Hip hop music is a wide appealing music that has widened its distribution to a large audience in the music industry. Since its emergence in the 1970s, hip hop has been changing together with its audience, becoming a multi-billion-dollar international phenomenon (Bennett, 2000). Initially, hip hop was used as human right fighting tool that blacks used to address their concerns. Hip hop by then had a specific audience and theme as it directed its concerns to the perpetrators of racism. However, hip hop has experienced change and currently it is a general audience music exhibiting a culture that incorporates politics, art, technology, ethnicity, urban life and fashion. Hip hop and cultural change has popularized within its fan base for several periods while maintaining its original fan base.
Despite the prevailing spreading out of Hip hop across the world and the existing division of people based on race and culture, hip hop is an unequivocally Africa-America cultural phenomenon that is as a result of interaction of cultures. Hip hop since then has been recognized as one of the far reaching cultural change which started on the “embattled streets of the Bronx” where “race riots, urban renewal, arson and government neglect wiped out educational and social service programmes, eviscerated housing stock, accelerated white flight and job loss, and created and international symbol of urban despair.” “To the uninitiated” (Fernando 1994). It is important thus to identify hip hop not just as music but as a rebellion that has been seeking for change. As an agent of change hip hop has been in the lead to bring about the unique era of culture where language, music, art, and fashion reflect some distinct metaphors that have grown to be global. Hip hop being a unique way of addressing change and reflection of the historic and prevailing truth, it has transformed cultures by creating a new way of living and a unique lifestyle which is shared from the Ghettoes of New York to the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, towers of Shanghai, Slums of Ghana and council estates of England.
Hip hop has been changing with the changes in society and from a personal perspective; I can confirm that hip hop is changing with the prevailing change in the society. Hip hop is thus a medium for social and a reflection of the prevailing conditions in the society. It is common to hip hop music for artists to use some specific words to express something of interest to the society. For instance, an artist can say “f**K the police” it is common sense to the audience to have their minds thinking of the brutality of police (Taylor, 1997). Every hip hop song that became popular at its time trended as a matter of discussion within the community and amongst the audience of hip hop. This served to be a trend in changing the lifestyle of hip hop audience as they were seeking to dress and behave as hip hop stars do.
Hip hop in its desire to bring change to the society, is different from other genres of popular music in that hip hop forced itself into the media industry by influencing the media audience. As a result, hip hop emerged as a demand from the media audience. For instance MTV played rock and roll, rap, blues, jazz and r and b and no hip hop until its emergence as a demand from the media audience. Hip hop significantly emerged to bring about change in the media industry as one and only music of people of color (Fernando, 1994). This is a significant change in the world since ethnicity is the current trending negative connotation that the people of America have as a dividing factor. It is therefore genuine to say that unlike any other genre hip hop helped to fight against racism in the US via the media and music industry.
Hip hop language has also brought changes to the world. The abbreviations and wording like N****, f**K which are widely used in social chats are all out of hip hop language. Though hip hop has been tremendously important to the world, the historic emergence of the “gangsta rap” which came into existence in 1980s before conscious hip hop is reported as the most socially challenging and notorious development of hip hop music. This is due to the fact that the genre was affiliated to criminal activities that were rampant in the US.
Bennett, A. (2000). Popular music and youth culture: music, identity and place. Macmillan Press Ltd
Taylor, T. D. (1997). Global pop: World music, world markets (p. 197). New York: Routledge.
Fernando, S. H. (1994). The new beats: Exploring the music, culture, and attitudes of hip-hop. Anchor Books/Doubleday.