Why did we fall in love with Hip Hop? Was the rhythmic flows of the emcees? The head-bobbing beats? The fly gear,(Adidas, Puma, Fila, just to name a few)? I’m pretty sure these all seemed very attractive but what comes to mind is: Authenticity, Individuality and Character. Looking at the innovators, (Afrika Bambaataa, Run DMC, Public Enemy and many others), these traits are prevalent. They stood for their message, they weren’t apologetic for being themselves and they did it in style, making it look so easy. They didn’t have much role models to look up to and decided to be their own role models and we say “Thank you” for paving the way. With the next generation, (yes I’m a 80’s baby), and with the next one after, can we honestly say we have kept these 3 main principles? The subject is vast so I will try to narrow it down. While I dig for an answer, another question will pop up so in this convo, I will speak mainly on authenticity.
Lets face it. We live in a society where we’ve broken everything to a science, we have more accessibility to the world, all wonderful advancements but have we lost sight? Are we blind to the fact that community and the uplifting of ourselves as a people was a factor in Hip Hop culture? For sure, there were battles in emceeing, dancing, DJing and the like, but we shared a common goal; a sense of pride in this banner Hip Hop we hold up high. In 2014, we have to question: “Are we pushing the movement in the right direction?”
We can touch on the music, how greatly it has evolved and “grown” but lets go a little deeper. We can touch on the people themselves who are carrying the torch. This is about everyone, me included, not just a selected group of people or just artists or just dancers. One thing for sure, community is essential and needs to be re-established. Hip Hop is not a fad, it’s the movement of the people. It’s the “what’s going on right now”; a voice that speaks up loud and clear. Wearing Adidas and white sneaks doesn’t make me Hip Hop. Going to a dance battle doesn’t make me Hip Hop. It’s what’s in here, (I’m pointing to my chest), whether I’m standing alone, I’m representing you and the same for the next guy.
It’s sad to say, we see Hip Hop as a genre of music only today. The artists, mostly mainstream, have the same sound and you have to think if this is how they really feel or is this a career move? Artists that came out in the 80’s and 90’s had their own signature, (e.g. Outkast), and they’ve set their own trends. Again, maybe we were still laying out the foundation in that period where there was room for such creativity. I don’t know and I ask myself. If music doesn’t hold an identity, do we, dancers, hold an identity as well?
With authenticity, the art of storytelling is needed. Believe it or not, this is history. Black and Latino history. People of Color history. Worldwide history. Let the stories be told with our voices, our art, our rhythms, and our bodies. With each beat, we inscribe lines of blood, sweat and tears. We can smile with the best and the worst of times. Even those party tracks reminds us that we should treasure our laughter, which keeps us going through our day to day lives.
I’m still learning this history and each fact I get gives me a sense of pride even as a black woman. This is more than learning the new dance that came out last week. Hip Hop is a full-body being that deserves our respect; making us accomplish so many by giving us a voice. Hip Hop, we must nurture you! Maybe we just need to change your diet.
Here are some links I found that can be interesting as well: