Hip hop is more than just a type of music genre; it is a culture that people live by. Hip hop has many elements such as rap and b-boying. There are many factors that helped make hip hop a worldwide phenomenon and play a role in its foundation.
I will be discussing how these factors played a role in bringing hip hop up and making it successful. The main factors that influenced hip hop is the socio-political forces, worldview, and past Afro-American music. Afro-American music has many elements that have influenced hip hop. One element is jazz. There are two. There are two types of jazz, classical jazz and jazz-ragtime.
Classical jazz came from New Orleans and is usually played with a cornet, clarinet, trombone, bass, guitar, and piano or drums. Jazz ragtime is improvisation and is not planned ahead. Spanish and Latin America have influences on jazz. There are Spanish rhythms within jazz.
Another genre of jazz is jazz-funk. Which incorporates funk music but with jazz rhythms and instruments. Funk was also a huge influence on hip hop. Funk was popular for its drum beats and funky rhythms. Hip hop mainly adopted the drum beats that everyone knows and loves. One important social factor is the conditions that blacks had to live in which helped influence rap.
An expressway was being built right through the Bronx where most poor black and Puerto Rican families lived. This forced them to have to move to different locations that were in fact even worse. When they moved they were preyed on by the white youth. They would beat them up and run street battles (Chang 12).
When the expressway was being built it forced property owners to sell to slumlords at low prices (Keyes 228). The slumlords did not keep the buildings in good condition in fact they did not care much for the condition of the buildings. When blacks were living in the buildings they had to deal with the horrible rodent infested conditions. Many slumlords even tried to hire people to destroy the buildings in hopes of receiving insurance payoffs.
As crime escalated and neighborhoods became more dangerous the youth felt the need to form gangs in order to protect their properties and neighborhood. The forming of gangs eventually led to fierce rivalries and ironically made crime rates higher. Things such as rape and murder began to occur more often. Eventually services in the Bronx were withdrawn such as police departments and fire stations.
Since there were no more fire stations over 43,000 housing units were destroyed. These social conditions were the main focus of many rappers. Raps verbal style came from the streets and its conditions. It is not grammatically incorrect just a different use of words like bad, phat, and def (Keyes 231). Another important socio-political factor is the black arts movement. The black arts movement is crucial in their anger, rage, and cultural expression.
The L. A rebellions and riots of the 60’s reflects the rage the black community felt (Gladney 292). Baraka’s “Black Art” establishes a link between social frustration and its influences upon nature. Baraka and many other influences set a precedent in terms of structure and musicality in rap and also normalized Black English in the literary world. When commercialization of rap began it undermined the importance of African traditions within rap. It is more concerned with humor and mockery rather than its message.
One important influence on hip hops foundation is Dj Kool Herc. Kool herc was from the Caribbean but moved to New York and found his passing in being a Dj. When he and his family were forced to move because of a fire he found himself in an apartment building where shows were played. He went to the shows almost every time and fell in love with the music more and more. He began to pursue his dreams of being a Dj and used his neighbors and father’s equipment. When he began to get better and better he played at a back to school party that got his name out there and known.
While playing at parties he began to study the dancers and when they would dance. He noticed they danced when the song came to the drum beats. He then invented the “merry go round” which would play the best drum beats of a song over and over again for a longer period of time for the dancers to dance to. He also pioneered things such as scratching discs and other Dj skills. He gave the name bboy, break boy, to the dancers because of the music they danced to. He also pioneered the environment in which hip hop would take place.
For example he always made sure that where ever he played it was a safe and non-dangerous place. He didn’t want any beef just everyone to enjoy the music, dance, and show off their best moves. Another part of hip hops foundations is the hip hop generation. Chang and Kitwana have their differences in who they think the hip hop generation is.
Kitwana believes that the hip hop generations is those who were born within 1965 to 1984. Chang believes that Kitwana is wrong for having such a narrow window because he excludes those who were born before those years and were major pioneers to bring hip hop to the light. Chang believes the hip hop generations is whoever is down with it. Kitwana also says that hip hop is exclusive to only blacks but Chang believes u can’t exclude people because they are not black.
There have been many pioneers such as dj kool herc and Puerto Ricans who are not African American that contributed to hip hop. Kitwana also states that the hip hop generation are those who were born into socio-political forces, post-segregation, and global economics. The worldview is another important factor of how hip hop came to the world and how people viewed it. Commercialization and the media bombarded people with what they perceived hip hop to be. What they showed to the world wasn’t what hip hop really was. Mainstream hip hop is more concerned with fame and wealth.
On the other hand real hip hop strive to relay a message through their music and keep the black aesthetic within their lyrics. Corporations helped rap music succeed through globalization. Transitional corporations of the 70’s became mega corporations of the 80’s and beyond. The media representation of blacks gave hip hop a bad reputation. Most of the media focused on the urban street scene and only filmed blacks that were doing drugs and crimes when really whites were doing more and worse drugs.
The media always found a way to humanize the crimes that whites did. In conclusion many socio-political forces such as the black arts movement, the expressway, and living conditions are a part of hip hops origins. The media and corporations helped bring hip hop to the world in both good and bad ways. Dj kool herc is an important pioneer of hip hop and its foundation. Early African American music also influenced hip hop with its funky music and rhythm. All in all hip hop is what it is today do to past influences and socio-political forces.
Chang, Jeff. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-hop Generation. New York: St. Martin’s, 2005.
Print. Kitwana, Bakari. The Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture. New York: Basic Civitas, 2002. Print.
Keyes, Cheryl L. “At the Crossroads: Rap Music and Its African Nexus. ” Ethnomusicology40. 2 (1996): 223-48. JSTOR.
Web. 10 Mar. 2014. .