I love Hip Hop. I love everything about what makes it so profound in my life and how I am always a part of it. It is a culture born from above average people whom ingeniously created to make a better aesthetic life out of limited resources. It is revolutionary. It never asked for permission to be seen or heard while inspiring the uninspired, and it neither apologized for its liberty being felt. Hip Hop is a culture born to outright the wrongs of all conditions in an environment of injustice by celebrating life. Yes, a better life fantasized about in the American Dream. No, not celebrating materialism, bling, or capitalism because it did not begin with anything or was it given anything from the start. No, Not at all, but to celebrate urban life as an expression for liberty and happiness by the inviting spirit of what the Statue of Liberty was meant to represent:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!“
After Hip Hop was born it became the litmus test for the United State’s of America and eventually the rest of the world. If anyone really wanted to know what was wrong with this country all they had to do was listen to what Hip Hop has been trying to tell it from the beginning. It was pressure cooked from some of the world’s worst conditions in the South and West Bronx, Harlem, NYC, where the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, the homeless, and the battered struggled. It was an infant holding up a mirror for all to see when Grandmaster Melle Mel first said, “A child was born, with no state of mind.” And now, today, that child he spoke about in The Message has all grown up with an uncultured thug mentality making crappy records as a music label’s harlot, but that is a topic for another discussion.
Let us continue into the nitty gritty.
Understand Hip Hop’s essence in its initial bare-bones conception:
Without excuses, it was genius born by being practical in the midst of limited resources by first evaluating the situation then simplifying it into an equation. Pieces were found missing in the puzzle until an idea became a vision. Then genius began engineering the vision into manifestation filling those vacancies. Mistakes and achievements were made until it crafted a recipe prepped and seasoned to taste. Finally, that recipe baptized other taste buds. The next thing you know it was being handed down through family and neighbors as an inheritance. In due time, it evolved to feed the masses giving the people what they wanted out of limited resources. It gave a sense of liberty, happiness, hope, dreams, community, and identity. Breaking bread when it needed to be broken. That is why I love Hip Hop and its entrepreneurial essence of ingenuity, community, and survival.
Pressure can only do two things. It will make diamonds or bust pipes, and the Bronx, New York City and Harlem burned into a diamond mine. How do you like that for bling?
Did I ever tell you I love Hip Hop?
Twenty-two years ago I had a dream fulfilled to live the real Hip Hop. It was due to bonding with some homeboys who were thick in the culture I grew up loving as a kid. My new friends were all B-boys, emcees, DJs, and graffiti artists from New York, Connecticut, and South Florida. Man, it was a relief! I was 15 with the absolute optimism that “I can finally get with this!” It was a relief to be involved with creative peers like me whom walked, talked and ate Hip Hop. They were even deeper than myself since most were from “up North.”
You see, I was a young creative writer and illustrator with a love for funk, soul and exotic rhythms; especially Hip Hop music. I just needed an authenticate crew to call home and thrive in. My homeboys were hungry like myself, and wanting to express themselves by engineering pieces from limited resources for liberty and happiness. It was an urban entrepreneurial like-minded spirit.
Before that time, I was just an adolescent toy boy artist tapping into Graff writing and spoofing popular emcee rhymes to make classmates laugh. I was bumping The Soulsonic Force, Jonzun Crew, T LA Rock, Globe and Whiz Kid, West Street Mob, Run DMC, Mantronix, Spoonie G, Kurtis Blow, Jeckyll and Hyde, Mann Parrish, Schoolly D, Ice T and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. I never got up from sketchbooks to burn walls and handball courts. I simply didn’t have the big brassy testicles to do the crime or pay the price. So years later at sixteen I seriously took up emceeing after I met my homeboys. As for Graff writing, now a days I just sketch pieces when I can and enjoy it. In the meantime I cheer for those outlaw bombers who scream their names at the world from the breath and spit of aerosol cans. Burn, baby, burn!
I will say it again. I love Hip Hop!I remember when I did not know what it was at the time. I remember when people did not know what to really call it. It had other names of course before its notoriety was infamously called Hip Hop.
When I was about eight or nine years old growing up in a section of Fort Lauderdale, Florida called Tater Town, I recall many times bobbing my head to the rhythms of a different disco sound. It wasn’t the usual Kool and the Gang, Donna Summer, young Michael Jackson or anything made popular on TV like Solid Gold. There was no singing involved. It was like Muhammad Ali’s swaggering rhymes to Howard Cosell but for over 7 minutes on a funky disco breakdown. It was a different kind of funk from songs played by my next-door neighbors who were NYC transplants. In hindsight those particular songs could have easily been T-Ski Valley, or Fatback. Maybe even live tape recordings. I do not remember, but they did play music I did not hear on the radio. It could have been Hip Hop music in its infancy.
However, what I do recall are three spirited vocals having the confident wit, wordplay and delivery of Rudy Ray Moore; the charisma and energy of Cab Calloway; and convincing personas of other-worldly characters found only in comic books. The voices bobbed and weaved with the groove without fighting the rhythm of Chic’s Good Times. Every syllable and annunciation flattered the timing of the drummer’s beat. It was Rapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang, and I loved it! Not like how I love it now.
That new style of funk was fantastic to me as a boy, however it did not make a profound impact like other things did at the time. It wasn’t mind blowing to me compared to other interests that dazzled my young overactive imagination, but it sure was humorous “when the chicken tastes like wood!” It was not Star Wars, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali, and the Six Million Dollar Man. It wasn’t my weekend TV “junky fix” like the Super Friends on Saturday mornings; Godzilla and other monster movies in the afternoons; or Kung Fu flicks throughout the weekend and at the drive in theater. It wasn’t Spiderman “doing whatever a spider can.” No, I was too much of a geek to recognize what would truly soon impact my life.
I also guess it was because African-American, Latin, and Caribbean music was already influential around me. Funk was a normal commodity thanks to James Brown, Sly Stone, and Parliament Funkadelic. So it wasn’t that new to me for what it was at the time, but it sure was a new type of funk in the making. It was a new way of life, and I am glad it was here to stay!
Most of all I love it, and celebrating for a better life of liberty and happiness for all in the 21st Century by working with what I got.
Hip Hop means a lot to me, and that is why I explained why I love it in different points. Today it’s a derailed train. Some of it stayed on the track but some of it was also knocked off causing damage. The parts knocked off track is Hip Hop music. What can you expect when you have trees not knowing their roots? They become fruitless and self-destruct becoming natural sell-outs. If we can get Hip Hop music back to its essence it will not cause any more damage. If we can institutionalize Hip Hop culture as a whole, without lustfully branding it like a corporate whore and give it back as “the people’s voice,” it will thrive.
The diamond mine the West and South Bronx and Harlem manifested is being ravaged the same way as the diamond mines in Africa. It is not only being poached from its people but by some as willing volunteers. “What the ghetto makes; the world takes” as the old saying goes.
There are too many things going wrong in the world for Hip Hop music to be silent. Without a conscience it is just a tap dancing novelty selling liquor, cars, and cell phones to those who will eventually forget about it like it was Vanilla Ice. There is nothing wrong with making lots of money, but money does not make Hip Hop. The ingenuity of its people makes Hip Hop, and they love it, too!
From its essence, let the New Hip Hop Renaissance begin!
I wish to thank all of Hip Hop’s legendary pioneers for their ingenuity by working with what they got! What you did back then was beautiful like breaking five loaves of bread and two fishes impacting thousands. My best friends whom I have to this very day since I was 15 are all because of what you started back then. Today, we are all grown 35 plus year old men who are now brothers due to breaking bread in the Hip Hop culture. We love Hip Hop because it is our lives, and we intend to assist in pointing today’s heads in going back to the essence for Hip Hop’s Rebirth and setting it free like it was meant to be!