Today is a special day for us Hiphoppas. August 11th is bound to be Hip Hop’s 40th birthday.
Rome wasn’t build overnight and neither was Hip Hop. Graffiti being writings on the wall goes back to hieroglyphs, emceeing to poetry and verbal communication, bboying to dance, sports and physical expression and DJing is another story but considered an instrument. I believe Hip Hop has its roots and various inspirations from all types of disciplines, as said by Ice-T “Hip Hop didn’t invent anything, but re-invented everything”.
It was exactly today August 11th, but in 1973 when Cindy Campbell, Kool Hercs sister, put together the infamous blockparty on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue where all core elements naturally collided and which was later marked the so-called birth of Hip Hop. This place is protected by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and recognized as the Birthplace of Hip-Hop, Kool Herc who was guiding and playing his legendary breaks at this party was named the Godfather of Hip Hop.
Fast forward 40 years and you arrive in 2013, where not everything evolving and revolving around Hip Hop is as sugar & spice. Mainly due to inaccurate and misuse of the term Hip Hop and rapping blowing up as trend, graffiti becoming streetart, streetdance being called Hip Hop whereas bboying goes to popping and locking and all these elements being imitated or and pursued without background knowledge and feel for the culture.
On, recent hit artists have been scoring on lyrical content and conscious messages, which is a great turnaround for the mainstream image of Hip Hop music, compared to the early millenium years. Much as I love the initial concept and the roots of our culture I sadly never got to experience it first hand, but have seen it expand and evolve as a musical and cultural expression. Hip Hop is a movement and a lifestyle, but also a direct reflection of its changing time and place, shifting values and conditions, opportunities and threats; for better or worse. As a result at times it will be lacking but Hip Hop culture is never lost.
Hip Hop is still to this day, 40 years later, going strong as a universal musical and physical expression, culture and collective consciousness. Bringing purpose and fulfilment to individuals, building instant and lifelong connections beyond all borders, promoting knowledge of self and surroundings and the pursue of its qualities in life. We have b-boys and girls, emcees and rappers, beatboxers and producers, DJ’s and turntablists, illustrators and singers, activists and scholars and more doing their thing and independent labels, media and organizations who besides making themselves a living, genuinely care for the culture and attempt to control quality in Hip Hop.
Since you’re reading this here, I assume there was a certain moment time when someone came into your life and introduced you to Hip Hop. For some I know it was a travelling road, for me; I was hooked after my first Dilla beat and fell deep and deeper in love with this music and the entire culture around, behind and beyond it. In occasion of the 40th anniversary, take just a split second to imagine your life without Hip Hop and give thanks to our ancestors.
And now please, realize. “I was just the Hip Hoppa before you” – KRS One. It’s up to us to carry the torch for the generations to come and let Hip Hop be the light in a society that is more and more refrained from the natural human way. It is up to us not only to rap, sing, dance, write or cut, express ourselves and have fun but also to preserve and pass on the qualities of Hip Hop culture and consciousness. Be that person introducing a youngster to what is this thing we love so freely and give them the opportunity to let it in and bring them the happiness it brought to your life.
Let that sink in and thank and celebrate Hip Hop today!