Hip Hop Culture
The threads in the blanket of humanity are interwoven with each of our stories and cause us to reflect on the past and hope for the future. Where we have been gives us insight not only into the now, but the next. Culture is the vehicle that allows us to move our passions, insights and values forward from one generation of dancers to the next.
The Hip Hop story begins with African American and Latino youth and takes us back as early as the 1970’s where a miserable economy resulted in unemployment and consequently way too much time on the hands of young men living in the Bronx. It’s been said that if “the blues culture developed under the conditions of oppression, the hip-hop culture came from the lack of available employment.”
With clubs and discos shutting their doors and inner-city energy needing a serious outlet, parties sprang up in the only space available, the streets themselves. Innovative DJs plugged their mobile equipment into the city’s power source and pumped out a rhythmic mix of funk with a Caribbean influence, inspiring and birthing a whole new culture.
The Four Elements
While hip hop has ten elements in total, when we think historically about cultural impact, these are the foundational pieces that come to mind.
Nothing reveals the heart and soul of a dancer more than the individual battle cry resonating deep in the belly of a true Bboy. One of the rawest forms of self-expression, break dancing isn’t as much about right and wrong as it is about conveying a common dance language that is afforded to all through complex movements that require commitment, strength, training and passion.
Bboys and Bgirls find their inspiration through the innovative music style that is hip hop. DJ Kool Herc is consistently credited as the Founder of Hip Hop and his mastery at the turntables is recognized worldwide as foundational in the evolution of hip hop culture. Today, dancers continue to rely on rap, Hip-Hop, and computerized beats with distinctive beat drops, record scratches and beat matching to express themselves through dance.
If you’ve ever been to a jam, you know just how important the MC is to the flow and energy of the day. As Kool G Rap notes, “the master of ceremonies … means just keeping the party alive.” The MC, or mic controller, is truly a charismatic poet that orchestrates a jam by captivating and ultimately unifying the crowd.
While perceived as anti-establishment by some, graffiti plain and simply implies personal expression through artistic writing. Scholars argue that hip hop graffiti actually functioned as an alternative to gangs; with writers organizing themselves in crews, sparring with each other “through style and production as opposed to violence.” Just as there are dance crews promoting unity, there are writing crews doing the same. Thanks to the graffiti embedded into hip hop, artists continue to educate, unify and promote peace across demographic divides through the power of written expression.
Simply put, the Hip Hop culture enables each of us to uncover a sense of self, finding what makes us unique. When we do this, we define and strengthen what it means to be an inclusive community. Afrika Bambaataa said it best when he declared that Hip Hop … “is made from black, brown, yellow, red and white”.
You too are welcome to join the movement, one nation, under hip hop, with peace, unity, love and fun for all.
Polli Ring is a freelance blog writer specializing in Colorado based businesses and content.