Hip Hop History

As we will learn throughout the course, Hip Hop culture entails much more than simply rap music.  As identified by the Afrika Bambaataa, one of the three founding fathers of Hip Hop, the culture consists of 5 interrelated elements: 1) rapping (emceeing), 2) DJing, 3) B-boying/B-girling (breakdancing), 4) graffiti, and 5) “knowledge”.  To this day we often hear the words Hip Hop used as an adjective to describe one’s style, sense of fashion, language, and even overall attitude.  Comedians such as Katt Williams and Eddie Murphy have been described as “Hip Hop”.  The NBA has been described as “Hip Hop”.  Films, theatrical pieces, and paintings have fallen under this umbrella.  Even Barack Obama has been labeled as “our first Hip Hop president”.  Your assignment consists of a two-part essay.  The first goal of the essay is to analyze what it means to be “Hip Hop”.  What shared qualities or aesthetics do all of these various things share that qualify them as “Hip Hop”?  Is it their appearances, political sensibilities, social status, treatment by society, paths to success, a combination of things, or none of the above?  In short, I want you to dissect what qualities someone or something must possess in order to appropriately be deemed Hip Hop.  The second goal of the essay is to take your conclusions from Part I and then choose a specific individual, organization, film, artistic creation etc. and convincingly outline why it too shares the Hip Hop aesthetic.

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