By David Jordan Jr
What is hip hop? Can hip hop be defined by one word or one sentence? What
makes hip hop so impactful to the world? Fifty years ago hip hop was born in the
Bronx, New York. A combination of music, dancing and the father of hip hop, DJ
Kool Herc, hip hop began as an innocent formation to celebrate life, at a party.
The essence of hip-hop was the totality of the vibe; music, dancing, positive
energy, happy people and the enjoyment of life.
This simple beginning in the Bronx has transformed the world and music as a
whole. Everywhere one looks or listens, you will see the infusion of hip. The irony
of the presence of hip hop in all aspects of life and all elements of the world is the
fact that hip-hop once was ignored, disregarded and described as a fad. 1973-
2000 saw the global emergence of this genre of music and ever increasing
presence of hip hop culture everywhere. The year 1989 would see a group of rap
artists boycott the annual Grammy Awards for the neglecting of rap music as a
genre. Fast forward to 2023 and rap artists are a major part of the show as not
only nominees and award winners but also as performers and presenters.
The early, “Golden Years” of hip-hop would see many world tours with several of
the groundbreaking acts selling out stadiums and arenas globally performing
positive music that made people feel good, dance, and aspire to be more in life.
Groups such as The Fat Boys, Run DMC, Public Enemy, Whodini, Salt-N-Pepa & DJ
Spinderella, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, The Sugarhill Gang and Kid-
N-Play are some of the many groups to take the genre to world acceptance.
The Deejays: DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Kid Capri, Kool DJ Red Alert, Mr.
Magic, Jam Master Jay, Marley Marl, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Afrika Bambaataa, Terminator
X, and Spinderella all placed their unique stamp on hip-hop music. From pioneering
certain elements of mixing and scratching, to rocking the crowd and setting the
stage for the artist to perform, the aforementioned deejays were essential to the
growth and popularity of hip-hop music as we know it today. Flowers go to all of
the deejays from the inception of hip-hop through the 1980s and 190s, as they
were the ones that set the standard for how the deejay is supposed to rock the
The artists and MCs who laid the blueprint for how to spit verses in a creative
groove are the standard. From KRS One, to Kurtis Blow, to Rakim, to LL Cool J to
Kool Moe Dee to Doug E Fresh, to Big Daddy Kane, these artists and many more
were the originals. Being an original means you can’t be duplicated. The artists
were truly innovative as no one was before them, yet they created a foundation
for hip hop to grow.
Female rappers such as Roxanne Shante, Oaktown’s 3.5.7., MC Lyte, JJ Fad, Yo-Yo, Ms. Melodie and Lady B were all pioneers that entered hip-hop and left a forever-lasting imprint on not only hip-hop music but hip-hop culture. The ways in which they dressed, talked, and carried themselves as women, yet still holding their own on the mic were very instrumental in hip-hop transforming the world and becoming a music for all people.
Hip Hop Fashion: Fashion birthed from hip-hop is a staple of American culture.
From the b-boys to the artists, to the dancers, the fashion coming from hip-hop
music and culture changed not only the way all artists dressed, but it changed the
fashion industry and how clothes were made and how clothes, jewelry and
accessories were marketed to consumers of the world.
Hip-Hop In Sports: As hip-hop began its insertion into the world of sports, the
cross-section of sports and hip-hop took place. From athletes becoming rappers to
rap music being the predominant music being played at all sporting events, the
relationship between hip-hop and sports is undeniable. Sports teams created
team perceptions based on certain songs, while some artists made songs
dedicated to their favorite sports and athletes.
Hip-Hop Merchandising: From cards to dolls to magazines, hip-hop was
something that was accessible to people of the word in many various forms. The
availability of different types of items relevant to hip-hop allowed the music and
the culture to create a permanent place in the minds, mantles, and homes of the
Hip Hop On Screen: The emergence of hip-hop in the 1980s would see hip-hop go
from not being played on MTV, to MTV creating a show called Yo MTV Raps. After
Yo MTV Raps, hip-hop would be seen everywhere, from television shows to
cartoons and commercials. Many movies incorporated hip-hop music into their
soundtracks and artists into their productions.
The Dancers: The dancers from the inception of hip-hop have revolutionized the
world of music and art. Dances that began in the streets, school yards, house
parties, and basements are now a part of world history due to the birth of hip-hop.
Were you there? Stadiums and arenas across the globe were sold out with various world tours of rappers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Which show did you attend?
The Essence Of Hip-Hop: Hip-Hop has transformed the world, the way people live, think and breathe. The essence of hip-hop is the feeling. The essence of hip-hop is the message. The combination of these two elements provided an outlet for people to express their lives and inspire the world to be authentic and real. The spirit of a genre born fifty years ago will forever permeate through the world.
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