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Hip Hop

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"I am societies child, this is how they made me, and now im sayin what's on my mind and they dont want that. This is what you made me America." вЂ" Tupac Shakur

Hip Hop in general consists of four main elements, DJ’s, MC’s, graffiti art and break dancing. Although all four are very important to the hip-hop movement, the main topic discussed here is hip-hop and how it evolves relative to its environment. Every hip-hop artist has his or her own unique characteristics, for example Tupac and his West coast approach compared to Biggie and his East coast approach. Each different form of hip-hop has a strong emphasis on lyrical construction and conveying a message from the artist to the listener. Although, even with every MC’s own personal traits in their work, there also seems to be one distinct resemblance that exists within their lyrics which is the aspects of representation and identity in their respective environment. Every MC, or the more present day term rapper, uses the ideas of representation and identity in most all aspects of their art. Whether it is through representing their city, area code or clique to exploiting their identity as being gangster, masculine or �real’, most all rappers use this technique to portray to their listeners what they want to be portrayed. The aspect of controversy is also another issue that is very present with hip-hop in music. Rappers undergo all kinds of criticism for different types of content in their lyrics. Most of the controversy that is coming out of the lyrics is conflicts about sexism, violence, drugs, gender inequality and gang relations. The issue with hip hop is that in most cases when one rapper experiences criticism for one of the previously stated issues, the whole hip hop world goes under scrutiny. A relatively newer issue that hip-hop is experiencing, for the better or worse, is commercialization (Quinn 2005). With hip hops ever growing popularity more and more companies are taking advantage of its appeal to sell their products. Hip-hop is also experiencing more and more exposure through cinema, television and magazines, which help give the artists exposure. Many artists are also starting their own companies to further their net worth.

Ever since the beginning of hip hop, the theme of representation and identity has always been ever present. Dating back all the way to the first rappers, the art of representation has been done in many different ways. One of the more prominent ways that it is seen done in hip-hop is through representation of ones city or hood.

“But give me that bomb beat from Dre

Let me serenade the streets of L.A.

From Oakland to Sacktown

The Bay Area and back down

Cali is where they put they mack down”

In Tupac’s California Love, Tupac uses this verse to give a shout out to the different areas of California that he feels connected to, otherwise known as representation. Representation of ones city is so important to most rappers because it is that environment that has made them to be what they are today. Like many cities in the United States, the more urban areas are distinctly marked away from the more suburban areas (Costello 1990). For example, in Detroit the 8-mile road forms the boundary between the rugged city of Detroit, locally known by its area code 313, and Detroit’s northern suburbs. Many local Detroit rappers use the 8-mile marker and the area code 313 as a form of representing who they are and the background that they come from. For example, rapper Eminem is known more nationally for exploiting the 8-mile marker and area code 313 in his rap songs and has taken it commercially with the motion picture, 8 Mile. Rappers also speak of their experiences in different cities throughout their songs, comparing and contrasting similar people from different areas. For example in Ice Cubes, “summer vacation”, he raps about leaving L.A. to head to St. Louis for the summer. Throughout the song, Ice Cube compares and contrasts the gang violence of St. Louis to the type of gang violence that he encounters in L.A., eventually realizing that it is much of the same environment. These environments always tend to be of the lower class, and out of these environments the rappers have a drive to thrive. “ Fuck flippin burgers/ 'Cause a deserve a nine-to-five I can be proud of.” This is an excellent example from an N.W.A. song with Eazy-E looking back into the past rapping about a young child in the hoods dream to someday do something that he can be proud of. For many young children, dreams to grow up and be something they can be proud consists of a lot more than just making it by, especially in the rap world. Becoming rich and famous tops the charts for most aspiring rappers and it is backed up by being one of the most popular themes found in today’s rap music. As seen in many rap videos and in the lyrics themselves, the aspect of вЂ?bling’ is very real. Rappers feel that since many of them have come from a rough background with not much wealth, when they finally make it big it is necessary to show it off. For example in Cash Money Millionaire B.G.’s song, Bling Bling, he raps in detail about a few of his prized possessions. “Wootay I'm tattooed and barred up/ Medallion iced up, Rolex bezelled up/ And my pinky ring is platinum plus/ be trillion cut/ And my grill be slugged up.” Going into detail with every adjective that he uses, B.G. is flaunting his wealth to the listener in an attempt to portray himself as a legitimate or вЂ?real’ rapper. Portraying oneself as a legitimate or real rapper is another theme that stands tall in many rappers priorities. Dating back to old school hip-hip rappers have always criticized one another for making it big and then selling out or becoming a product of commercialization. One more present day rapper that has taken great pride in his legitimacy is rapper T. I.. Throughout many of T.I.’s albums he can be heard repeating the phrase, вЂ?real talk’, as if implying that his lyrics are not simply for show, but actual parts of his life. To the date T.I. has put out five different albums in his own name, all which lyrics consist of drugs, guns and other things that many would view as violent. This type of music has picked up the name as вЂ?trap music’, which is southern slang for a drug house, and T.I. stands strong to this genre of music proclaiming it through his explicit content. Recently T.I. was arrested on account of more than 12,000



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