Cultural Communications

Culture: Hip-Hop

The culture of hip-hop was founded in the early 1970s. Its place of origin is the Bronx, New York. The hip-hop culture is integrated into race. The development of the culture was primarily triggered by the rapid changes in the economy as well as the postindustrial changes that had adverse effects on society. Communities in the inner cities were frustrated mainly by an economic shift towards outsourcing from overseas markets as a result of the emergence of the service economy (PQ). The hip-hop culture emerged from a racial and social disintegrated environment whose inceptions were mainly diverse young people of Latino and African-American origin.

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In the Bronx, these communities existed as counterparts whose diversity led to varying contributions to the current style of hip-hop ranging from rap, DJ-ing, MC-ing and Beatboxing. These three components form the fundamental aspects of hip-hop culture. These components have been choreography independently, yet function concurrently to grow and develop the culture of hip-hop (Peterson). The elements have branched out to accommodate their market products, artisans and audiences. In South and West Bronx, the aspects intersected to give rise to the hip-hop culture, a revolutionary tool in most communities in America today. Today, hip-hop and rap are interchangeably used to refer to the same culture, even though hip-hop is a broader aspect that incorporates other genres such as RnB. Different styles in the hip-hop culture are generally used to categorize the founding communities; for instance, rap music is widely associated with the black community.

One aspect of hip-hop culture is DJ-ing, which involves turntable manipulation using technical skills. The transformation achieved through DJ-ing requires a deliberate action to produce full-blown music instrumental from a platform of pure music (Frangipani). The process generates an array of sounds from sonic cuts to scratches to samples to manipulated tones. The samples consist of other people’s music which is then shortened and integrated. In this case, the person doing the action of DJ-ing is referred to as deejay. Two turntables are used simultaneously during the DJ-ing process. A connection is made to an amplifier, a DJ mixer, speakers together with other additional electronic music components. Some of the most notable deejays in the hip-hop culture include Grandmaster Flash, Dj Premier, Dj Jazzy Jeff, and Dj Esco.

MC-ing also forms an essential aspect of hip-hop culture. In hip-hop culture, the MC plays the role of verbal arbiter. In the early days, an MC was tangentially referred to as the hype-man. Initially, their role was limited to hyping the DJs (Pickles). However, in recent times, MCs have graduated and are at the forefront of the hip-hop culture. Rap music purveyors, among others, are the MCs whose role is to keep the audience entertained and engaged in the action. Their role is to rhyme words to go along with the DJ-ing instrumentals and beats to produce an entertaining musical form.

Beatboxing, another aspect of hip-hop culture was popularized in the 1780s. It is considered as a cultural percussion of the voice in rap. Beatboxing involves the use of the mouth to create melodies and beats. The art was derived from drum machine mimicry referred to as beatboxes. Beatboxing is part of production in hip-hop because it entails the generation of hits (Pickles). It was highly popular in the 80s and 90s depicted by artists such as Darren, the human beatbox. However, in recent times the practice of beatboxing has gradually declined with its performance largely reduced to underground music.

Artifact: Graffiti

As an artifact, graffiti is one of the most significant components of hip-hop culture. It is considered to be a part of the urban culture whose roots can be traced to the 1950s. The art of graffiti was earnestly developed in the 1960s before being integrated with the hip-hop culture during the 1970s, which saw it flourish. The craft began as a tagging method between gangs. In the 1970s, the New York subways provided a platform for graffiti artists to grow, causing a widespread (PQ). The art was later moved to the streets of New York with several walls serving as platforms for artists. Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York endorsed the move to use walls for graffiti as opposed to trains.

The art of graffiti was first witnessed as a marked signature as tags as well as quick paints using sprays on subways. The style evolved to incorporate the use of color effects and calligraphy. In most urban areas, graffiti was used to define aesthetics through artistic expressions. Other hip-hop groups used the art to create awareness concerning their content like the Black Spades (Peterson). The art of graffiti later evolved to mural paintings by artists such as Lee Quinones. Graffiti art was spreading through TV programs and written books. In a short time, it became mainstream. The art of graffiti has been imitated in other parts of the world such as Japan, South America and Europe.

In hip-hop culture, graffiti is primarily used as a creative way of expression. It is used as a written representation of the other aspects of the hip-hop culture such as DJ-ing, Mc-ing and B-boying (Blanchard). More often than not, graffiti artists play the same roles as DJs, emcees and Beatboxers due to the intertwined aspect of these elements.

Therefore, the aspect of incorporating graffiti in hip-hop culture is vital because it offers a visual inspiration for young minds and artists. As such, it helps in culturing creativity and expression in communities. It is a representation of what inspires the most prominent hip-hop artists. It serves as a reminder of what the hip-hop culture is about; free will. As an art, it remains part of the culture uniting artists under one community as they work together to spread and create awareness concerning what hip-hop stands for. Also, it provides an avenue through which social issues such as oppression can be advocated against through a visual representation that educates society as a whole.

Significance and controversies

This study focuses on hip-hop culture, its components and artifact. It is essential to identify with and understand the hip-hop culture due to its widespread and influence in society. Hip-hop has become a popular culture invading various cultures across the world. The hip-hop culture serves a crucial role in society, providing a voice for minorities and underrepresented groups (PQ). Through hip-hop culture, people are educated on current and critical issues that affect our community. Its significance cannot be undermined because it creates jobs for thousands of youths around the world. Famous artists such as Sean “Puffy” Combs and Will Smith have risen to stardom playing a leadership role in society through the hip-hop culture.

Graffiti as a cultural aspect and artifact of hip-hop plays a significant role for young people to express their views and to educate the community on social issues. More than ever, people around the world have embraced the art of graffiti developing murals as well as increasing scenery esthetics values of urban areas (Pickles). Therefore, the importance of graffiti and the hip-hop culture cannot be undermined and labeled a form of vandalism. Its use as an artifact should be embraced as an art form that trains precision and skills. Graffiti and hip-hop as a culture should be studied and taught in schools to allow for diversification of thought and ideas. The hip-hop culture is an expression of freedom and free will.

On the other hand, hip-hop culture continues to face huge controversies. The American media paints hip-hop as a culture that promotes violence following the rivalry witnessed between the East Coast and the West Coast in the last few years (Peterson). Hip-hop is continuously associated with youth violence trends. Critics point out that violent lyrics used in rap music undermines the core values of American society.

Graffiti, as an artifact of hip-hop, also continues to face its share of controversies. The art has been reduced to a mere form of vandalism, according to critics. The art of graffiti is associated with crime, violence and gangs. It is villainized as a radical means of expression that seeks to distort the societal order (PQ). Otherwise, it is a powerful form of art; therefore, this study aims to create awareness on its significance to social, political and economic issues facing society.


Work Cited

Blanchard, Becky. “THE SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE OF RAP & HIP-HOP CULTURE.” N.p., 2019. Web. 27 Nov. 2019.

Frangipani, View. “The Social Significance Of Rap And Hip-Hop Culture.” Hip-Hop Advisor. N.p., 2019. Web. 27 Nov. 2019.

Peterson, James. “Hip-Hop Culture | Encyclopedia.Com.” N.p., 2019. Web. 27 Nov. 2019.

Pickles, Matt. “The Cultural Significance Of Hip Hop | University Of Oxford.” N.p., 2019. Web. 27 Nov. 2019.

PQ, Rory. “Origins Of Hip-Hop Culture | Dubspot.” Dubspot Blog. N.p., 2019. Web. 27 Nov. 2019.