Hip Hop - So Much More Than An Art Form!
Posted on 04 August 2017
Hip Hop is now so more than music. The world of Hip Hop can refer to the music, clothing, lifestyle and even the style of dance. Hip hop street wear and culture have such an interesting and long background. But apart from being a familiar phrase what do we really know about hip hop culture? Is it an art? Is it a movement? Or is it a simply a phase that has lasted across generations? Keep reading to find out more!
What Is Hip Hop?
While it is commonly used to refer to music, hip hop is so much more than that. It’s a form of expression which has a range of distinct elements. These elements may have developed over time, but they are still symbols of a desire to make the disenfranchised heard. The popular elements of hip hop culture include:
- Graffiti art
- Beat boxing
- Hip hop wear
- African- American slang
The Development Of Hip Hop Culture
Believe it or not, hip hop has a very political history. You’ll notice that it’s very popular in the American music industry. This could, perhaps, be owed to the fact that it emerged amongst African American and Puerto Ricans in the South Bronx.
A way to unite
In the 1960’s the subculture that is hip hop materialized in the parties thrown by the Ghetto Brothers. They hosted events with live music on the streets in South Bronx, aiming to break down the barriers between the ethnic groups that were dominant in America.
A way to attract
The style developed with the actions of people such as DJ Kool Herc, a Jamaican immigrant, who attracted crowds by including Jamaican music into the breaks between his mixed samples of music records. His actions are considered to have been key to the development of DJing, pushing people to credit him as the ‘father’ of DJ.
The local youth developed their own dance technique and language, with hip hop icons such as Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool Herc being the reason for its popularity. The style of hip hop developed by taking elements of Jamaican and Puerto Rican music and dance and mixing them into the jazz and funk, local African American style that were popular before the 1970s.
Spreading from the Bronx
The commercial success experienced by gangsta rap only served to increase its influence and status in the 1980’s. From the Bronx it spread to the urban, and suburban, communities in the U.S.A and later the world. It was once again adapted with the popular styles from the 1990’s onwards, developing a myriad of attention and support as it expanded across the globe and adopted various art forms such as theater and film.
The Significance Of Hip Hop Culture
Hip Hop’s ability to adapt to the latest trends means that it’s new and old at the same time. However, as we said before it did emerge with a touch of political intent and thus is seen to be a critique of the American society.
It emerged as a way of uniting the minorities of America, increasing their status in the process, and developed into a call to action, for their rights, in the 1980’s. ‘Political hip hop’ is actually a sub-genre of hip hop, being used as a way to popularize a message and convincing the listener of a political view. Tupac was famous for his controversial lyrics and political undertone.
Rap was a response to the oppression experienced by the African Americans in America, a system that allowed them to communicate across America. The words in the music reflected the dismal political, social and economic reality America’s disenfranchised youth. It was a way for them to get their views across without censorship, as the media was monitored by the government and influenced by economic elites of the nation.
Hip Hop Street Wear
Hip Hop as a style began in the 1970’s. This development may have extended over the years however, the cultural impact and the overall ‘look’ remain. The popularity of the clothes and hair can be owed to the influence and breakthrough of the hip hop music in mainstream media.
So what does hip hop fashion consist of:
- Baggy shirts
The accessories included:
- Large eyeglasses
- Bucket hats, baseball hats
- Name plates
- Name belts
- Gold jewelry- heavy chains for men, large earrings for women
- At first the track suits worn by those involved in hip hop culture were brightly colored, with leather bomber jackets.
- In the 1980’s the style became a reflection of African fashion. Blousy pants, kufis, African chains and dreadlocks were common. The colors they wore were influenced by those that the Black Nationalists adopted; black, green and red.
- In the 1990’s, the hip hop icons began to wear baseball caps, neon clothing, over-sized pants and flannel shirts. Some even wore their clothes backwards!
- It’s interesting to note the influence of the mainstream media, with the development of hip hop fashion later developing into tighter clothes that were more ‘trendy’.
The BBC commented on hip hop streetwear, suggesting that it was a marker of the black identity. Due to their treatment the African- Americans became determined to express their national liberty through the own style, working hard to make sure that they were as ‘stylish’ or ‘dressy’ as possible.
In The End…
It’s clear that hip hop isn’t simply a phase that has lasted through generations. It’s actually a lot more powerful than that, for many it could signify the rise of the African- American minorities and Puerto Ricans in the U.S. They were determined to improve their status, and used the art of music and dance to unite themselves and make sure that their voices were heard.
The history and development of hip hop culture and its street wear is very interesting, and some ways heart wrenching. People from around the world wear streetwear that is synonymous with hip hop culture, but how many of them actually understand the significance of what they are wearing?