Rap is something you do, Hiphop is something you live. Every culture has its respective traditions and legends which give value and meaning to the lives of the cultures constituents and work in harmony to convey a concise message about the values which should be held in esteem.
Hip Hop is no different.
Hiphop’s formal cultural identity was discovered in New York City’s notorious low income housing projects as an activity which transcended racial, religious, gender, and eventually even socioeconomic barriers. In 1973 Kool DJ Herc, an immigrant from Jamaica, hosted the first “Jam” – a birthday party for his sister Cindy. Kool DJ Herc’s Jam was so popular that it became a regular event and people from all over New York City would gather at these dancehall style events were they would listen to music, discuss their views and ideas, and create an atmosphere that was elevated above the petty drug scenes and urban decay of New York’s inner city… Some of the children who were around 8 years old at this time remember the jams and remember witnessing the birth of Hip Hop. Others who were children in other places at this time were simply influence by the events that followed and became a part of Hip Hop’s unique cultural heritage. (I. E. Break Dancing aka Breakin’, or the Go-off.
Grafitti Art aka Burnin’, Bombin’, Tagging. Deejayin’ – The study and application of rap music functional aesthetics and production techniques pioneered by Kool DJ Herk, Afrika Bambaata, Grandmaster Flash with the invention of the mixer and so-on all the way to DJ Qbert.
Beatboxing – The study of music and the capabilities of the human physiology to simultaneously produce as many musical elements as possible to produce a cohesive performance without any formal instrumentation.
And Emceein’ or rap which allows the successful practitioner to capture a moment of inspiration and organically translate that inspiration to the willing listener.) Although Hip Hop was born from seemingly inauspicious circumstances it was the people who were just children in the 70’s in New York who would take these traditions and elevate Hip Hop to a Golden Age. These children grew and went on to collaborate with the pioneers of Hip Hop (Kool DJ Herc, Afrika Bambaata, Marley Marl, Grandwizard Theodore, The Cold Crush Brothers, Kurtis Blow, Gil Scott Heron etc.) Hip Hop’s second generation grew to be driving forces in the accurate representation and development of hip-hop elements and associated products. So-called “Golden Age” Hiphoppas such as: Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, KRS-One, Gangstarr, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest etc. in the time between 1986-1992 when the Hip Hop’s second generation came of age.
The reason that Hiphop associated itself with the “Gangster” image in the, early days was because in the low income housing projects the so-called “gangsters” were the ones with fancy clothes, money, and cars, which translates to an image of success and these are the people that Hiphop was raised under. Although not all Hiphoppas fell into the stereotypical gangster role, the media is very quick to focus on negative aspects and then “impartially” expound upon the potential negatives.
Very quickly – as early as the mid 70s – Afrika Bambaata: Former leader of the Black Spades, one of New York’s most notorious criminal elements – had disbanded the Black Spades and formed the Universal Zulu Nation to organize cultural events for youths, combining local dance and music movements and ultimately acted as a catalyst for the further formalization of Hip Hop Kulture into existence as a culture which promotes Peace, Love, Unity, and the Awareness of one’s actions as Hip Hop so that Hiphoppas could be encouraged to take responsibility for how they act and represent Hip Hop in society.
These principles were the catalyst for Hip Hop’s actions in the following years beginning with KRS-One’s “Stop the Violence” movement in 1988 and then on to the Hip Hop declaration of peace in 1996 presented before the United Nations declaring Hip Hop as a formal culture and outlining its principles for the world to see and from there to the founding of the Temple of Hiphop, a Hiphop preservation society which is built on the philosophy that you are not just doing Hip Hop, you are Hip Hop and works to promote the physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing of Hiphop by promoting the physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing of the Hiphoppa. Because if Hip Hop does not provide for the physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing of the Hiphoppa in life then Hiphop will cease to exist. The reality is that you cannot simply do hip-hop (Rap music) and expect to achieve the same results (Health, Love, Awareness, and Wealth) as someone who truly lives and operates within the principles and awareness of Hiphop.
Although you can certainly enjoy the music and aspire to enjoy Health, Love, Awareness, and Wealth in your own life!