November 30, 2023

As hip-hop celebrates its fiftieth anniversary, an occasion held at World Café Stay final Friday regarded on the impression the artwork type has had throughout that point.

ABOVE PHOTO: From (l-r) Tiffany Bacon, spoken phrase artist Ursula Rucker, Philadelphia emcee Queen Jo, singer Tylan, radio persona and co-founder of Black Music Month Dyana Williams and graffiti artist Christian “Tameartz” Rodriguez had been among the many individuals in “Message In The Music: Black Music As A Soundtrack To Encourage or Incite” final Friday at World Cafe Stay.  (Picture courtesy: Chris Murray)

By Denise Clay-Murray

When you’re in your 50s, you haven’t identified a world with out hip-hop.

The artwork type, which incorporates artwork and dance in addition to music, has turn into internationally ubiquitous. Hip-hop has been utilized in every thing from motion pictures and promoting, and can get the “Antiques Roadshow” remedy later this summer season on A&E with a present that can assist monitor down the artwork type’s treasures with the assistance of two of its elder statesmen, Ice-T and LL Cool J.

However within the tradition’s early days, quite a lot of individuals wrote it off as a passing fad. How severely ought to a type of music that includes sampled music as a substitute of devices and that includes the tales of Black and Brown youth be taken? 

“Now all people’s like, oh, hip hop,” mentioned Aaron Smith, an assistant professor of Africology and African American Research at Temple College who’s often known as “the Rapping Professor.” “And I’m like, phrase, 90% of y’all was like, ‘That is gonna finish, get a job!”

Nonetheless, hip-hop had different concepts. And due to this, it has managed to not solely survive, however right the file in loads of methods, Smith mentioned. 

“I actually assume that hip hop has given so many individuals an understanding of the fact of historical past by way of African innovation,” Smith mentioned. “As a result of the best way that historical past tells it, [culture] began in Greece, and it trickled all the way down to all people else. However, the fact of historical past is that it was Africans first, then all people else. Hip Hop has reasserted historical past and put issues of their correct stability.”

How hip-hop has created that stability was among the many issues mentioned at a current occasion held at World Café Stay in West Philadelphia. As a part of WURD Radio’s celebration of Black Music Month, the station hosted “Message In Our Music: Black Music As A Soundtrack to Encourage or Incite,” a night that includes panel discussions, video games and performances centered on hip-hop and its impression.

Tiffany Bacon, WURD Radio’s Artistic and Manufacturing Director, hosted “Message In The Music: Black Music As A Soundtrack To Encourage or Incite” final Friday at World Cafe Stay. The occasion was part of the station’s celebration of Black Music Month and celebrated the fiftieth Anniversary of Hip-Hop. (Picture courtesy: Chris Murray)

Hosted by WURD Radio’s inventive and manufacturing director Tiffany Bacon, the panel featured Smith, Ursula Rucker, a poet whose work has been featured on albums by The Roots, Queen Jo, a feminine emcee who has additionally served because the chair of Metropolis Council’s Arts and Leisure Process Drive, Christian “Tameartz” Rodriguez, a graffiti artist, Tylan, an up and coming artist who additionally carried out on the occasion, and Dyana Williams, a star media strategist and longtime Philadelphia radio persona who can also be one of many founders of Black Music Month.

Whereas hip-hop was thought of new to some when it began 50 years in the past, it was and nonetheless is an extension of the oral custom that has been part of the African American group from the start, Williams mentioned.

“My early recollections [of hip-hop] must be once I was dwelling in Harlem as a young person, and I heard the Final Poets for the primary time,” she mentioned. “They had been just like the griots [storytellers] in our group. We can’t disregard the connection between hop-hop and poetry.” 

It’s additionally relatable to everybody, Williams continued. 

“Why is it the primary style on this planet? Why do individuals in France relate to hip hop? Why do individuals in Brazil perceive the sensation and the intention of the music?” she requested. It’s as a result of, guess what? They acquired hoods in all of these locations they usually’re struggling in all of these locations, they usually fall in love in all of these locations, they usually have loss in all of these locations. [Hip-hop] has permeated world tradition in a manner that’s intrinsic, important, and tremendous actual, as a result of it’s coping with the realities of being human beings making an attempt to navigate this factor we name life.”

It’s additionally about illustration for individuals who might not have any, mentioned Queen Jo. At a time when silencing voices appears to be the nationwide pastime, hip-hop speaks for them, she mentioned.

“For me, hip hop is a creative expression for these marginalized by respectability politics,” she mentioned “It’s like I’m right here, and you’re going to acknowledge me. And I believe that that’s actually vital to loads of Black and Brown individuals.”

However to the bigger group, and even some older members of Black and Brown communities, how hip-hop at present initiatives itself is seen as problematic. Too violent. Too sexual. An excessive amount of. 

Historic context for this perception is vital, Smith mentioned. When marginalized communities take some company for themselves, it turns into problematic for individuals even when it isn’t, and nowhere is that more true than in hip-hop, he mentioned.

“I believe it’s vital to contextualize issues traditionally,” Smith mentioned. “After I take into consideration the style being described as an issue, I believe again to [W.E.B.] Dubois when he was speaking about what does it really feel prefer to be an issue and the Negro Drawback. If I advised you to go on the market and I’m objectifying you or controlling your picture, then it’s superb so that you can put on it subsequent to nothing. However have you ever determined what you’re going to put on, you are taking company and management your individual narrative, so now it’s a difficulty.”

Following the panel dialogue, these in attendance had been invited to take part in a trivia sport centered on Black music and an open mic session that allowed these to point out off their musical abilities.