Artisanal Hip Hop

Hip Hop was created in the depths of the Bronx Borough, and thanks to people like Fab 5 Freddy, then made its way downtown. Forty some-odd years later Hip Hop and Rap music is the most popular genre of music in the world. A billion dollar business that has inspired television shows, food, fashion, cars, and the list goes on! So many people participate, contribute, and cultivate Hip Hop Culture that anyone can jump on the wave, get a hit, and live comfortably for the rest of their lives. Over the years the culture separated itself from the genre in an attempt to maintain its integrity. From Vanilla Ice to MC Gusto Rap Music has been commercialized so much so it is becoming much harder to distinguish the difference between the genre and the culture. An artist who raps fast doesn’t necessarily say anything of substance. An artist who gets millions of streams may not have a million dollars in the bank.

Rap has and will always be for the verbally, linguistically, and orally inclined composers. Just like the other cultural elements of Hip Hop; graffiti, dee jaying, and breakin only the talented people who work hard will survive over time. A true creative can thrive within the culture which is why a lot of your favorites dabbled in the other elements before they decided to function in the capacity that they do. Graffiti requires making art by hand. Dee Jaying also requires the use of your hands to create a sound. Breakdancing obviously requires the use of your hands, but what would emceeing be without the written rhyme? Ink to pad or lead to paper, words hit different when you can visualize them. Any worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand is an artisan by definition. In a world of “build your own” pizzas, bears, cheese, and soaps we deserve artists who craft their words into moments of comprehension and understanding.

Anybody can rhyme a few words together, spray paint a wall, create a jamming playlist, or even dance to a rhythm, but what are you trying to convey. Only a true artisan is creating with intent and purpose. You can tell who is creating to make money or whose creating for the sake of attention. It lacks luster and it doesn’t resonate with the culture’s core audience. People who engage with Hip Hop every now and then are here for the moment and their opinions don’t move the culture. What moves the culture are those experiences that remind us why we created Hip Hop in the first place. Those experiences where we had to use our hands to pull ourselves out of poverty, out of depression, or out of the prison industrial complex. Those same hands that created Hip Hop were used to pull each other up, while others bite the hands that feed them.

 “We had revolution, music, and artisans.” – Immortal Technique (Harlem Renaissance)

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