What is hip hop? What are some of the common stereotypes
and generalizations by which hip hop is conceived? Is it a music that is for only one group of people? Does hip hop promote
violence and negativity? Many people claim that it is a disgraceful, meaningless din. Antagonists often claim that hip hop
is offensive to many groups of people. I will agree that unfortunately these are sometimes true with certain varieties of
The fact is that so many artists out there are in the
industry simply for the love. These artists are not sellouts that are only in the industry for the money and fame. Also, there
are many artists out there in the hip hop world that promote positivity. As time goes on hip hop culture is integrating many
different racial and ethnic groups. It is now socially acceptable for people of all races to enjoy the many aspects of hip
Hip hop was spurred in the late 70s. The man credited
as being the first rapper ever, DJ Afrika Bambataa, was the first to talk to his music. His unorthodox style quickly became
very popular in the disco and funk clubs. For the lack of a better word, rap was the term given to the music. As more and
more rappers came about, the term MC, or Master of Ceremonies, was associated with rappers.
Break dancing actually originated a few years prior
to DJ Afrika Bambataa. Break dancers (B-Boys and B-Girls), would dance during the breaks in the music while steady beats were
played. Eventually rap and break dancing united and hip hop began.
The area in which hip hop first became a popular music
was the Bronx. The Bronx is often labeled as the birthplace of hip hop. In its early stages hip hop was mostly a black and
hispanic thing. As hip hop has evolved over the past 20 some odd years its fan base has dramatically broadened. Not only has
its area of influence broadened, but the race and ethnicities of hip hop lovers have also.
If you go to a hip hop concert nowadays you will almost
always see a mixture of races. Groups such as A Tribe Called Quest, and The Roots welcome this ethnic mixing in their music.
On the contrary, most gangster rappers do not promote this mixture. They preach about racial tension, therefore further distancing
the posibility of tranquility between races. These negative gangster rappers are the problem with hip hop. Dont get me wrong;
there is nothing wrong with telling about the injustices and harsh conditons of living in the city, but often it is taken
The best hip hop out there is whats called underground.
Most rappers are underground at first. Unfortunately underground hip hop is not extremely prosperous. Mainstream artists differ
from underground rappers because they are exposed to all of the fame and luxuries provided by society. Many underground rappers
become frustrated because of the lack of exposure. Too many of the most famous rappers cop out by making music that caters
to the mainstream American consumers. All of a sudden they become tough, hard knock thugs; thus the name gangster rappers.
This is the image that sells. Gangster rappers lyrics lack substance and meaning. The theme of their music becomes repetitive.
All of their songs deal with and only with the following elements: sex, drugs, violence and racism.
Mos Def and Talib Kweli are two very talented rappers
who have stayed true to their underground roots while gaining stardom in the hip hop world. Their insightful lyrics reflect
their intelligence. Their stories reflect everything from the day to day troubles of living in NYC to the troubled state of
the world today. They rap about astronomy and the ancient faiths of Christianity and Islam. The beats they use also show the
heavy influence that jazz has had on hip hop. They tend to not use hard, loud, monotonous beats.
Another group that shows its recognition for jazz is
The Roots. Instead of a DJ who plays records, The Roots have a guitar player and a drummer. I can tell you from experience
that having a drummer and a guitar player truely enhances their live performances.
The sudden sensation of white and asian rappers is concrete
evidence that hip hop is rapidly integrating people of all races. Eminem, a white rapper from Detroit, has taken hip hop by
storm. His hit single My Name Is has become extremely popular worldwide. The Mountain Brothers are a fairly recent group of
asian rappers from Philadelphia. In my opinion they have the potential to become one of the best groups in hip hop. Im sure
that eventually they will hit the bigtime. I only hope that they will stay true to their roots and not sellout to the temptations
of the music industry like many talented hip hop groups before them.