Hip Hop is most notably known for being originated in the South Bronx, New York. It’s founding is contributed to legendary DJ Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc. This new genre was characterized by MC’s, turntables, break dancers, beat boys, and graffiti art. Beyond a genre, Hip Hop is a civilization, creating its own lane and setting trends for the whole world to follow. Hip Hop is not apart of pop culture, it IS pop culture.
Since its beginning, it has had an influence on arguably the whole world from fashion to politics. In the early stages of Hip Hop, the DJ was the star of the show. The scratching and breaking of records inspired a whole new style of dance – the breakdance.
In the late 70’s/early 80’s, major groups like RUN DMC made streetwear fashionable. This group in particular set a series of trends especially the Hip Hop sneaker culture. This was apart of their signature look, along with adidas track suits, giving the brand a new audience – the black consumer.
Trends brought on my 90s era Hip Hop included the “tomboy” look for women, inspired by artists such as Left Eye from TLC, Missy Elliot, and Mary J. Blidge. Men’s trends also followed Hip Hop, featuring Air Jordans by Michael Jordan, bright colors inspired by Will Smith’s Fresh Prince, and the high top fade, seen in Hip Hop inspired movies like Houseparty that glamourize the culture.
The 90’s era Hip Hop also had a heavy emphasis on social activism. The group Public Enemy spoke about the abuse of blacks by police brutality and other political exploitations of power. 2 Pac Shakur, son of Black Panther activists, rapped about systematic oppression and other social ills affecting black communities.
The 2009’s era impact on the culture carried over with artists such as Jay Z, Andre 3000, T.I., Lil Wayne, and 50 Cent. There were black owned brands (Rocawear, FUBU, and Phat Pharm to name a few) who larger labels followed, noticing the that Hip Hop artists had on black buyers. Designers now wanted rappers in their latest collections and made “black fashion” priority on their marketing campaigns.
Present day Hip Hop culture is no different and perhaps has had the most profound impact on the present culture of the world. Every new artist, no matter what genre, is eager to reach its fan base. For crossover artists, If your song doesn’t have a verse or hook by artists such as Quavo (Migos), Drake, or Future, then it’s not projected to do well. Kanye West’s Yeezy brand is changing the fashion industry. Chance the Rapper is making more strides towards social improvement than Chicago’s city government, and female artists such as Nicki Minaj are constantly breaking down barriers and out of the boxes placed around them as women.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that Hip Hop is the pacemaker for the culture and that extends far beyond its musical implications.