Hip various different forms by people of
HipHop is defined and viewed in various different forms by people of differentbackgrounds and cultures. One thing that can be agreed upon by many peopletoday is that Hip Hop has become a global form of art. Beyond just being globalhowever, the question up for debate is whether Hip Hop can be considered aglobal learning experience. To properly answer such a question, it is necessaryto first define and understand what Hip Hop is and what a global learning experienceis. Indefining Hip Hop, it is important to look at what Hip Hop actually is and notwhat it may be perceived as to different people. Hip Hop consists of fourelements which include, deejaying also called turntabling, rapping also called”MCing”, graffiti, and B-boying. It originated in the economically depressedSouth Bronx, NYC in the 1970s.
It gained global popularity in the 1990s, andbecame known in cities like Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, Cape Town, London, andBristol, England. Hip Hop started to generate large amounts of sales forproducts in industries like fashion, liquor, electronics and automobile as aresult of hip hop artists influence through television and magazines. 1Hip Hop is more than music, it is a culture. It has influenced and uplifted theunderprivileged by giving them a voice to deliver any message. Moreover, itprovides MCs and rappers with the ability to voice their opinions aboutgovernment, society and the treatment and struggles African Americans faced foryears. 2 Hip Hop is an expression of personal feelings andcircumstances that give insight into the life of an artist and theirsurrounding culture. It has had a reputation for promoting violence, negativeviews on women, and the consumption of drugs and alcohol. While such factorsare evidently true, that is only one side of the coin.
The other side is thatHip Hop can be used to raise awareness of issues facingfacinggroups who are unrepresented and disadvantaged. 3 To be able to identify whethersomething is a global learning experience, one must first understand what thatentails. A global learning experience is one that gives a person insight on adifferent culture and provides them with a perspective into a part of the worldor a concept or an idea that was once foreign to them. It allows for anunderstanding on why people are the way they are or why something is done theway it’s done. It allows people to look to something outside of themselves andwhat they already know.
Global learning entails exploring places, people orevents and finding the connections and differences between those things andone’s own life. In doing so a person can not only expand their awareness oftheir surrounding world but learn more about themselves through learning aboutothers.4 Hip Hop has bred a big fan baseworldwide with listeners from all over the globe. The majority of theselisteners are teenagers or young adults. While the media may at times portrayHip Hop as having a negative impact on listeners and being a catalyst forsocial issues like abuse, crime or teen pregnancy the reality is such issuesexisted long before Hip Hop became known.
5 There is no denying thatthere is content within Hip Hop that speaks of such issues however there is alsomusic with a positive message that builds on social consciousness to raiseawareness on social issues not promote them. An artist may mention socialissues in their music but the intention is not to cause corruption to youth butrather to speak on prevalent issues. When understood correctly this in returncan build listeners’ awareness and empathy for people facing such issues notpromotes them to take part in it. Through Hip Hop’s long and impactfulhistory, it is clear to see that it can in fact be considered a global learning experience. Hip Hop hasmanaged to grow from its African American origins to bringing diversepopulations together from across the world to share in one art while stillmaintaining diversity and uniqueness.
In fact, seventy five percent of theaudience is comprised of non-black communities which goes to show just how muchHip Hop has grown globally. 6 Today, it is used to promote to theyoung the importance of being aware of social and political issues. It educateslisteners, who otherwise may never truly understand the effect of an issue agroup or even one person is facing, on real social issues. This is crucial forpeople and specifically youth to understand the conditions of the worldsurrounding them and how they have a role to play in making a difference.
Moreover, it is beneficial to youth who may be experiencing the difficultiestalked about through the music and who do not know how to move past it. “A fewof the issues that hip hop has created awareness in are racial discrimination, individuality and the importance of educationand believing in your dreams. Hip hop also is a reflection of the soul andmind, and is a solace for both the artists and listeners who may be strugglingwith the same issues.” 7 As a result, hip hop has become a chancefor listeners to learn about global issues. The simplest of examples of such alearning experience is a privileged Canadian youth who learns about thedifficulties of growing up in poverty from an artist who grew up in anunderprivileged small American city. Notonly does this bring to a light an issue that could be completely unknown to aperson but it does so in a way that allows them to feel emotions associatedwith the circumstance spoken about through the impact of music and lyrics whichcan be an extremely powerful thing. Not only does hip hop draw attention tounfortunate things like violence it also is used to promote anti-violence and aneed for peacefulness.
Throughrelating to young listeners about current or common issues it encourages themto consider making changes that would move them in a better direction. TupacShakur was one of the rappers to be criticized for unfiltered and profane lyricsthat displayed a very real picture of circumstance of urban Americans.8 While people maylisten to such music for the sake of listening to music, the fact that they areconsistently listening to lyrics about the mentioned issues may lead them toconsider their impact. Many of the issues mentioned by artists relate to thingslike substance abuse or violence of any sort. An artist’s intention behind thatis not encourage such behaviour but to show people they can learn from theirmistakes and that changing one’s direction of life from those things can bedone. Since hip hop has become so popular, it makes it a perfect tool to beused to build global knowledge and awareness on issues and possible solutionssince it is likely that as a result of its popularity it will reach many people.Not only does it reach many people it reaches them quickly and starts to createconversation between people that get them thinking about the issues and thepeople affected. This goes on to draw attention of people across the world andthey begin to come up with possible solutions.
While hip hop originated in America,as it expanded globally it started to take different forms as different culturesapplied their own traditions. It didn’t just spread worldwide in its sameAmerican form. Each artist with a different background and culture createdtheir own take on hip hop. This is what makes it a global learning experienceand Hartwig Vens views hip hop as such. 9 Hip hop has influencedcountries socially and culturally in many ways. It has allowed leaders touse it in a way to speak to issues within their communities in a relatablemanner. Today’s culture of youth, more thanever, are interested in storytelling, highly value emotions and experiences andquestion everything.
10 Hip hop addresses all those factors as it communicatesa story about experiences while being filled with emotions to trigger attentionand response. Artists use it bring up questions about just about anythingwithin their culture. As a result, the music and art created from around theworld bring to youths’ attention events or changes impacting people within acultural group. It challenges listeners to think about what is occurring aroundthem even if it may have no direct impact on them. It also encourages them tothink about the repercussions of actions taken by others and how that couldimpact the listeners themselves. Since hip hop does a really good job atsparking feelings and emotions through how raw and impactful it is, it is easyfor a person to find themselves influenced by a song they hear. Due to how global hip hop has becomeit can be used in teaching people as a way of reaching out in a way that wouldattract attention. Previously, artists would create music that would speak towhat that are or have experienced as a way of relating to people or showingpeople a side they may never have been exposed to.
However, now as a result ofits global reach artists should use hip hop to not just address what they havegone through only but what the issues that they are seeing are becomingprevalent in society. In such a way, they can go on to address more issues andattract people’s attention for change in a way they know people will listen to. The commercialization of hip hop hasheavily impacted hip hop as an art. Hip hop started off from hopeless American Blackand Latino cultures facing poverty and discrimination. 11 In the 1980’sit grew to be something much bigger than just that. The success of Hip Hop canbe traced back to Sugarhill Gang who produced the first hit song for hip hop.Run DMC’s commercial success however, is what really got the success of Hip Hopgoing as it became more mainstream.
They even managed to be the first hip hopgroup to have their album make a number one R&B chart and they were thefirst to produce albums there were gold, platinum and multiplatinum. Hip Hop asa whole, in 1988, made over $100 million in sales. In 1993, its revenues jumpedto an astounding $700 Million. 12As Hip Hopstarted to gain momentum and generate money for artists, it started changing. Alongsideall its success and growth came a pretty bad hit for African American radio stations.Prior to the commercialization of hip hop, owners of these radio stations, DJsand the programmers had full control over how they use their station to servetheir listeners, primarily African American African-American listeners. Theyhad the freedom to speak on local news and social affairs and support newartists. But, as corporations outside of their community began purchasing localradio stations, the African American ones were basically driven out of themarket since these corporations owned by white upper class were much morepowerful from an economic view point.
Moreover, as corporate record labels startedpaying more attention to the hip hop artists, hip hop began to change from whatit was originally. It turned into music being controlled by corporations whosemain interest was the money coming from the industry. 13 Hip hop’shistorical image became distorted and the main motive started to be making topcharts or musicvideos.
It was no longer an expressive and real art it became a commoditybusiness. While this led to artists getting paid larger amounts and makingrecords, it has done so at the cost of the economic, social and historical levelhip hop was once on. When people point out hip hop as being offensive, they doso because of the music’s violence, misogyny and homophobia.
There are tworeasons as to why such factors are indeed prevalent. The first being that, hiphop originates from a culture that has seen much oppression whether it be froma social, economic or political stance. Thus, it is inevitable that the musicor art would contain things that some people would view as aggressive althoughit’s most likely just depicting a reality lived by the artist.
On the hand,there is also the abuse of use of such content for mere entertainment which isa product of the commodification of hip hop. From its origins, hip hop is allabout its honesty and rawness however as a result of record labels, artists aresometimes forced to create content that will sell as opposed to content they desireto create. 14 The commoditization of hip hop has put the authenticityof the art at stake. Authenticity came easy in the early days of hip hophowever the more mainstream the music became the less authentic the contentbecame.
A large contributor to that is as business became more involved in hiphop, artists had the pressure of conforming to a specific style or image. Thiswas heavily influenced by the demand from record labels who wanted to make surethey remained profitable. Additionally, this was influenced by the artists whovalued attraction of their audience over their authenticity and roots of hiphop. 15 The Commercialization of hip hop wasrelated to all categories.
Breakdancing also known as b-boying became well knownfollowing the movie called “Breakin”. Ever since then break dancing has beenwidely seen in the media and dance shows like “America’s Best Dance Crew”and “So You Think You Can Dance”. When hip hop radio stations and mix tapesstarted to gain traction so did DJing.
DJs would promote the new releases ofartists, which in return would build up interest from listeners. When rapbecame commercialized it had a direct impact on the commercialization of MCing.The market for hip hop has become extremely over saturated and watered down tothe point that people will memorize the most insignificant lyrics and thinkthat what they are singing is truly hip hop.
Finally, graffiti is the leastfamous and commercialized. Graffiti still has its complicated and expressivestyle that can be seen on walls or anywhere in cities. 16 While hiphop started becoming mainstream and used for marketing can be viewed as anegative thing it nonetheless resulted in hip hop reaching a large number ofpeople. This on one side has led people around the world to find their voicethrough hip hop while adding differentiating features to hip hop as it relatesto their culture. However, it still resulted in people deterring the image ofhip hop which was once mainly used as a way to communicate social issues.Instead people have now created music for entertainment only to target a largeaudience while losing the purpose of meaningful content. It started to becomemore about the money and popularity than its meaning and message.
Nonetheless,the commercialization of hip hop can be seen as a positive impact since eventhough artists misused it as it started to have global reach it still continuedits main mission which was to give a voice to the voiceless regarding socialissues. For example, in Kenya the two sides of hip hop are evident. One sidefocused on the money-making side of hip hop and moved towards capitalism withinthe industry. While the other side, gave young rappers the chance to rap aboutpoverty, joblessness and struggles endured through their generation and thepast. 17Inanything with good purpose, there will always be people who misuse it for thewrong reasons. Some can argue that, the good always outweighs the bad and ifthe expansion of hip hop can help more people even while its image getsdeterred, it is still achieving its main goal and that shouldn’t be overlooked.
In the very beginning for hip hop,the artists’ talent and lyrics where the main factors heavily valued bylisteners. With the commercialization of hip hop, that changed to monetarysuccess, appearances of style, insignificant personal stories and lyrics thatare catchy enough to be sung by many people. 18 Artists lost theright motives behind their music and followed a business approach. The musicbecame more controversial as the topics of the songs were centered around sensitiveissues. While the original roots of hip hop will always be there for the peoplewho want to see it, overall the commercialization of hip hop has had more of anegative impact than a good one. Hip hop as an art form is separate fromthe hip hop industry.
Hip hop as an art now more than ever is extremelymisrepresented and misunderstood. The industry that has grew substantively and commercializedis to blame. The hip hop industry turned into a money-making business withcorporations and artists looking to create content that would attract peoplewithout thinking how the measures taken deter the image of the art. Thisconsisted of a lot of pressure created to push out music with no real meaningand often music with degrading and offensive meaning. However, the art of hiphop, when hip hop is actually seen as an art is much different that isdisplayed in the media nowadays.
19 As an art, its meaningful, it tellsan important story and its authentic. All of which are qualities rarely foundin the industry today. As a result of the many years of the mainstreaming of hip hop, some peoplecan’t seem to look past the industry of hip hop and see the art that can actuallybe within it.
People see the controversial content and quickly jump to theconclusion that it is offensive without ever taking the chance to see the artwithin. The art of hip hop is one of the most imperative elements of music ingeneral. The true art of hip hop is producedby the artists who want to break free from social issues and express a story oftruth about their encounters, history and feelings. Regardless of themainstream impact of hip hop, as an art it will always be the viewed in its simplestform as the voice for a struggling person. The art of hip hop has the competitiveyet community feel to it that has existed from the very beginning. As strange as it may be there aremany differences between the art of hip hop and the industry of hip hop. As theindustry has become structured around business, artists started creatingcontent about what people want to hear and not about a significant topic theywant to talk about which is what the art of hip hop is all about.
19 Essentially,artists would rather sacrifice the true art for what would bring them material success.Secondly, within the industry personality is valued higher than talent andquality while in the art talent and quality is valued higher. The industry ofhip hop pushes for music regarding inappropriate content about violence, abuseor mistreating women for the wrong reasons while the art of hip hop speaks onfrom the view of personal experiences and oppression. Moreover, the industry ofhip hop highly mistreats women and objectifies them. The art of hip hop willalways be authenticity while the industry pushesfor similar content as a way of giving listeners what they want to hear. Theart of hip hop is mainly reliant on the lyrics and quality however the industrypushes on the importance of music video and media.
In present day, the art ofhip hop is less valued than what the industry of hip hop provides people.People prefer the experience of media, catchy music, and simplicity of the musicover the stronger lyrics and meanings of hip hop’s art. The quality of popularartists has declined significantly and that’s as a result of the structure ofthe industry.
Additionally, the industry is heavily reliant on an onlinepresence to attract listeners especially teenagers. A large factor taken intoconsideration in the industry is whether the content created would beattractive to teens and more specifically to teens through online sources. The industryof hip hop makes violence look like something that is cool while a true artversion of hip hop points towards the opposite. The art of hip hop, makeslisteners feels sorry for people experiencing violence while the industry hiphop somehow incorporates it into the content like it is something good. 20The art of hip hop is an art taken seriously and the artists who view hiphop for the art that it is take the time to write their own lyrics and investemotions and experiences in it. The industry contains famous artists who don’t evenwrite their own lyrics. Within the art of hip hop the lyrics are the mostimportant element and the differentiating feature in terms of the quality ofcontent.
As an art, hip hop can be collaborative however that is much differentfrom artists getting lyrics written for them. Hip hop as a global learning experienceis heavily impacted by the commercialization of hip hop. Additionally, thelearning experience from hip hop as an art is much different than if the industryof hip hop was looked at. The negative impact of the commercialization couldhave a 20 http://www.complex.
com/music/2012/11/25-things-everyone-thinks-about-hip-hop-but-nobody-will-say/ignorant-rapnegativeimpact on the kind of experience hip hop gives off globally. The commercializationof hip hop brings on a lot of music that is very similar as a result of recordlabels and artists attempt to consistently give listeners what they want. Unfortunately,in attempt of so doing content becomes very similar and loses its uniqueness andauthenticity. The learning experience becomes one about a large group ofcreators rather than individually learning about the culture of each creator.However, regardless of similarities between artists of a shared culture, therewill always be differences between cultures of different cultures.
For example,an artist in America or Kenya could create content about very different thingsdepending on their life experiences. There is also much to be learnt when a listenercan spot similarities between various groups and sees that the world is muchmore similar than it could appear. When Hip hop artists focus on making moneyas a business and appealing to larger groups through the use of profanelanguage or disturbing topics, such choices hinder hip hop’s true ability toteach listeners globally. On the other hand, when artists create content thatis real and a true representation of their story it provides an extremelygenuine and interesting learning experience. In conclusion, hip hop when createdlike the true art it is meant to be offers a rich global learning experience thatallows people to understand life for the artist or social issues the artistwants to highlight.
Hip hop brings together worldwide cultures to share in oneart while each culture creates a piece of art that is so unique and dynamic. Thisis where the learning stems from as the differences of life and take on art canbe examined and learnt from. Moreover, at the very core hip hop and why hip hopemerged to begin with is that is gave the disadvantaged a voice to expressthemselves. When no one hears a person, there will always be music to make themheard. Hip hop is a way for anyone to poor their soul into something and thenhave people get a chance to take a look inside their soul through the artcreated whether that be expressed through lyrics, dance moves or drawings. Thatis exactly what a global learning experience is.