Writing about what you know, is one of the most basic and timeworn pieces of advice regarding creativity.
It’s no wonder, then, hip hop is inherently political. Other forms of music can be political of course but hip hop, as was masterfully explained in Fight The Power: How Hip Hop Changed The World, was born of people in a pressure cooker: the poverty, oppression and political disenfranchisement of ethnic minorities in ’70s New York.
This existence groomed the black community to create hip hop, according to Chuck D, member of incendiary rap group Public Enemy and producer of this documentary.
Archive footage showed how abandoned areas gave rise to graffiti (an early form of social media) and block parties which weren’t just a good time but a political awakening for some.
The grinding poverty created a need to move; musical beats let break dancers make those movements. Poets and prophets added calls to action as much as calls to have a good time: thus, hip hop happened.
It’s hard not to be seduced by this journey which unfolds like a superhero origin tale. Because that’s what the birth of hip hop was: the powerless becoming the powerful. Speaking of marvels, there’s also a soundtrack ranging from Grandmaster Flash to Kendrick Lamar. Where do I sign up?
Fight The Power, BBC2
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