Rappin’ Politics

Courtesy of IngSangHee

Hip Hop has become one of the most popular genres in the music industry.

Originating in the ghettos of South Bronx, in New York, hip hop first revolved around the DJ Koul Herc. DJ Koul Herc, known as the “grandfather” of DJing, invented the merry-go-round style of playing records. He discovered this styly by combining the tracks of two CDs on a turn table, he was able to elongate the beats that crowd enjoyed to dancing to. Precedent to Koul Hercs discovery, the dances would have ‘breaks’, creating the identity of “break dancers”. Through break dancing’s popularity, crews formed, establishing a reputation for South Bronx. From there the Hip Hop culture took off. There became four basic elements to Hip Hop: DJing, MCing, breakdancing and graffiti. As the culture popularized, both a mainstream and underground subculture formed.

The experiences of marginalization and exclusion that Black people felt in the US created a desire for respect and identity. The expression of racism, disunity, hardship and inequality through music, created the Hip Hop culture. Rap became a means of exposing power and wealth inequalities and a way of critiquing society’s standards.  Immigrant youth are especially attracted to Hip Hop because it is a culture that was formed out of oppression and a desire for self-recognition. It’s a niche that enables them to find who they are.

Unfortunately, Hip Hop has become so much a part of the main stream, that it has lost its authentic, politically activist appeal. Yet, Arizona controversial immigration law that enables the police to question anyone who looks as though there are in the country illegally has sparked Brookln MC, Talib Kweli to create a protest song “Papers Please”. His creation proves that hip-hop remain socially conscious. Other rap groups, such as Public Enemy, released a song “By the time I Get to Arizona” in 1991, that caught the mutual will behind a boycott of Arizona done in the early 1990s to oppose the states refusal to make Martin Luther King Jr. a holiday.

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