Ask me any day what kind of music I like, and I will tell you hip hop. Don’t ask me if it’s old school or new, but know it’s definitely not that mumble rap and it’s certainly not Migos. I’m currently loving “Clipping.” so check that out, but to be warned don’t listen to it too loud, the afro-futuristic, electronic, sci-fi sound is definitely a lot to take in the first couple of times. Hip Hop has always told a story, and that’s what I love. The feeling of completion at the end of the song is so similar to finishing a book.
And that’s what it is meant to be. Hip Hop and Rap are forms of storytelling, it comes from the voices of people otherwise not heard. Those in urban, disadvantaged communities found a way for their story to be told and it started something so great in music. Hip Hop is a revolution in itself. It is something that can take the old and re-brand it and shape it into something new. Need an example? Take a look at Hamilton. No one aside from historians, could be bothered to care about Hamilton until it was revitalized, and modernized into an amazing musical, from then on everyone wanted to know about the life story of Alexander Hamilton, and those who know the music can tell you what Hip Hop has done to assist in the renewed interest in the Revolutionary War era and the interest and understanding of the Political system. The songs from Hamilton do so much more than convey the story and feed information. It breaks down the barrier of time and makes the characters, our Founding Fathers, relatable. I myself, am very much of a Lafayette, at least according to the “Which “Hamilton” character are you?” quiz on Buzzfeed. But when listening to the album you get a sense of how each respective character is, and what they stand for, and their developmental arc throughout the musical. Hip Hop has a way of telling stories that eliminates the frills and it gets down to the bare bones.
The next best thing about Hip Hop is it allows the tough stories to be told. So many claim that Hip Hop is violent but that isn’t always the case. In terms of the older hip hop, or the more true hip hop, it’s the story again. It’s the experiences of a person, so if that person has seen someone get shot or had to deal drugs in the past that is their way of expressing it and coping with it. Hip Hop has a very psychological element to it. Think on this for a moment. Those who come from good backgrounds are able to afford the necessary mental care and treatments after a traumatic event, those in underrepresented and disenfranchised areas are not given the same resources. When someone goes through something traumatic an emotional outlet is needed. Some paint, some exercise, some make clay sculptures, but when these options aren’t available to you the best you can do is verbalize your feelings. One truth of living in the underrepresented areas, is there is a large population of minorities, mainly African Americans and Hispanics, and if there’s one thing these cultures have in common it’s their proclivities for rhythm and beats, and musical talent in general. So one is able to take the pain or joy of their experiences and combine it with their culture around them and make music that tells their story. They can heal through this process.
I love spoken word. I don’t believe I’m any good at it, albeit I’ve never tried. Spoken word is the root of Hip Hop, it has no music behind it, it is raw and emotional and life-changing. There is something so amazing about the art of speech that true spoken word artists have. One thing that should always be minded is the fact that spoken word is more than speaking. Which sounds confusing but the reality is almost anyone can speak but those who have mastered spoken word, have the talents of understanding inflections, and flow. Spoken word isn’t on paper and thus it focuses less on how the words look and more on how they sound. To every spoken word piece there is an ebb and flow that makes every listener feel something, the back and forth creates such an auditory pleasure that when you find the right piece you feel like you could start change, that you alone could create change and it sometimes only takes 2 minutes to listen to. A two minute revolution and revitalization. Every spoken word piece I have heard sounds like the artist is trying to sell me something and at the end I will always buy.
Hip Hop is something that can cause change and those in power are aware of it, and to help this come full circle, here’s a fun fact. Currently in Russia, China, Thailand, and Turkmenistan Hip Hop and Rap is being used to assist the respective Government’s draw younger crowds, encourage voting and spread the political parties agendas. Whether the youth and general public agrees with them or not, there is something to be said for the effort that it would take. But in all of these countries Hip Hop started as a way to disagree with the Government and begin revolutions and form change, it was all based on the underground communities and was almost banned in many cases. Until the Governments decided to wield that verbal weapon against them.
We are currently living in a world where, in my honest opinion, good music is hard to come by. It’s all very perfectly primped, and polished, and has an aesthetic that it is not trying to stray from. Many artists sound so similar they might as well be the same person. But Hip Hop is something that is able to stand the test of time. It’s in a rough spot right now thanks to SoundCloud rappers, but true to it’s form it get back up and finishes the story. It stays as a way to express opinions and tell stories.