By Daniel Lindsay
Hip hop began as a movement in the lower income areas of New York City, namely the Bronx. It carries a connotation of youth culture and of urban culture, and is thus relatable to people in many areas. It has gradually gotten more popular and mainstream, which has led to it mixing with pop music and techno music for the modern idea of hip hop. The style of music has spread throughout the country, and in the last twenty years or so, the world. Originally it was resisted by mainstream culture, considered something that criminals and people of lower class would like, but as it gained a following, it has been incorporated into international culture.
Hip hop includes recurrent ideas of what both genders should act like, just like any other culture. Men are portrayed as violent and physically strong, and wearing very expensive and flamboyant clothing. In contrast to many ideals of women, women in hip hop are shown as being very confident and independent of the men, despite the fact that the main source of this confidence seems to be their sex appeal, which many say simply objectifies the women, in the same way as many other cultures and subcultures.
Also similarly to many other subcultures, especially in the US, going out to dance clubs is a huge theme. Most music videos in hip hop feature the singer and their friends or significant other in a club, dancing, and either showing their physical beauty or appraising someone else’s. Since the merging of hip hop and pop, the themes have become very similar, and in pop music, everything is about sex.
The evolution of graffiti is not the same as the evolution of hip hop music, but they did develop in tandem. With roughly the same timeframe, these two concepts were considered low class, and borderline criminal, but through the years have gained acceptance in mainstream and subcultural communities as legitimate genres of art. Graffiti has the added negative stigma that comes with being illegal. This is popular with young people in urban communities who see rebellion as something desirable and a way to assert their own power and independence. Street art, while similar to graffiti, has less of a rebellious and illegal connotation, and is instead considered a very free way of expressing oneself and gaining a large audience. This form of art was originally considered part of the artistic “fringe” as well, but it, too, has gained popularity. These ideas of resistance and incorporation are repeated among most subcultures (jazz, noir, rock and roll, to name a few). Hip hop culture is just one of the newer forms of culture to be accepted, a process it is still going through.