Hip hop is one of the most popular genres of music. Its origin amongst African Americans is associated with addressing the political, social, and economic issues that affect the community. The need to find out more about its popularity necessitates research on its history and characteristics and the reasons for its widespread popularity. It also sparks an interest in finding out the extent of its influence amongst its large audience. Research into hip hop culture explains its origin, milestones, sense of distinction, and political influence.
The characteristics of hip hop
Hip-hop is a unique genre of popular music that differs from other popular music in several significant ways. Amongst them is that it is associated with a specific group of people (Kruse, 2014). This genre is associated with the African-American youths, unlike rap, blues, and other genres within the music domain that are not explicitly attached to a specific group of persons. Although currently widespread, it traces its origin back to this group of youths. Most musicians and fans of the genre are also from this specific group of persons in the US. From another perspective, hip-hop is unique in that it plays a significant role in shaping culture. Since its advent, hip-hop has been guiding the thoughts and deeds of various persons in the US. The messages spread using the music have been influencing American society’s norms and ethical standards. The behavior, dressing code, and language of the young persons embark on different courses owing to hip-hop more than most other music genres. These and other qualities of the genre make it distinctive.
History of Hip-hop
The history of hip hop dates back to the 1970s. It started in various boroughs that Africa Americans inhabited. It is mainly associated with the Bronx, alongside Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. It arose as a way of venting regarding the issues that affected the people in their hardships (Petchauer, 2015). Their singing style, dancing, and the beats included in the music resonated with their hard lives. Other people’s ability to share in the emotions expressed in the music enabled its fast spread amongst the African Americans in the 20th century. The fans felt that the people producing the music were in touch with their feelings and living conditions. They catalyzed the spread of the music by encouraging the musicians to continue producing the highly appreciated genre. Their massive support led to the development of the music through integration with other music genres that with which it rhymed. For example, DJs started combining hip-hop songs with other songs whose rhythms fitted. At parties and events, people started enjoying the relatively new genre and eventually adapted it as one of their favorites.
The development of hip hop continued throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Events and parties continued assisting in the spread of the genre. During the incidences, musicians started bonding hip hop with rap music, resulting in the tendency of the music to include elements of rap music, such as boasting and recreational name-calling (Kruse, 2014). The development accelerated the path of hip hop reaching the mainstream media. Getting to the mainstream media marked the beginning of hip hop diversification. The musicians started seeking creative ways of making money through creativity in the genre. In conjunction with the exposure provided by the mainstream media, their creativity enabled other people in distant places to notice and like the genre. However, it also sparked conflict with the authorities and moral cops, owing to anti-authority lyrics. At this time, hip hop was branded as a blend of both positive and negative communication. Some songs advocated for norms, while others deviated from the same. The subsequent developments in the 21st century also bore similar characteristics.
Reasons for Prominence amongst the Black community
The origin and dominance of hip hop are mainly in the Black community. According to Bailey (2014), the music was the channel through which members of the community expressed themselves. African Americans had been subjected to unfair marginalization since the beginning of their history in the US. Hip hop offered solace in that it was the channel through which they expressed their discontent with the ever-present injustices. It was a method of productively channeling the negative energy that they got from the resultant bitterness. In this sense, they turned the discontent into positive output that could restructure the existing systems for better opportunities and improved chances of success. The positive appeal that the music made to the African Americans was a major contributor to its popularity. It brought hope to a community struggling in the murk of perpetual injustice and unfair societal attitudes. An emotional charm due to relatability was an unusual ability that most other genres did not offer.
The music is an art through which African Americans depict their consciousness. Its origin in the late 20th century was part of the extensive social changes in American social culture and history. From its history, hip hop is a genre that depicted the ability of the Black community to realize that they were better than how they were being treated (Bailey, 2014). It helped them show that they were witty members of society, capable of realizing the injustices bestowed upon them and using the available resources to manipulate the situation to better the community. The genre’s ability to give the Black community a sense of pride in themselves is a major attraction that heightens its Prominence. It is also the channel through which the youth express their feelings about current issues affecting them. The ease with which it allows the young persons to express their feelings about various issues maximizes its likeability amongst them. It offers several resistive benefits to the young community. For example, it allows them to spread political ideologies appealingly. These and other reasons retain the dominance of hip hop amongst the Black community to date.
Some songs produced within the hip hop genre bear radical political ideas. According to Petchauer (2015), hip hop is the newer version of the African American Civil Rights Movement and Black Freedom struggle. It replaced the older, more peaceful version of the two by articulating the same political ideas and ideologies but using more vigor to confront the oppressive systems. Groups such as Grandmaster Flash, the Furious Five, Kool, and Afrika Bambaataa pioneered political activism in the music. They expressed their discontent with the chronic poverty, racial profiling, and police brutality, all of which revolved around post-civil rights. Their music was the weapon they used to defend the African American community against destructive politics.
Contemporary hip hop contains messages that are politically inclined. According to Vito (2019), modern musicians continue addressing negative issues that are related to politics. Kanye West, Mos Def, Immortal Technique, and the Blackalicious are amongst the individuals and groups known to analyze and comment on the ongoing racism, poverty, and discrimination, all of which are related to politics. Their songs Modern-day songs speak to politicians about their contribution to the ongoing problems seen in the African American populace and the need for them to change the situation. For example, some songs demand the concerned parties’ action to either give Blacks their rights or kill them. Modern hip hop may be considered the method used to provoke people to think about the country’s political situation and respond accordingly.
The culture of hip hop has been reinventing the norms and practices of society. One of the main ways it has influenced the norms is by redefining the modes of learning. In the 20th century, hip hop sought to improve the community’s statuses through street education (Vito, 2019). Several street gangs were formed to participate in the activities of social reform that were deemed necessary. Young persons who participated learned in the streets and later constructed self-validation norms. They learned self-validation methods in society, thereby creating a new mode of education through which the young people learn. Hip hop has also been influencing cultural norms and practices by influencing the way people conduct themselves. The music lyrics express ideas on how a person should behave to survive the brutalities of the streets by being street smart. These influences on cultural norms and practices make hip hop a useful pedagogy (Petchauer, 2015). Hip hop can be channeled towards the enlightenment of young people on the right ways of life, owing to its overwhelming popularity amongst young people.
Hip hop has been a form of popular culture since its establishment in the 20th century. It traces its origin amongst the oppressed but conscious youths in the American Black community. It has been the prominent genre of popular music amongst African American youths who find in it a sense of identity. The influential music has been progressively gaining in the number of fans worldwide, owing to its ability to appeal to the target audience’s need for improvement in both the political and social aspects of welfare. More research into the genre may explain its importance in the culture of America.