What is Hip Hop? I know I’ve asked that question before, but during Hip Hop Appreciation Week, it’s good to revisit that topic. To be realistic, there is no real consensus or generally accepted answer to that question. For the most part, Hip Hop as a culture is stuck in a classification of hip-hop music. When people discus rap celebrity culture, they think they’re talking about Hip Hop Kulture, but they’re really talking about pop culture. Rap music is the popular trend of the day, right now, and has been for the past 25 years. A recent study by the University of London and Imperial College revealed that “its hip-hop that has made the biggest imprint on music in the US since 1960 (digitaltrends.com, 2015).” This particular study proved with research, something many True School Hiphoppas already knew. That is that Hip Hop was a “stylistic revolution in American pop music (digitaltrends.com, 2015).”
Still, that is just music and entertainment. Hip Hop as a culture was a revolution of thought for oppressed, underrepresented, and ignored voices. Hip Hop Kulture was a way for the voiceless to gain access to the financial security, creative freedom and respect others received from their entry into mainstream culture. Hip Hop Kulture as a social experiment or revolutionary exercise, was in many ways an overwhelming success. Hip Hop won! Hip Hop created an avenue to success that didn’t even exist prior to the 1970’s. Just think. Where would people like Jay-Z and 50 Cent be today, if not for Hip Hop Kulture?
Many of us would not be able to live the life we live today if not for the influence of Hip Hop. As an example, even people who are not Hip Hop, or identify themselves as Hiphoppas, still use words like ‘dissin’ or ‘dope’ in a Hip Hop context. I remember in the early 1990’s speaking to people trying to convince them that Hip Hop was a culture. Now, we’re so far past that, I find myself trying to convince Hip Hop fanatics that it’s not a religion. It may very well get to the point of a religion when all of the First Generation Hiphoppas are dead, and their memories can be mythologized properly, but until then we still have this brilliant culture that we collectively manifested.
Our culture has created jobs for people and billions of dollars in financial security for millions around the entire planet. People in countries around the World, can use Hip Hop Kulture to provide for their sustenance. Even semi-talented frauds like Lil B, can use rap music, an element of hip-hop, for their personal gain in substantial ways. That is the beauty of Hip Hop! We created a way out of financial depression for average people who had no special training outside of Hip Hop. Even those with special skill beyond rappers, there are deejays, graf artists, b-boys, videographers, fashion designers, marketers, educators , social workers, lawyers, retailers, and distributors who all benefit from hip-hop products and services too.
That is a great thing to remember when thinking about Hip Hop Appreciation Week. Hip Hop isn’t only successful in an empirically proven, musical history way, but also a practical financial way and a socio-cultural way across the Earth. In today’s math, that is success! Hip Hop won! So we appreciate that during Hip Hop Appreciation Week each year.
Finally, I would add that economically, Hip Hop Appreciation Week should be more commercial, intentionally, for all the same reasons that the 4th of July and Memorial Day and the Super Bowl are commercialized. Hip Hop Appreciation Week should be used as a time for Hiphoppas to intentionally patronize each other, to keep our capital circulating in our own circles. Freedom and success in today’s math are calculated in connection to financial independence. Hip Hop Appreciation Week should be used as a week, like ‘Small Business Week’, when we seek out and patronize Hip Hop (Hiphoppas) in respect to the ninth element, Entrepreneurialism.
Specifically beyond celebrations, there should be conventions to circulate Hip Hop collectibles and merchandise, Hip Hop Appreciation Week sales and special promotions as well. It should also be considered a time to make special Hip Hop inspired trips to other destinations or reminisce at home with close friends and binge watch classic Hip Hop material while partaking in your favorite indulgences. Therefore, the next level of success for Hip Hop to me is when you see Hip Hop Appreciation Week Sales advertised on TV.