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Carl Tuitavuki


Prof. Shelton

October 22, 2017

Hip Hop Influence in the United States

The United States of America was founded on the principles of freedom, life, liberty, and

the pursuit of happiness. Early settlers migrated to America to escape oppression, and found

promise in the new land. However, it wasnt freedom for everyone. By 1619, twenty Africans

were brought to the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, as slaves to the white man. Soon after,

thousands of Africans were sold all over the continental United States, the Caribbean, and

Spanish America. It wasnt until after the American Civil war in 1861, that slavery ended, but

even then were African-Americans discriminated against and treated poorly, being segregated

and living separately from the whites.

1,2,a,b A new friend of mine, Powell Pow Johnson, was born in 1969, in Nashville,

Tennessee. He is an African American and his great-great grandfather was a slave. Johnson

being the last name of their slave owners. Most of his early life, his mother would make him read

up on black activists such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, among others. Pow was very well

educated as a young child, despite growing up in poverty, with his father in and out of his life.

After his parents died in a fatal car accident when he was just 11 years old, he moved to Detroit,

Michigan, to live with his uncle and aunty.

3 When asked about life in Detroit, Pow stated that he grew up in a predominantly

African-American neighborhood where social, and economic issues were very prevalent. The
streets were riddled with drugs, prostitution, and gang violence. Pow described that he would

walk to school and would take the long way to avoid running into rival neighborhoods and gangs

so that he would avoid trouble from the street life. He was never jumped into a gang, but he was

often guilty by association, always hanging out with his friends in the streets who were really

about that gangster lifestyle. He knew the streets, but he knew that there was more to life than

that, and he knew that one day he would escape.

4 Pow was introduced to Tony T-Rex Wallace, when he found Pow rap battling on the

streets of Detroit. Pow would often participate in cyphers in the hip hop community it is

described as when a group of people get together and rap or trade bars. It is known as one of

the oldest forms of rapping, and is still practiced today, from the mainstream level, down to

streets of the ghetto. T-Rex would often participate in these cyphers as well, and he thought that

Pow was one of the dopest emcees to touch the mic. He ended up taking him to his house where

he recorded music in his moms basement, located on 7-Mile road in Detroit, Michigan. This is

where Pow started to really hone his skills on the mic as a real emcee. He is grateful he was able

to use hip hop music as an outlet to express his feelings and thoughts, making it out of the hood,

and eventually having his own career as a creative artist.

A Hip hop music was started in the late 1960s early 1970s in the South Bronx, New York

City, New York. During the beginning of hip hop, the Bronx was suffering economic depression,

with the property values of homes decreasing. Many buildings in the Bronx were in ruins, and

were even torched and set on fire by members in the community. During this time of hardship,

and economic turmoil, a new music would soon rise from the ashes, a genre that would be

known as hip hop music. It was pioneered by Djs who would take two turntables and scratch old
disco, jazz, and funk records, thus looping the drum beats, creating one beat out of two records

playing simultaneously. There are often disputes about who invented scratching, but

Grandwizard Theodore often takes credit. Other notable pioneers of hip hop include Dj Kool

Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaata. Besides a DJ, there would also be an emcee,

more popularly known as a rapper, who would say rhymes over these breakbeats. In the Bronx

underground, they would host parties in various parts of the city, which would involve people

breakdancing and partying to the music. They would host these parties in run-down buildings in

the Bronx. Hip hop didnt take off until 1979 with the release of Sugar Hill Gangs Rappers

Delight the first ever charting hip hop song on the billboard 100.

I One of the songs that changed the genre from just party music to music about the reality

blacks were facing in the hood was a song called The Message by Grandmaster Flash and the

Furious 5, which was released in the year 1982. The vocals were mostly done by Melle Mel, a

rapper, while the beat itself was produced and mixed by Grandmaster Flash. Melle Mel is said to

have been the first rapper to call himself an MC, which stands for master of ceremonies, and ever

since then, rappers have been referring to themselves as emcees. The Furious 5 were some of

the first to use conscious lyricism over turntablism and breakbeat deejaying. The melody of this

song is medium to high range while the harmony is in major key. The texture of the song is

polyphony. In hip hop however, lyrics are one of the most important parts of the song to relay a

message to the audience. The song starts off with the bars: Broken glass everywhere, people

pissin' on the stairs, you know they just don't care. I can't take the smell, can't take the noise, got

no money to move out, I guess I got no choice. Rats in the front room, roaches in the back,

junkies in the alley with a baseball bat. I tried to get away but I couldn't get far, 'cause a man
with a tow truck repossessed my car. These lyrics reflected the life that these people were living

in the south Bronx, and you can see how music was used as an outlet to express the way of life

that they were living in these rodden down neighborhoods. The song continues on for about 6

minutes but the most important part of the song ends with Melle Mels verse when he describes

how kids look up to thugs, jackers, and crooks in the neighborhood. The verse says: A child is

born with no state of mind, blind to the ways of mankind, God is smilin' on you but he's frownin'

too, because only God knows what you'll go through, you'll grow in the ghetto livin' second-rate,

and your eyes will sing a song called deep hate, the places you play and where you stay, looks

like one great big alleyway, you'll admire all the number-book takers, thugs, pimps and pushers

and the big money-makers, drivin' big cars, spendin' twenties and tens, And you'll wanna grow

up to be just like them, huh, smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers, pickpocket peddlers,

even panhandlers, you say I'm cool, huh, I'm no fool, but then you wind up droppin' outta high

school, now you're unemployed, all non-void, walkin' round like you're Pretty Boy Floyd, turned

stick-up kid, but look what you done did, got sent up for a eight-year bid, now your manhood is

took and you're a maytag, spend the next two years as a undercover fag, bein' used and abused to

serve like hell, til one day, you was found hung dead in the cell, it was plain to see that your life

was lost, you was cold and your body swung back and forth, but now your eyes sing the sad, sad

song, of how you lived so fast and died so young. The lyrics of this song really represent the

message of which this song was trying to portray and the picture it was trying to paint, which

essentially talks about how kids in the ghetto look up to thugs, pimps, and gangsters wanting to

be like them and flash money, sell drugs, and get girls, only to realize that the life he lives will
put him in a cell or in a grave. The message is the reality that these people have to go through

every day, with loved ones dying as a casualty of it.

B After the rise of hip hop in New York hit the mainstream, it was only a matter of time

before its influence hit the west coast. In 1986, Eric Eazy E Wright, along with Andre Dr.

Dre Young, Oshea Ice Cube Jackson, and Lorenzo MC Ren Patterson formed the group

NWA, or N*ggaz wit Attitude, in Compton, California, under the record label Ruthless Records

which was under Priority Records. There was a lot of controversy over the name of the group, as

well as the explicit lyrics that they were saying. Many called the music misogynistic, vulgar,

violent, pornographic, and overall just flat out inappropriate. Ice Cube and MC Ren wrote most

of the lyrics to their music, and they are often credited with the formation of gangster rap, a

subgenre of hip hop. Ice Cube originally referred to it as reality rap, because the music would

reflect the reality that they were facing everyday in Compton, but because of the violent nature

of the musics lyrics, people started referring to it as gangster rap. Racial tension between police

and blacks were at an all time high in Los Angeles, most blacks being stereotyped as gangsters

and thugs. After being profiled as gangbangers by policemen, Ice Cube decided to retaliate

through his lyrics as told in the song F*ck the Police, which garnered national attention to the

problems that blacks in Los Angeles were facing. This is just one of many songs that address

problems that everyday people were facing in the hood. Ice Cube described himself as kind of a

newscaster, a person who was bringing the news through his music. He stated that when people

listen to his music he wants them to know the current issues that are currently going on in his

world, the ghetto. The west coast was finally on the map after New York created hip hop, and

soon hip hop would be worldwide.

C The influence that the United States has had on hip hop culture was a lot, especially

because the music is deeply rooted in the streets of poor neighborhoods with social and

economic problems. The crack epidemic of the 1980s was especially influential in the music of

hip hop because once the drugs hit the streets, the murder rate went up. People in the hood were

killing each other over drugs, money, and colors, while some police would profile blacks,

harassing them and beating them, evidence of such shown when a video of police men beating

up an innocent Los Angeles native, Rodney King, for no reason. This sparked a riot, thus starting

the infamous Los Angeles riots of 1992. Rap music on the west coast reflected the gangs, drugs,

and other problems faced in these communities, but the music would also go on to influence

white people in suburbia to think its cool to do drugs and join gangs. In 2017, hip hop is one of

the most if not the most popular form of music in mainstream pop culture, and it sure has

evolved from the boom bap of the east coast to the g-funk of the west.

5 In conclusion, I think that hip hop is one of the genres of music that the United States can

boast that it had created and influenced fully, from its creation in the boogie down South Bronx,

to its influence all over the world. Now many countries listen to various artists in hip hop, and

with the creation of the internet, you can access hip hop music anywhere. As time goes on and as

social and economic efforts increase, there will always be space for hip hop and new artists who

are willing to push the culture forward. People all over the world are influenced by hip hop

culture, from the way that they dress, to the way that they talk, dance, sing and rap. A genre born

in the depths of poverty and despair, is now thriving in the mainstream media with hip hop music

dominating the billboard top 100.

6. Bibliography

1. Hip hop Wikipedia. Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. Web Oct. 27, 2017


2. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious 5 Wikipedia. Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia.

Web Oct. 22, 2017


3. The Message (Grandmaster Flash and The Furious 5 song) Wikipedia. Wikipedia

Online Encyclopedia. Web Oct. 25, 2017



4. NWA Wikipedia.Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. Web Oct. 25, 2017


5. 1992 Los Angeles Riots Wikipedia.Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. Web Oct.26, 2017


6. Gangsta rap Wikipedia.Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. Web Oct. 19, 2017


7. Rodney King Wikipedia.Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia. Web Oct. 27, 2017