“Hip/Hop Culture: The Graffiti ”

By: Ramy

People with money can put up signs; government and big corporations’ sponsors are found all over the country.  What about the working class and the urban youth who have no way to express what they are thinking about?  Urban youth want to freely express themselves and show their opinions to public.  Graffiti was the mean trough which urban youth could break the hegemony of the corporations and government over the messages that could be showed to public; Corporations have the domain over messages that are delivered to public, and government implies self-censorship on every message that is being published.

What is a street art? What is it used for? Street art is the kid of art that is taking place in the streets; like writing on walls and drawing in urban areas.  A majority of people formed that false ideology about graffiti; they tend to associate graffiti with vandalism. They think most graffiti artists are hoodlums or gang-bangers with nothing better to do with their time.  This ideology was formed as crews tagged a certain area with graffiti to mark territory, as to let the public know that they “own” a certain block or alley.  But actually this is graffiti but it isn’t the art of graffiti.


The art of graffiti started with the raise of the hip-hop culture.  Hip-hop was all about making up new type of music that allows urban youth to express messages about their everyday life.  Graffiti is usually made for the same reason; freely express the emotions with no restricts or censorship and show these messages to public.  Graffiti is the act of inscribing or drawing on walls for the purpose of communicating a message to the general public.

Hip-hop graffiti started with tags. In a time before intricate wild style and other forms of graffiti had emerged, the idea was just to make a presence in the city.  The point behind putting their names up in public and familiar places was to show a rejection of their working-class environment.  Most who worked in menial, low-class jobs felt that they had no individuality in the workplace; that they were just part of the city’s life-blood and could not be distinguished from the next worker.  Those youth wanted to resist that idea of being just another worker who couldn’t be distinguished or have any mark and have their mark in the streets, they added those tags and graffiti to mark their existence in the streets. Graffiti writers posted their names in as many places as possible, in essence to let the world know that they were still conscious and were still human beings.


Nowadays modern graffiti is still used for the same reason; delivering a message to a wide variety of people in the public without the need of the regular means of media that are ruled by government and corporations.  Graffiti nowadays is used to increase political and social awareness, express the rage towards the system, deliver a certain message to the public, antiwar graffities, and even used in Ads.  Big corporation recognized that graffiti is an art that is widely spread in the urban areas so they used graffiti writers to spray their logos and ad campaigns onto city streets in return for a paycheck. Companies that have practiced this include Coca-Cola, Nike, McDonalds, AM General Corp. (maker of the Hummer), IBM, and TIME magazine.

There has a domination by the government/corporation over the messages that are showed to the public through posers are found all over the place, and resistance by urban youth who used those street arts and gratifies to express themselves.  Negotiations between the two sides formed graffiti’s’ galleries where youth can show their work and gratifies as a piece of art.

On one hand some people liked the idea of graffiti being treated as a piece of art and there should be galleries and museums for it to be expressed freely and also one can start his carrier as a street artist, On the other hand some thought that street arts were made to remain on the streets and show these messages to public; street arts started to be resistance to capitalism and them being treated just as a mean of production not humans with voices and opinions, so they started the graffiti to express themselves and show their rage against that system, but by putting those arts in the museums and being used in ads for big corporation they lose the main point that they were made for; they are turning to be a part of the system not a resistance to it.

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