Keep it Real | Best Books On Hip-Hop Culture
"Hip-hop is the streets. Hip-hop is a couple of elements that comes from back in the days… that feel of music with urgency that speaks to you. It speaks to your livelihood and it’s not compromised. It’s blunt. It’s raw, straight off the street — from the beat to the voice to the words"
Nasir Jones aka NAS
Everything started back in August 1973, the day when Clive Campbell aka DJ Kool Herc and his friends tossed a back-to-school party in the Bronx, New York. Hip-hop culture was born and it didn't take much time before it began to spread throughout the United States into both urban and rural areas and then throughout the world. While the term hip-hop is most commonly used to refer exclusively to hip-hop music (also called rap), hip-hop is characterized by nine elements, even if only four of these are considered necessary to understand the musical aspect of hip-hop:
- Graffiti Art
- Beat Boxin
- Street Fashion
- Street Language
- Street Knowledge
- Street Entrepreneurialism
An element is part of hip-hop's social structure. It is a reflection that further communicates the hip-hop way of life. Each of these elements are fundamental to acquiring health, love, success and wealth. These doctrines, however, do not include a specific moral code.
1) Keep it real
Street cred is fundamental to hip-hop's soul. A hip-hop-driven life is tied to being real, finding a unique voice and talking about the reality of your everyday life. Hip-hop needs you to tune in to that inner voice, that internal identity and act naturally no matter what.
2) Speak the truth
The need to speak truthfully is essential to hip-hop; life on the streets and poverty. Rapping stories that others hesitate to recount; stories of inner city life, prostitution, drugs, gangs, violence, and police abuse. Being a hip-hopper means being anchored in the reality of street life.
3) Change the Game
Hip-hop is a progressive culture that evolves, changing "the game". Hip-hop life has no time for convention, hip-hop means being defiant and protesting, it constantly tests "business as usual". Still, it evolves.
4) Represent your hood
Hip-hop's idea of family stretches beyond your close relatives and extends to your neighborhood. Rappers who express hip-hop culture with their music see themselves as representatives of the 'hood' where they grew up. Duty to your 'hood' implies that when you "make it" you share.
5) Express Yourself
Creative expression is the basis of hip-hop which has made it the worldwide social wonder of youth today. Despite the fact that hip-hop began with rap, breakdancing, deejaying, and graffiti, it is in no way, shape or form restricted to these characteristics. The hip-hop community has since ventured into other artistic forms: hip-hop conveys everything that needs to be said.
To learn more about the movement, here is a 11-book reading list, a playlist, and a link to the first part of an old, but nevertheless good documentary on the birth of hip-hop.
Enjoy and Keep it real !