Friday, January 2, 2009
The Four Elements of Hip-Hop: A Historical Look at the Beginnings of Rap
I am not sure that many people understand that Hip-Hop is formulaic, like many other cultures, and contains four elements. Rap music is one of four elements of the cultural force known as hip-hop and thus the focus of this essay. The four elements are rap, djing, break-dancing and graffiti. Directly influenced from the rubble of the dying Black Panther Party, modern history of rap begins in 1979; however, rap’s formation has its origins from African oral traditions (Dyson, 2004). According to Hip-Hop scholar, Imani Perry, rap music’s cultural framework consists of four elements: 1. Its primary language is African American Vernacular English (AAVE); 2. Its political location in society distinctly ascribed to black people, music, and cultural forms; 3. It is derived from black American oral culture; 4. It is derived from Black American music tradition (Perry, 2004). Rap music is an oral space of discourse among the urban, inner-city community. As slave narratives functioned as a counter-space for historically invisible African-Americans, rap music serves as a counter-space to African-American and Latinos who had been denied access to the public space. This space is how African-Americans and Latinos have negotiated the multiple rifts in between “…their disaporic cultural heritages, white appropriations of them (in music, fashion, language), and a dominant media culture that still renders them stereotyped or marginalized” (Pough, 2004). This space brought nationalism and sociopolitical messages that concerned African-Americans and Latinos to the forefront.