Who Does Hip-Hop Belong To?

Sometimes the things that are most dear to us belongs to someone else. Sometimes the person you love the most belongs with someone else. Sometimes you let what you love go and t never returns. Sometimes you know you are going to lose something or someone you love too soon, and it doesn’t seem fair.

Hip-hop is something I love dearly that I know all too well belongs to someone else. It belongs to a certain kind of culture that is used to other cultures copying them and pretending it belongs to them. Those it belongs to feels a resentment that burns much hotter than another “culture” with a much, much lighter skin tone will ever know. Hip-hop is something that does not belong to me but it is something I am allowed to have in my life nonetheless.

That is what a lot of Caucasians, especially those who live in the Northwest Hemisphere and he UK forget and take for granted. Some have been around enough to know this and do not care to teach this to the younger generations. I am not one of those people.

Hip-hop is an independent, urban movement that began in 1970’s Bronx, New York City. It changed the definition of the term “emceeing”. Emceeing technically means “the master of ceremonies”. It was derived in the 1600’s and it is describing the person who is an official that presided over royal ceremonies. According to wiki, the first records of emceeing emerged from America in the 1930’s. “MC” means “master of ceremonies.

MCing thrived beyond the Bronx. It made its way, district by district, across the urban developments of New York City. The pioneers and inventers of hip-hop were African American. Hip hop is known throughout the scene as “urban poetry”. It became an outlet for African Americans to express themselves in a way that belonged to them and them only. After years of Caucasians ripping artistic mediums out of black communities they way they did with rock and roll. This type of music was supposed to be for the black communities. It was invented to help heal the wounds of oppression African Americans were forced to deal endure not just when slavery was legal, but from the wounds brought forth by the civil rights movement.

Hip-hop took root during urban house parties, BBQ’s, and block parties in the Bronx. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, it became more mainstream in the 198’s and 1990’s. It is where rap was born. Both are a music style that blends instrumental music with rhythmic and or rhyming speech. For example, “gangster rap” is not the same as hip-hop. Hip-hop is lyrical and does not concentrate on the African-American men who invented it, or does it concentrate on violence, drugs or misogyny against black women.

Hip-hop contains the following four elements: deejaying (or turntabling), rhyming, graffiti (also known as “graf”), and break dancing or “B-boying”, which is the dancing that is linked to hip-hop music.

The first popular DJ was Clive Campbell, aka DJ Kool Herc, and an 18-year-old Jamaican immigrant. With his two record turntables, Campbell would manipulate the oldest and newest vinyl records he owned on those turntables so that the two separate records melded together and created a new sound that no one had heard before. Other DJ masters included Grand Wizard Theodore, Africa Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash. They stretched the break beat by “scratching” it while both records played, which was invented by Grandmaster Flash.

From these urban house parties, BBQ’s and block parties also came hip-hop dancing, the improvisational art form that brought us break dancing and B-boying. This also created hip-hop B-boy battles. B-boys would wear different color handkerchiefs on their jeans to let people know they were a B-boy. Improved B-boy battles would happen all around New York City, thanks to the invention of the boombox, and is something that has become a tradition to this day.

George Clinton and Isaac Hayes contributed their Jamaican rhythmic speech known as “toasting”.

The first mainstream hip-hop hit was “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang in 1979. Since then, hip-hop has been an outlet for African Americans and black artists around the world in general. It belongs to them, no matter how many white MC’s make their breakthroughs. It is a privilege to listen to and their form of therapy. Hip-hop has saved and nourished countless black lives. It matters.

(ps: I can rap. karaoke, but it still counts!)

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