TO BE OR NOT TO BE HIP HOP...
What is Hip-Hop?
Well, according to Lawrence Parker aka KRS ONE, Hip Hop is a metaphysical embodiment of the Culture. To embody Hip-Hop, you must understand it. To understand Hip-Hop, you must be it. To become Hip-Hop, you must first have knowledge of self.
“To see the truth, you have to be your true self.”
Well what does it mean to know oneself? KRS says you must first look at how you think. Scholarship. Not just facts but one’s analysis and approach. What you perceive becomes your reality. So how you perceive is most important in defining Hip-Hop, and, thus, yourself. If you perceive yourself as the greatest MC, then you will be. But nothing in life comes without a cost, and you will have to make sacrifices to become that MC. On your journey, you’ll have to decide what holds the most value in your heart. Many of Us have not even tried to do what it takes because we perceive ourselves through the eyes of our enemy.
To speak of an enemy, you may be speaking on your teacher or friend. According to KRS, many of us cannot find ourselves because we have embodied our enemy, and, therefore, became our own enemy. It is vital to remain aware of who you surround yourself with. Those who we learn from are descendants of colonizers who found capital in, and then exploited the riches of Africa and her People. Our People. Though physical slavery may have ended, the powers that be have manipulated societal perception on what it is to be “educated”. We go to public schools and are taught extensive lessons about the renaissance of 15th century Europe while being deprived of any details of the 1920’s Harlem Renaissance. That is because our teachers are our enemies. As long as we are distracted by someone else’s culture and history, we will never discover our own. Once you become aware of your Culture, you will have a better understanding and perception of yourself. Once you know yourself, your value increases, and your power is restored. You now have the power to charge someone else and increase their value. Once we as a Culture perceive ourself as powerful and valuable, then we regain control of our reality..
The power of the Culture holds the power of Hip-Hop and thus, the world. KRS defines Hip Hop as layers of being- the highest and most in-tune: collective consciousness. In this state, Hiphop is one word with a capital H, as it relates to the Culture. To be aware of your movement and perspective.
The next layer of importance comes Hip Hop – no dash. In this state, you use your Hipness to create your art. You understand what the Culture is thinking, which allows you to connect with your audience. This is how Hip-Hop began and operated for many years, from breaking and mixing to graffiti and rapping.
hip hop, then, is the product which one uses to convey his art. How you brand and market yourself for financial gain and clout. It can yield both positive and negative effects; though in contemporary products, artists value celebrity over consciousness. They are therefore unable to holistically embody Hiphop. This is due to their internal conflict between colonizer and creator.
Now understanding how to approach Hip Hip as a scholar, you understand that it must be defined subjectively and can only be defined by the Culture of which it embodies. Our experience and understanding have continuously recreated and shifted the paradigm of “what is Hip Hop?”