Youth culture has always been attracted to black music as a way to offset their disenchantment with the status quo. Other forms of black music—blues, jazz, rock & roll and especially Hip-hop music, as a predominantly black art form, has often been able to engage nihilistic youth cultures dissatisfied with the establishment.
To demonstrate the urgency of building solidarity among youth culture (Hip-hop culture) and working class people, it is imperative to provide spaces of resistance that cultivate and motivate others to engage in battle with opposing forces.
Hip-hop is amazing. The ability to turn struggle into celebration is embedded within the culture as it emerged out of a “make lemonade” type of attitude from the beginning. Early Hip-hop artists relied on their parents’ music—and the old vinyl’s—to inform how their music sounded which also influence the aesthetics of music from the 60s and 70s.
One reason sampling became so prevalent in Hip-hop music is because the original artist of the genre in the seventies could not afford instruments. So they used their words and feet to navigate sounds and rhythms flowing from their being.
Hip-hop’s essence is anchored through the lens of poor black poverty and working class but its appeal to those outside the black community is both remarkable and undeniable. Hip-hop culture’s appeal to such a broad base is a testament to its ability to form a more inclusive coalition across ethnic and socioeconomic lines. Its appeal to youth culture around the world presents an opportunity to organize an internationally coordinated campaign against oppression because of the common language Hip-hop provides it’s followers.
What is remarkable about Hip-hop is that because it’s such a young art form, developing in the last few decades, we have an opportunity to make it into what we want it to be. We must responsibly take the culture from its infancy into adulthood to confront issues of inequality by utilizing artistic media in Hip-hop to critique political and social issues.
Hip-hop can, and has, contributed overwhelmingly to the discourse of issues that the world continues to confront in the immediate future. This includes war, poverty, disease, environmental justice, the role race and religion plays in our lives. Hip-hop, in the context of revolutionary struggle, is the best organizing agent to forge deep solidarity, political consciousness, and ally-work among our youth. The political raps of Gil Scott Heron and the Last Poets precede Hip-hop. Those artists’ legacies were pioneered by Afrika Bambatta, expanded by Public Enemy, and popularized by Rage Against the Machine.
The blueprint for using music to inform the political has always been in Hip-hop. But this can only happen if the audience and purveyors of the music empower themselves to become agents that influence our culture in positive ways. We have to keep pushing our culture. Thank God for Hip-hop. We Are All Artists Now.