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Hip-Hop as Black Music - Essay Example

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Hip-Hop as Black Music

The first few chapters of the book dig out the exact origin of hip-hop which is an amalgamation of rap music, break-dancing and graffiti art. The social condition of New York in the 1970’s played a crucial role in hip-hop’s origination. According to Jeff Chang, the building of the Cross-Bronx road laid grounds for the birth of hip-hop music. The building of this road forced almost 60,000 people to relocate to other neighborhoods. Thus, while the white people moved to better places like the Westchester Country, the black and brown communities retreated to South Bronx which was annihilated economically. “Where once apartment buildings or private homes had stood were now hills of rubble, decorated with ripped-open bags of rotting garbage that had been flung atop them” and though there was an increase in social housing in the area, there were barely any jobs. Almost 80% of the youth were left jobless. Thus, gangs were formed by the American-African and Afro-Caribbean mostly to revolt against the “white-gangs” who were already present in the neighborhood. Thus from Chang’s presentation of the historical settings it is evident that origin of this art form was in the impoverished South Bronx areas where “where a complex maelstrom of social and political forces at play in the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s left the African-American and Hispanic communities searching for a way out of a lives of poverty, gang-dominated crime, and drugs”....
One of the bases of the music is racism. Discrimination, loss of jobs, fake promises and deindustrialization paved the way for the “gang-culture”. Gangs like Black Panthers safeguarded the interests of the blacks and rebelled against the whites. Similarly, several other gangs came into existence. Puerto Rican revolutionaries and Bronx gangs joined hands with drug dealers and other illicit groups against the government. Thus, gradually and eventually a firm footed unity enveloped between the gangs. Chang also talks about some of the well-known pioneers and inventors of hip-hop music who started making their name in these gangs. DJ Kool herc was the inventor of hip-hop music and the best known DJ in the whole of New York City and was an immigrant from Kingston (Chang, pg-69). He created a new way of playing music, inspired by Jamaican sound culture, and became a renowned DJ. Along the same lines, Chang has also written about the emergence of another famous DJ- Afrika Bambaataa who previously led a gang called Black Spade. Here we are able to understand that the impoverished areas hosted a lot of parties where. The parties were held as an alternative to gang life. Herc created his own music and recited words according to beats, thereby becoming laying grounds for rapping. Thus, hip-hop slowly emerged as a party movement where most people presented new music forms. These youth who were jobless and impoverished slowly developed an identity and brought in hip-hop music. In the next section, Chang describes the politics associated with hip-hop music. The political atmosphere caused a transformation of hip-hop music from a party music to a more politically inclined art form. The music form was implicitly political in the sense that youth from diverse national backgrounds ...Show more


This essay describes the book by Jeff Chang - "Can’t Stop Won’t Stop", that provides us with a detailed history of the origins of hip-hop music. This essay covers almost all aspects associated with hip-hop music’s origin, transformation and retransformation…
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Hip-Hop as Black Music essay example
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