This essay aims to examine the importance of the Hip-Hop culture in 21st century society. It will begin with consideration of the history of Hip-Hop, discussing its stylistic adaptations, cultural preferences and concerns, referring to the studies of black culture by Ellis Cashmore and Mark Neal. Within this I will explore the ethnicity and authenticity of the culture, with reference to last years Popular Music and its Cultural Context unit. The essay will then move on to evaluate the culture’s relationship with the media, concentrating on the well documented moral panics associated with the culture; I will make particular reference to the theories of Stan Cohen. By studying the political and historical patterns of the culture, I endeavour to discover the overall meaning which the culture has for its members and for society.
It is primarily important to coin what Hip-Hop is, the dictionary definition describes Hip-Hop as:
hip-hop (h p h p ) or hip hop
1. A popular urban youth culture, closely associated with rap music and with the style and fashions of African-American inner-city residents.
2. Rap music.
As a culture Hip-Hop includes four main categories of expression; Mixing, Dancing, Graffiti Art and Rapping, known as MC’ing. Hip-Hop was first recognised in New York around the mid 1970s, considered as a reaction to social movements of the time. In America the 70s and 80s were subject to negative behaviour towards black communities which consisted of Jamaican and Puerto Ricans as well as African-Americans, it was argued that the ruling of Reagan led to this behaviour. Hip-Hop culture was seen as an escape from the explosion of gang violence throughout the 1970s and 80s, providing black American youths with a space for expression, this freedom of speech led to the spreading of Hip-Hop to other cities where black communities suffered. As Tricia Rose states, ‘It satisfies poor young black people’s profound need to have their territories acknowledged, recognised and celebrated.’ (Rose, 1994: p.11, cited in Neal, 1997: p.136) The first UK top ten Hip-Hop hit was recorded in 1979 by the Sugar Hill Gang, called ‘Rappers Delight’. The recognition of this song noted the continuous exchange of musical ideas between black and white. The atmosphere created between black and white musicians from Britain and America was perfect for the sounds of black British musicians to prosper. Even though the spirit of the movement within the 1970s and 80s had waned, early 1990s Hip-Hop continued to undergo negative criticism from governments who believed it was necessary to destroy the progression of the movement. Their core tactic was to incorporate Hip-Hop into the mainstream, believing that it was the authenticity of Hip-Hop which made it popular. This commercialisation of Hip-Hop lies at the root of many changes to the culture from the early 1990s, primarily the uplifting of Hip-Hop from its communities and artistic agenda to be used as an...