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February 16, 2009


We begin our journey with KRS One. He was a major contributing force in hip-hop's beginnings. And he is still very much respected and reverenced in hiphop/rap. The song “9 Elements? is what he feels the mission statement of hiphop should entail. He is self explanatory. There isn't a metaphor or idiom. He is putting it as plainly as possible and he can be easily understood.

These 9 elements are:

1. Breaking or breakdancing
2. MC'ing or rap
3. Grafitti art or burning bombin'
4. DJ'ing
5. Beatboxing
6. Street fashion
7. Street language, our verbal communication
8. Street knowledge
9. Street entrepreneur realism

Granted some of these factors are no longer "elements" of rap, probally because they evolved into something else or whithered away. Graffiti art is still eminent (especially on highways and trains) but maybe because I live in Minnesota, I wouldn't have an idea about the appreciation of graffiti. Graffiti has not only moved from the walls of private properties into some museums but also unto shirts. I see some contemporary fashion designs advertising their products with grafitti. Marc Ecko's fashion line uses grafitti on some of his works. This might be evidence that people still think grafitti art is pretty cool. Beatboxing is not as prevalent in hiphop as it used to be. I think it evolved into something, I will find that out soon. Breakdancing is still very much part of modern hiphop and it also evolved into a majority of dance styles. For example, Soulja Boy's Crank That and Bird Walk. There are lots more dances that have surfaced in hiphop and they will be explored. Basically, this song was speaking into the future and it really builds a wall around something that would otherwise be vague or without form.

I was excited when I found this song. It helped solidify where I was trying to go with things. I will explore what about each of these elements have changed, what they changed into and if they are going to even change.
Hiphop/Rap is 30+ years and growing, theres a lot to look forward to.

9 elements by KRS One

Well my ladies and gentlemen
This is a rap session and my name is "KRS-One!"
And when I talk about "Hip-Hop Music!? I know
One: Breaking or breakdancing
Rally b-boying, freestyle or streetdancin'
Two: MC'ing or rap
Divine speech what I'm doing right now no act
Three: Grafitti art or burning bombin'
Taggin', writin', now you're learning! uh!
Four : DJ'ing, we ain't playing!
{*scratch* You know what I'm saying!
Five : Beatboxing
Give me a {*beatboxin* Yes and we rockin'!
Six: Street fashion, lookin' fly
Catchin' the eye while them cats walk on by
Seven: Street language, our verbal communication
Our codes throughout the nation
Eight: Street knowledge, common sense
The wisdom of the elders from way back whence
Nine : Street entrepreneur realism
No job, just get up call 'em and get 'em
Here's how I'm tellin' it, all 9 Elements
We stand in love, no we're never failing it
Intelligent? No doubt
Hip-Hop? We're not selling it out, we're just lettin' it out
If you're checkin' us out this hour, we teatchin' hip-hop
Holy integrated people have it, I'm the present power!
Rap is something you do!
3x Hip-Hop is something you live! *scratched*
Rap is something you do!
Hip-Hop is something you live! *scratched*
Skaters, BMX-bike riders rock

Don't you ever stop! You are hip-hop 
You doing the same things we did on our block in the suburbs
You know you be packing that black block
Selling that crackrock and ecstacy
Gettin' pissydrunk, fallin' out next to me
But like I told those in the ghettoes
Here's the facts! True hip-hop is so much more than that
Some much more than rap, so much more than beats
Hip-hop is all about victory over the streets
What you see on TV is a lie
That's not something you wanna live or pattern your life by
But, huh that's too much preachin' ain't it?
You don't want the education?, you wanna be dead on the pavement
Well, so be it, some of ya'll ain't gonna see it
Others wanna enslave your mind! Kris wanna free it!
Rap is something you do!
5x Hip-Hop is something you live! *scratched*
"Oh yea" *scratched* --- From "P is dead"
"I have spent my whole life livin'", "talk to the fullest", "no doubt"
You know that's why these rappers can't hang
Cause the essence of hip-hop is not a material thang
They so careless, hip-hop is in a? we give
Rap we do, hip-hop we live
How many times I gotta say it? How the radio ain't gonna play it
And you hip-hoppers sit back and okay it
Think about it! (think about it)
The present course of action, we have got to reroute it!
[Chorus: repeat 3X]
Hip-Hop is something you live!

February 2, 2009

The Beginning

A lot of people around the world are very familiar with hip-hop/rap. Even citizens of the most underdeveloped parts of the world have heard about hip-hop/rap and they consider themselves fans of hip-hop/rap. Hip-hop/rap has travelled a long journey from its early days to contemporary society.

Hip-hop has experienced lots of changes along the way ranging from serious to benign. Compared to its early days, Hip-hop/Rap can now boast of a vast amount of audience that stretch for miles outside the United States, where it was born. The genre has also gained more respect over the years than in its beginnings especially among common folk. Not that everyone now admires the genre, I am saying its becoming more acceptable. Also, there is a growing number of participants in the music - underground, mainstream, or for fun (freestyle). Hip-hop has always been a fashion statement and now it is its own industry that commands millions of dollars annually, thus creating jobs/careers for many through the production of the music, video directors, talent hunt, etc. In addition, hip-hop has experienced collaborations with other genres, especially rock and country. Hip-hop has introduced a new form of language to the world. Considering these changes and much more, Hip-hop can be thought of as a planet within the universe of music. Specifically, hip-hop has conceived a whole new culture of arts, language, and much more.

As exciting as these changes sound, I find one aspect of hip-hop really interesting. And I think it is a reoccurring issue within this “planet.? Image! Image! Image! Image! The way hip-hop views itself today compared to the earlier days can be judged by the types of songs that were created back in the days and the types of songs that we are hearing today. These songs directly and/or indirectly represent hip-hop’s mission statement. Mission statement referring to the core of hip-hop, the reason it was created. Why did the creators of hip-hop/rap feel the need to create this genre? Did they view it as a means of income? Vehicle of expression? Just for fun? A sense of community or belongingness? A form of fighting back societal injustice? Whatever the reason (s), the question is what has happened to the mission statement that introduced the genre about 30 years ago? Has it changed? Has it being tweaked to fit purposes? Is it effortlessly evolving into something else? Has it been ignored and replaced? What exactly is it? This is not an exhaustive list, as there are more debatable questions. And there isn’t one answer to all these questions. And it is not this blog’s mission to explore that realm.

As a matter of fact, this blog will be more fun! This blog will first focus on the early, early days of Hip-hop examining the first hip-hop songs to be produced. Then focus will shift towards contemporary hip-hop/rap and the types of songs being produced today. Basically, this blog will journey through hip-hop’s timeline from the beginning to now using one or two songs from every five years and discuss it. These songs will give us an idea of what hip-hop’s goal(s) were and how those goals have changed (if at all).

Music videos will also be discussed because they carry images that have opened doors of criticism to hip-hop. Sexual, gender, and ethnical representations are made by these music videos.