Culture has Influenced the World
How African American Culture has Influence the World
It started as a cultural shock wave during the 1970s after its emergence in the African-American communities in the Bronx, a poverty stricken area in New York during that time. While hip hop culture is now an international phenomenon, it was once a small subculture of the African Americans that manifested a clearer picture of the life conditions, feelings and aspirations of the Black Americans. Most people attributed hip hop to rapping, a genre of music that was once unique to the black American youths, however, rap is only a part of the hip hop culture. Hip hop is more than just a music genre, rather, it is a culture and a lifestyle: a reflection of the African American life, their race, arts, beliefs, politics, customs, as well as their inner city life. It is thought that the hip hop culture during the 1970s was a mere declaration of the African American’s sense of a fad and that it will soon come to pass, however, the popularity if the culture today speaks of the fact that is more widespread as ever.
Origins of the Culture
The hip hop culture was uniquely initiated during the proliferation of block parties sometime during the 1970s in the Bronx, where the communities are largely composed of Black American families. The Bronx is said to be one among the poorest and neglected community in New York during that time, but it was claimed to be the birthplace of rap music and hip hop culture (Gonzalez, 2007). When Clive Campbell arrived in New York, he resided in Bronx and brought with him the Jamaican music that inspired the development of the rap genre of music. Clive Campbell was a Jamaican DJ and was popularly known as Kool Herc (Devos, 2007), he introduced the reggae, a popular music in Jamaica but would later observe that the black New Yorkers were reluctant to dance along the tune. To keep the interest of the audience, he altered the reggae and came up with the type of music that adds more excitement and appeal. The style that was popularized by Kool Herc will be known as the rap music, the kind of music that would drive the hip hop culture into popularity. Talks about the early development of hip-hop provides that the culture started with four basic features; first is the rap which is the vocal component, second is the act of Deejaying and it involves the playing and technical handling of records, third is graffiti referring o aerosol art and the fourth is the break dancing (Encyclopedia). Somehow, despite being popularized by the young generation during that period, it is acknowledged as a manifestation of the real life conditions and experiences of the black people in the United States. Originally, the rap music and hip hop culture is said to have passed through several stages, from being a Jamaican music that has found its evolution in a first-floor community room in the West Bronx.
Hip hop has come to include not only the rap music, but it also speaks of the language, tradition, different beliefs as well as fashion of the African Americans. It is a communicative culture that appeared amidst the Bronx and New York City’s economic crisis, and it became a means through which the African American youths communicate their cultural, social, and technological stories that originated from their cultural backgrounds and surroundings (Encyclopedia). It was a known lifestyle that is a unique representation of the culture of the black Americans and it while was originally understood to refer to rap music, it has come to encompass other aspects of the Black American life. It was once used to tell stories about whiteness and blackness; it is to be noted, that the Africans before they were abducted from their native lands, were highly creative and artistic people. As a group of people who were often the subject of oppression and prejudice, they have found a way to express themselves beautifully though the hip hop culture.
The hip hop originated from the music that was created to provide an alternative life for the young African American, and it is interesting how people from all over the world embraced and accepted it. The rap music from which the development of hip hop culture originated has been based on the reggae which is a Jamaican style of music. Both genres had been under the attack of critiques, but have flourished despite such circumstances. Hip hop culture has first evolved from being a mere genre of music to become a scapegoat (Blanchard) system through which the African Americans expressed their thoughts, fashion, beliefs and even their hopes of being able to get over their oppressed conditions. Hip hop had been threatened to lose its appeal by several views describing it as a form of culture that degrades the values and sense of well being of the youth, however it has survived through all the criticism as it strived to adapt and suit the likings even the population of non-hip hoppers.
The commercialization of rap music brought about the destruction of the radio stations that were so popular during the 1970s. The global acceptance of the rap music and hip-hop culture attracted commercialization and “by the I 980s, hip-hop had become a business and rap music was a valuable commodity” (Blanchard, 1999). Big businesses have used the popularity of the hip hop culture to promote their own business, hence, in contrast to the initial resistance against hip hop, it is now a culture that is widely accepted.
Impact and Influence
While it was once thought to be a mere representation of the subculture of the African American New Yorker, hip hop has come a long way to greatly influence cultures around the world. The hip hop culture has invaded the popular culture in an exceptional unparalleled manner, in that it is able to unite different cultures because of its appeal to different populations. It was revealed in recent research that about 75% of hip hop patronizers are non-blacks (Reese, 2000). For instance, one can say that it is able to cross not only the racial barriers in American, but also national ones as can be found in among the youths of Asian societies who are patronizers of the hip hop culture.
One way by which the rap music and hip hop culture influenced others is through the use of language. It is not uncommon to hear Asian hip hoppers to rap and use the accent of the African American. What made hip hop very acceptable to all is that it, while it was initially originated from among the African Americans, it allows itself to be embraced by other people irrespective of culture, race or ethnicity. The street language that is promoted by hip hoppers were easily adapted by others despite their native language.
Another reason why the hip hop culture is able to rise above racial and national barriers is because of the fashion sense of the hip hoppers. As an example, the hip hop fashion of the 1990s was the baggy pants, baseball caps worn backwards, oversized rugby or polo shirts and costly tennis shoes (Reese, 2000). Interestingly, the hip hop fashion has penetrated the boundaries of almost every culture from American to Latinos as well as the Asians.
Struggle for Acceptance
The struggle for acceptance of hip-hop is a picture of the struggle of the African Americans to be fully and equally accepted in the American society. Rap and hip hop culture is created in a street fashion manner by its originators, and they struggled to have their creation accepted and recognized by the recognized music and entertainment businesses. In addition to being initially snubbed by the society, the young culture was also frowned upon by concerned parents and adults who thought of it as an unacceptable and undesirable for the youths. During the early days of the rap music and proliferation of hip hop fashion and culture, most adults feared that it is a threat to their children. As a form of resistance, they refused to recognize the legitimacy of the emerging culture. But while many parents cautioned their children from embracing the culture, the young people were even more bound to promote and immerse themselves in this popular culture. And while rap almost had a minimal share in the music world, it became popular when more violent and explosive raps were created, a phenomenon that aroused the interest of the music industry on the possible business potentials of the hip hop culture. Since then, the hip hop culture did not only become widespread among the youth, but it has generated a handsome profit for the industries that invested in it.
Starting from being a Jamaican inspired music, hip hop has gone through several phases before becoming a widely popular culture that it is now today. Accordingly, one of the reasons of its appeal is the ability of its rap music to convey the message of its rapper or author to the audience. The author can freely express themselves in a manner that directly or indirectly convey their feelings, thoughts and aspirations. While it uses rap to literally communicate subjects from which the listener can easily identify, hip-hop is more than just a form of music. It is a popular culture and it greatly appeals to the younger generation, even to those who do belong to the middle or upper class families. There is no concrete reason why young people are so attracted to hip hop, but one thing is for sure, hip hop has evolved and its influence is so great that it has infiltrated the core of almost every culture in the world.
Blanchard, B., 1999. The Social Significance of Rap & Hip-Hop Culture. Ethics of Development in a Global Environment. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/class/e297c/poverty_prejudice/mediarace/socialsignificance.htm
Devos, J., 2007. The Evolution of Hip-Hop Culture. Retrieved from http://vibeserver.net/scripties/evolution%20of%20hiphop%20culture.pdf
Encyclopedia of African American History: 5-Volume Set. Hip Hop. Oxford University Press.
Gonzalez, D. 2007. Will Gentrification Spoil the birthplace of Hip-Hop? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/21/nyregion/21citywide.html?_r=0
Reese, R., 2000. From the Fringe: The Hip Hop Culture and Ethic Relations. Popular Culture. 11(2)