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44!

Today on August 11th Kool DJ Herc through a party in the rec room of his Bronx apartment building. This wasn’t Herc’s first party as he was known for throwing some serious jams back in the seventies. Little did Herc and his friends know but these parties would be the basis for an entire culture of the younger generation and spark the genre known today as Rap music. Who would have even thought that a couple of record players and some speakers would translate a new sound giving us breakdancing, graffiti, dee jaying, and emceeing. Hip Hop gave young people something productive to do and protected them from the streets and a criminal lifestyle. Now, 44 years later Hip Hop is still saving lives and giving young people business opportunities and rescuing them from the streets and prison. Not everyone in the seventies could rhyme that well and you could say the same goes for some today. Rapping was never the focus of Hip Hop music much like it isn’t the focus today everyone is focused on the dee jay or the beat. History repeats itself but only if we haven’t learned from the past. Over the last 44 years Hip Hop Culture and Rap music have grown into a global institution and is being utilized in classrooms all over the world. Hip Hop is on every television channel and the same white folks who championed against the culture are dabbing in the privacy of their own homes.

Hip Hop has evolved and Kool Herc has inspired thousands if not millions of people since 1973 and we give respect when respect is due. Some may not like the direction Hip Hop has taken but we cannot get the culture confused with the music. The culture encompasses more than just the sounds. Hip Hop Culture involves the music as well as the style of dress, the food you eat, and the words you speak. Most of what is considered Hip Hop Culture is actually African-American culture. Our Spanish speaking counterparts were there at the creation of the culture just as our Caribbean and West Indian family it all points back to Africa. From the drums to the dance and back around to the art Hip Hop has the blood of our ancestors running through her veins. Hip Hop Culture is now being taught at colleges and universities after years of being called a fad. From the Supreme Court to the White House the culture has been through it all and seen it all in only forty-four years.

There are still some strides to be made but the power of the culture shows you how powerful the people are. If you can Rap it you can make it popular. People reduce Rap music to the basics with Dr. Seuss yet praise Tupac Shakur for being a brilliant poet. People cringe over graffiti yet there are commissioned street art murals in major cities. People pick apart portions of the culture to fit their aesthetic and their narrative. Hip Hop Culture is not a one trick pony and has many layers to it which takes time to learn and understand. You must immerse yourself into it wholeheartedly and treat it with the utmost respect. Rap music is the most disrespected genres of music as people misuse its influence for money or other gains. Even at forty-four years old Hip Hop Culture gives life to those who don’t know their worth and those seeking knowledge and if we want Hip Hop Culture to continue saving lives we have to do better if we want to keep it alive.

"Hip Hop was set out in the dark, they used to do it out in the park." -MC Shan (The Bridge)