“Each generation must out of relative obscurity discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it” - Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
In cultures all over the world, music can be seen encompassing many aspects of life for many individuals. It is a form of mass communication that speaks directly to society as a cultural form", and often reflects a collection and pattern of personal experiences. Hip-hop or rap, an art form and culture nearly thirty years old originating from The Bronx, New York, has provided a forum for Black and Latino youth to express their respective cultures and speak on a number of issues. Today, Hip-hop is a global phenomenon that appeals to almost all ethnicities and is synthesizing a new culture that goes beyond race, education, and income.
Hip-hop has been under continual metamorphosis since its 1970’s inner-city inception. Some of the original artists like Kurtis Blow chose to lament everyday life in the ghettos. Others, Sugar Hill Gang among them, took a more dance inspired approach to the music. But for both these and other artists from the early years of rap through the late 1980’s including KRS-One, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah and LL Cool J, fast beats and socially relevant lyrics were among the primary components of the music. By the 1990’s a new face of rap music emerged. It began with Ice T and later gained popularity with artists such as NWA (Niggaz Wit Attitude) whose first album shocked and titillated the rap world with their obscene lyrical content and unabashed “gangsta” style, since then dubbed by the media as “gangsta rap.”
Despite the growing acceptance of Hip-hop within white America and the middle class, Hip-hop is, at times understandable, also under siege. Comments made on rap or Hip-hop by Bill O'Reilly, popular talk show host on the Fox News Channel solidify that: Did you know that in 1999 alone, 81 million rap albums were sold? . . ..When I confronted perhaps the most powerful rap and Hip-hop executive...