How to define what I've tried to live for the past 15 years?
It starts with this, Your own words in your own voice.
Hip Hop is your story, it is your participation.
Never mind HIS story
Tell a little about your story
The Real Story
Everything that is important to Hip Hop is about your creativity, it's about expressing who you are and what you are, in your own words, and in this way making a contribution to what Hip Hop is.
Hip Hop is a form of positive creation
Hip Hop started with DJ's and turntables making new music from old to please crowds at parties in the Bronx. MC's were added to the mix to give a vocal aspect. Graf existed on its own well before Hip Hop got started, but its spirit of creativity on your own terms mixed well with Hip Hop and the two grew together for a while. Break Dancing broke more than just bones, it redefined what modern dance could be and did so from a street level, outside of the art houses that dance had become. Again, your art, your expression.
Hip Hop started from the street
It's not soft it's a gristled beat
Old, that's a no no
Hip Hop must be fresh and original
Whatever Hip Hop truly is it is more than a specific sound or look, more than what defined it yesterday or defines it today. A sub-culture? In a way, but Hip Hop made a new movement for its time. It took the roots of what Andy Warhol did of sampling modern culture and turned it to music, mixing it with electronica and poetry, taking along with it the anger and ferocious belief in itself of Punk. In doing so it released a flood of sampling in music and art that has overtaken almost everything in modern media. From the modern forms of dance music to the latest in video installation displays in art galleries, Hip Hop was an enabling force in the way it freed people from the constrictions of the culture that went before it.
If you want understand what Hip Hop is then you must create. To observe is to miss the point. And in your creation remember always that the focus is yours, the message and the medium what you choose it to be. The only real restriction is that it must be about you, not the imaginary you that you wish to present (the mistake of Gangsta Rap) but the you that is real.
From the heart
Express your wants and desires, political opinions. Talk of your race (White or Black or Whatever) and your place in society. Do it musically, do it in verse, in story, in photographs and in painting. Do not restrict yourself to the current isms and boundaries that define what culture IS, redefine culture as you create it. Break rules and do so with a pride in who you are and what your creation stands for.
Remember in your expression that you are unique and have a unique perspective. No-one can truly understand your angle. But remember also that you are not alone, whatever your position in this world you share common values and experiences with many others. If you express the truth of who you are you will find common ground and true communication with those others.
I said before pride in who you are. This is important. If you are to express what and who you are you must ready yourself for others to judge and be critical of both you and your form of expression. Have pride and ignore it. If someone wants to help by suggesting how you might improve then fine. Merely to critisize is nothing. Critics are easily made. Expressing yourself with real truth is one of the hardest, if most rewarding, things you can do. Remember also in this not to be quick to judge others expression. Have respect. Expect respect.
And if they look at you like you're insane
And they start calling you scarecrow
and say you ain't got no brain
Tellin' folks that you suddenly gone lame
That white folks have finally co-opted your game
Or worse yet implying that you don't really know
That's the same thing they said about us
A long time ago.
A word about what people perceive as Hip Hop today. It isn't what you see on MTV. With their vehement self-expression and radical new sound The Clash are more B Boy than Snoop Doggy Dog will ever be. With its diversity of culture and use of technology to create a new medium Everything2 comes closer to the true spirit of Hip Hop than anything Eminem could dream of creating.
And Hip Hop as a musical form in its own genre still exists today. It is pumped out by small German crews with cheap videos. It's made in London by angry young guys with an extreme passion for noise. It exists wherever someone gets up and mixes, strings words together on a mic and does so for the passion of doing it and the want to tell their story.
Be true to yourself. Create. Oh, and Enjoy yourself. This is utmost in importance.
Note, I know the quotes in bold
are not exact. But, hey, they had a remix!