Hip-Hop & Graffiti

By: Jordan

Hip-Hop started in the 1970’s in New York as a new style of music and a way to express  yourself.  It started as a way to tell a story of urban life and the struggle to get out of the ghettos where most of the early rappers lived.  Early hip-hop groups like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and Public Enemy had songs that actually had meaning to their lyrics.  Now hip-hop has evolved into rapping about how much money you have, the kind of cars you drive, and how much you party.  Today if you have a catchy choirs and a good beat you will have a successful hip-hop song, no matter what the lyrics are.  You especially see this in the more popular hip-hop you hear on the radio or see on MTV.  This is where I see the process of resistance and incorporation at play in the evolution of hip-hop.  For example contemporary hip-hop is owned by big record companies that control what an artist can put on an album, which was not the case in the beginning of hip-hop.  Groups like N.W.A. would never be able to release a song today about killing police officers and be backed by a record company or get played on the radio. Contemporary mainstream hip-hop has no message, good or bad, rather it is now selling a product or a lifestyle over a beat.

From the beginning hip-hop has been made up of male rappers and MCs, however starting in the 1990’s when hip-hop began to really grow more women started rapping as well.  In male dominated industry such as hip-hop women rappers are at a disadvantage, usually exploited for their image and sex appeal.  There are many gender-based ideologies in hip-hop, from women having to look a certain way to how women are supposed to act.  However, with hip-hop now being one of the most popular music genres there has been resistance and incorporation to these ideologies.  It has become more common today for there to be more female rappers and also less discrimination against women in contemporary rap lyrics.

The evolution of graffiti also goes along with that of hip-hop.  Both hip-hop and graffiti started in New York in the 1970’s as a way to express yourself artistically.  In the beginning graffiti was looked down upon by the public and even criminalized.  Many people hated graffiti because they thought it made the city look run down or that it was associated with violence such as gangs.  However, as graffiti started to become more and more popular and seen around all New York and other parts of the world people began to see the art and skill behind graffiti.  People started to become interested in the meaning behind the pieces of graffiti and wanted a way to learn more and even buy these pieces of art.

This is where resistance and incorporation come into play and when graffiti turns into street art.  Graffiti has evolved from just using spray paint to write your name or where you’re from, now graffiti has grown into another type of mainstream art with different styles and techniques these artists use.  Graffiti has become so popular now that it is now sold at art galleries for thousands of dollars, and has taken on the name street art instead of graffiti.  This happened because there was no stopping people from tagging things they wanted so our culture has turned it into a way to make money and a lifestyle.

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