For many of us , the culture of hip hop was and still is a culture that includes fashion, artistic expressions of words against beats – rap, and dee jaying. Hip Hop is a voice for those whom many choose to ignore or try and silence. Netflix, has a documentary airing titled “Hip Hop Evolution”. I had the chance to check it out and watching it brought back so many memories. The documentary covered a lot of insightful information concerning hip hop. I recommend it to anyone who is genuinely intrigued by the culture. Also, their original series “The Get Down” Created by Baz Luhrmann and Stephen Adly Guirgis, offers a glimpse at the impact of both hip hop and disco in lives of some teenagers from Bronx, New York. It’s definitely suitable for a Netflix and chill type of night.
While I didn’t grow up in New York, the birth place of hip hop, its impact was far reaching and Florida wasn’t exempt. Acid wash jeans, fat boy shoe laces, leather pants, leisure suites, big gold chains, hoop earrings, straight legged jeans, air brushed denim, shell toe Adidas, bomber jackets, Timberlands, and custom fits were all very much part of the fashion landscape. If you really want to peep the fashion of hip hop from back in the day, check out the website of Daniel Day of Harlem, also known as Dapper Dan here. He has dressed hip hop legends from L.L. Cool J to Run DMC. He is still very much connected to hip hop. In fact he dropped this gem on his website:
In 1985, a young designer came to my store seeking guidance. He had incredible talent and electric ambition, so I took him under my wing. I let him design and produce his own t-shirts in my store and sell them to the various entertainers that would come to shop with me. After mastering his craft, he went on to open his own store in Harlem, design the Bad Boy Entertainment logo for @diddy, and create a huge movement with his own line called #Ferg54. That movement also changed lives by creating lots of jobs for people in our communities. Years later, his son, @asapferg, is one of the biggest names in hip hop and I could not be more proud. -Dapper Dan
Hip Hop culture has had its share of controversy. With the death of rap artists Biggie Smalls and Tupac; the complete disrespect of women, although they were pioneers of the culture themselves and the over commercialization – were indeed some very disturbing periods. Women being referred to as bitches and hoe’s and female MC’s having to be dam near naked before their music blew up were definitely some of the moments when the culture was given a well deserved side eye. Lately, “mumble rap” is being frowned upon because of the lack of creativity surrounding it. It’s characterized by heavy beats against lyrics you can barely understand and ones that aren’t cohesive.
Technology and the availability to leak songs is also another problem. I am thankful that radio isn’t the only outlet for rap music. If it were, the genre would surely be on ropes by now. Playing the same 10 songs 24 hours a day is enough to drive most people away. However, with the availability to stream music, one can be more selective about what they listen too. Currently, my streaming service of choice is Tidal, partly owned by Jay-Z, a well known and respected figure of the hip hop culture. I would like to see more female representation in the culture. Female MC’s have been there from beginning. Right now the industry is heavily dominated by males and has been for quite some time.
I like what’s taking place now though. Some pioneers and keepers of the culture are once again reminding society of what the culture is all about. They may not be putting it on wax, however with radio programming, print and social media the culture is being kept alive. One of my favorite podcasts at this moment is, Drink Champs, hosted by N.O.R.E., formerly Noreaga and DJ EFN. Legendary hip hop veterans share their industry stories over drinks and smoke. The podcast just hit the 25 million viewer mark. Most recently, hip hop producers DJ Premier and Pete Rock graced the platform. What makes it live, is the fact that it’s not your typical stale interview format. Check out the popular podcast here.
Absolutes are still that within the hip hop culture. Ghost writing is frowned upon, beat jacking must be done responsibly, and to be the king or queen of rap you must prove yourself in a rap battle on wax. However, fashion is more fluid and the culture remains diverse. I believe that the culture is having a sort of reemergence where by people will truly have the opportunity to learn the history of hip hop and that’s a beautiful thing.
I love the culture of hip hop and always will. I hate when the culture is impacted negatively. Yet, like any great fighter, it always bounces back.
Take care, xoxo