…And no I’m not talking about twerking!
When we think of the cultural influence that Hip Hop has on American society and even the World, we think mostly in terms of the elements; Emceein, Deejayin, Graffiti Art, Breakin etc. In fact, True Schoolers tend to think of Hip Hop Kulture solely in terms of the positive aspects added to the World. However, there are other side effects which the culture adds to American society besides positivity. Below is a list of just 8 of these side-effects, but there are many more. Some of these side-effects stem from long-dead American practices, but still may have been helped by Hip Hop to resurface in the American culture during the 80’s and 90’s. Many will rightfully see the negativity at the base of some of these impulses, but in the end, who’s to say? Like the book says, as above so below.
1. Cursing – Hip Hop made it popular to use profanity in regular speech. Now, even on-line news shows like the The Young Turks, casually drop “F-bombs” during the normal course of a segment.
2. Created the image/profession of drug dealer as rapper. It is almost a defined underground occupation tested by thousands since the mid 1990’s. The part-time, illicit drugs merchant, is also known to have mixtape projects selling on the same blocks he hustles on.
3. Elevation of the stripper culture. Even though Howard Stern in particular, played a major role in elevating the status of strippers, Hip Hop created the new profession of Video Vixen which thousands test each year since the 1990’s. Strip clubs were the birthplace of the phrase “makin it rain.” This ideology is well-known to mainstream society and emulated to the extent that you may find stripper poles in suburban homes used for “exercise”.
4. Smoking weed in public or letting it be known that one smokes herb. Before the 1990’s, the open hippie culture had long since faded away and weed smoking was in the closet throughout the 1980’s. Hip Hop brought weed smoking back to popularity.
5. Bootlegging and biting was popularized by street entrepreneurs who found newer ways to copy and distribute people’s content long before YouTube came out in 2005. Hustling music is a product of the mixtape game that Napster copied but iTunes perfected.
6. Confidence in all circumstances regardless of one’s own shortcomings. Though Hip Hop didn’t create the idea of “fake it til you make it,” the idea was re-branded and made popular in a new way.
7. Don’t give a fuck – this attitude stems from #6 but morphed into a full out disrespect mode. Tupac was legendary with this attitude. Now, many mainstreamers have embraced the concept.
8. Rawness – what started as “keeping it real” honesty, turned into being all-out flagrant, loud and in your face brazenness.
Though Hip Hop Kulture may not have invented these concepts, it definitely made them more popular at the turn of the century. In the new millennium, mainstream Americans have absorbed some of these traits to some degree or another and internalized them. Still, to end on a positive note, the following documentary speaks on those positives not discussed here, which is why I came up with this list. These are some of the aspects and effects of Hip Hop that we forget about when we look at the Frakenstein’s monster we’ve created in disbelief.
Excellent insights Brother Kurtiss! Hip Hop is no stranger to negativity and positivity. I’m sure we who study the Gospel would like to always think of Hip Hop in a positive light, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but the truth is that Hiphop has embraced the poor, the ignorant and the desperate without discrimination from its very beginning, and as a consequence we have had to accept the realities of a hard-knock life that lead many to behave with pure recklessness.
As I studied these insights, I was reminded of The First Overstanding verses 67-69 of the Gospel where we are taught that, “In many ways, Hip Hop is a continuation of the Hippie movement of the 1960s.” We are also given the warning, “However, we’ve now seen the errors of the Hippie movement and it is our responsibility today to go beyond such tragic events. Drugs overdose, murders and lawlessness simply DO NOT WORK toward our goals for freedom.”
I’m also reminded of the book Generations by Howe and Strauss in which they show that the 80s and 90s were similar to the roaring 20s. The bulk of first generation Hiphoppas are from what Howe and Strauss define as the Nomad Generation and that, “By virtue of this location in history, such generations tend to be remembered for their rising-adult years of hell-raising and for their midlife years of hands-on, get-it-done leadership.” Also that these Nomads, or in our case Hiphoppas of the 80s and 90s “have been cunning, hard-to-fool realists—taciturn warriors who prefer to meet problems and adversaries one-on-one.” Much like the previous Lost Generation (Nomad, born 1883–1900) who according to Howe “grew up amidst urban blight, unregulated drug use, child ‘sweat shops,’ and massive immigration. Their independent, streetwise attitude lent them a ‘bad kid’ reputation.” Sound familiar?
Well put. This is the type of in-depth discussion Hip Hop really needs. So often people dwell on the surface qualities or reactions caused by Hip Hop without trying to understand the underlying causes. Look forward to furthering the convo. I’ll catch up with you in the Gospel of Hip Hop group on FB. Peace and much respect.