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Hip-Hop is perhaps the form of music that has attracted the most controversy. Many people have blamed hip-hop for a number of societal issues like violence, promiscuity, bad language, etc. Whether or not these people are right in blaming hip-hop for these societal problems is still a matter of heated debates among interested parties.
Hip-hop refers to a form of music that is a part of popular music, and that is mainly comprised of deejaying and emceeing. It is associated with other aspects and forms of music that some people view as standalone aspects of popular culture, while others view them as integral aspects of hip-hop.
These aspects are discussed in the “creations of hip-hop” section. This paper is a detailed description of hip-hop music that also gives a sociological analysis of the same.
Creations of hip-hop
The most important creation of hip-hop music is, perhaps, rap music. Rap music refers to a form of hip-hop music in which artists sing by talking poetically and rhythmically. It has become so common that some people view it as a popular culture genre by itself while in fact it is a creation of hip-hop music. Other creations of hip-hop are the components of the hip-hop lifestyle.
These include the hip-hop lingo, the hip-hop dress code, graffiti, and breakdancing. The lingo has been the main source of public backlash at hip-hop. For instance, in the year 2007, Don Imus, a radio host, referred to a women’s basketball team as “some nappy headed hos” (Sanneh, 2007, p. 1).
This not only led to him losing his job, but it also led to a spirited discussion of the inappropriateness of hip-hop language in public places. The genre of hip-hop has therefore earned an unmatched global reputation for promotion of crime, misdemeanors, and the promotion of the use of bad language. Among the misdemeanors is graffiti, which is illegal in many countries.
History of hip-hop
Hip-hop started in Bronx, a New York City borough, when a Jamaican DJ started the deejaying and rapping. The DJ’s name was Kool Herc. Rap is actually a product of the integration of different cultures, which got its popularity after the invention of the hip-hop art of deejaying. It is an integral part of the ancient culture and oral tradition of Africans (Adaso, 2012, p. 1).
Kool’s deejaying style was composed of the reciting of rhymes over instrumentals. He was invited in house parties during which he would use in-house references while rapping with the microphone. Artists in Manhattan and Brooklyn copied this style of entertaining people in house parties, and eventually Herc and other DJs spread hip-hop messages in towns and won many followers.
Hip-hop had humble beginnings. At first, as evidenced in the discussion above, hip-hop comprised of live raps accompanied by instrumentals. This implies that hip-hop artists were not recording songs at that time.
However, with time, artists started recording songs, hip-hop became more popular, and its commercial potential was seen. The earliest rap songs that were recorded include “King Tim III (Personality Jock) by Fatback Band and Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang” (Adaso, 2012, p. 1).
Rapper’s Delight reached number 36 on the charts, which was a big achievement in the 1970’s, and therefore it demonstrated the ability of hip-hop music to draw commercial appeal. Up-to-date hip-hop is still evolving. The good thing about hip-hop is that it can be merged with other genres and styles to make it more appealing.
Contemporary hip-hop has largely borrowed from Jazz, soul, live instrumentations, and other music resources to make it more eclectic. Kanye West is currently championing a movement known as the soulful rap movement. This combines aspects of soul music with rap music, which has served to enrich rap music (Adaso, 2012, p. 1).
Socio-cultural influences of hip-hop music
Hip-hop has had many influences on the society. Most of these influences are on the social aspect of societal life. A number of unacceptable behaviors in the society have been encouraged by hip-hop leading to a conflict between the ambassadors of hip-hop and the ambassadors of good behavior in the society. One aspect of hip-hop that has attracted substantial controversy, and which has led to various social effects is graffiti.
Hip-hop fans tend to adore graffiti, which is a socially unacceptable behavior. This has led to untidy public places and even offensive writings in public places. In fact, there was so much graffiti in the U.S. during the growth of hip-hop that the government had to illegalize the art of graffiti (Codrington, 2006).
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Hip-hop has encouraged social activism. After the birth of hip-hop in South Bronx, hip-hop artists targeted the poor and urban youth with their messages. They became the voice of the voiceless by singing about slums (ghettos) and even mentored rappers from the ghettos who ghetto youth greatly appreciated.
One legendary rapper Chuck D, who was a member of a group called Public Enemy once called the hip hop music genre “the CNN of the Ghetto” (Muhammad, 2008, p. 1). This group also started rapping about the history of Afro-Americans and the plight of black people in the U.S., which attracted youth of virtually all races into social activism and consciousness.
Contemporary rappers are borrowing from these hip-hop legends and rapping about the issues that are affecting the youth in the modern society. This has made them darlings to the youth who have become involved in contemporary social activism due to the political and social commentaries that the hip-hop artists sing.
“This is something that you might not know by looking at many of the controlled news channels which are much more likely to report a hip-hop artist’s run in with law enforcement than their philanthropic deeds and service” (Muhammad, 2008, p. 1). In light of this, politicians are increasingly endorsing the hip-hop lifestyle in order to get support from the youth (Forman, 2010).
Hip-hop has been blamed for the use of bad language in the society. The hip-hop lingo has been quite influential affecting people of all age groups. In the discussion above, it has been stated how a radio host lost his job after referring to basketball players as ho’s. Ho’s is a hip-hop lingo for a prostitute. The hip-hop language has adversely affected the youth in particular.
The uses of offensive language like the aforementioned ho, bitch, and the like, is commonplace in the society courtesy of hip-hop influence. The youth associate the use of such language with sophistication, and thus the language has adversely affected the society.
In the contemporary society one can listen to a conversation between two young people and leave thinking that the two are angry at each other yet it is just normal conversation. It has reached a point where other leaders like political leaders who associate with hip-hop artists are also associated with the hip-hop lifestyle (Stelter, 2011, p. 1).
Hip-hop has also been of great influence on the rates of crime in the contemporary society. Rap and hip-hop artists are considered the best if they were once imprisoned. This is the reason behind such labels like Konvict Muzik owned by Akon. It is common to hear the sound of gunshots in rap music.
The lyrics of many rap songs are also full of instances in which the artists praise violence and openly advocate for revenge and vendettas. By so doing, opponents of hip-hop music consider the genre to be recruiting the youth to crime and encouraging criminal behavior in the society.
Hip-hop artists, on several occasions, have been imprisoned for possession of illegal firearms. This information is normally in the public domain and thus youth who adore such artists would be delighted to own illegal firearms like their hip-hop celebrities. This has led to substantial increase in criminal activities.
Initially men dominated hip-hop, which, together with the promotion of violence, irresponsible behavior, and Ebonics made hip-hop a sexist genre. The raps soon became rants about how undeserving women were. Some artists would even rap about their girlfriends calling them unprintable names, and telling of how undeserving they were. In fact, the integration of love expression in hip-hop is a recent phenomenon.
Up to this date, rap artists still sing negatively about members of the opposite sex, with some men even ridiculing their fellow female rappers. In effect, hip-hop has been a sexist genre and it has negatively affected the society since the youth look up to these artists. The youth are therefore likely to be sexists like their celebrities leading to a society that does not appreciate gender diversity.
Hip-hop has also had an effect on the youth’s valuing of materialism. Rap and other hip-hop videos are normally made with flashy cars, jewelry, and even cash money, which the artists brag about in their songs. This is bound to have an effect on how the viewers of such videos value materialism.
Hip-hop has also had an effect on how people dress. It is common to see young people in sagging trousers, which is a trademark for most hip-hop artists. Youngsters are also sporting more jewelry and tattoos courtesy of hip-hop influence (Ogbar, 2009). The dress code of baggy jeans is also common among the youth due to the influence that hip-hop has had on them. This is because many hip-hop artists wear baggy jeans.
Just like any other invention, hip-hop has been innovated with time leading to a more perfected genre. What started out as a combination of instrumentals and rap in Bronx is now a multibillion-dollar industry that has made many youth rich. The creations of hip-hop are also very much alive today with youth in almost all corners of the world engaging in graffiti, practicing breakdancing, and producing rap songs.
The most commendable influence of hip-hop is perhaps its socio-cultural influence, which many have regarded as negative.
Hip-hop has influenced the way a large faction of the youth world-over talk, the way they dress, the way they treat the opposite sex, their involvement in social activism, their behavior in relation to criminality and even the way the youth value wealth. Hip-hop can therefore be regarded as the invention that has had the greatest influence on the youth.
Adaso, H. (2012). A Brief History of Hip-Hop and Rap. Web.
Codrington, R. (2006). In the Beginning: Hip Hop’s Early Influences. OUPBlog. Web.
Forman, M. (2010). Conscious Hip-hop, Change, and the Obama Era. American Studies Journal, 54(3), 1433-5239.
Muhammad, A. (2008). Hip Hop: The voice of youth and social activism. Web.
Ogbar, J. (2009). Hip-Hop Revolution: The Culture and Politics of Rap. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
Sanneh, K. (2007). Don’t Blame Hip-Hop. The New York Times. Web.
Stelter, B. (2011). Fox News Site Calls Obama Party a ‘Hip-Hop BBQ’. The New York Times. Web.