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Hip-Hop's influence on culture

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Hip-hop culture.
  3. Hip-hop creed - 'keepin' it real'.
  4. Hip-hop vs jazz.
  5. The current crop of hip-hop artists.
  6. The critic bell hooks.
  7. Conscious rap.
  8. Conclusion.

Hip-Hop, over the course of the past thirty years had grown from an improvisational street art in the South Bronx section of New York City to a multi-billion dollar business and cultural phenomenon. Hip-hop is thus also a major cultural influence. In the same way jazz gave us words like "cool" and "funky", slang from hip-hop has rapidly entered everyone's vocabularies. Visions of the urban experience?including gang and individual violence ? are heavily informed by hip-hop, as are visions of wealth and consumption. Hip-hop culture is virtually everywhere: television, radio, film, magazines, art galleries, and in "underground" culture. It has even surfaced in congressional hearings. Hip-hop is the currency of popular culture in America today. Taylor and Taylor (2004) put it simply:
Hip-Hop is no longer limited to rap music and break dancing; today it represents a multi-billion dollar industry that influences everything from automotive design and fashion to prime time television programming, collegiate and professional sports, mass media marketing, and Madison Avenue advertising. Today Hip-Hop is for many a way of life, a culture that is intricately woven into every aspect of their daily lives. (251

[...] One major part of the hip-hop creed is "keepin' it real", which means remaining true to the culture of the streets, being straightforward in one's communications, and in "representing" one's neighborhood, community, and one's race. "Blackness" is an important trait, but so too is accumulation. Hip-hop culture has, in general, very little tension between the "underground" elements of the culture and the mainstream elements of it, so long as the successful hip-hop impresarios "keep it real." MC Hammer, a very popular "pop" rapper from the early 1990s, did not "keep it real" and quickly faded from the limelight due to overexposure and an entirely unthreatening image Murray (2004) explains that: Hip-hop tends to avoid many of the pitfalls of the jazz and Motown eras. [...]


[...] That said many fans of hip-hop, especially African American fans (though Caucasians buy as much hip-hop as anyone else) have embraced ideals of self-help and the entrepreneur. Many of the current generation of hip-hop superstars? mostly rappers with plenty of capital from their music were able to better navigate the demands of their creed and of mainstream acceptance and have branched out into acting, producing, owning record companies, and fashion. Not only were these rappers already trend setters thanks to their distinctive looks, access to teens, and public images, the very act of branching out into fashion gave them more legitimacy. [...]

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