Hip-Hop Was Always Inclusive

Hip-Hop was always an inclusive art form. From its humble beginnings in the Bronx to its expansion throughout the world though, it has moved away from its roots and forgotten this fundamental truth.

Dart Adams breaks it down in his new book, The Book of Dart, part of the Best Damn Hip Hop Writing series. He writes . . .

“With the passage of time, rap became removed from the wider culture that had birthed it, which has removed the need for participants and fans alike to learn its history or study it; unlike other art forms or disciplines where such an education would be required.”

Since the very beginning, hip-hop included all genres of music, was inspired by film and works of visual art, and took notes from various dance forms.

“The staple breakbeats and records rappers and b-boys employed were from every musical genre imaginable. The artistic influences and references found in aerosol art on trains spanned from classic comic strips, to cartoons and comic books to contemporary art found in galleries. B-boys drew inspiration and incorporated moves from kung-fu films, the salsa and merengue they danced to at home, as well as old film footage of tap dancers or whatever dance moves they saw in film or television.”

The inclusive nature of hip-hop was always a strength. It even followed the each one teach one philosophy.

“The point is that hip hop’s inclusivity was always one of its strengths. However, those within hip hop had to learn and study their craft and respect the culture as they were the ones contributing to it. There was a built-in apprenticeship program with checks and balances installed in every single cultural discipline. With those who solely look to profit from the genre, that’s never been a concern.”

It has since become huge business, the apprenticeship aspect faded away, and paying dues is no longer necessary.

“I only know hip hop as a massive entity. An inclusive, embracive culture of many doors for easy entry. Before my time there were rules to participation that have vanished — now almost anyone with a functioning microphone can place their art underneath her umbrella,” Yoh wrote. This is part of the problem with rap now. Whereas before there were barriers to entry for an artist, a process he or she had to follow just to become nice enough to be considered ready to enter a studio and record a song, in the era of home studios, email, and Pro Tools, anything goes. With the passage of time, coupled with advances in both production and communications technologies, this has only gotten worse.”

I love the way Dart Adams carefully analyzes and writes about hip-hop culture. I highly recommend reading anything he writes. This book is a must have for the hip-hop enthusiast.

If you want to learn more, check out the in-depth interview I did with him on the radio show Tuesday night.