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The fighting spirit of hip hop : an alternative ghetto experience Hull, Susan Hall 1988

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THE FIGHTING S P I R I T OF HIP HOP:  AN ALTERNATIVE GHETTO EXPERIENCE By  SUSAN HALL B.A.,  University  HULL  of B r i t i s h  A THESIS SUBMITTED  Columbia,  1984  IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF  THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS  in THE FACULTY  OF GRADUATE  Anthropology  We  accept to  this  STUDIES  and S o c i o l o g y  thesis  the r e q u i r e d  as c o n f o r m i n g standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October (£) Susan H a l l  1988 Hull,  1988  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment  of the  requirements for an advanced  degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or  by  his  or  her  representatives.  It  is  understood  that  copying or  publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  „ , Department of  Anthropology and Sociology v  B J  The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada  D  a  t  e  DE-6 (2/88)  October  1988  ii  ABSTRACT  This study  i n v e s t i g a t e s the e x p r e s s i v e youth  h i p hop, a p r e d o m i n a t e l y participation rapping  and b r e a k d a n c i n g .  extent  The g e n e r a l  communicated through  whom, how, and f i n a l l y The  b l a c k male s u b c u l t u r e d e f i n e d  i n the competitive a c t i v i t i e s  what i s b e i n g  through  of g r a f f i t i  writing,  o b j e c t i v e i s t o determine  these  e x p r e s s i v e forms, t o  t o s u g g e s t why i t i s b e i n g  communicated.  t o w h i c h t h e e n c o d e d messages a r e c o n s i s t e n t w i t h  r e p o r t s of the s u b c u l t u r e ' s goals asserted  movement  t h a t h i p hop o p e r a t e s  management and p r o b l e m - s o l v i n g  i s then  as an a l t e r n a t i v e  D r a w i n g on t r a d i t i o n a l  cultural  and e x p r e s s i v e n e s s ,  way o f l i f e ,  reflecting  to challenge  the e x i s t i n g  It is  identity  mechanism w i t h i n t h e b l a c k  American ghetto. identity  discussed.  aspects  of black  h i p hop c r e a t e s a d i s t i n c t  a c o n s t r u c t i v e and o p t i m i s t i c  philosophy,  r o l e s o f t h e s t r e e t h u s t l e r and gang  member. Developed in the late  i n the inner c i t y  b o r o u g h s o f New Y o r k  1960's and e a r l y 1 9 7 0 ' s , h i p hop f u n c t i o n e d a s a  n o n - v i o l e n t means o f p r o j e c t i n g a s e l f - i m a g e self-worth. issues  City  I t continues  i n a fight  and o f m e a s u r i n g  t o be u s e d t o c o n f r o n t  t o overcome t h e r e s t r i c t i o n s  p r o v i d i n g an e x p r e s s i o n  of both  fundamental  of ghetto  living,  an a e s t h e t i c and a c u l t u r a l  style  b a s e d on t h e p u r s u i t o f e x c e l l e n c e . The  focus  of the study  i s a f o r m and c o n t e n t  of a s e l e c t i o n  of recorded  interpretation  o f t h e messages c o n v e y e d  analysis  r a p s , w h i c h p a r a l l e l s an i n the musical  form  with  i ii  a s s e r t i o n s made by i n s i d e r s regarding hop.  The t h e s i s explores  his social  the f u n c t i o n i n g of h i p  the h i p hop male persona and worldview,  r e l a t i o n s and h i s r o l e i n the community, as they are  articulated  i n the raps.  The r e s u l t s of t h i s a n a l y s i s are then  a p p l i e d to a d i s c u s s i o n of h i p hop g r a f f i t i  and breakdancing  symbolism. The  study concludes that the three expressive  forms are  communicating the c u l t u r a l agenda of i t s members as w e l l as providing  the means through which to achieve t h e i r g o a l s .  It i s  contended that w i t h i n h i p hop, members empower themselves through aggressive  self-glorifying  they apply  t h i s sense of greatness to motivating  o u t l i n i n g a strategy re-energizing  imagery and r o l e - p l a y i n g , and that  f o r coping  their  community,  with t h e i r existence by  i t and transforming  i t i n t o a p o s i t i v e experience.  iv  TABLE OF  CONTENTS i i  ABSTRACT L I S T OF  v  FIGURES  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT  v  INTRODUCTION Chapter  1.  i i  i 1  OVERVIEW OF THE SUBCULTURE 1.1. EMERGENCE I N NYC I N THE 1970'S 1.2. B L A C K A M E R I C A ' S S O C I A L C L I M A T E I N THE 1960'S AND 1970'S 1.3. A L T E R N A T I V E TO GANG V I O L E N C E 1.4. S Y M B O L I C R E P R E S E N T A T I O N S 1.5. D I F F U S I O N AND E L A B O R A T I O N 1.6. NOTE ON PUERTO R I C A N INVOLVEMENT  20 20 22 24 29 32 36  Chapter  2.  RAP MUSIC: AN INTRODUCTION 2.1. E A R L Y D J I N G AND MCING 2.2. SOURCE M A T E R I A L S AND DEVELOPMENT 2.3. RECORDED RAPS  40 40 42 45  Chapter  3.  RAP MUSIC: HIP HOP MALE PERSONA AND WORLDVIEW 3.1. POWER NAMES 3.2. S E L F - D E F I N I T I O N S 3.3. S E L F - I M A G E S AND A S S O C I A T E D V A L U E S 3.4. POWER SYMBOLS 3.5. C E N T R A L METAPHORS OF C Y N I C I S M AND OPTIMISM 3.6. D E F I N I N G E X I S T E N C E AND R E A L I T Y  49 49 53 55 59 60 65  Chapter  4.  RAP MUSIC: HIP HOP SOCIAL RELATIONS 4.1. COMRADERY W I T H I N CREWS 4.2. C O M P E T I T I V E N E S S WITH MALE R I V A L S 4.3. THE ROLE OF R I T U A L I N S U L T 4.4. A M B I G U I T Y CONCERNING F E M A L E S  68 68 71 74 78  Chapter  5.  RAP MUSIC: HIP HOP ROLES 5.1. SOURCES OF S E C U L A R POWER USED BY H I P HOPPERS 5.2. PROBLEMS ADDRESSED BY THE SUBCULTURE . 5.3. C O N S C I O U S N E S S - R A I S I N G AMONG BLACK YOUTH 5.4. P A R A L L E L S TO BLACK P R E A C H I N G COMMUNICATION CONVENTIONS 5.5. NOTE ON F E M A L E INVOLVEMENT  86 86 90 95 101 105  V  Chapter 6.  Chapter 7.  RAP MUSIC: HIP HOP  PERFORMANCE  107  6.1. THE RECEIVERS OF RAP MESSAGES 6.2. EFFECTS OF PROMOTION TO A WIDER AUDIENCE 6.3. RAP AESTHETICS AND THEIR RELATION TO CULTURAL STYLE 6.4. EVALUATION OF A POOR PERFORMANCE 6.5. SUMMARY OF RAP ANALYSIS  108 109  G R A F F I T I : GETTING YOUR NAME UP  7.1. 7.2. 7.3. 7.4.  MOVING ONTO THE SUBWAY TRAINS THE DEVELOPMENT OF STYLE A SYSTEM OF COMMUNICATION INDIVIDUAL COMPETITIVENESS AND COLLECTIVE COOPERATION 7.5. "ROCKING ALL CITY": AN AESTHETIC AND CULTURAL CONCERN  Chapter 8.  BREAKDANCING:  8.1. 8.2. 8.3. 8.4.  ROCKING  WITH BODY LANGUAGE  BATTLING IN THE INNER CITIES BREAKING AS CULTURAL CONTINUITY ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF THE DANCE AN ANALYSIS OF FORM: EXPRESSIONS OF MALE IDENTITY  114 120 123 127  127 128 132 139 145 149  149 152 159 161  CONCLUSION  173  BIBLIOGRAPHY  182  DISCOGRAPHY  189  L I S T OF FILMS AND VIDEOS  192  Appendix I.  193  Appendix I I .  SELECTION OF RAPS  GLOSSARY  223  vi  L I S T OF FIGURES F i g u r e 1.  PHASE 2: THE EVOLUTION OF A STYLE, 1971-1982  129-130  F i g u r e 2.  "SKY'S THE LIMIT" BY BILLY "WISE" BLAST, 1982  136  F i g u r e 3.  "BEYOND CONTROL", VALCUN,  138  F i g u r e 4.  "LEE —  F i g u r e 5.  "SHADOW", 1986  141  F i g u r e 6.  B-BOY WITH GUN ON NYC SUBWAY  143  F i g u r e 7.  NIGERIANS DOING HEADSLIDES  155  F i g u r e 8.  FLASHDANCING  157  F i g u r e 9.  HANDSPIN  164  F i g u r e 10. AIRPLANE  164  1984  SILENT THUNDER", 1982  Figure  11. SPIDERWALK  Figure  12. HEADSPIN  IN THE 1920'S  ON FINGER TIPS  140  167 169  9  vii  ACKNOWLEDGEMENT  This thesis putting  i s d e d i c a t e d t o my s o n , K e n n e t h ,  up w i t h me a l l t h e s e y e a r s o f s c h o o l .  I would l i k e a d v i s o r s and t h e s i s Ames, J e a n  Sweetie.  t o my g r a d u a t e  Marjorie Halpin, Michael  Cunningham and James P o w e l l , t o t h e UBC Museum o f  Anthropology thanks  Thanks,  t o e x p r e s s my g r a t i t u d e  c o m m i t t e e members —  for  staff,  for their  and t o f a m i l y and f r i e n d s , w i t h  support  special  and a s s i s t a n c e when I needed i t t h e most  t o D a v i d Asmodeus, Bob W a l k e r ,  Dwight F e n l o n , Grace G o l i g h t l y and  Kenneth H u l l .  Banes, Mickey  Thanks t o S a l l y  Thompson a n d S u s a n n e L i n g m a n n f o r t h e i r t o my New Y o r k  City  contacts, especially  I m p e r i a l K i n g s , the B r o n x v i l l e House f o r s h a r i n g t h e i r  This  And  t h e Shadow Crew, t h e  B r e a k e r s and t h e k i d s a t t h e Fun  l i v e s w i t h me.  Thanks  Robert  a d v i c e and comments.  High Performance  h i p h o p p e r s o f V a n c o u v e r know how much t h e i r been a p p r e c i a t e d .  Davidson,  and t h e  encouragement has  guys.  is definately  a ( w ) r a p -- y o —  I'm o u t t a h e r e .  1  INTRODUCTION  It  i s the intention  of t h i s  h i p hop i s an e x p r e s s i v e y o u t h alternative  cultural  study  s y s t e m f o r i t s members.  an a l t e r n a t i v e  young g h e t t o  t o other  existing  The a l t e r n a t i v e i s  street culture.  men f o r d e f i n i n g t h e m s e l v e s -- n a m e l y m e m b e r s h i p i n  h i p hop i s a s u b c u l t u r e n o t s o much o f t h e m a i n s t r e a m i s that too) but of black  white)  ghetto  (and t o a l e s s e r  extent  behavior,  p l a c i n g them i n a new c o n t e x t ,  s o l v e t h e problems of adjustment experienced hop an  i s a new c u l t u r a l  form w i t h i n g h e t t o  innovation of expression  through  developed  m u t u a l e x p l o r a t i o n and j o i n t  the fundamental  a means o f e x p r e s s i n g of a d d r e s s i n g structural  fits  H i s p a n i c and  by t h e g r o u p .  elaboration.  their  problems.  cultural  Hip  c u l t u r e w h i c h emerged as  issues of l i v i n g .  central  values  i n an e f f o r t t o  i n a cumulative  manner  As and a s s u c h  I t not only  concerns,  Problems addressed  ones s u c h a s s o c i o - e c o n o m i c s ,  as e x i s t e n t i a l  (although  norms,  p a r t i c i p a n t s o f t e n p u t i t , " h i p hop i s a way o f l i f e " confronts  Thus,  culture.  H i p hop t e n d s t o r e o r g a n i z e p r e v a i l i n g and  H i p hop  options a v a i l a b l e to  s t r e e t g a n g s o r o p e r a t i n g a s s t r e e t h u s t l e r s and h o o d s .  it  that  movement w h i c h p r o v i d e s an  d e f i n e d w i t h i n the American black ghetto provides  to i l l u s t r a t e  provides  b u t a l s o a way a r e both  c l a s s and r a c e , as w e l l  o n e s , s u c h as what i t i s t o be a male o r how one  into the world.  2  Positive  identity  creation  and management i s t h e  c e n t r a l p r o b l e m c o n f r o n t e d by h i p h o p p e r s . avenue f o r a c t i v e  role-playing  used  H i p hop  to p r o j e c t  p r o v i d e s an  an image and  hence  c r e a t e an i d e n t i t y , w h i c h  i n t u r n must be m a i n t a i n e d t h r o u g h  c o n t i n u a l a f f i r m a t i o n s of  legitimacy.  Not o n l y does h i p hop establishing specifics hopper's  this  cultural  s e l f - i m a g e and  s y s t e m , but i t a l s o a r t i c u l a t e s  his cultural  representations —  breakdancing.  Indeed  extent, actualizes  t h e m s e l v e s and o t h e r s o f language  i n t h e p r o c e s s o f s e a r c h i n g f o r a new  rejection  manifest  reality  of c e r t a i n  -- o n e s w h i c h  but  Hence much of a h i p  themes e x p r e s s e d t h r o u g h  b l a c k g h e t t o male c o n c e r n s , way  o f b e i n g , an  i s experienced.  H i p hop  a s p e c t s of the p r e v a i l i n g  stress negativity  i n v i o l e n t and  which  himself.  are c o n t i n u a t i o n s of e x i s t i n g  social  or s y m b o l i c  i s f o r m u l a t e d and managed t h r o u g h i m a g e r y  A l t h o u g h many o f t h e c u l t u r a l  alternative  hip  their  which not o n l y c l a s s i f y  t o empower members.  t r a n s f o r m s h i s e x p e r i e n c e of  h i p hop  of  t h e p l a y o f t r o p e s ( F e r n a n d e z 1986)  performance, c e n t r a l metaphors,  identity  and  T h r o u g h t h e use  Whether t h r o u g h f i g u r a t i v e  compel, are a s s e r t e d  of a h i p  concerns through i t s  rap music, g r a f f i t i  the e x p e r i e n c e .  attempt to persuade  identity.  the  t h e v e r y a c t of e x p r e s s i o n , t o a g r e a t  a r g u m e n t a t i v e images and  hopper's  t h e means o f  of the s y s t e m , e x p r e s s i n g the p a r t i c u l a r s  expressive  hoppers  constitute  involves  ghetto mentality  and a p a t h y and w h i c h a r e  criminal behavior.  a  often  3 As  an a l t e r n a t i v e  h i p hop s u g g e s t s  a c r e a t i v e means o f  e s t a b l i s h i n g s e l f - e s t e e m and an image o f s e l f - a s s e r t i o n and control.  I t promotes a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a t i o n  in creative  s e l f - e x p r e s s i o n as a means o f c o m b a t i n g t h e f r u s t r a t i o n s o f ghetto and  living  inequality.  c u l t u r a l agenda o f t h e g h e t t o  transformed success.  their  spirit  fighting  i n t o a c r e a t i v e programme f o r i n h i p hop a c t i v i t i e s  of f i g h t i n g  t h a t moves them r e m a i n s a g g r e s s i v e .  r e d e f i n i n g t h e m s e l v e s and t h e i r  new s e n s e o f power.  Motivated  t h e image  1  spirit  to demonstrations  While maintaining  "tough g u y , h i p h o p p e r s h a v e  Demonstrations of s k i l l s  an a l t e r n a t i v e  by  and r a c i a l  while the  By s o t r a n s f o r m i n g ,  reality,  by a s e a r c h  skills,  a c t as  they  have c r e a t e d a  t o g a i n p o w e r , h i p hop  e x h i b i t s what Edmund L e a c h d e s c r i b e s as "a g e n e r a l m o t i v e i n human a f f a i r s "  (1954: 1 0 ) .  t o t h e most g e n e r a l  Power, as i t i s used here r e f e r s both  definition,  that i s , "the a b i l i t y  a c t , t o p r o d u c e " , as w e l l as t o " t h e a b i l i t y direction  over  others"  t o do, t o  to a s s e r t c o n t r o l or  ( F o l b 1980: 7 1 ) .  I n g e n e r a l , h i p h o p , i n p r o v i d i n g i t s members w i t h a d i s t i n c t i v e worldview, structural  own w o r t h ,  (1967),  Hebdige  a means o f a d d r e s s i n g a g a i n s t which they can  f u n c t i o n s i n much t h e same way as o t h e r  c u l t u r e s , corresponding  Merten  of l i f e ,  e x i g e n c i e s and t h e s t a n d a r d s  measure t h e i r youth  a style  (1979),  to accounts Horowitz  g i v e n by S c h w a r t z and (1983) and B r a k e  (1985)  among o t h e r s . T h e r e i s however one m a j o r d i s c r e p a n c y investigator's position held  regarding  on t h e n a t u r e  subcultures  i n general.  between  o f h i p hop and t h a t  this often  B o t h H e b d i g e and B r a k e  4 see  a subculture  primarily  hegemony.  The e l e v a t i o n  deviations  into  subversion.  Brake,  as  yet another  to  oppose  ghettos  example  of black  into  limitation  solely  acknowledge  claims  of t h i s  an i n t e r n a l l y  this  may  generated  began  position  as a response  i s insufficient.  have p l a y e d a s i g n i f i c a n t  h i p hop c a n n o t be p r i m a r i l y  mainstream  area within  i n some  which  respects  of r e v i t a l i z a t i o n protest-function  revitalization Fernandez times  with  which  away f r o m  culture  and f a i l s  Particularly t o the problem  i n the  the  to  i n the of gang  dominant  initial  ghetto youth  viewed  have t o  as a p r o t e s t  subcultural  against  movement  argument.  frees What  and a t t e m p t  V i e w i n g h i p hop as a  i t from  the overemphasis  i s important i n a by W a l l a c e of i t s e l f  and d i s c o n t e n t ,  of r e i n t e r p r e t i n g  (1956) a n d  internally.  charismatic  leaders  and t r a n s f o r m i n g t h e  to innovate constructive  and i d e n t i t i e s  theory, there i s  t h e s t u d y o f h i p h o p , one  i s more c o n d u c i v e .  stress  a vision  roles  black  to situate  (1969), i s t h e f u l f i l l m e n t  emerge w i t h  cultural  that  i t views the  Although  part  movement, as d i s c u s s e d  of c u l t u r a l  culture  functions  culture.  However, moving  the  seen  t o make a d e n t i n  agenda.  contend,  type  he s u g g e s t s  to the wider  of the problems  which  f o r him  theory i s that  creation  another  or of  h i p hop c a n be  which  i n order  to  t o be e v i d e n c e o f  that  As w e l l ,  culture  as a response  of h i p hop, which  violence,  the  an a r t f o r m ,  are held  culture,  culture.  or a l t e r n a t i v e  (1985: 1 2 6 ) .  subculture  culture  f o r example,  a supportive  The  case  of a crime  in particular,  t h e dominant  form  hegemony  style,  as a r e s i s t a n c e  changes.  d e v e l o p and e x i s t i n g  New  elements  At  of  5  already  c a r r y i n g currency  w i t h i n the community are r e s t r u c t u r e d .  Leaders preach and teach, d i s t r i b u t i n g t h e i r personal power to effect  an i d e o l o g i c a l conversion  r o u t i n i z i n g the movement.  among t h e i r  f o l l o w e r s , and  R e v i t a l i z a t i o n movements may aim to  produce changes i n the i n d i v i d u a l ' s self-image renewing s e l f - r e s p e c t and s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y . of community, s h i f t s general experience As w i l l  i n vocabulary  and worldview,  An i n t e n s i f i c a t i o n  and key metaphors, and a  of a new r e a l i t y c h a r a c t e r i z e these movements. become apparent w i t h i n my p r e s e n t a t i o n ,  this  general d e f i n i t i o n of r e v i t a l i z a t i o n movements a l s o c h a r a c t e r i z e s h i p hop.  I t h e r e f o r e propose that i n some respects h i p hop  resembles a t y p i c a l youth s u b c u l t u r e , while  i n others  i t may be  p r o f i t a b l y viewed i n terms of a r e v i t a l i z t i o n movement. And, although  these  orientations differ  i n terms of t h e i r  primary  i n t e n t i o n , they both s u b s t a n t i a t e the p e r s p e c t i v e taken i n my study. A p e r s p e c t i v e of h i p hop that views i t p r i m a r i l y as an i d e n t i t y management system i s r e i n f o r c e d by examining the means used i n c o n s t r u c t i n g i t s e x p r e s s i v e  forms, f o r much of how  young men see themselves and t h e i r world a e s t h e t i c choices  they make, as w e l l as i n those  culturally  imposed on them.  particular  artistic  related  i s reflected  value  The expressions  for their  these  i n the  canons which are  of h i p hop hold  c r e a t o r s , a value which i s  to t h e i r dominant c u l t u r a l values and i d e o l o g i e s . In i t s f o r m u l a t i o n h i p hop draws on e x i s t i n g  elements while meaning system.  cultural  a p p r o p r i a t i n g and r e l o c a t i n g signs i n a new Not only does i t i l l u s t r a t e the concept of  6  bricolaqe  (as a r t i c u l a t e d  a system of c u l t u r a l expressive  by L e v i - S t r a u s s ) , b u t i t a l s o e x h i b i t s  continuity, especially in relation  to black  f o r m s o f m u s i c and d a n c e . Hip  h o p p e r s a r e members o f b o t h a g h e t t o - s p e c i f i c  c u l t u r e and t h e w i d e r m a i n s t r e a m c u l t u r e and a r e c o n c e r n e d self-promotion  i n both arenas.  As H o r o w i t z  with  (1983) has p o i n t e d  out  i n t h e c a s e o f A m e r i c a n - C h i c a n o y o u t h c u l t u r e , w i t h i n h i p hop  two  distinct,  is  although  concerned with  i n t e r t w i n e d , codes a r e i n o p e r a t i o n .  the maintenance of p e r s o n a l  among t h e p e e r g r o u p ; t h e o t h e r  with  power and honour  a c h i e v i n g success i n  m a i n s t r e a m t e r m s t h r o u g h h a r d w o r k and d e t e r m i n a t i o n H o r o w i t z r e f e r s t o as s t r i v i n g  to achieve  C o m m u n i c a t i o n and t r a n s a c t i o n s w i t h culture are evident  agenda.  mainstream popular  Theoretical  c u l t u r e , both  and, through  the realm of  i t s messages and m e a n i n g s a r e  remaining  t h e most p a r t  t h i s study  In a search  v i a b l e w i t h i n the ghetto.  has been u n d e r t a k e n i n t h e  f o r an u n d e r s t a n d i n g  i n v e s t i g a t o r has f o c u s s e d  cultural  t h e h i p hop  f u n c t i o n a l or s t r u c t u r e / f u n c t i o n a l a n t h r o p o l o g i c a l  tradition.  serves,  Aspects of t h e  Orientations  For  the  dominant  and r e s t r u c t u r e d t o s e r v e  and a p p r o p r i a t i o n , e n t e r s  e x p a n d e d and a l t e r e d , w h i l e  standard  the mainstream  And, as h i p hop moves beyond t h e g h e t t o  commercialization  (what  t h e A m e r i c a n Dream).  throughout the system.  mainstream are i n c o r p o r a t e d  One  the role  i t plays  o f what h i p hop i s ,  h e r a t t e n t i o n on t h e p u r p o s e i t  i n the l i v e s  of i t s c r e a t o r s .  As a  s y s t e m one o f t h e t h i n g s h i p hop does i s t o c o m m u n i c a t e  7  and  therefore  an attempt has a l s o been made to unpack the  p a r t i c u l a r s of what i s being  said.  Thus the study not only  a s s e r t s that one of h i p hop's f u n c t i o n s also constructs what i s being communicated To constructed and  breaking  i s to communicate, i t  and i n t e r p r e t s data i l l u s t r a t i n g  the nature of  communicated and, indeed, much of what i s being i s i t s function. the extent  that the study i s c o n c e n t r a t i n g  representations —  rather  of the s u b c u l t u r e  —  rap,  on the graffiti  than on group dynamics, s o c i a l  interactions, behavioral  codes and the l i k e , a symbolic  is also occasionally called  upon.  And, c o n s i d e r i n g  approach  that the bulk  of the a n a l y s i s p e r t a i n s to t e x t u a l m a t e r i a l , an i n t e r p r e t i v e orientation the  i s employed i n order  to r e v e a l the s i g n i f i c a n c e of  images conveyed i n the t e x t s .  As the messages  communicated through the expressive a s s e r t i o n s made regarding  forms stand  being  to r e i n f o r c e the  the f u n c t i o n i n g of the system, they  warrant decoding to a s c e r t a i n t h e i r  meaning.  An a n a l y t i c a l approach which i n t e g r a t e s evidence from n o n - s c i e n t i f i c sources with f i n d i n g s from e m p i r i c a l research has been attempted.  The present  the work of James Stewart information  (1980) i n which he r e l i e s on  embedded i n black  e x i s t i n g data on the s h a r i n g contemporary f a m i l i e s . singer  study i s , i n p a r t , modelled a f t e r  f o l k c u l t u r e to cross-check phenomenon as i t appears i n black  Stewart's a n a l y s i s of the music of soul  M i l l i e Jackson suggests that such m a t e r i a l  on as evidence and that t h i s expressive accurate  simulations  of c u l t u r a l  can be r e l i e d  form i s capable of  experiences.  8 As w i t h a l l a n a l y s e s of c u l t u r e based  the p r e s e n t study i s  on a s e r i e s o f u n d e r l y i n g a s s u m p t i o n s .  culture  i s h e l d t o be a s y s t e m  i d e o l o g i e s , b e h a v i o r and out  and  evolving.  its  varied  nor  cultural  variables  (e.g.  living  and  patterned  l e v e l s and but  i t s e x p r e s s i o n s are  recurring  and  ( e . g . b e i n g b l a c k ) and  shared  generally  the  (1986), i t i s  ( i . e . defined staged  events)  a c u l t u r e ' s c e n t r a l m e t a p h o r s i n an e f f o r t  t h e i d e a l p e r s o n a l i t y and  society.  Both  culture.  assumed t h a t c u l t u r a l p e r f o r m a n c e s ,  and  neither  themes.  determine  F o l l o w i n g a n t h r o p o l o g i s t James F e r n a n d e z  lens through  between  structural conditions  i n the g h e t t o ) are f a c t o r s which  c o n t e n t of the group  effect  acted  A h i g h d e g r e e of c o n s i s t e n c y o p e r a t e s  individual,  serve to enact  then,  symbols t h a t i s c o n s t a n t l y being  c o m p o n e n t s and  isolated  of m e a n i n g f u l  Briefly,  which  to view  Although  arise  community.  fundamental  to  They c o n s t i t u t e  i s s u e s of a p e o p l e ' s  a lives  these metaphors, o f t e n m u l t i v o c a l ,  i n f a n t a s y , t h e y can m o t i v a t e s o c i a l  action, for  e x a m p l e , by s u g g e s t i n g a s t r a t e g y f o r d e a l i n g w i t h a g i v e n situation. Finally language,  a r t (or e x p r e s s i v e r e p r e s e n t a t i o n ) , l i k e  i s a form of communication  and,  a c u l t u r e ' s d o m i n a n t i d e o l o g i e s as w e l l those  ideologies.  As J a n e t W o l f f has  as a s o c i a l p r o d u c t , r e w o r k s a c c e p t a b l e f o r m or s t y l e both  language,  encodes  as r e c o r d s s h i f t s  suggested  (1981:  t h e i d e o l o g y i n t o an  as t h e e x p r e s s e d  t h e c o n d i t i o n s o f p r o d u c t i o n and  conventions.  like  in  61), a r t ,  aesthetically  i d e o l o g y i s mediated  the e x i s t i n g  by  aesthetic  There not o n l y e x i s t s u n i f o r m i t y between  aesthetic  9 and  cultural  the  content  styles  (Geertz  of the expression,  "logically  anthropologist's own  again  task  t e c h n i c a l jargon (ibid.).  Methods and  Objectives  The expressive  can  though  ghetto  o n t h e New  within  ghetto  a r e t o be r e a d  York  forms,  Unfortunately,  i s symbolized  or  primary  activities  will  on b e h a l f  aspects  study exploringi t s location.  the concern  references  States a  to black  black  here i s culture  to the  ghettos".  comprehensive  n o t be a t t e m p t e d .  Rather the  of i t s communication  of t h e i r  focuses  can not provide  blacks,  data  Although  be r e l e v a n t t o  Similarly  as r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s  which  may  references  of s u f f i c i e n t  a study  situation,  United  into  an a n a l y s i s o f t h e  and predominant  Hence,  culture".  t o speak  forms  experiential  and t o t r a n s l a t e  movement t h i s  City  American  of the subculture  challenged  expressive  i t (1954: 1 2 ) ,  us, " i t i s the  the three  youth  "northern  Due t o l a c k  are  from  i s presented  or m i d d l e - c l a s s  "black  expressive  present  i t s originating  much o f w h a t  ethnography  tells  i t i s that  result  t h e "home o f h i p h o p " . read  puts  t h e form and  i n by members o f t h e h i p hop s u b c u l t u r e .  focuses  assimilated with  what  hop h a s become a w o r l d w i d e  significance Even  as Leach  f o l l o w i n g chapters  forms which  participated  primarily  between  or as Leach  to t r y to discover  represented"  hip  but also  a e s t h e t i c s and e t h i c s a r e i d e n t i c a l " . Ultimately,  his  1973)  system,  creators.  p r i m a r i l y on an a n a l y s i s o f  conclusive  of the subculture.  evidence  Neither  f o rthe  the e x p e r i e n t i a l  10  state  of  a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s nor  systematically at  times.  the  t h e i r day  i s not  my  lives  than to the i s being  sciences.  to the  anthropological  s t u d y of  No  doubt the  enterprise  f o l k l o r e , values,  g o e s b e y o n d my  intelligibly  be  seem, i s t o s o r t subculture,  i n and  The descriptive primarily violence.  some of  of  historical  black  music i n d u s t r y ,  and  relevance within  cetera.  although unquestionably Before broader first  step,  issues  can  i t would  e s s e n t i a l a s p e c t s of  the  hip  hop  i n s i d e r s ' a c c o u n t s of  the  phenomenon,  and  roots and  aside of  rap  is  either  gang  f r o m D a v i d Toop's a t t e m p t music w i t h i n  the  to  American  R o b e r t Thompson's (1986) o u t l i n e of between h i p  African-influenced  hop  and  the  music  c u l t u r e s , no  s y s t e m a t i c e f f o r t s have been made t o a n a l y z e t h e  other  p r o d u c t s of  r e s e a r c h e r s have r e s i s t e d i m p o s i n g  encompassing p e r s p e c t i v e  on  t h e i r d a t a ; hence the  aim  the  and  movement. Previous  of  l i t e r a t u r e on  formal s i m i l a r i t i e s  d a n c e of A f r i c a n  hip  other  located  i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p t o gangs and  Beyond t h i s ,  the  further  i f i t were t o be  reasonable the  of  itself.  i n n a t u r e or  discussing  expectations  worldview, symbolism, et  e x i s t i n g published  trace  various  the  to  actual  i n a n t h r o p o l o g y or  immediate g o a l .  discussed out  referred  transmitted.  study would g a i n  Such a t h e o r e t i c a l c o n t e x t u a l i z a t i o n , value,  are  i n t e n t i o n to r e l a t e t h i s d i s c u s s i o n  to g e n e r a l t h e o r e t i c a l p e r s p e c t i v e s  social  the  t o day  i s g i v e n to the  i d e a l e x p e r i e n t i a l s t a t e which It  hop  of  messages r e c e i v e d  h e r e , a l t h o u g h they are  Thus, f a r l e s s a t t e n t i o n  realizations for  reconstructed  the  an of  the  this  11  present and  study  i s to begin the task of moving beyond  towards i n t e r p r e t a t i o n .  study  i s the f i r s t  description  To the i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s knowledge t h i s  attempt at e x t r a c t i n g evidence  nature and meaning of the s u b c u l t u r e from a " t h i c k  concerning the description"  of i t s e x p r e s s i v e forms, and developing from t h i s a g e n e r a l understanding  of i t s f u n c t i o n s .  Although  other s t u d i e s are suggestive of t h e o r e t i c a l  i m p l i c a t i o n s , and have provided much of the evidence  f o r the  c u r r e n t work, the systematic c o n s t r u c t i o n of the r o l e of the h i p hopper and h i s c u l t u r a l agenda, and the l i n g u i s t i c , a e s t h e t i c and formal conventions  of h i p hop are o r i g i n a l  to t h i s  investigation.  Nor has h i p hop p r e v i o u s l y been c o n t e x t u a l i z e d  w i t h i n a survey  of black c u l t u r a l and expressive t r a d i t i o n s to  the extent to which i t has been done here. My systematic c o m p i l i n g , t r a n s c r i b i n g , summarizing, and a n a l y z i n g of a body of raps, and my s o r t i n g out of r e c u r r i n g themes and p a t t e r n s both  in lyrical  content and musical s t r u c t u r e  c o n s t i t u t e the major c o n t r i b u t i o n of t h i s work to the study of hip hop.  F i n a l l y , by observing the r e l a t i v e s i m i l a r i t i e s of  content and s t r u c t u r e among a l l three e x p r e s s i v e forms, a significant  c o n t r i b u t i o n i s provided to an understanding of  c u l t u r a l p r o d u c t i o n , l e n d i n g support a r t i c u l a t i o n s do express traits.  a shared  to the notion that d i s t i n c t  c o n f i g u r a t i o n of c u l t u r a l  12  The  available  data  regarding the nature  the s i g n i f i c a n c e of p a r t i c i p a t i n g is  in i t is first  f o l l o w e d by t h e a n a l y s i s o f t h e e x p r e s s i v e  I n t e r p r e t a t i o n s o f t h e messages conveyed informed extent  by t h e s o c i o - h i s t o r i c a l  constitute verification  approach taken  o f h i p hop and presented.  This  forms.  i n t h e forms a r e  d a t a on h i p hop and t o some  of informants'  claims.  The  i n p r e s e n t i n g t h i s m a t e r i a l i s an e c l e c t i c one.  J u s t as t h e s y s t e m u n d e r i n v e s t i g a t i o n  i s multidetermined, the  study  and  combines h i s t o r i c a l ,  ideological  sociological  p e r s p e c t i v e s , w i t h an a n a l y s i s o f f o r m and c o n t e n t . a p p r o a c h was u s e d study attempts accounting  to balance  b e t w e e n o b s e r v a t i o n s and  an a c c o u n t i n g  o f t h e phenomenon w i t h an  in a dialectical  fashion, shifting  interpretations.  e x t e n s i v e use o f m a t e r i a l on g e n e r a l  expressiveness, aesthetics, l i n g u i s t i c s serves  a two-fold purpose.  First  It  i t assists  i t helps  values  i n the h e r i t a g e and  i n the a c t u a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of meanings.  i s o n l y , f o r e x a m p l e , by r e c o g n i z i n g t h a t t r a d i t i o n a l l y  e x p r e s s i v e f o r m s have s e r v e d within  the c u l t u r e —  to balance  individual  c o o p e r a t i o n -- t h a t we c a n b e g i n hop  black  and c u l t u r a l  c o n t e x t u a l i z a t i o n o f h i p hop w i t h i n i t s c u l t u r a l secondly  deductive  i n e x p l o r i n g t h e phenomenon and t h e r e s u l t i n g  f o r , presented  The  A  two c o m p l e m e n t a r y  competitiveness to understand  black agendas  and c o l l e c t i v e  a system l i k e h i p  w h i c h s i m u l t a n e o u s l y p r o j e c t s f o r i t s members an image o f t h e  d e s t r o y e r and t h e p e a c e m a k e r and c a n combine r i t u a l gospel  preaching.  insult  with  13 Working from a p l a c e informed by informants' accounts and d e s c r i p t i v e m a t e r i a l , a c q u i r e d both from experience and popular l i t e r a t u r e ,  first-hand  the i n v e s t i g a t o r  has  " c o n s t r u c t e d a r e a l i t y " of hip hop based on what Geertz r e f e r s to as t a k i n g your best guess  (1973:20).  And  again f o l l o w i n g a  G e e r t z i a n t r a d i t i o n , the i n v e s t i g a t o r has t r i e d faithful  to remain  to the n a t i v e point of view, t a k i n g i n t o account  a v a i l a b l e statements  of t h e i r  the  i n t e n t i o n s and e x p l a n a t i o n s .  Although concepts and terminology used  i n the i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  may  be u n f a m i l i a r to the a c t o r s , they do correspond to statements made by p a r t i c i p a n t s and portrayed here i s one It  i t i s intended that the o v e r a l l  that members of hip hop would r e c o g n i z e .  i s not f a r , for i n s t a n c e , from the emic statement  about  picture  "hip hop i s  being y o u r s e l f " to the e t i c a s s e r t i o n that hip hop p r o v i d e s  an avenue f o r i d e n t i t y management; nor from t r y i n g to g i v e kids something  "what we're doing i s  b e t t e r to do" to hip hop  operates  as a problem-solving mechanism. This study was  i n part modelled a f t e r  o u t l i n e d by Michael Brake  (1985: 1 9 ) .  the  approach  Brake suggests that  i n the  study of youth s u b c u l t u r e s an i n v e s t i g a t o r should examine: 1 - i t s historical wider socio-economic  i t s relation  to the  structure.  2 - the d i s t i n c t attempt  development and  to suggest how  s t y l e and  these r e f l e c t  imagery  being portrayed and  the s o l u t i o n s to problems  addressed by the s u b c u l t u r e . 3 - societal  r e a c t i o n to the s u b c u l t u r e .  4 - the development of the moral concerns of members, n o t i n g l e v e l of committment i n r e l a t i o n  to s t a t u s  passages.  14 5 - the r e l a t i o n of the s o c i a l s t r u c t u r e to v a l u e s , norms, symbols and a c t i o n . 6 - changes i n the s u b c u l t u r e , be they f o r m a l , or boundary  thematic,  shifts.  With the exception of p o i n t number three, t h i s model considered  in p r e s e n t i n g the m a t e r i a l on hip  The vary  sources  used i n compiling  from how-to books and  docu-drama f i l m s to s o c i o - h i s t o r i c a l art historians. relatively  personal  t h i s reading of hip  of hip hop  hop  self-chronicles  from documentary readings  and  by s o c i o l o g i s t s  V i r t u a l l y a l l are d e s c r i p t i v e i n nature  interpretation-free.  an understanding  hop.  videos to popular  w r i t t e n by hip hoppers themselves and  was  and  and  T h i s m a t e r i a l i s r e i n f o r c e d by  formulated  through o b s e r v a t i o n s  i n t e r a c t i o n with members of the s u b c u l t u r e .  and  Contextual  m a t e r i a l on black c u l t u r e comes from a wide range of s c h o l a r l y fields  i n c l u d i n g anthropology,  psychology,  musicology, popular  The  Being  and  urban c u l t u r e s t u d i e s .  i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s informants  p a r t i c i p a n t s met 1985.  l i n g u i s t i c s , sociology,  were New  during an e i g h t week f i e l d  invited  to "hang out" with  York  trip  City  i n the summer of  them amounted to  a t t e n d i n g rap p a r t i e s , l e a r n i n g dance moves from them, a c t i n g as look-out  for g r a f f i t i  about and observing  w r i t e r s and  i n f o r m a l l y t a l k i n g to them  their a c t i v i t i e s .  To a l e s s e r extent  study  has been informed  by an involvement  years  (1985- 1988)  l o c a l Vancouver and Washington s t a t e  groups.  Although  with  over  the past  the  three  these members of the s u b c u l t u r e have been  15 unable to c o n t r i b u t e to an understanding of the New York C i t y phenomenon, they have provided  i n s i g h t s concerning the  e x p e r i e n t i a l and a e s t h e t i c realms.  The what i s being hop,  general  o b j e c t i v e of t h i s study i s to determine  communicated through the e x p r e s s i v e  to whom, how, and f i n a l l y  communicated.  forms of h i p  to suggest why i t i s being  The s p e c i f i c o b j e c t i v e s are to i l l u s t r a t e :  1 - that h i p hop c o n s t i t u t e s both an expression  of and  a means through which to c o n s t r u c t and manage i d e n t i t y f o r young ghetto  males, p r o v i d i n g an a l t e r n a t i v e to e x i s t i n g black  ghetto  i d e n t i t i e s and 2 - that part of t h i s  a s p e c i f i c s t y l e of l i f e  male  i d e n t i t y c o n s i s t s of f o r m u l a t i n g  and worldview, as w e l l as addressing  c u l t u r a l concerns and 3 - that the c o n s t r u c t i o n of a h i p hop i d e n t i t y draws on past  r o l e s and t r a d i t i o n s w i t h i n  i t s c u l t u r a l h e r i t a g e and  maintains the s t a t u s quo of a number of fundamental community norms and v a l u e s , while q u e s t i o n i n g  others; as w e l l as  i n c o r p o r a t i n g much of mainstream c u l t u r e and 4 - t h a t , although d i f f e r e n c e s do e x i s t , there high degree of c o n s i s t e n c y  i n the a e s t h e t i c and c u l t u r a l  isa content  of a l l three h i p hop a c t i v i t i e s which appear to form a g e s t a l t of symbolic  representations.  16 Overview In development  chapter  of the c u l t u r a l  ethnographic  details  outlines  h i p hop's  managing  self-image  its  subsequent  hip  initial  section  Finally,  involvement  because  explicit raps  as w e l l  comprises  i n h i p hop u n d e r  s i x focus  the p r i n c i p l e  means o f  as d i s c u s s e s  American  on h i p hop r a p  contribution  The s y s t e m a t i c a n d  music.  to the study  of  detailed  was s e l e c t e d a s t h e c o n c e n t r a t i o n f o r t h i s  of the three  are the particular o f what  chapter  justification for  e x p r e s s i v e forms  i t provides  and a c c e s s i b l e f o r m u l a t i o n o f h i p hop.  M C s , much  The  i s provided.  hop by t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r .  study  i s given.  concerns,  of the  available  f u n c t i o n as an a l t e r n a t i v e  two t h r o u g h  of rap music  accounting  providing  context,  and community  expressiveness  analysis  of  and s o c i a l  Rican  Chapters This  system,  developments.  subsuming Puerto black  one a s o c i o - h i s t o r i c a l  communication  i s articulated  genre  through  And,  t h e most  although  o f h i p hop DJs and  them  i s representative  a l l o f h i p hop. One  from  1979  trascribed  hundred  t o 1987,  raps  central  themes,  York  identified  range,  and a v a i l a b l e  to those  as being  as  raps  originating Raps  historically  of  illustrating  I.) S e l e c t i o n  to the investigator.  by h i p h o p p e r s  ranging  (A s e l e c t i o n  as w e l l  i s i n c l u d e d i n appendix restricted  raps,  t h e 1984-85 p e r i o d , w e r e  for analysis.  representing this  t h e s a m p l e was City  the m a j o r i t y from  by t h e r e s e a r c h e r  fifteen  for  and s e v e n t y - f i v e r e c o r d e d  criterion i n New  t h a t have  significant  been  17 and/or  a e s t h e t i c a l l y superior  rap") were t a r g e t e d .  ( i . e . "a important rap", "a good  T h i s want l i s t  was  compiled using popular  l i t e r a t u r e sources w r i t t e n by i n s i d e r s , p r i m a r i l y Rappin Grandmaster B l a s t e r Supreme Rockers  (1984), Breakdancinq  (1984), Breakdancinq  Breaking and the New  by Mr.  by  Fresh and  the  by C u r t i s Marlow (1984) and  York C i t y Breakers by Michael Holman  (1984). In a d d i t i o n , the d i s c o g r a p h i e s provided by hip hop r e s e a r c h e r s David Toop (1984), Steve Hager George (1985b) were r e f e r r e d  to.  The  (1984) and  Nelson  content of these l i s t s ,  a great e x t e n t , o v e r l a p s with the p a r t i c i p a n t s ' l i s t s  and  to  indeed  were compiled by these authors a c c o r d i n g to the p r e f e r e n c e s of their  informants; hence they attempt  perspective.  to r e f l e c t  These raps were a c t i v e l y sought  i n v e s t i g a t o r , who  was  recommended c l a s s i c  an  insider's  out by the  s u c c e s s f u l i n p r o c u r i n g most of the h i g h l y  raps ( i . e . those repeatedly reported by  i n s i d e r s as being s i g n i f i c a n t ) , as w e l l as many of the renowned s u g g e s t i o n s .  Finally,  the m a t e r i a l d a t i n g a f t e r  ( p u b l i c a t i o n date of sources) was by informants both from New  less  York  recommended to the C i t y and  1985  investigator  locally.  Most are twelve inch s i n g l e s or albums r e l e a s e d small underground Tommy Boy, of  record l a b e l s such as Fantasy, S u l t r a ,  S u g a r h i l l and Def Jam.  l i v e performances,  commercial  on Pro,  Although a few are r e c o r d i n g s  most are s t u d i o produced.  Especially  raps, that i s , those r e l e a s e d by l a r g e r r e c o r d i n g  companies and r e p o r t e d l y geared  towards the mainstream  audience,  were excluded as being u n r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of the s u b c u l t u r e .  18 Generally,  the o v e r a l l themes and  a e s t h e t i c s do  not  appear to have changed s i g n i f i c a n t l y over time; however, on a number of occasions covering  the  developments are noted.  temporal range and  examined s p e c i f i c a l l y  marked d e v i a t i o n s over time, but perspective  part the sample i s d i s c u s s e d Chapter two  e f f e c t s of r e c o r d i n g  none were d i s c o v e r e d . i s considered,  the  of the  raps themselves. and  raps and  h i s t o r i c a l account, and  on the a c t i v i t y .  Thus, unless  a p p r o p r i a t e l y and  material.  s i g n i f i c a n t p o r t i o n of  through s i x , i s a  Referencing it is.  included  been referenced.  however, are l i s t e d The  from  the  sample  to add  may  the most p a r t ,  i s quoted i t i s by  referenced performer  " c o l o u r " as much as evidence, have  A l l raps r e f e r r e d to i n t h i s s e c t i o n , i n the  discography.  l y r i c s , noting  the t e x t s .  For  raps  to concerns over cumbersomeness, short  a n a l y s i s of the  a n a l y s i s of the  of the  o f t e n even these are designated  However, due  phrases, o f t e n  within  the  are only o c c a s i o n a l l y supplemented, f o r i n t e r p r e t a t i o n  however, when more than a s i n g l e l i n e  not  The  discusses  otherwise i n d i c a t e d , a l l m a t e r i a l  appear somewhat a r b i t a r y , as indeed  year.  for the most  are based on or o r i g i n a t e with the  purposes, with o u t s i d e  and  Thus,  investigator's, inferred directly  quotes i n c l u d e d  any  reader to rap music, g i v i n g  the a n a l y s i s , found i n chapters three construction  for  synchronically.  introduces  a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n and  raps,  produced by a s i n g l e rap crew  (namely Grandmaster F l a s h ) , was  although a d i a c h r o n i c  A body of  rap music c o n s i s t s of a content r e c u r r i n g themes and  Both e x p l i c i t  and  patterns  i m p l i c i t messages are  19  examined.  The t e x t u a l i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s are informed by  ethnographic  and c o n t e x t u a l m a t e r i a l , both on the s u b c u l t u r e and  on black c u l t u r e i n g e n e r a l .  And, to a l e s s e r degree and by no  means s y s t e m a t i c a l l y , a s t r u c t u r a l a n a l y s i s of the language and music, noting the c o n s t r u c t i o n techniques and conventions, i s utilized  to complement some f i n d i n g s .  F i n a l l y , chapters seven  and e i g h t s attempt  to p a r a l l e l  the a n a l y s i s of rap music i n a d d r e s s i n g h i p hop g r a f f i t i and breakdancing  respectively,  (although these are not s y s t e m a t i c  s t u d i e s of r e p r e s e n t a t i v e samples).  By p r o v i d i n g  e t h n o - h i s t o r i c a l data a l o n g s i d e i n t e r p r e t a t i o n s of content and form the a n a l y s i s of rap i s r e i n f o r c e d . r e s u l t s of broadening unpacking  context of our view of rap music and  i t s messages a s s i s t s  the g r a f f i t i own unique suggest  the  and dance.  And, c o n v e r s e l y , the  i n understanding  Although  the symbolism of  each e x p r e s s i v e form  t r a i t s and emphasis, the m a t e r i a l presented  does  a c o n s i s t e n c y of agenda among the three a c t i v i t i e s ,  share c e n t r a l metaphors and a e s t h e t i c canons.  testify  which  Taken together  they p r o v i d e a g r a p h i c p i c t u r e of the f i g h t i n g s p i r i t and  has i t s  to i t s r o l e as an a l t e r n a t i v e ghetto  of h i p hop  experience.  20 CHAPTER ONE  1.1  OVERVIEW  OF THE SUBCULTURE  Emergence i n New Y o r k C i t y i n t h e 1970's  H i p hop i s a p r e d o m i n a t e l y male y o u t h s u b c u l t u r e involves participation  i n three highly  a c t i v i t i e s -- g r a f f i t i  writing,  breakdancing. city  boroughs  c o m p e t i t i v e and e x p r e s s i v e  r a p D J i n g and M C i n g , and  The t h r e e a c t i v i t i e s  began e m e r g i n g  o f New Y o r k C i t y , p a r t i c u l a r l y  i n t h e l a t e 60's a n d e a r l y 70's. historical  development,  existing  aspects of black ghetto c u l t u r a l  had been subsumed under  appeared  i na scat-style  i n the inner  i n the.South  A l t h o u g h each a c t i v i t y  distinct  70's  which  Bronx, has a  t h e y a l l drew on and e l a b o r a t e d  t h e term  identity  and by t h e m i d  ' h i p hop' ( t h e t e r m  r a p by DJ H o l l y w o o d and S t a r s k i )  first (George  1985a: x v i ) . A t t h e g r a s s r o o t s l e v e l most h i p h o p p e r s income  families,  a r e between  t h e ages o f 12 a n d 19 a n d a r e e i t h e r  American b l a c k s or Puerto Ricans. groups c a l l e d  Members j o i n  "crews" which p a r t i c i p a t e  three of the a c t i v i t i e s .  For example,  Dr. well  I c e and t h e E d u c a t e d R a p p e r t h e r e i s a group o f g i r l s ,  t h e r a p p i n g crew UTFO and w r i t e  the ladies  and one D J , M i x m a s t e r I c e .  As  t h e UTFO C h e e r l e a d e r s , who  c h a n t s o f s u p p o r t ("Go K a n g o l , go K a n g o l " ) and  simulate audience response  "Owww").  organized  The c o r e g r o u p c o n s i s t s o f t h r e e r a p p e r s , K a n g o l K i d ,  p r o v i d e background  all  loosely  i n o n l y one o r two o r a l l  ( U n i t e d Teens For O u r s e l v e s ) a l l r a p , breakdance graffiti.  a r e from low  i n t h e house  (for instance  i f the rapper requests  t o s a y "Owww", t h e y come back  21 As impetus and is  a street  came f r o m  culture  and a r t i s t i c  movement h i p h o p ' s  the efforts  of a handful  of h i g h l y  charismatic leaders. r e p o r t e d t o have  activities needed  together  t o keep  been  One  such  innovator, Afrika  responsible for bringing  t h e movement  a youth  jockeying,  had a v i s i o n  gang  from  dying  l e a d e r and Muslim  male youth  one t h a t s t r e s s e d c r e a t i v e ,  from  a 19th c e n t u r y  Luther  King  raising  and Malcolm  lyrics  inspiration  o f James  chief,  X, a s w e l l Brown.  for his vision  this  rather  being  to disc  of  pride to ghetto  B a m b a a t a a , who  admits  1985b: 9 ) .  turned  and c u l t u r a l  of expression. Zulu  who  o f p r o v i d i n g a new s o u r c e  s t a t u s achievement,  forms  the three  out (George  self-imaging,  destructive,  Bambaataa,  a n d p r o v i d i n g much o f t h e e n c o u r a g e m e n t  Bambaataa,  —  motivated  than took  h i s name  influenced  by M a r t i n  as by t h e c o n s c i o u s n e s s -  He e x p l a i n s t h e s e m i n a l way:  I g o t t h e i d e a when I s e e n t h i s m o v i e c a l l e d Z u l u w h i c h featured Michael Caine. I t w a s s h o w i n g how w h e n t h e B r i t i s h came t o t a k e o v e r t h e l a n d o f t h e Z u l u s how t h e Zulus fought to uphold t h e i r land. They were p r o u d w a r r i o r s a n d t h e y was f i g h t i n g v e r y w e l l a g a i n s t b u l l e t s , c a n n o n s a n d s t u f f . . . . W h e n t h e B r i t i s h t h o u g h t t h e y ' d won the next t h i n g you see i s t h e whole mountain f u l l w i t h t h o u s a n d s o f Z u l u s a n d t h e B r i t i s h knew t h e y was g o n n a die then. But the Zulus chanted — p r a i s e d them a s w a r r i o r s and l e t them l i v e . So f r o m t h e r e t h a t ' s w h e n I d e c i d e d one o f t h e s e days I hope t o have a Z u l u n a t i o n , t o o ( i n Toop 1984: 57) .  And i n 1974 he d i d e s t a b l i s h  an o r g a n i z a t i o n c a l l e d the  Zulu Nation with an estimated membership of 10,000 i n the Bronx and Manhattan. graffiti, fighting  The o r g a n i z a t i o n ' s e x p l i c i t aim was  rapping and breaking as a l t e r n a t i v e s  to promote  to s t r e e t  (Mr. Fresh and the Supreme Rockers 1984: 1 1 ) .  gang  22 An  e x a m p l e of h i s commitment t o n o n - v i o l e n c e  i n a s t o r y he  t e l l s of a d a n c e p a r t y he was  Bronx R i v e r  Community C e n t r e .  hall  the  get  and  as  A fight  c r o w d grew t e n s e  and  had  v i o l e n c e . . . no tune,  violence".  stopped to taunt  talking  about".  "You  MCing i n 1982 broken out  the  outside  there.  s t a y where t h e y No  that? —  resumed p l a y i n g t h e  to  were.  James Brown  M u s i c , t h a t ' s what  began t o d a n c e , i g n o r i n g t h e s c e n e o u t s i d e  ( H a g e r 1984:  ix).  1.2  1960's and  To within  fully  appreciate  the wider s o c i a l  York's inner c i t i e s  s i n g l e most p r e v a l e n t and  e a r l y 1970's was  power.  And  although  middle c l a s s black (Bonnett  1980:  war  on  during  the  the  concrete  context  t i m e of  i n Black  f a m i l y , the  gains  may  lower  1970's  i t i s h e l p f u l to place i t that prevailed i n  i t s emergence. America i n the  t h e movement t o w a r d s c i v i l  rights  The 1960's  and  black  have been made f o r  classes felt  summer o f b l a c k  little  Assaults, robberies  i n c r e a s e d , f e a r of a w h i t e was  t o an  power r i o t s  the  effect  and  i t s l e a d e r s d i s s i p a t e d , l e a v i n g the  being  backlash  o v e r s h a d o w e d by  of a c o n s e r v a t i v e  contributed  cultural  a sense of gloom.  poverty  election  h i p hop  occurrence  t h e 1966  t h e movement and  reportedly  and  in  and  48).  After  experiencing  Climate  record  I'm  crowd  Black America's S o c i a l  the  v i o l e n c e . . . no  began p l a y i n g a p o p u l a r like  at  the  New  He  He  out  evident  moved t o w a r d s t h e d o o r s  i n v o l v e d , Bambaataa demanded t h a t t h e y  " T h e r e a i n ' t n o t h i n ' g o i n ' on  is  c o n g r e s s and  a t m o s p h e r e of d e s p a i r  was  looting,  ghettos and  rapes  growing,  t h e V i e t n a m War, funding  the  cutbacks a l l  ( H a n n e r z 1969:  the  22).  23 According among o t h e r s ) by veiled  to black h i s t o r i a n s  t h e end  o f t h e 60's  i n disappointments.  of h i s s e l f efforts  and  potential  Although had  housing  and  optimism.  realm  of s t r e e t  word  u p t i g h t had 70's  and One  growing  this  connotation was  nervousness"  commensurate  his  change i s e c h o e d  ( F o l b 1980:  new  i n the  i n meaning of In the  of " t o g e t h e r n e s s " ,  as a n e g a t i v e  o f h i p hop's f o u n d i n g  t h e c o n d i t i o n s i n New  conception  concerted  to thwart  t h e p r e v a i l i n g mood.  the  60's but  by  the  r e f e r e n t to  208).  members, K u r t i s B l o w ,  York C i t y ' s g h e t t o s  need t o c r e a t e a p o s i t i v e way fight  continued  For example, a s h i f t  i t s more g e n e r a l use  "tenseness  that  language.  a positive  the  was  c o n d i t i o n , r a c i s m , poor s c h o o l i n g ,  Interestingly,  'uptight' s i g n i f i e s  Hannerz  t h e g h e t t o man's  r a i s e r s , without  employment s h o r t a g e s  found  and  hope f o r a b e t t e r l i f e  improved through  of b l a c k c o n s c i o u s n e s s  improvements i n h i s s o c i a l  (Bonnett  o f s a y i n g " I am  claims  c o n t r i b u t e d to somebody" and  a p a t h y by means r e l e v a n t t o t h e i r  to  lives.  G r o w i n g up i n H a r l e m i n t h e s e v e n t i e s was wack. Black p e o p l e a l l a c r o s s t h e c o u n t r y were b e g i n n i n g t o g e t a l i t t l e p i e c e of t h e A m e r i c a n Dream e x c e p t , i t seemed, i n Harlem. P e o p l e were p o o r , j o b s were s c a r c e , d r u g s were e v e r y w h e r e and t h e c o p s w e r e n ' t as c o o l as K o j a k . Upwardly mobile b l a c k s ? The f o l k s I knew were s t r u g g l i n g t o keep i t t o g e t h e r e v e n w i t h a n i n e - t o - f i v e and a n o t h e r j o b on t h e s i d e . T.V., m o v i e s , m a g a z i n e s and n e w s p a p e r s seemed t o be a b o u t n o t h i n g b u t how w e l l b l a c k s were d o i n g somewhere e l s e . For t h o s e o f us s t i l l l i v i n g i n H a r l e m , t h i n g s j u s t got worse. The few b l a c k s who were m a k i n g i t w e r e l e a v i n g H a r l e m and t h o s e o f us who were l e f t , p a r t i c u l a r l y t h e young p e o p l e , f e l t a l i e n a t e d f r o m t h e w h i t e f o l k s ' s o c i e t y we saw on "The J e f f e r s o n s " . I t j u s t d i d n ' t seem r e a l t o u s , b e c a u s e i t w a s n ' t ( i n G e o r g e 1985a: x i ) .  the  24 1.3  A l t e r n a t i v e t o Gang  One  Violence  a s s e r t i o n which i s made repeatedly  p a r t i c i p a n t s and  a n a l y i s t s of hip hop  i n the s e l f - i m a g i n g  as such c o n s t i t u t e s a  mechanism towards more c o n s t r u c t i v e  means of p r e s t i g e d i s p l a y and breakdancer and  by  i s that i t developed as a  replacement for s t r e e t gang a c t i v i t y and shift  both  status evaluation.  rapper d i s c u s s i n g the  K u r t i s Blow, a  r e l a t i o n s h i p to gangs  explains that: at that time there were l o t s of gang wars. The Puerto Ricans and blacks would f i g h t against each other. There were gangs l i k e the Savage No Mads, Black Spades, and you a l s o had the Peace Makers. I was in the Peace Makers. A l l these gangs used to f i g h t against each other. These were l i k e the baddest gangs that would ever walk the face of the earth. In those days the gang wars were r e a l l y s e r i o u s . It was dangerous back then. We would a l s o breakdance against . the other gangs. We used to go to n e u t r a l p a r t i e s and j u s t dance against each other. That would be a form of gang f i g h t i n g ( i n Marlow 1984: 81). Frosty transformation  Freeze, another hip hop  this  member, sees  the  way:  Breaking came about as a way of i n s u l t i n g people by way of body language rather than k i l l i n g . Instead of saying " I ' l l beat you up" they might say, " I ' l l go against your moves and you go against my moves. If I can take you out, then you can't do t h i s or that ( i n The D a i l y News, June 29, 1982, pg. M4). Or  t h i s from Fred, a former gang member turned  grafitti  writer:  Instead of t a k i n g arms, we took p a i n t . There's some v i o l e n c e i n the a r t . . . B u t i t has to be expressed. If there hadn't been g r a f i t t i , there would have been a l o t more v i o l e n c e ( i n Castleman 1982: 107). It  should  a l s o be noted that t h i s notion of using  non-violent  means of competition  creative,  i s not without precedence.  In  a d d i t i o n to the A f r i c a n dances mentioned in Chapter E i g h t , such phenomena as I n u i t t h r o a t  s i n g i n g and  institutionalized  joking  25 r e l a t i o n s h i p s , as w e l l as Helen Codere's d i s c u s s i o n of Northwest Coast Indian Reasons given  p o t l a t c h , a l s o lead credence to the by ex-gang members turned  imprisonment, fear of k i l l i n g s ,  (Holman 1984:  f a m i l i e s and,  61;  Hager 1984:  remained i n gangs apparently  drug abuse, strong  simply, 10;  "the  refocussed  58).  filled  the  March 1978a: 69).  For  their attentions  development. markers and  Gangs t r a d i t i o n a l l y to i n t i m i d a t e r i v a l s  ghettos i n general  extortion  those that l e f t ,  used g r a f i t t i (Hager  music competency has and  which provided  t e s t i n g power and  1984:  proving  hip  hop  aspects of gang l i f e promoted and  was  developed  in p a r t i c u l a r  for s t a t u s management,  that occurred  a re-emphasis.  subsided,  competing  a long h i s t o r y i n black  i n the form of v e r b a l exchanges (Short What occurred  territorial  much of the d i s p l a y of  opportunities oneself  as  13);  i n the gang i n s t i t u t i o n  (Hazzard-Gordon 1983b: 247-252); and  141).  onto  s u b s t i t u t i o n i s expressed as a n a t u r a l  through dance and  was  who  gap. The  aggression  by  times"  Those  business ventures such as drug d e a l i n g , t h e f t and (Campbell and  and  disapproval  s i g n of the  Toop 1984:  idea.  hip hoppers for  the d e c l i n e of v i o l e n t gangs i n c l u d e p o l i c e crackdowns  g i r l f r i e n d s and  the  As  these other  within  1968:  19;  the gangs  Miller  1968:  the more v i o l e n t a c t i v i t i e s were  i n turn f u r t h e r i n g the dismantlement of  the gangs. Subway g r a f f i t i  i s a case i n p o i n t .  As more and  f i g h t i n g gang members were drawn to the a c t i v i t y t h e i r gang a f f i l i a t i o n s .  The  r i g i d i t y of gang  more  i t competed with  territorial  26 spreading  confinement i n t e r f e r e d with city.  Hence many l e f t  one's name throughout the  the gangs to form w r i t i n g crews who  remained i n group formations  to ensure safe passage and  presumably r e t a i n c o l l e c t i v e s o l i d a r i t y  (Castleman 1982: 91).  One means of a s s e s s i n g t h i s p e r s p e c t i v e of t r a n s f e r i s to determine whether or not a r e d u c t i o n i n v i o l e n t gang d i d occur  i n New York C i t y  activity  i n the mid 70's. An extensive  research p r o j e c t on American gang v i o l e n c e conducted under the supervison  of Walter M i l l e r  concludes  that:  For New York, then, the past decade (1965-1975) was c h a r a c t e r i z e d by a f i v e year p e r i o d during which n e i t h e r predatory nor v i o l e n t a c t i v i t i e s by gangs were recognized as s e r i o u s problems; a two year p e r i o d of r a p i d growth i n the numbers of p o l i c e - i d e n t i f i e d gangs and t h e i r spread from the Bronx to other boroughs, accompanied by an upsurge i n l e t h a l v i o l e n c e o f t e n r e l a t e d to inter-gang combat; and a recent p e r i o d during which the most l e t h a l forms of gang a c t i v i t y have d e c l i n e d s u b s t a n t i a l l y , while the number of gangs, gang members and gang-member involvement i n other forms of crime have remained at a high l e v e l , i n some instances increased (1975: 57). These p e r i o d s c o r r e l a t e to the b r i e f p e r i o d of optimism experienced  i n the ghetto  during the c i v i l  r i g h t s movement, the  subsequent time of reported d i s i l l u s i o n m e n t and f i n a l l y the emergence of h i p hop. That the e x p l i c i t  i n t e n t i o n f o r developing  a c t i v i t i e s was to reduce v i o l e n t  f i g h t i n g does not however mean  that h i p hoppers were not i n v o l v e d i n f i g h t s . currency  of these  activities  d i s p u t e s over c h a l l e n g e s 52).  h i p hop  Indeed as the  as ego g r a t i f i e r s became greater  could i n c i t e v i o l e n c e (Castleman 1982:  As Macho of the Rockwell breaking  crew admits:  "We won the  27 trophy  but  wanted  to  lot  fighting,  of  between is  the  other  fight.  crew  See,  breaking  too"  seriousness  a d e l i c a t e one.  didn't  1984:  what might  At  one  level  yet  recognizable  r e l a t i o n s h i p between  as  Hip  deep p l a y  risks,  publicly  violence: Abrahams real  world  the  this  the  are  this  end  and  may  "That  constant —  ideal and  was  i t and by  to  the  way  i s , i n the  play?".  must  or  be  a  real to  real  of d i s t i n g u i s h i n g containing  Bateson of  play  reality  involving  a means o f  threat  promote  from  of  (1973) r e f e r s  often  a  balance  so-called  what G e e r t z  m e s s a g e m u s t be  is this  the  i n terms  is distinct  when, as  constant.  of  There's  s u c c e s s f u l l y there  f u n c t i o n as  effective  won....They  breaking.  thought  important  i t , the  i s play  truces  i s an  we  Indeed  commitment,  expresses  most  expressed  extreme Play  i t i s most 1976)  play,  one:  i n which  be  operate  is characterized  i s demanded.  oneself  of  hop  to  only 86).  play  seriousness,  world.  for play  to admit  i s not  ( i n Hager  and  want  (1972: 40  in  i n c u r s i o n s from  the  most  kinds  the  successful deeply  ambivalent  Nonetheless w i t h i n hip  non-violent  hop  r e s o l u t i o n s and  c o l l a b o r a t i o n s were a c t i v a t e d to  to  reduce  tension. As retain  the  the  ability  judging on  s t r e e t man  and  stylishly  a l t e r n a t i v e system  recognizable  successful hoppers  an  and  possess  reputations  toughness  while  disparage  creating a  was  used  other  males, win  s t r e e t smarts  i n terms  1983: of  required  cool,  the  The  strength,  to  the  between  hip  assertiveness,  females,  remained 90).  both  to measure  distinction  Thus e x h i b i t s of  (Horowitz  (defined  hop  characteristics  gang members. to  hip  dress  criterion  importance  endurance,  for placed  physical  28 prowess,  fearlessness  from  gang  the  street  and  institution  family  structure  socialization  continued.  of  older  and  instance the  younger  to  hip  Hip  boys  hierarchy  by  membership  a  and  loosely  and  (Miller  peers  hoppers  i n terms To  forced  organized  leadership  d e t a c h m e n t ) was  hop  i n which  ( i n S t y l e W a r s 1982).  formal  replaced  emotional  play  154).  The  role  in  of  the  relationship  "father"  and  "son",  signify  a  inscription democratic  informally  1968:  a primary  speak  of  transferred  based  for  difference,  however,  among g a n g s  was  system with  volunteer  on  and  charisma  talent. Although reportedly  used,  it  gangs,  was  for  interferes behaviour  with was  competition  and  face  —  the  physical  in  subway  i s not  face  tunnels;  fire  in creating  i n t r o d u c t i o n of  hip  hoppers  from  chains,  the  arms),  a a  new clean  tough,  boots,  of  A  i n the  and  not  to  athletic  yet  gang  a high  i t as  i t  of  in  context as  risk  well  as  the  enterprise live  wires  (although  never  artistic  risks  the  a public  forum.  visually  "colours"  as  non-violent  negotiating  s c r u f f y appearance and  code  robbery  mention  look  avoid  styles  stealing paints  style within  jeans  who  unique  armed  are  focal activity  34).  remained  in breakdancing or  a  honourable  example,  Hop  "racking"  nor  1984:  promotion  Hip  marijuana)  breakdancers,  stressed  for  and  norm  confrontation,  risks  with  a  (Hager  that  protective  imprisonment.  or  (alcohol  especially for  the  sporting  use  performance  to  of  involved  drugs  Risk-taking,  threat  blatantly  drug  developed  expression. involved  soft  of  Finally  distinguished gang  (Holman  members  1984:  132).  29 1.4  Symbolic  Representations  Indeed hoppers are to look  than at s t y l e s of d r e s s .  energetic  look.  this  colourful along  often  the  are  self-image i s no  b-boy ( a n o t h e r  t o o l s of the  now  better  place  a fresh,  futuristic  hooded s w e a t s h i r t s , b a s e b a l l attire.  The  most  hip  caps  identifiable  i c o n of the  b l a s t e r or  subculture,  "boom box"  —  both  trade.  inscribed with personal  Nation,  hip  term f o r  a p o s s i b l e t h r o w b a c k t o gang c o n v e n t i o n  w r i t e r s ) and  also display their  that  b r a n d name s n e a k e r s worn w i t h f a t ,  infamous ghetto  the g r a f f i t i  Zulu  suits,  dominate t h e i r  look  As  by  Jogging  l a c e s , w h i c h have become t h e  with  essential  The  s t r e s s e s a c t i o n c l o t h e s and  Kangol hats  mark o f  underlying  c o n s t r u c t i n g for themselves, there  hopper) s t y l e  and  to uncover the  jackets  are  or crew names ( g e n e r a l l y p a i n t e d nameplate necklaces  and  s t r e e t or p e r f o r m a n c e names.  d i s b a n d e d , wore an  identifying  belt  on  buckles  Members of  the  insignia.  I n t h e e a r l y p h a s e s of t h e movement t h e most s u c c e s s f u l rappers  performing  i n n i g h t c l u b s and  much f l a s h i e r w i l d l o o k The  to promote the  members o f t h e S o u l s o n i c  Force,  in concerts  developed  image of awesome power.  for instance,  typically  a p p e a r e d g a r b e d as an  Indian warrior, a knight, a centurion  an A f r i c a n w a r r i o r —  a l l s u i t a b l y cooled  gold  creating a s c i - f i  Even f o o t b a l l proportions  shoulder  (ibid.:  t w i s t to the  out  with  image ( F l i n k e r  shades 1985:  55-56). heroic  A c c e s s o r i e s , s u c h as s t u d d e d w r i s t  b a n d s , were b o r r o w e d f r o m punk f a s h i o n t o enhance t h e i r look.  and  and  pads were added t o e x a g g e r a t e t h e i r  75).  a  tough  30  As  h i p hoppers f u r t h e r e s t a b l i s h e d themselves w i t h i n  the black entertainment  i n d u s t r y , t h e l o o k was u p g r a d e d t o  signify  Expensive  Fila  their  success.  and A d i d a s ,  jewelry  a p p e a r e d and t h e c o n s p i c u o u s  increased.  Several one-inch  g o l d charms o f A d i d a s r u n n e r s recent  s y m b o l s o f h i p hop.  s t r e e t s , have d i f f i c u l t y "sporting"  investigator's insure status.  belief type  Amateurs, s t i l l  performing  sportswear  According  to the  of r e a l i t y  expressed  i s a deep d e s i r e and  Playing i t cool allows f o r this i n t h e name o f s a v i n g f a c e and  good. o r p o s e s , have a l s o been i n t r o d u c e d and  a r e u s e d g e n e r a l l y by a l l members a s w e l l as b e i n g i n t o the breakdance vocabulary. virility  chest,  a r e t h e norm —  arms c r o s s e d  flashing  To  and  tightly  toughness  high across the  c h i n up and o u t , head c o c k e d t o one s i d e , f e e t w i d e l y s e t ;  t h e Zulu peace s i g n  ( C h a l f a n t and P r i g o f f  their  incorporated  P o s e s t h a t s t r e s s male  hands c u p p e d a r o u n d t h e g e n i t a l s ; while  they are  f o o l e d but everyone supports the  What i s b e i n g  Body s t a n c e s ,  and  on t h e  the a s s o c i a t i o n i s s u f f i c i e n t to  i n an image o f s u c c e s s .  looking  image.  No one i s r e a l l y  of suspension  solid  up w i t h t h e e x p e n s e s b u t by  the appropriate  fiction.  d i s p l a y of g o l d  o r gun "peace s y m b o l s " a r e t h e most  keeping  informants,  s u c h as  g o l d c h a i n s w i t h huge  f a k e g o l d and c o p i e s o f d e s i g n e r  able to maintain  cultural  b r a n d name s p o r t s u i t s ,  the face contorted ( i n d e x and p i n k y  comprising  scowl  extended)  1987: 8 ) .  r e i n f o r c e group i d e n t i t y  own i n - g r o u p  into a  h i p h o p p e r s have  l e x i c o n d r a w i n g on e x i s t i n g b l a c k  developed  vernacular  an e l a b o r a t e b a t t l e m e t a p h o r t o e m p h a s i z e t h e  31 competitive or  aspect  "destroyed";  of  "toys"  "kings"  or  (death)  moves.  An  language  lent  inself  'to  and  cut'  literally cultural other such  "masters"  or  to  that  The  always  adding  on  pressure,  ethos  of  hip  vernacular express  over hop  'Bad'  it  may  the  need  in  or  "cut"  with  "def"  The  mean e i t h e r  incredibly 1980).  and  aggressive  warfare.  can  performative  be  image  to  through  Hip  hop  terms  a  redefined  meaning.  c r e a t i o n of  demanding  to  former  hip  power,  on  and  hopper  and  elicits  i s paramount  messed w i t h of  this  respect  looking cool  maintaining  w e l l as into  the  strength  crew  respect  and  on  to  streets  values  retain  and  and  self-control  or  'heart*  remain  one  cool"  are  and  and  aesthetic  on  imbuing the  which  however  which  the  two  other  are  used  to  concerns.  i n v e r s i o n of  i s good,  currency  of  composure  concepts  visible;  ' f r e s h ' , both  linguistic  that which to  hop  of  a c c u r a t e l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d by  'bad'  is a  'soul'  hip  i s most  t e r m s --  to  symbolic  s t r e e t s "respect to  rivals  "bombed"  r e f e r r e d to p h y s i c a l v i o l e n c e ,  a means o f  not  the  as  cultural  referring  the  out"  meaning  Folb  are  132). 1  carried  "taken  impress  According  order  'Cool ,  have  of  o b j e c t i v e i n the  the  project  1984:  to  Trains  away"  of  Holman, a c t i n g or  s t r e e t s and  under  form  only  integrity.  (Holman  this  originally  expressing  must  duality  1972;  i s to devise  s u r v i v a l . . . . In  "blow  (Brown  overall  Michael  are  away', f o r e x a m p l e ,  self-image  the  or  a s s a u l t someone or performance  warfare.  "suckers"  existing  'to burn',  manager  ritual  "burn"  'to blow  terms as  their  the  i t with  street.  As  common the  usage,  tough  well  image  'bad'  32  d e n o t e s b e h a v i o u r and a t t i t u d e s , s u c h a s " r a c k i n g p a i n t s , which  i n mainstream terms a r e h e l d  up" s p r a y  t o be bad y e t a r e  admired w i t h i n the subculture. 'Fresh'  alone epitomizes  a l l that  w i t h i n h i p hop, s i g n i f y i n g a t t h e c u l t u r a l redefine  t o music c r i t i c N e l s o n George  'fresh' s i g n i f i e s  arrogant  level  that which  and p o s i t i v e i n s p i r i t  blatantly  i m i t a t i v e or s t a g n a n t .  "the  Nation  Zulu  ( 1 9 8 5 a : x v i i i ) , t h e i r use  i s innovative, optimistic, and r e j e c t s t h a t w h i c h i s As Mr. F r e s h h i m s e l f  means t o k i d s t h a t  they w i l l  believing  you 11).  1.5  i n yourself  so much t h a t  against  y o u c a n a c h i e v e s o m e t h i n g w o r t h w h i l e and g e t somewhere i f stick  with  i t " (Mr. F r e s h and t h e Supreme B r e a k e r s 1 9 8 4 :  And t h a t ' s  Diffusion  fresh.  and  Elaboration  movement i n t h e B r o n x i t q u i c k l y s p r e a d east  coast,  across  ethnic  backgrounds.  constructed  t h r o u g h o u t New Y o r k C i t y ,  t o L o s A n g e l e s and e v e n t u a l l y  worldwide youth subculture and  their  I t means  i n s p i t e o f a l l odds  A l t h o u g h h i p hop began a s an i n t e r n a l l y  the  puts i t  g e t more f r o m  d a n c i n g , s i n g i n g and p a i n t i n g t h a n f r o m f i g h t i n g .  you,  t h e move t o  t h e m s e l v e s i n a p o s i t i v e , c o n s t r u c t i v e manner.  According of  i s new and r i g h t  with  f o l l o w e r s from a l l s o c i o e c o n o m i c  The p r o c e s s o f d i f f u s i o n i n v o l v e d  p o p u l a r i z a t i o n and c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n  a  which n e c e s s a r i l y i n c l u d e d  r e l a t i o n s h i p with  the mainstream c u l t u r e —  its  w i t h i n t h e h i p hop c u l t u r e and v i c e  presence f e l t  became a  the mainstream  a  making  versa.  33  In the e a r l y stages of i t s development the mass media played a key r o l e i n the c o n t i n u a t i o n of the s u b c u l t u r e . A r t i c l e s on the phenomenon i n the newspaper and on  television  helped maintain the momentum of the e n t e r p r i s e while the p a r t i c u l a r s . through  articulating  Indeed the c o n s t r u c t i o n of a cohesive image  the media documentation no doubt i n f l u e n c e d the  forthcoming  expressions.  And,  as hip hop evolved, media r e c o g n i t i o n and  i n mainstream terms became p r i z e d  sources of fame and  success  esteem,  r e i n f o r c i n g the e x i s t i n g p r e d i s p o s i t i o n towards p e r f o r m a t i v e entertainment. merchandizing to hip hop  Hip hop  became very caught  up i n s o p h i s t i c a t e d  of consumer goods to ghetto kids by t y i n g  s t a r s , p r i m a r i l y breakdancers.  On t h e i r part hip  hoppers b l a t a n t l y a p p r o p r i a t e d from mainstream popular h a l f mocking, h a l f c e l e b r a t i n g t h e i r needs and gave i t new By 1980  what had  i t as they converted  culture,  i t to f i t  meaning. been e x c l u s i v e l y a s t r e e t c u l t u r e  a l s o becoming an entertainment  business.  S t r e e t dancers  rappers began competing f o r night club bookings, c o n t r a c t s and  products  spots on T.V.  shows.  was  and  recording  G r a f f i t i a r t i s t s began to  o r g a n i z e l e g i t i m a t e p u b l i c a r t p r o j e c t s , were p a i n t i n g movie backdrops and album covers and were being asked works on canvas i n p r e s t i g i o u s The  to e x h i b i t  their  galleries.  stakes s h i f t e d and a d i s t i n c t i o n between  p r o f e s s i o n a l s and amateurs emerged.  The  ensuing debate over  whether the changes would destroy the s t r e e t movement began. Yet, as b i c u l t u r a l c i t i z e n s ,  that i s members of both a  34 ghetto-specific these and  shifts  and t h e m a i n s t r e a m  i n emphasis  hip  And, l i k e  hopper  yardstick  ghetto-specific writers, desire  using  need  to tour  case  competition original towards  space,  City  have with  o f 1984  The r e s t  experienced  t o much o f t h e  had t o b a l a n c e  which  whenever  of us", they  the investigator sponsored  in reality  would  honour  recently  was w i t n e s s t o a  a breakdancing  d i d not resemble f o r each  The p e r f o r m a n c e s criterion,  local  a Seattle  other but  appeal.  t h e Dynamic R o c k e r s , formed  groups  Among  f r o m New who  of the s t r e e t crew  an  were e v a l u a t e d  not audience  the honour-ridden battles  w i n n e r s were announced  their  the general  that  to preserve their  P e r f o r m e r s d i d not dance  were  graffiti  e f f o r t s to win over  K Tel International  to a prescribed  a  82).  c o m p e t i t o r s was o n e c r e w ,  City.  entertainers,  B r e a k e r s a l t h o u g h they welcomed t h e  1984:  i n Vancouver  as m u t u a l l y  For example,  always  naturally  against the  i f s o m e o n e made a f o o l  a panel of judges.  according  himself  of m a s c u l i n i t y .  t h e summer  battle.  not viewed  the world performing, stress  and F r a n k l i n  i n point.  were  measure  1969),  accepted quite  or other black  b a t t l e , s t r e e t - s t y l e , i n order  In  (Hannerz  remaining committed  recognition  arose, "like  (Watkins  the  public  T h e New Y o r k  opportunity the  while  image  f o r peer  public.  atheletes  can s u c c e s s f u l l y  mainstream  the  were g e n e r a l l y  t h e two p o l e s o f t h e c o n t i n u u m  exclusive.  do  culture  had  never  genre.  came o u t a h e a d  York  When  of the  New Y o r k e r s . Within event  shifted.  moments t h e e n t i r e We  were  mood  and s i g n i f i c a n c e  no l o n g e r w a t c h i n g  a form of  of the  35  entertainment York dancers stage,  but  removed t h e i r  throwing  g r o u p was  a s t r u g g l e to r e s t o r e l o s t  out  showy c o s t u m e s and  out  o f i t s e l e m e n t and  d a n c e w i t h t h e s p o n t a n e i t y and And,  as t h e y  say,  were f o r c e d t o change t h e i r r e t u r n e d t o New  took  a c h a l l e n g e to the w i n n e r s .  completely  required.  honour.  aggression  York w i t h t h e i r  over  The  New the  Seattle  simply could  t h a t the  t h e c r o w d went w i l d . d e c i s i o n and  The  not  challenge The  judges  t h e Dynamic R o c k e r s  p r i d e , r e p u t a t i o n and  manhood  intact. Bambaataa's dream o f a g h e t t o y o u t h himself  through  artistic  from the l i m i t a t i o n s ( M a r l o w 1984:  70;  of the g h e t t o  N a d e l l and  ( a l t h o u g h not  Small  provided living  was  1984:  "making i t " i n h i p  12).  What o c c u r r e d  agenda and  of c u l t u r a l  consequently  p r i d e and  c o m m e r c i a l p h a s e i n h i p hop  a solution  and  problems.  The  through  freedom  to economic r e s t r i c t i o n s  p r o b l e m waned, no  inherent in ghetto  re-emphasis,  doubt h e l p e d  financial  as t h e i m m e d i a c y o f t h e  keep t h e movement v i a b l e .  felt  c o m m i t t e d t o h i p hop  simply being spirit  i n v o l v e d and  were f r e e d f r o m t h e i r  not  achieved,  bonds.  gang And,  was  t h e mind and  of  development  u l t i m a t e l y , even i f c o m m e r c i a l s u c c e s s t h a t by  was  personal  p r o m o t e d as a l e g i t i m a t e anwser t o t h e i r  Indeed the  hop  n e c e s s a r i l y of form) from r e s o l u t i o n s of  gang v i o l e n c e t o a r t i c u l a t i o n s achievement.  could better  e x p r e s s i o n became a dream of  a r e f o c u s i n g of the p r o b l e m - s o l v i n g meaning  who  i t was arts  36 1.6  N o t e on  Puerto Rican  Although c o n s t r u c t e d and dwellers,  h i p hop  York  Puerto Rican youths.  broke  and  i s , to a great extent, a s u b c u l t u r e  maintained  i n New  territorial  Involvement  by A m e r i c a n  City  a significant  H i p hop  p i c k e d up and  by c r o s s  i n the p u r s u i t  b e t w e e n t h e two  b l a c k youth, f o r example, l i s t e n e d Ricans p r e f e r r e d disco.  membership i s made up  activities,  ethnic restrictions  down t h e b o u n d a r i e s  b l a c k male g h e t t o  Once e s t a b l i s h e d ,  r a p and  e l a b o r a t e d by P u e r t o R i c a n s and  i n determining i t s content.  address  i n New  characteristics  t h a t might suggest  Afro-American  York  orientations  Oscar p r e s e n t s a view  Lewis,  t h e two  i n h i p hop  a n a l y z e the but  City,  groups  ( H o l m a n , 1984:  56). but  of  Puerto to  both  in  e x h i b i t s any r e l e v a n t a compatibility with  that lead  to hip  the  hop.  i n h i s c o n t r o v e r s i a l work La V i d a  phenomenon o f a c u l t u r e o f p o v e r t y .  (1965),  the c o n t e x t of  the  In summary, t h e  s t y l e o f P u e r t o R i c a n s , as p r e s e n t e d by  e x p r e s s i v e i n n a t u r e as  are  the scope  i t i s worthwhile  of P u e r t o R i c a n c u l t u r e w i t h i n  dominant c u l t u r a l is  b r e a k i n g were  t h e q u e s t i o n of w h e t h e r P u e r t o R i c a n c u l t u r e ,  P u e r t o R i c o and  larger  Traditionally,  I t i s not w i t h i n  the present study to s y s t e m a t i c a l l y c o m p o n e n t s o f h i p hop,  of e x c e l l e n c e ,  groups.  P u e r t o R i c a n s not o n l y p a r t i c i p a t e  Rican-based  cutting  t o funk m u s i c w h i l e P u e r t o  teamed up t o make t h e b e s t c r e w s p o s s i b l e  active  of  i s the case w i t h American  Lewis,  blacks.  P u e r t o R i c a n s l u m d w e l l e r s . . . show a g r e a t z e s t f o r l i f e , e s p e c i a l l y sex and a need f o r e x c i t e m e n t , new e x p e r i e n c e s and a d v e n t u r e s . T h e i r s i s an e x p r e s s i v e s t y l e of l i f e . They v a l u e a c t i n g o u t more t h a n t h i n k i n g o u t ,  37 s e l f - e x p r e s s i o n more t h a n s e l f - c o n s t r a i n t , p l e a s u r e more t h a n p r o d u c t i v i t y , s p e n d i n g more t h a n s a v i n g , p e r s o n a l l o y a l t y more t h a n i m p e r s o n a l j u s t i c e . They a r e f u n - l o v i n g and e n j o y p a r t i e s , d a n c i n g and m u s i c ( x x v i ) . P u e r t o R i c a n s , a p e o p l e of mixed black  and  Spanish,  Caribbean  I n d i a n a n c e s t r y , p o r t r a y a L a t i n American  a s p e c t of t h i s ethos t h a t o f h i p hop  is particularly  relevant  i s t h e male i d e o l o g y o f machismo w h i c h  masculine self-confidence.  A P u e r t o R i c a n boy  f e a t s o f s t r e n g t h , v e r b a l and m e c h a n i c a l the defense  o f h i s honour and  for his sisters'  v i r t u e and  women's w o r k , g a m b l i n g  and  of movement,  skills,  sexual  prowess,  responsibility  h i s m o t h e r ' s good name, r e f u s a l drinking"  (ibid.:  t o t h o s e of b l a c k American  groups  share  in a belief  with  g h e t t o males.  that recognition  peer  groups  determine  f o r m an i m p o r t a n t e x t e n d e d  ' h e a r t ' or c o u r a g e  i s t h e key  presentation, especially man.  fate w i l l  family  to s e l f - r e s p e c t  through smart  According to a study conducted  do  virtues Both  comes i n t h e  f o r m o f w i n n i n g a r e p u t a t i o n as b e i n g a g g r e s s i v e i n t h e that u l t i m a t e l y  to  60).  is instilled  quite similar  setting,  study  "encouraged  t h a t of h i s f a m i l y ,  Thus a P u e r t o R i c a n macho man  o f men  to the  One  expresses  is  t o e x p r e s s machismo t h r o u g h a g g r e s s i o n , f r e e d o m  ethos.  their  destiny,  system, and  street  that  that having  that s t y l e  of  c l o t h e s , can make t h e  by s o c i o l o g i s t J o h n  Horton  ( 1 9 7 2 ) , b l a c k s and P u e r t o R i c a n s a r e b o t h p r e s e n t - o r i e n t e d , as a r e most p e o p l e who survive  live  relatively  i n p a r t by f a n t a s i z i n g  about  powerless  lives,  a brighter  future  E x c e r p t s from a P u e r t o R i c a n immigrant's life  i n New  York  City graphically  yet  they  (19).  account  of  e x p r e s s e s t h e common i d e o l o g y .  38 Hey w o r l d — h e r e I am. Hullo world — this i s Piri. T h a t ' s me. I w a n n a t e l l y a I'm h e r e — you bunch o f m o t h e r - j u m p e r s -- I'm h e r e a n d I w a n t r e c o g n i t i o n , w h a t e v e r t h a t m u d d e r - f u c k i n ' w o r d means ( i x ) . . . . I ' m t o u g h , v o i c e within said. I h o p e I'm t o u g h e n o u g h . I am t o u g h e n o u g h . I ' v e g o t m u c h o c o r a z o n , I'm k i n g w h e r e v e r I g o . I'm a k i l l e r t o my h e a r t . I n o t o n l y c a n l i v e , I w i l l l i v e , no p u n k o u t , no d i e o u t , w a l k b a d , be d o w n , c o o l b r e e z e , s m o o t h ( T h o m a s 1970: 4 8 ) . An form  affinity  o f dance  towards  and m u s i c ,  street  i s also  shared  Puerto Ricans.  Puerto Rican music,  Spanish  i s clearly  sounds,  Charlton street macho pace  1985:  music salsa  77).  b e a t s were  (ibid.:  have c o n s c i o u s l y  speeded  by A m e r i c a n  on A f r i c a n of s o c i a l York  City  rhythms  i n the  blacks  although influenced  and  by  (Marre and  commentary  through  where o r i g i n a l ,  up t o f i t t h e m o d e r n ,  identity.  attempted  t o Roseman, P u e r t o R i c a n s  developed  theatrical  By c o m b i n i n g  e l e m e n t s , and t h e i r have  t o New  particularly  heavily  urban  70).  According  ethnic  based  A tradition  was b r o u g h t  culture,  new  to take  i n New  means o f c r e a t i n g  traditional  history,  e x p e r i e n c e s o f an u r b a n control  York  of their  City  a  new  Afro-American  environment,  image-making  they  machinery  (1980: 4 5 ) . Particularly large  neighbourhoods,  Americans,  rivalries  been  remain  relations  between second  establishing  when  t h e two and  third  friendships  institutionalized  and o t h e r s e p a r a t e s o c i a l  60's  were e n t e r i n g t h e  A l t h o u g h more r e c e n t l y  P u e r t o R i c a n s have  affiliations 69) .  black  were s t r a i n e d .  generation black  1950's a n d e a r l y  numbers o f P u e r t o R i c a n i m m i g r a n t s  predominantly groups  i n the late  organizations  with  i n gang (Clark  1981:  39 One emerging  relationship  language.  Due  affinities, speech Rican  between  Hispanics  children  who  a  1975:  who  interact  set  of  teenage  more p h y s i c a l l y  and  gangs  or  in hip We  between is  t o be  Puerto  separate  indicates comprise  be  of  from  means u n i f o r m . aggressive  most  and  could  black  in school  than  aggressive  well  other and  i s that  of  vernacular true and  of  Puerto  on  the  in that i t  f o r the  in black  the  cultural  helpful  a s s o c i a t e s of  stronger  careful and  Puerto  Rican  English.  b l a c k s , but Puerto  This also  Rican  boys,  more a c t i o n - o r i e n t e d  c h a r a c t e r i z e membership  American  i n New  an  and of  over-emphasize  in  a  generalities.  street  shared  and  common f o r m s  explicit  values  f o r t o do  and  assimilation  sensibility  and  of  parallels so  Clearly  heritage, religion York  the  the  b l a c k s , however,  through  blacks  Nonetheless,  --  to  cultural  a compatibility hop  not  and  expressiveness  hip  blacks  were  Ricans  is especially  proficiency  levelling  history  them  Puerto  above mentioned  This  verbally  Ricans  guilty  Rican  to observe  hop.  must  Puerto  and  is particularly  b o y s who  group  which  defining characteristics  bigger  This  the  with  study  were p h y s i c a l l y  (348).  blacks  331).  e x h i b i t e d the  group were  through  l e a r n i n g E n g l i s h adopt  Silverman's  constructs  area  t o p r o x i m i t y and  (Silverman  streets.  group  significant  so  i s by  forth no  towards  masculine  display  aesthetics that  black-Latin synthesis.  40 CHAPTER TWO  2.1  Early  RAP MDSIC: AN INTRODUCTION  D J i n q and MCinq  Rapping, or black  street  talk,  has been t r a n s f o r m e d  w i t h i n h i p hop i n t o a f o r m o f m u s i c a l c h a n t p e r f o r m e d  by MCs  accompanied  by D J s who have d e v i s e d an e n t i r e l y  unique m u s i c a l  sound  on t h e m a n i p u l a t i o n o f p h o n o g r a p h i c  r e c o r d s and  based  recording  equipment.  As w i t h o t h e r e x p r e s s i v e  r a p m u s i c began i n t h e S o u t h B r o n x 1970's and was p r o m o t e d  o f New York  forms o f h i p hop, City  i n the early  a s a v i a b l e avenue f o r i d e n t i t y  creation  and p r o b l e m s o l v i n g ; a c o n s t r u c t i v e means o f g a i n i n g s t a t u s a n d reputation  i n t h e community.  Both s e l f - r e s p e c t  and r e s p e c t f r o m  o t h e r s were a c h i e v e d t h r o u g h e x h i b i t s o f c o m p e t e n c y i n r a p music. M o b i l e d a n c e p a r t y DJs who worked c o m m u n i t y c e n t r e s and house p a r t i e s  parks, schools,  developed t h e i r  mixing  i n o r d e r t o compete w i t h o t h e r D J s i n p r o m o t i n g t h e h o t t e s t music.  The m u s i c a l b r e a k s i n r e c o r d s , t h e i n s t r u m e n t a l  i n w h i c h heavy o u t and s p l i c e d their  length  p e r c u s s i o n a n d b a s s l i n e s d o m i n a t e , were  skills dance  section selected  t o g e t h e r o r p l a y e d o v e r and o v e r a g a i n t o e x t e n d  (Toop  1984: 1 2 ) . A f r i k a  t h e Z u l u N a t i o n , began a s a D J .  Bambaataa, o r i g i n a t o r o f  He e x p l a i n s  that the objective  o f b r e a k - b e a t m u s i c was t o s t i m u l a t e e n t h u s i a s i m , t o s u r p r i s e and delight  t h e crowd.  "whoever c o l l e c t e d declared  I n a c o n t e s t o f " b u g g i n g o u t " an a u d i e n c e , t h e most d a n c e r s a r o u n d  the winner"  ( i n Hager 1 9 8 4 :  34).  h i s s y s t e m was  41  In (often l o c a l  an e f f o r t  to add excitement  jive-talking  music short catch phrases  DJs  r a d i o announcers) who  of the DJ hoping  p a r t i c i p a n t , Phase, expresses out, burning him. out'"  The  rapped  MCs  over  the  popular on the s t r e e t s as w e l l as  rhymes and p e r s o n a l or s o c i a l commentaries. about the s k i l l s  joined up with  talk  to win over the crowd.  i t : " I t was  b i g phrase  An MC would  was  'I'm  As  one  a l l about t a k i n g a  guy  gonna turn t h i s party  ( i n Toop 1984: 3 7 ) . Stimulated by competition and growing p o p u l a r i t y (by  1975 hip hop DJs were the c u l t u r e heroes  i n the Bronx) more and  more e l a b o r a t e sound t r i c k s were developed r o l e s of MC  i n a d d i t i o n to the  rappers becoming more s o p h i s t i c a t e d .  Short  i m p r o v i s a t i o n s were augmented with longer w r i t t e n rhymes. Here, one  the f i r s t hip hop  " l i k e what was  rappers, f o r i n s t a n c e , took  happening i n the s t r e e t s , what was  going around the high s c h o o l s , l i k e be beat y ' a l l '  and  Kool  phrases  the new  saying  'rocking my mellow' and  j u s t e l a b o r a t e d on t h a t " ( i b i d . : 6 9 ) .  'to  Short  n a r r a t i v e s , drawing on p e r s o n a l experiences or comments on c u r r e n t a f f a i r s were developed. of  phrase, popular quotes,  c l i c h e s and of  cultural  turns  r e f e r e n c e s to well-known songs,  images -- a l l executed  word s i g n i f i c a n c e to rhythmic  1983:  Raps i n c o r p o r a t e d c l e v e r  with p e r f e c t timing  or musical i n t e n s i t y  (Friedland  27).  Sound equipment —  mixers, drum machines, echo  chambers, m u t l i p l e t u r n t a b l e s -- became instruments i n the search f o r funky beats. backcueing  " S c r a t c h i n g " , the  of a record f o r accent, f o r example, was  to be played  rhythmic added to a  42  DJ's  skills  as was  "punch p h r a s i n g " , t h r o w i n g o u t a v o c a l  drum s l a p , b a s s l i n e  o r h o r n on one  line,  t u r n t a b l e w h i l e keeping the  b e a t g o i n g on a n o t h e r .  2.2  Source M a t e r i a l s  The  Development  a c t u a l p r o c e s s of c o n s t r u c t i n g  component i l l u s t r a t e s new  and  a most c r e a t i v e a b i l i t y  from e x i s t i n g m a t e r i a l s .  innovativeness p a r a l l e l s  At an a r t i s t i c  at the c u l t u r a l  redefining  of the g h e t t o . i t . a n d making  w r i t e r s a p p r o p r i a t e and identities  level  something  this  the h i p  of l i f e  DJs a p p r o p r i a t e  i t distinctly  to create  level  s e n t i m e n t o f d e s i r i n g an a l t e r n a t i v e way limitations  the m u s i c a l  hop  within  the  recorded music,  theirs,  j u s t as  graffiti  transform p u b l i c space, a s s e r t i n g  their  on i t and b r e a k d a n c e r s a p p r o p r i a t e movements f r o m  mass m e d i a ,  the  t r a n s f o r m i n g them i n t o s t a t e m e n t s o f t h e i r p e r s o n a l  superiority. In a s e a r c h f o r s u r p r i s i n g mixes barriers.  African,  L a t i n A m e r i c a n , heavy  electronics, classical,  pop,  punk, even  DJs b r o k e down m u s i c a l metal rock,  c o u n t r y r e c o r d s were  s c r e e n e d f o r f u n k y b e a t s and o f t e n combined They decomposed m a i n s t r e a m entirely style.  m u s i c and  unique m u s i c a l form which Rap  Japanese  in a single  reconstructed  reflected  track.  i t into  their  an  cultural  m u s i c has no m u s i c i a n s p e r s e , t h e sound  i s created  f r o m e x i s t i n g m u s i c as m u s i c a l a c r o b a t s m a n i p u l a t e i t a l m o s t beyond  recognition.  C o m p e t i t i o n s p u r r e d DJs  h e i g h t s , u s i n g f e e t , heads, records.  n o s e s , t e e t h and  to gymnastic tongues  to spin  43 T h i s m u s i c a l c u t and p a s t e draws h e a v i l y culture.  Identifiable  fragments of p o p u l a r music l y r i c s ,  shows and m o v i e s were l i f t e d d i r e c t l y music. and  The  on p o p u l a r  c u t s , f o r example,  the F u r i o u s F i v e s '  and  implanted into  and  "Good T i m e s "  "Wheels o f S t e e l "  the F u r i o u s F i v e ,  (1981) mix  " M o n s t e r Jam"  by C h i c , " A n o t h e r One  " R a p t u r e " by B l o n d i e . meanings i n t h e i r  new  These  include  Bites  segments,  contexts.  The  but i n s t e a d of the o r i g i n a l  the  rapper a s s e r t s ,  "and  n a t u r a l o r d e r of t h i n g s  Gee,  t h e D u s t " by Queen and  however,  are given  new  phrase " I fought the law"  conclusion  I won",  by  by S p o n n i e  f r o m t h e s o n g o f t h e same name, f o r i n s t a n c e , was rap,  the  blended t o g e t h e r i n Grandmaster  " E i g h t Wonder" by t h e S u g a r h i l l Gang, " B i r t h d a y P a r t y " Grandmaster  TV  "and  inserted t h e law  thereby c l e v e r l y  into  a  won",  inverting  the  i n an uncommon a s s e r t i o n o f power t h r o u g h  self-declaration. The m u s i c  r e p r e s e n t s an a r t i s t i c  appropriates popular culture its  but a l s o  black m u s i c a l background.  creation  t h a t not  i n t e g r a t e s elements  Art historian  and  environment City  cultural  f o r i t s development:  the f a c t  style  black  has  traced  to the m u s i c a l  i m m i g r a n t s t o New  York  f r o m B a r b a d o s , Cuba and J a m a i c a , as w e l l as P u e r t o R i c a n s  and b l a c k A m e r i c a n s . in  groups which c o n t r i b u t e d  from  Africanist,  R o b e r t Thompson ( p e r s o n a l communique F e b r u a r y 6, 1986) five distinct  only  One  that American  t o a s t i n g , which  example radio  of t h i s  j i v e DJs  synthesis influenced  i s suggested Jamaican  i n t u r n , v i a K o o l Here, a Jamaican  i m m i g r a n t , e n t e r e d t h e h i p hop musical  fusion parallels  between  traditionally  scene  the c u l t u r a l  rival  factions  (Toop 1984: f u s i o n and  39).  This  peacemaking  t h a t t h e movement c l a i m s  to  44 have.promoted. MC for  unique  styles  paralleling Rappers  rappers  the  in their  experiment  illusions  literally  imitating  scratching  and  transformations  may  community which  i s the  signify  dancing  developed  alongside  bragging This  and  i s not  party  has  overlap  an  unusual an  of  hip  among b l a c k  types  of  the  social  dance,  music),  also  boxing"), Again of  as  explicitly  and  breakdancing  contained well  for  as  record  musical ego  and  social  and  1974).  ego  (Clark  three  o r i e n t a t i o n s became raps,  done —  strong  the  which  elements  the  display  and  although  known a s  raps,  and  three  message  raps. Battle competitive street is  an  long  talk  rhetoric  are  that  occurs  acknowledged history  of  people  soup  talking  women i n t h e  of  world"  my  up.  car,  (Hager  control  Big  taunting  in black  strong  of  vernacular.  stylish  status  is a  themselves  continuation  in black  for gaining  "There  about  direct  around  source  use  1976).  to  a  formulated  (Abrahams  teens  raps  and  desire  a movie  1984:  92).  A  existing  system  and and  has  star,  records  folks I've  got  of  boasting  manipulating  fantasies —  I'm  the  ghettos  i n rap  of  dance  Eventually,  battle  to  commentary. "  traditionally  socialization  party  the  raps,  teens  raps:  effect  hop.  were p a r t y  for  breaking).  sound  ("human b e a t  combination  arena  continued,  distinct  rap  into  search  (again  and  transformation  self-agrandizement,  been  evaluation  (both  illusions  ("transforming").  the  basis  e l a b o r a t i o n and  in graffiti  themselves  robots  What o r i g i n a l l y  of  voice  drum m a c h i n e s  e v e n TV  stimulate  with  created  transform  machinery,  process  in  a  others for their  a l l the  45 Message concerns persona  of ghetto portrayed  resident (ibid.: like  raps  pressed 93).  a r e s e r i o u s and aimed  living  and a s s e r t i n g  i n t h e song  at both  ethnic pride.  was t h a t o f a t y p i c a l  Reported  sources  of i n s p i r a t i o n  "Say i t Loud,  I'm B l a c k  "Get up, Get I n t o I t , Get I n v o l v e d " as w e l l  an  ex-con  black militant  t o a s t s t h a t were  rapper  Brother  the  uplifting  and  skills"  also  draw  ultimately  g r o u p who r e c o r d e d very  popular  D expresses  of black  (ibid.:  As  South  Bronx  include soul  or  As  "The  t o t h e p o i n t o f d e s p e r a t i o n by h i s e n v i r o n m e n t "  James Brown's s o n g ,  prison  expressing  the raps  and  Poets,  racial  (ibid.:  46).  "arededicated to  and t o t h e a c q u i r i n g  of knowledge  92) .  i s the case  on p o p u l a r  radical  raps  Proud"  a s The L a s t  i n t h e Bronx  i t , message  people  a n d I'm  music,  with  culture  the musical as a s o u r c e  are rooted  i n black  component  o f r a p , MCs  of i n s p i r a t i o n , but expressive  traditions.  Rap's f o r b e a r s s t r e t c h back t h r o u g h d i s c o , s t r e e t f u n k , r a d i o D J s , Bo D i d d l e y , t h e b e b o p s i n g e r s , C a b C a l l o w a y , P i g m e a t Markham, t h e t a p d a n c e r s a n d c o m i c s , The L a s t P o e t s , G i l S c o t t - H e r o n , Muhammed A l i , a c o p e l l a a n d d o o - w o p g r o u p s , r i n g games, s k i p r o p e r h y m e s , p r i s o n and army s o n g s , toasts, s i g n i f y i n g a n d t h e d o z e n s , a l l t h e way t o t h e g r o i t s o f N i g e r i a a n d t h e G a m b i a ( T o o p 1984: 1 9 ) .  2.3  Recorded It  and  not u n t i l  aspect  Raps was n o t u n t i l  1977  that the f i r s t  t h e 1980's t h a t t h e p r a c t i c e  i n the development  of the music  r a p was  became a  (ibid.:  15).  doubt  that the recording industry  influenced  music  and t h e s u b c u l t u r e .  to sophisticated  allowed  DJs t o produce  Access  e v e n more c o m p l e x  recorded  significant There  the d i r e c t i o n  sounds.  i s no of the  equipment Using  46  s y n t h e s i z e r s and computer sampling, t e c h n i c a l freedom that appealed  f o r example, gave them a  to t h e i r s e n s i b i l i t i e s  promoted the use of music e s p e c i a l l y to the mixing of e x i s t i n g recorded raps remained  and  created f o r raps i n a d d i t i o n  records (George  1985b: 3 ) .  Even so  the products of black ghetto youths  and to  a great extent were no more than " p o l i s h e d v e r s i o n s of the kind of t h i n g every k i d on the block.was doing" Recorded and  performances  not only l i m i t e d  i m p r o v i z a t i o n of l i v e performance  s i n g l e s t o r y - l i n e format, (George  1985: 1 8 ) .  And,  phase i n the music, escape  (Toop 1984: 9 3 ) . the s p o n t a n e i t y  but a l s o encouraged  a  r a t h e r than a s e r i e s of short rhymes as Bambaataa, who  encouraged  suggests, "while hip hop  culture w i l l  i t s i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with the inner c i t i e s ,  i n touch with our computerized  world"  this  new never  i t i s very much  (in i b i d . : 8 ) .  As with a l l f a c e t s of hip hop,  access to mainstream  fame and f o r t u n e e a s i l y became i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o the c o m p e t i t i v e system  as an a d d i t i o n a l e v a l u a t i o n of p r e s t i g e .  in c l a i m i n g that "the way  Grandmaster  Caz,  rap evolved i s from people t r y i n g to  outdo each o t h e r " , a t t r i b u t e s both a r t i s t i c e x c e l l e n c e and r e c o r d i n g c o n t r a c t s as the accepted means of outdoing someone ( i n Hager 1984: 4 9 ) .  The  c o m p e t i t i v e nature remained  d e v i s i n g a delayed "answer record approach" crews c h a l l e n g e each other through  direct  ( s i m i l a r to the l a g inherent i n g r a f f i t i a c t i v e l y sought distinguish  out t h i s new  themselves.  And,  intact  by  i n which rapping  call  and  response  battles).  Rappers  o p p o r t u n i t y to g l o r i f y  and  indeed, success i n mainstream terms  of f i n a n c i a l gain and media r e c o g n i t i o n , f u l f i l l s  the mandate of  47 hip  hop, p r o v i d i n g  successful of  evidence  appropriates  a small  this  of non-black  influenced remained evolution  to the black  audience  1984:  100).  of recorded  raps  by t h e r e c o r d i n g  i n t h e hands  i t as a s h i f t  expression  that  raps  rap.  may  part  are  repeatedly  first  and K u r t i s Blow.  i n d u s t r y , has t o a g r e a t  extent  Insiders viewing  lead  that  may  have  to a l o s s of  It  however  i t as a n a t u r a l p r o g r e s s i o n ,  and p o s s i b i l y  rap i s  to the  and i t s d i r e c t i o n ,  i n focus  have  has n o t been  are generally  of i t s creators.  of rap, recognize  often  too violent.  Bambaataa  c o n t r o l of the music  and hence  As t e s t i m o n y  i s the fact  f o r being  D J s a n d MCs, l i k e  acknowledging  mainstreamers  f o r t h e most  (Toop  industry  for  i t f o r the l a r g e r market,  t h e a i rwaves  that  the case  b e e n made t o  Producers  appears  means  to mainstream  i s not g e n e r a l l y  o f i t s raw q u a l i t y  from  recording  have  tampered w i t h  generation  was  i t becomes w h i t e - w a s h e d ,  f o r marketing  percentage  marketed  retention  street  music  up o n i t a n d a f e w a t t e m p t s  explicitly  banned  the white-dominated  removed  However,  commercialize  overly  when  a black-based  i t s rawness  audiences.  picked  t h e movement  themselves.  Typically,  Although  that  i n a f f o r d i n g some o f i t s m e m b e r s a p o s i t i v e new  evaluating  having  t o members  the while  effectedi t s heart.  The w a y r a p i s now - i t i s n ' t t h e way i t w a s t h e n . Whereas t h e n i t was j u s t p h r a s e s ; t h e MC w o u l d s a y l i t t l e p h r a s e s l i k e , " t o t h e e a s t s i d e , make m o n e y . To t h e w e s t s i d e , make money." Or, " t o the rock, rock, rock, t o the rock, rock, rock." I n '77-'78 I w a s w i t h t h e M a g n i f i c e n t S e v e n . We w a s playing i n the streets. R a p , t h e n , was o n l y a s t r e e t thing. A t t h a t t i m e , e v e r y t h i n g was h a p p e n i n g a t o n c e . B - b o y i n g was h a p p e n i n g a t t h e same t i m e a s D J i n g a n d r a p p i n g came o u t . E v e r y t h i n g w a s s t r i c t l y competitive.  48 The groups that came out was i n s t r i c t competition, so when we d i d p l a y i n the wintertime we rented small c l u b s , discotheques, r e c s , boys' c l u b s , PALs. We charged l i t t l e b i t s of money and people came and t h a t ' s what we d i d i n the wintertime. With the money we made we i n v e s t e d i n our sound system f o r the summertime. That was the b a s i c foundation of what every group d i d to s t a r t o f f and get i n t o the rap industry. At the time wasn't groups rapping - i t was s o l o MCs and they would have a DJ. I t would be one DJ and one MC. They would j u s t come out and the people l i k e d i t . The more they d i d , the more i t got i n t o a u n i f i e d stage. We s a i d , "Hey, we should get more MCs". ...An uptown group would b a t t l e a downtown group. What I mean by b a t t l e i s that they would come and they would say, "Okay. Us four are b e t t e r than your f o u r " , and we would go at i t . . . . T h a t ' s where the competition came i n . T h i s i s before any r e c o r d s , before any money was made. This was from our hearts (Rodney Cee i n i b i d . : 70-71).  49 CHAPTER THREE  RAP MOSIC:  This chapter male s e l f - i m a g e self-referential  will  as d e p i c t e d  HIP HOP MALE PERSONA AND WORLDVIEW  develop  a portrait  i n raps.  Rap m u s i c  f o r m o f e x p r e s s i o n , by t h i s  much o f what i s r a p p e d a b o u t i s t h e r a p p e r . values  and b e l i e f s  concerning  v i s i o n of the world identity  3.1  o f t h e h i p hop is a  i t i s meant  Hisstyle, h i s  appropriate behaviour  areconsciously laid  that  and h i s  out i n the a c t of  c r e a t i o n a n d management.  Power Names  To  begin,  those  involved i n theproduction  of a rap -  MCs a n d D J s - a l l assume 'pseudonyms' w h i c h a r e c o n t i n u a l l y referred persona  to i ntheir ("I'm C o o l  raps  and a r e c l a i m e d  Moe Dee, t h a t ' s who I b e " ) .  names and crew names p r o v i d e their  as t h e i r l e g i t i m a t e  a focus  Both  individual  f o r t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n of  h i p hop p e r s o n a s a n d s u g g e s t a d e s i r e t o c r e a t e a  self-image  b a s e d on p o w e r , c o n t r o l ,  a u t h o r i t y , s t r e n g t h and  skill. Name t e r m s o r i d e n t i t y  labels  c o n t a i n d e s c r i p t i v e , or a f f e c t i v e , public  a r e not a r b i t r a r y but  content  used t o d e n o t e a  p r e s e n t a t i o n o f one's s t r e e t p e r s o n a .  t h e name c o n d e n s e s o r c r y s t a l i z e s important  aspect  The s p e c i f i t y o f  one's s e l f - i m a g e  o f s t a t u s management  (Kohl 1972: 1 2 4 ) . H i p  h o p p e r s a r e t h e m s e l v e s aware o f t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e p e r f o r m a n c e name f o r , a s Mr. F r e s h name o r c r e w name makes y o u f e e l  and i s a n  of acquiring a  e x p l a i n s i t , "having  different  a dance  about y o u r s e l f . . . . I t  5 0  means y o u have s o m e t h i n g  that  i s of worth"  (Mr. F r e s h  and t h e  Supreme R o c k e r s 1984: 37-38). Some h i p hop names, f o u n d King  Louis  I I I , Count C o o l o u t ,  Captain  authority  and a r e u s e d  qualities  o f power and s t r e n g t h  also speculate distinct  hegemony i s a t work h e r e . ) African for  heritage  s u c h as  from t i t l e s o f  with the  s u g g e s t . (One m i g h t  through the c r e a t i o n of a and p r o c u r i n g d o c t o r i a l  c u l t u r e and a c h a l l e n g e t o  Others s p e c i f i c a l l y  f o r s o u r c e s o f power names.  draw on t h e i r  A f r i k a Bambaataa,  i n s t a n c e , t o o k h i s name f r o m t h e A f r i c a n k i n g o f t h e Z u l u  nation, while god  the t i t l e s  system f o r crowning kings on t h e d o m i n a n t  raps,  Sky, borrow  t o a s s o c i a t e h i p hoppers  t h a t a t one l e v e l ,  degrees, a play  i n t h e sample  one crew  calls  t h e m s e l v e s Shango, t h e West A f r i c a n  o f thunder and l i g h t n i n g .  preceding  a pseudonym i s a common p r a c t i c e .  m a r t i a l a r t expert skill  The u s e o f t h e t i t l e  'grandmaster'  I t refers to a  and t h e a s s o c i a t i o n i s t o s u p e r i o r To ' g r a n d m a s t e r '  one famous DJ h a s added  ' f l a s h ' , a reference  t o t h e DC c o m i c  book h e r o who i s " t h e  f a s t e s t man a l i v e " .  As w e l l ,  'high  and c o n t r o l .  combat  style'  t o New Y o r k  and c o n s i d e r i n g  'flash'  t h a t Grandmaster  an a g g r e s s i v e l y  finesse.  Flash's  word f o r f a m i l y came  C i t y f r o m t h e West I n d i e s , i t i s n o t u n r e a s o n a b l e t o  assume t h i s a d d i t i o n a l a s s o c i a t i o n .  "wheels  i s a West I n d i a n  powerful  of s t e e l "  master  image t h e n i s o f  of t h e a r t of c o n t r o l l i n g t h e  (turntables) with  Other a g g r e s s i v e  The t o t a l  warrior  i n c r e d i b l e s p e e d and personas are e s t a b l i s h e d  t h r o u g h names s u c h as Tommy Gunn, K a m i k a z e  and Cowboy.  51 Still —  o t h e r names s u g g e s t  t h a t of the m a g i c i a n .  Whodini  have the m a g i c a l a b i l i t y Another  group  Moe  Dee,  Caz  The  Treacherous  (Cazanova), Three,  'whiz'  Bad  Boys,  Fantastic The  Others  power.  The  and  Boogie  Boys,  F r e a k s and  "whiz  to a y o u t h f u l , b r i l l i a n t  toward  There  the  strong, positive  but  names w h i c h  appear  self-image.  The  as  an  rather  innocuous  or  F a t Boys ( o r i g i n a l l y  choice, considering  what t h e s e r a p p e r s have done i s t o i n v e r t  in  their  relay the  raps e x e m p l i f y t h i s p r a c t i s e ,  you're  w r o n g , I'm  can never  Disco  However,  the a s s o c i a t i o n s  and  References  f o r example, "the Fat  " i f you  think  I'm  soft,  Boys  well,  as h a r d as r o c k " ; "we're f a t , we're f a t , b u t  t o whack"  the c l i c h e ,  beautiful";  a  the n e g a t i v e  o b e s i t y , o f t e n t i m e s w i t h g r e a t humour.  a r e b e a u t i f u l , b i g and  age  as w e l l  connotations normally associated with being overweight.  their  "piss  Future  i n f a c t , when d e c o d e d , t h e y a l s o  T h r e e ) does n o t seem a l i k e l y  glorify  but  an  or s p a c e  t h e S o u l s o n i c F o r c e and  are  future.  a r e a few  purely descriptive  expert  l i n g o as  Shock s u g g e s t a s u p e r n a t u r a l or superhuman a b i l i t y orientation  Crew,  potent  o f f " as b e i n g synonomous w i t h  Rappers,  Kool  Rock S t e a d y  s e r v e t o c r e a t e an image o f c o s m i c  Infinity  and  the F u r i o u s F i v e  i n the s u b c u l t u r a l  to  miracles.  name Whiz K i d i s p a r t i c u l a r l y  i s used  a g g r e s s i v e a s s a u l t -off".  DJ W i z a r d T h e o d o r e c l a i m  on c e n t r a l v a l u e d t r a i t s  n o t o n l y does i t a l l u d e  a l s o the term  s o u r c e o f power  t h e p e r f o r m e r s want t o be a s s o c i a t e d .  examples of t h i s s o r t . for  and  to c r e a t e i l l u s i o n s  o f names c a l l s  a c t i v i t i e s w i t h which  a different  (inferior).  "everybody  The  F a t Boys c l e v e r l y  l o v e s a f a t boy",  giving  i t a new  we  play with sexual  52 connotation  —  "til  Several other  y o u ' v e had a f a t b o y , you h a v e n ' t had none".  t h i n g s c a n be s a i d a b o u t t h i s .  consistent with  the transformation  The i n v e r s i o n i s  o f a d v e r s i t y and f r u s t r a t i o n  i n t o a s t a t e m e n t o f s e l f - w o r t h and o p t i m i s m t h a t i s i n operation think only  throughout the system.  t h e p h r a s e " i f you  I'm s o f t , w e l l , y o u ' r e w r o n g , I'm as h a r d i s a comment on t h e i r  their  s t a t e of c h a r a c t e r  ability. the  As w e l l ,  This  type  physical state  as a r o c k " n o t  but also r e f e r s to  and t h e s t r e n g t h o f t h e i r  of polysemic  rapping  imagery i s d i s p l a y e d  throughout  raps. O t h e r names, a l t h o u g h  sound p l e a s i n g Marley  Marl  (as indeed  they  they  may be c h o s e n b e c a u s e  a l l must), a r e a l s o acronyms.  h a s h i s name b r o k e n down i n a r a p :  'E' i s f o r e v e r  mess w i t h rapper,  b e a t s and *Y' —  t h e 'Y'" ( M a r l e y  Doug E F r e s h ,  Marl with  i s of course  DJ  "'M' i s for  m a s t e r o f s c r a t c h , 'A' i s f o r a r t , 'R' i s f o r r o c k , lyrics,  they  1  L' i s for  d o n ' t a s k why, d o n ' t  MC S h a n , 1 9 8 5 ) .  Another  a l i g n i n g himself with the  c e n t r a l a e s t h e t i c c o n c e p t o f ' f r e s h ' b u t a l s o d e c o d e s h i s name i n a  rap:  "'D' i s f o r d e d i c a t i o n , '0' i s f o r o r t ( a r t ) ,  unique,  'G' i s f o r god and *E* i s f o r e v e r  Heaven", 1986). t h i s way: all  s o " ( " A l l t h e Way t o  The D.M.C. i n t h e d u e t Run-D.M.C. b r e a k s down  "'D' - doing  i t a l l the time,  'M  1  - rhymes t h a t a r e  m i n e , 'C' - c o o l as c a n be" ("Rock t h e H o u s e " ) .  breaking clear  'U' i s f o r  This  open o f o n e ' s name t o r e v e a l c e n t r a l q u a l i t i e s  indication  articulation all-powerful,  isa  t h a t w i t h i n h i p hop one's name i s an  of one's s e l f . eternal artist  The p e r s o n a g e s t a l t i s one o f an who i s d e d i c a t e d  to producing  53  o r i g i n a l music. it  i s through  B u t more t h a n t h i s ,  the a c t of c r e a t i n g  rapper gains h i s g o d - l i k e And  finally,  significant  for  example, i s drawing  with  'cool'  suggested  powers.  as t h e mind c o n t r o l  and f i n a l l y  identity.  Dr. I c e ,  on t h e s e n s e o f a u t h o r i t y and h e a l i n g  i s borrowing  and a r r o g a n c e a s s o c i a t e d on t h e a g g r e s s i v e n e s s  by t h e v e r n a c u l a r use o f ' t o i c e ' f o r ' t o k i l l '  c r e a t e an image o f a p e r s o n himself  and o t h e r s .  i n command, w i t h power b o t h  Ice T(ea) i s a clever  when c o n t a i n e d and c o n t r o l l e d h o t and c o l d .  that  underscores  cold  to hold".  3.2  this  which,  A common s e l f - r e f e r e n t i a l relationship  h i p hop c l i c h e  i s "I'm t o o h o t t o h a n d l e ; t o o  Self-Definitions  persona  which  constitute  i s being developed  by h i p h o p p e r s t h e y by no means  I t i s a common p r a c t i c e  l i n e o f r a p t o b e g i n " I am..." and p r o c e e d  s e r i e s of q u a l i t i e s  or t r a i t s  d a n g e r o u s ; I'm f r e s h ; c o o l MC;  for line  to outline a  t h a t a r e not o n l y d e s i r a b l e but  the rapper boasts t o being i n p o s s e s s i o n of —  original  of the  the o n l y evidence f o r the c o n s t r u c t i o n of a s t r o n g ,  tough, powerful s e l f - i m a g e .  which  over  i n one p e r s o n , p o s s e s s enormous  A l t h o u g h h i p hop names e n c a p s u l a t e t h e e s s e n c e  after  to  j u x t a p o s i t i o n o f two  frequently associated, yet opposite, aesthetic q u a l i t i e s  power —  i s that  t h e s e new s o u n d s t h a t t h e  image t o c r e a t e a c o m p o s i t e  as w e l l  here  many r a p p e r s ' names a l l u d e t o more t h a n  one  ability,  the i m p l i c a t i o n  I'm t h e r e a l McCoy; I'm s o l i d  I'm b a d ; I'm g o l d ; I'm t h e  I'm t h e l a d y h e a r t s t o p p e r ; I'm t h e g i r l  54  charmer, the flaw;  I'm  the  w a l k s the  the  h a r m e r ; I'm  flyest,  I'm  the  m a c h i n e and  strong  leader  m e s s i a h ; I'm  on  and  proclaim  b r a v e and  And  these q u a l i t i e s are  being with  t o them — a female.  disclaimers bright  respect";  light"; "I'm  p e r s o n a the  not  t h a n bad;  rocking This  a biter,  a party,  a  sex  not  —  o t h e r s as  declaration  "I'm  go;  on  the law.  desire  self-worth.  arenas that  are  most  a competitor  beneath  so g i v e  i m i t a t e , I don't construction  and  by  never u p t i g h t ,  Rodney D a n g e r f i e l d , I don't  And  unique,  reinforced  "I'm  I'm  self-assertions  busting  these a s s e r t i o n s  i s of  significant  me  front."  of a h i p  is necessarily  hop  the  c o u r s e m a k i n g a p u b l i c announcement  w e l l , but  first  and  i n c r e d i b l e " i s f o r the  i d e n t i t y or p e r f o r m i n g , as  foremost  self.  through metaphors a s e l f - i m a g e ,  one's a c t u a l  the  They c l e a r l y d e m o n s t r a t e a  image i s a l s o  not  r e c i p i e n t of He  on  down by  invincible,  a r t i c u l a t e d i n the  "I'm  I'm  hyperbolic  be most e f f e c t i v e i n t h e  rapper himself.  cement;  a l s o a s e n s e of v a l u e and  o f what t h e y a r e  To  asserting  bolder  a  that  a m y s t i c a l , m a g i c a l man  flawless.  a s e n s e of p o w e r , but  significant  like  show, k e e p i n g you  These g l o r i f i e d ,  for  the  stone, hard  t h e i r c o l l e c t i v e p e r s o n a t o be  authentic,  a diamond w i t h o u t  b a d d e s t , meanest r a p p e r  the  a money-maker; I'm  on.  as  a f e a r l e s s l o v e r ; a v i c i o u s MC,  badder than b o l d ,  on  perfect  like  of  m i k e ; I'm and  as  cleanest,  s t r e e t s ; I'm  number one; I'm  toy  one  the  Again, may  to  be  by affecting  i t were, o n e s e l f  into  being. Implicit this  p e r s o n a i n an  in this  b r a g g a d o c i o i s the  a c c e p t a b l e manner.  To  need t o  s u c c e e d an  display image must  55  be c a r r i e d o f f with s t y l e and f i n e s s e , as one performs o n e s e l f i n t o being. substance.  S t y l e i n p r e s e n t a t i o n i s an important part of the To d e c l a r e o n e s e l f p e r f e c t  i s not enough, one must  p r o j e c t an image of p e r f e c t i o n and, i n the case of rapping, t h i s i s accomplished  through adherence  (1986) o u t l i n e s what that  Run-D.M.C. s rap " P e r f e c t i o n " 1  represents to them.  to a s e t of a e s t h e t i c  canons. state  Not only i s i t a handsome appearance  and the  r i g h t designer c l o t h e s , owning a caddy with a bar and being  rich  and  hard  famous but i t i s a l s o being a p e r f e c t i o n i s t  to l i v e up to one's p o t e n t i a l .  and working  Once again, more than one agenda  i s being addressed here.  Although  attached to a c t u a l wealth  i s being expressed, there i s  purely associational own  imagery  i t i s true that the s t a t u s  at work.  When Run-DlM.C. say they  "a c r e d i t card made of s o l i d g o l d " they are, by a s s o c i a t i n g  themselves  with such a f a n t a s t i c symbol,  immeasurable v a l u e .  c l a i m i n g t h e i r own  This n o t i o n of a p p l y i n g o n e s e l f to get ahead  i s a r e c u r r i n g one and i s b e l i e v e d to lead to p o s i t i v e as LL Cool J boasts "hard work pays, I'm g e t t i n g A's"  ("Get Down", 1987 ) .  3.3  S e l f - i m a g e s and A s s o c i a t e d V a l u e s  The  images that are being conveyed  sample raps suggest a value system hoppers.  the d e v i l " .  results,  straight  through  the study's  that i s held by a l l h i p  Run-D.M.C. i n the rap " R a i s i n g H e l l "  u l t i m a t e r i s k by " d i s s i n * off  also  (1986) take the  a l l d e v i l s . . . [ a n d ] . . . c u t t i n g the head  'To d i s ' i s to show d i s r e s p e c t and i s a  dangerous e n t e r p r i s e i n t h i s system  of c o n f r o n t a t i o n s and  56 a g g r e s s i o n , but to s u c c e s s f u l l y c h a l l e n g e the d e v i l awesome power.  Of course  t h i s image a l s o suggests  o r i e n t a t i o n that i s present the b a t t l e raps. who  Kool Moe  thrust  i s one  Run-D.M.C. put  Dee  i s "a bad,  gonna have to f i g h t night"  ("Bad  i f you  And  The  messing  prevailing  p r o t e c t i o n of honour f o r , as rhymes we're up  last  ("Rock the House", 1985). to c o n t r o l and  i s an LL Cool J p a r t y —  or m i l i t a r y commander:  But e q u a l l y represented  to transform o n e s e l f i n t o a c h a r a c t e r who  humour too i s a valued t r a i t example of t h i s  and  i s given by Force MDs  i s the  mimicking  r o c k i n ' to the funky  sound so stand back g i r l s and  f i e r c e while I c h i l l  out with a can of spinach"  down, I can't let's  stop  be  ( " I t c h i n ' For a  Other v o i c e i m i t a t i o n s that c o n t r i b u t e to t h i s  dual imagery of s t r e n g t h and the Smurfs ("small through  the  can be used as a manipulative  rhyming, " w e l l , blow me  processed  "this  i s comical, f o r  Popeye's v o i c e while  S c r a t c h " , 1985).  i n the  move i t , move i t , move i t , get on  f l o o r baby, t h a t ' s r i g h t " .  One  manipulate  by LL Cool J's order, f i r e d out  a f f e c t e d v o i c e of a p o l i c e o f f i c e r  and  aggressive  particularly  Mutha", 1987).  cause I make the motherfuckers  others as i s suggested  tool.  possess  bad mutha f u c k e r "  say you've heard my  Rappers c l a i m the a b i l i t y  ability  bad,  "a r e a l short l i v e r " .  of c o n f r o n t a t i o n and i t , "now  the  i n so many of the raps,  "puts a h u r t i n g on rappers"  with Run-D.M.C. makes you  i s to  humour are Mr.  but mighty heroes").  T, Michael  Voices are a l s o  s y n t h e s i z e r s to produce r o b o t - l i k e ,  generally t e r r i f y i n g ,  raps.  Jackson,  and  57 The  possession  of an o r i g i n a l  o n e ' s p e r s o n a l mark, i s h i g h l y v a l u e d and,  as D o u b l e T r o u b l e  they wish their  style,  an a s s e r t i o n o f  as a s o u r c e  p o i n t s o u t , "when s u c k e r  of p r e s t i g e  MCs  h e a r my  t h e y c o u l d i m i t a t e b e c a u s e t h e y d o n ' t have a s t y l e  own...but i t ' s a l l r i g h t  damn w e l l  they  can't  rock  this  words are t r e a c h " (1984).  Hip  e x p l a i n s the l i n k  i f t h e y ' r e on my s h i t . . . c a u s e my  identity  of  t i t c a u s e I know style  h o p p e r v e t e r a n , Fab  b e t w e e n s t y l e and  raps,  i s def,  5  this  my  Freddy,  way:  You make a new s t y l e . T h a t ' s what l i f e on t h e s t r e e t s i s a l l a b o u t , j u s t b e i n g you....What's a t s t a k e i s a g u y ' s h o n o u r and h i s p o s i t i o n i n t h e s t r e e t . W h i c h i s a l l you h a v e . T h a t ' s what makes i t so i m p o r t a n t , t h a t ' s what makes i t f e e l so good — t h a t p r e s s s u r e on you t o be t h e b e s t . . . . T o d e v e l o p a new s t y l e nobody can d e a l w i t h ( i n G e o r g e 1985b: 1 1 1 ) . Possessing personal style self-confidence. confidence find  you  days"  Some r a p p e r s  t h a t they a c t u a l l y  d o n ' t l i k e my  be  of  generating  p r o f e s s such  a b u n d a n c e of  come w i t h a g u a r a n t e e send me  as w i t h o t h e r m a n i f e s t a t i o n s o f  black  1984).  humour, s p e e d , s t r e n g t h o f c h a r a c t e r and  Although behavior,  many o f t h e s e  and  does  t r a i t s may  f r e q u e n t l y the  of p e r s o n a l s u c c e s s  i s a source  must  67).  be e x h i b i t e d i n a c t u a l  is sufficient.  competence i s v a l u e d  The  in this  ( S c h u l z 1977:  E q u a l l y , the l a c k of s t y l e  intelligence  ( H a l e - B e n s o n 1986:  indeed  impression  as much as t h e a c t u a l i t i e s  i n a m i n o r way,  " i f you i n 30  Days",  can  —  back  e x h i b i t e d i n e v e r y t h i n g one  almost  way  ways w e l l you  (Run-D.M.C., "30 I n h i p hop,  style,  i s one  or b l o w i n g  of e m b a r r a s s m e n t and  illusion  system  24). your  style,  elicits  even  58  ridicule.  In black  c u l t u r e one's s t y l e  i s c o n t i n u a l l y subjected  t o p e e r e v a l u a t i o n and p r o j e c t i n g y o u r s e l f b o l d l y means vulnerable to c r i t i c i s m 180).  and r e j e c t i o n  (Pasteur  being  (1987)  I n G r a n d m a s t e r F l a s h ' s humourous r a p " U n d e r a r m s "  t h e p o i n t i s no l e s s s e r i o u s l y made. suited  i n h i s Gucci  1982:  and T o l d s o n  A b-boy, a l l p r o p e r l y  b l a z e r and t i e w i t h  "not a h a i r  out of p l a c e ,  a f r e s h l y - s h a v e f a c e , t h i n k i n g h e ' s w a l k i n ' o u t o f t h e house w i t h s t y l e and g r a c e "  i s laughed  b e c a u s e he f a i l e d  t o use d e o d e r a n t , t h u s  underarms i n d i c a t i n g But,  just  as i n r e a l  life,  "dress  implicit  prepared  to risk  o r d i n a r y and s t i l l  rule  i s 'thou  shall  the highest compliment.  greatest rhymes — But  form of f l a t t e r y ,  a challenge  with  "no m i n d s o f t h e i r  they  consider  Hence one r a p p e r impress".  not b i t e '  Recognizing  like  this  from  both  imitation  others  to bite  t o t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s NYC  i s acceptable,  it".  t o rappers by UTFO t h a t  copied. informants,  as an a c t o f " d i s s i n g " , y e t  u s i n g a c t u a l c u t s from a p r e v i o u s l y recorded  identifiable.source  disrespect  t o copy t h e i r o l d  i s a l s o an i n s u l t  i s read  another  as t h e  own", a s w e l l as a t e s t i m o n y  a s s u m i n g someone e l s e ' s s t y l e overtly  (i.e. steal  and s i g n i f i e s  UFTO i n v i t e  c l a i m s t h a t he  A n d , even t h o u g h t h e  themselves worthy of being  According  are  them t o a c q u i r e t h e  "we're d e l i g h t e d t o g i v e you p e r m i s s i o n  of course  funky  things i n hip-hop-land  breaking  DJ o r MC) i t h a p p e n s a l l t h e t i m e and  has s m e l l y ,  friend  J u s t when y o u g e t t h e r u l e s w o r k e d o u t  a d d i t i o n a l power o f s u c c e e d i n g . can  by h i s g i r l  t h a t he i s "a f o o l and p a t h e t i c " .  never q u i t e t h a t simple. there are those  a t and s c o r n e d  indeed  expected.  and On t h e o t h e r  59  h a n d , u s i n g someone's m a t e r i a l  in a particularly  s o u r c e o f honour f o r t h e e l a b o r a t o r .  c l e v e r way i s a  This practice  i s a form o f  ' t o p p i n g ' , an e x a m p l e o f w h i c h  o c c u r s i n "The Roach Rap".  from  " s t o p t h o s e rumours f r o m  two p o p u l a r f u n k y  around"  raps —  Lines  running  and " t h e r o o f , t h e r o o f , t h e r o o f i s on f i r e " a r e  executed  u s i n g t h e same t u n e s w h i l e t h e l y r i c s  " s t o p those r o a c h e s , from  running around"  are transformed -  and " t h e r o a c h e s , t h e  r o a c h e s , t h e r o a c h e s a r e on t h e w a l l " .  3.4  Power  Symbols  A significant development of symbols persona.  aspect of persona o f power w h i c h  The two o b j e c t s p r e v i o u s l y  construction  are associated with  claims and  "you know I c a n ' t l i v e  In "Radio"  raps  have  ( 1 9 8 5 ) , LL C o o l J  w i t h o u t my r a d i o "  and i n "My A d i d a s  Me" (1986) by Run-D.M.C., t h e r a p p e r ' s i d e n t i t y  as i n s e p a r a b l e f r o m h i s f o o t w e a r .  that  i d e n t i f i e d as t h e c e n t r a l  i c o n s o f h i p hop a r e o f s u c h h i g h s t a t u r e t h a t e n t i r e been w r i t t e n as odes t o them.  i s the  i s presented  P o r t a b l e r a d i o s , and b r a n d  name r u n n e r s a r e t h e s y m b o l i c i c o n s o f h i p hop and i n d i c a t e t h e importance athletic  of c o n t i n u a l access t o music  toughness,  maintain their Other  agility  Cadillac),  that  i s required to  image. s t a t u s p o s s e s s i o n s through which  projects h i sidentity and  and s p e e d  and o f o u t s t a n d i n g  a r e brand  name c l o t h e s  p o p u l a r team sweat s u i t s  R a i d e r s , Rolex watches,  Kangol  a h i p hopper  ( F i l a , Polo, Gucci  s u c h a s t h e Mets and t h e  h a t s , and g o l d and diamond  60  jewelry.  T h e s e p o r t a b l e ( a n d hence e x h i b i t a b l e  on t h e s t r e e t  where t h e y have " c u r r e n c y " ) s y m b o l s a r e f r e q u e n t l y m e n t i o n e d rap l y r i c s  as i m p o r t a n t  q u a l i t y and v a l u e . ultrarich their  3.5  which  r e p r e s e n t a t i o n s o f t h e b-boy's p e r s o n a o f  Many o f t h e s e a r e s t a t u s s y m b o l s o f t h e  have been a p p r o p r i a t e d by t h e g h e t t o k i d s i n  search f o r e x h i b i t a b l e  self-worth.  C e n t r a l M e t a p h o r s o f C y n i c i s m and  Optimism  How a h i p h o p p e r s e e s h i s w o r l d and h i s p o s i t i o n is  a theme e x p l o r e d w i t h i n  view  i s expressed  a" g h e t t o " ; " l i f e throughout  in  these  through  t h e message r a p g e n r e .  Much o f t h i s  t h r e e c e n t r a l metaphors:  i s a game"; " l i f e images c o - e x i s t  "the world i s  i s l i k e a dance".  two p a r a l l e l  in i t  And  attitudes —  one o f  c y n i c i s m and one o f o p t i m i s m . The New Y o r k search  City  center of the h i p hopper's world so i t i s n o t s u r p r i s i n g  f o r some u n d e r s t a n d i n g  of t h i s  a r e o f c o u r s e k e e n l y aware o f t h e h a r d just  like  a flu",  i s the ghetto of  t h a t many r a p s p r e s e n t a harsh environment.  times that are "spreading  the p r e s s u r e s of d e a l i n g w i t h the p o v e r t y ,  c r i m e , v i o l e n c e and d e c a y a r o u n d  them.  n a i v e a b o u t i t s i n f l u e n c e on t h e i r r a p s an u n d e r s t a n d i n g  And t h e y a r e by no means  lives.  They e x p r e s s  d e a l e r s , p i m p s -- i n o r d e r t o g i v e  them an edge f o r "you g o t t o have a c o n t o s u r v i v e " .  However,  t h e y a l s o a p p e a r t o be s a y i n g t h a t t h e p r i c e o f a s h o r t i s t o o h i g h and t h a t i n e v i t a b l y  self-destruction.  i n the  t h a t t h e y a r e o f t e n d r i v e n t o become  p l a y e r s -- g a n g s t e r s , d r u g  solution  They  the fast  life  term leads to  61 That savage g h e t t o m e n t a l i t y i s the k i n d t h a t k e e p s you i n t h e s t r e e t s Hey, f a s t k i d , use y o u r head I f you d o n ' t y o u ' l l s o o n be d e a d . . . I f you d e a l t h e n you p l a y and t h e n you pay How l o n g c a n a good t h i n g l a s t ? ( D r . J e c k y l l & Mr. H y d e , " F a s t L i f e " R e f u s i n g t o remain and  succumb t o i t s p r e s s u r e s  struggling with in their free. with  p r i s o n e r s to the g h e t t o m e n t a l i t y i s something  search  h i p hoppers  are  f o r a place to belong  and  They a r e p r e c a r i o u s l y b a l a n c e d , the p o s s i b i l i t y  1985)  of g i v i n g  up,  continually  be  confronted  as G r a n d m a s t e r F l a s h and  the  F u r i o u s F i v e warn: Don't p u s h me c a u s e I'm c l o s e t o t h e edge I'm t r y i n g n o t t o l o s e my head It's l i k e a jungle S o m e t i m e s i t makes me wonder how I keep f r o m g o i n g u n d e r ("The M e s s a g e " , 1982)  L i k e a j u n g l e t h e w o r l d of t h e g h e t t o full  o f w i l d n e s s and  constantly  unexpected  hazzards.  have h i s w i t s a b o u t him  and  resources a v a i l a b l e  t o combat i t and  may  o v e r p o w e r him.  Y e t , however h a r d  may  be,  t h e r e i s an a t t e m p t  difficult, of  rappers'suggest  the s i t u a t i o n  and  see  to f i n d  i s dangerous  I t demands t h a t  use  one  a l l the knowledge  and  s u r v i v e , y e t even then i t and  stressful  value i n i t .  t h a t ghetto youth  t h e c h a l l e n g e s and  ghetto  life  Since escape i s  t r y t o make t h e excitement  environment provides. The City You but and  and  c i t y ' s w i l d - how can you s t a y ? l i f e i s l i k e a metal track b r e a k away f o r a w h i l e t h e n you come r i g h t back i t seems l i k e you c a n ' t g e t away...  their  best  62 T h i n g s g e t r o u g h and t h a t a i n ' t no l i e But a s I t h i n k a b o u t i t I j u s t g o t t o have my c i t y l i f e . . . A d v i c e about t h e c i t y , you j u s t can't g i v e i t The o n l y way t o l e a r n a b o u t l i f e i s l i v e i t I've been t o o t h e r p l a c e s , s o I'm j u s t i f i e d When I s a y c i t y l i f e c a n t e a c h you t o s u r v i v e I t ' s c i t y l i f e t h a t makes y o u s t r o n g In t h e c i t y y o u ' v e g o t t o keep m o v i n g on The p r e s s u r e s grow, b u t s o do y o u You've g o t t o f i g h t t o make dreams come t r u e (Boogie Boys, " C i t y L i f e " ,  1984)  Thus, r a t h e r than e x p r e s s i n g a r e s i g n a t i o n or resentment  for their  l o t , t h e r e i s a sense  w h i l e s e a r c h i n g f o r a way o u t .  And f r o m  of acceptance  of i t  some t h e r e i s t h e  s u g g e s t i o n t h a t i t a c t s as a s o u r c e o f s t r e n g t h i n o v e r c o m i n g . Hard t i m e s i s n o t h i n ' new on me I'm gonna use my s t r o n g m e n t a l i t y L i k e t h e cream o f t h e c r o p , t h e c r o p o f t h e c r e a m B e a t i n ' h a r d t i m e s , t h a t i s my dream Hard t i m e s i n l i f e , h a r d t i m e s i n d e a t h I'm gonna keep on f i g h t i n ' t i l l my v e r y l a s t b r e a t h (Kurtis What i s e m e r g i n g world.  The s t r e e t  excitement suggest,  life,  and a c t i o n —  i s - a dual v i s i o n  fast  never  succeed  walking  round  i tw i l l  i n the s t r e e t s ,  d i s c u s s e d by H a n n e r z  suggests  to i t .  out".  It is  B u t you must  I f y o u do n o t a p p l y y o u r s e l f  and l o o k  s e d u c e you so t h a t "you w i l l  and know how r e a l l y  about g h e t t o l i v i n g  immediate  c a r s , f a s t g i r l s -- a n d , as UTFO  t o you and y o u b e l o n g  life,  1980)  i s a place of  i t ' s a l l about hanging  c h o o s e what t o make o f i t . beyond t h e s t r e e t  of t h e i r  f o r a l l i t s harshness,  "without a doubt,  y o u r s -- i t b e l o n g s  B l o w , "Hard T i m e s " ,  smart you a r e —  s m o k i n g LSD". a bicultural  (1969: 153).  This  instead of ambivalence  o r i e n t a t i o n , as  At l e a s t  f o r h i p hoppers the  63 ghetto  specific  bought i n t o  system  o f v a l u e s and b e h a v i o u r  in totality.  They a r e c l e a r l y  has n o t been  being p u l l e d  towards  mainstream notions of success. By e x t e n d i n g a worldview two it  —  things. i s really  their  "the world  i m m e d i a t e e n v i r o n m e n t t o encompass  i s a ghetto" —  They a r e l e g i t i m i z i n g  they are accomplishing  t h e i r w o r l d by s u g g e s t i n g  that  no w o r s e t h a n anyone e l s e ' s o r , r a t h e r , t h a t t h e  r e s t o f t h e w o r l d has j u s t a s many p r o b l e m s and d a n g e r s a n d s e c o n d l y , t h e y a r e i m p l y i n g t h a t , due t o t h e i r knowledge of t h e g h e t t o , they a r e w e l l equipped,  equipped,  maybe t h e b e s t  t o s u r v i v e w h a t e v e r t h e w o r l d has t o o f f e r .  inevitability  and p e r v a s i v e n e s s o f f r u s t r a t i o n s  m a i n t a i n mental echoed i n K u r t i s trip,  e x p e r i e n c e and  stability  The  and t h e need t o  i n t h e f a c e of these p r e s s u r e s i s  Blow's l i n e s ,  "Hard t i m e s y o u know i s a n a t u r a l  I'm gonna keep my b a l a n c e ,  I will  not s l i p " .  I t appears  that h i p hoppers a r e t r y i n g  to place their  context of h i s t o r i c a l  s u f f e r i n g and i n j u s t i c e ,  world  suffering  i n the wider perhaps  m a k i n g i t more t o l e r a b l e . Running throughout  these a r t i c u l a t i o n s  g a m i n g , t h a t we a r e a l l p l a y e r s i n some w i l d , w i t h h i g h s t a k e s and few w i n n e r s , us  i s struggling  i s t h e n o t i o n of  deadly  but w i t h i n which  game, one  each one o f  t o g a i n an a d v a n t a g e .  Yo, l i f e ' s j u s t a game, one g r e a t b i g r i d d l e And we're a l l w r a p p e d up, smack-dap i n t h e m i d d l e ...We're gonna r a p a b o u t t h e game t h a t p e o p l e a r e playing... Don't l o o k f o r any t r o u b l e , i t ' l l s u r e l y l o o k f o r y o u I f you t r y t o p l a y t o u g h t h e n i t ' s j u s t y o u r l u c k t h a t i t ' l l c a l l y o u r b l u f f and t h e n t r o u b l e ' s g o t t e n you a l l w r a p p e d up ( G r a n d m a s t e r F l a s h , " A l l Wrapped Up", 1987)  64 In activities gambling  the g h e t t o people are c o n t i n u a l l y  o f one  t y p e or a n o t h e r  to p l a y i n g at s o c i a l  win out.  Hip hoppers  injustice  r a p "1984 in  - w o r l d war  conflict  sexual roles  i n an a t t e m p t  t h e a n a l o g y beyond  I n M e l l e Mel and  one  f a l s e move, one  be d i s r u p t e d w i t h "one  and to  themselves games  and  the F u r i o u s F i v e ' s  I I I " t h e message i s c l e a r .  w i t h n a t u r e and  d e l i c a t e balance w i l l  the l o t t e r y  g a m i n g , i n t e r n a t i o n a l war  everywhere.  i n gaming  from p l a y i n g  have e x t e n d e d  i n t o the r e a l m of p o l i t i c a l racial  and  engaging  Man poor  i s acting p l a y and  b i g bomb t h e  the  world's  a ghetto". Yet, and  improve  by v i e w i n g l i f e  o n e ' s odds by f i g u r i n g  one's advantage. a g g r e s s i v e and playful  and  as a game one  funny.  Gaming, l i k e  reality  f a n t a s y i s a f i n e one  and  reality,  a reality  ever s h i f t i n g  play, suggests that  t o a c t o u t a r o l e and  that  entity,  and  in  that  easily  done i s life  the l i n e  blurred.  is a between  Playing  i s an e l u s i v e , h i g h l y c o n s t r u c t e d  i s a recurring  theme i n g h e t t o  T h i n g s a r e n o t o f t e n as t h e y seem ( H a n n e r z Ultimately  serves to  t h e game i s o f t e n  h o s t i l e , y e t much o f what i s s a i d and  i n which  with  o u t an a n g l e w h i c h  In the g h e t t o environment  performance and  can m a n i p u l a t e i t  the r a t h e r p e s s i m i s t i c  1969:  living.  146).  v i s i o n of the w o r l d i s b a l a n c e d  t h e r a p s by a more p h i l o s o p h i c a l  view.  L i f e i s l i k e a dance c a l l e d the merry-go-round I t goes up and down and r o u n d and r o u n d Sometimes I g e t d i z z y b u t I a l s o g e t b u s y (Whodini, " L i f e  i s L i k e a Dance",  1987)  65 In t h i s metaphor l i f e challenge  i n which to take  step at a time, s h a r e and the  3.6  becomes a f a m i l i a r  c h a n c e s , l e a r n new  and  s t e p s , take  unique s t y l e , yet  be  p a r t i c i p a t e with others  f o r u l t i m a t e l y we  " a l l move t o  E x i s t e n c e and  According  to i n f o r m a t i o n a r t i c u l a t e d the w o r l d  c o n f i g u r a t i o n of a c t i v i t i e s As  ' t o go'  raps,  r e v o l v i n g around  t h a t form the  i t i s used i n b l a c k  i n the  center  vernacular  d e n o t e s t h e most b a s i c and  of  their  in general,  defines  Boys (1986) d e f i n e s  Hence a rap by  v a r i o u s meanings of  set to  success.  i n black h i p hop  in  battling  The  first  three  activity  entity  as s e x ,  seems t o be  which the  dancing,  a shift  innovation here,  in  a  focus  And,  the p u r s u i t of s u c c e s s an  just  a r e w e l l - e s t a b l i s h e d as  as o p p o s e d t o p h y s i c a l f i g h t i n g .  as  and  a  i s defined  m a i n s t r e a m as w e l l as g h e t t o - s p e c i f i c t e r m s . i n the  essential activities participation  i s these  ghetto  h i p hopper's a r t i c u l a t i o n  i s a self-image activities  measuring maleness —  generalized man  f o r i t ' w i t h i n h i p hop  the a d d i t i o n of  Implied  and  Fat  c u l t u r e , the d i f f e r e n c e here b e i n g  interestingly, principle  'go  the  the  essential action,  the primary  life.  hip  a  as t h e q u i n t e s s e n t i a l ' i t ' r e p r e s e n t s  and  to  Reality  h o p p e r s a l s o a p p e a r t o see  existence.  willing  line".  Defining  fighting  one  d e v e l o p o n e ' s own  same b a s s  phrase  performance  of a man  provides  of  life's  in control,  a means of  negotiating  a maleness that i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h  male i d e n t i t y .  To  be  able  t o "go  must e x h i b i t i n d e p e n d e n c e , v e r b a l d e x e r i t y ,  the  for i t " a  stylish  66 presentation  i n d r e s s , w a l k and  p h y s i c a l prowess, a b i l i t y situation  expressed hop,  there  in their  no  continually which are hop,  i s an  reality  "knockin'  as  one  hip hoppers,  that inverts their  'real world' [their]  life  most g h e t t o  a  being  just  down [ t h e i r ]  slip  their  away".  door".  as  the  illusion.  real  t h i n g and  no  the  power,  are  f e a r s of  Within  the  "get They  "darkest  hip  everyday  youth  r e i g n with omnipotent c o n t r o l ,  i s claimed  dismissed  a t t e m p t by  s t r u g g l i n g to d i s p e l  where t h e y  manipulate  r a p s , t o c o n s t r u c t , w i t h i n t h e c o n f i n e s of  In the  say, watch  and  78).  an a l t e r n a t e r e a l i t y ,  existence. got  t o command r e s p e c t and  ( H a n n e r z : 1969:  Overall  dance, toughness, s e x u a l  reality"  realm  their  of  hip  constructed  'real world'  is  Grandmaster F l a s h e x p l a i n s :  You're e n t a n g l e d i n a g r e a t b i g b a l l of c o n f u s i o n T r a p p e d i n a w o r l d t h a t i s j u s t an i l l u s i o n Y o u ' r e t h i n k i n g i t ' s r e a l , b u t t h a t ' s not w h a t ' s happening W e l l , w e ' r e h e r e t o l e t you know t h e r e a l d e a l T h a t ' s why we're r a p p i n ' ( " A l l Wrapped Up", Within  their  challenged, parodied can  defy  still  be  k i n g s and  own  and  the n a t u r a l laws chill")  and  bestowing  reality  the n a t u r a l order  often inverted. ("I  can  I n h i p hop  walk through  structure their legitimacy.  1987)  own  reality  the d e s e r t  s y s t e m of  Sunglasses  is  and  crowning  g e t worn u n d e r  the  c h i n o r on t h e back of t h e h e a d ; s u s p e n d e r s hang b e t w e e n t h e and  s h o e s have no  l a c e s and  i n Hip-Hop-land, just power i n t h e i r  lives.  this  as t h e s e  i s how  men  legs  t h i n g s are supposed to  young m a l e s a r e  s u p p o s e d t o have  be  67  And, its  as they  authenticity:  weave t h e i r  "What I'm s a y i n g  l a n d " o r "we a l w a y s t e l l throughout the raps true")  own r e a l i t y ,  the t r u t h ,  the black  i s real, never,  cliche  assert  this ain't  never  'word'  rappers  lala  lying".  (meaning  And  "that's  i s i n t e r s p e r s e d wherever c l a i m s of powerfulness  are being  asserted.  The  raps  used t o c o n s t r u c t t h e p r e c e d i n g  h i p hop p e r s o n a and w o r l d v i e w articulations in general.  of the self-image And, l i k e  casting himself world,  other  in a positive  being  ghetto light,  and s e l f - c o n s c i o u s  negotiated  rappers  are expressing  rapping, achieved.  like  other  And t h i s  identity,  a belief  struggling to control h i s B u t more  i t i s apparent that  that through  h i p hop a c t i v i t i e s ,  than  these  a commitment t o  t h e d e s i r e d r o l e c a n be  c o n s t i t u t e s a new c h o i c e  male c a n a s s e r t h i s s e l f .  by h i p h o p p e r s  men, t h e h i p hopper i s  even t o t h e p o i n t of r e d e f i n i n g r e a l i t y .  merely communicating t h i s  ghetto  are clear  discussion of  o f means by w h i c h a  68 CHAPTER FOUR  RAP  MUSIC:  HIP  HOP  SOCIAL RELATIONS  In the enactment of an i d e n t i t y one's peer c o n s t i t u t e s the major arena of how  a person  i n which the dramas are staged.  sees h i m s e l f i s d e f i n e d i n terms of how  i n t e r a c t s with others i n h i s community. v a r i o u s r e l a t i o n s with s i g n i f i c a n t the body of analyzed  4.1  This chapter  discusses  Crews  as i n d i v i d u a l s hip hoppers have a wider  t e a c h e r s , employers, e t c . — immediate peers who  range  parents,  w i t h i n the s u b c u l t u r a l context  represent the meaningful  the raps the category of peers  subdivisions —  he  others as a r t i c u l a t e d w i t h i n  of s i g n i f i c a n t others with whom they i n t e r a c t —  Within  Much  raps.  Comradery W i t h i n  Although  their  group  i t is  network.  i s divided into  three  c l o s e male f r i e n d s , male r i v a l s and d e s i r e d  females. The group r e f e r r e d  to as one's crew or posse i s  p r i m a r i l y d e f i n e d as one's performance p a r t n e r s .  The  p r e d i s p o s i t i o n toward one's "homeboys", as crew members are o f t e n referred  to, i s one  democratic  of mutual support, mutual promotion,  c o o p e r a t i o n and  team e f f o r t and  e x p r e s s i o n s are c o l l a b o r a t i v e e f f o r t s and MC may  although  be d e f e r r e d to and possess more s t a t u s and  explicit  Hip  i t , "I'm  (1987).  not  runnin' my  posse,  hop  a master DJ or a u t h o r i t y , no  d i v i s i o n of power or l e g i t i m a c y i s expressed.  Cool J puts boss"  spirit.  As  cause every man  LL is a  69 Rappers praises  of t h e i r  accomplishments. entire  t a k e on t h e r e s p o n s i b i l i t y D J s , who do n o t v o i c e Kurtis  their  of s i n g i n g t h e own  Blow, as o t h e r s have,  d e d i c a t e d an  r a p t o h i s DJ: Up i n t h e Bronx, where t h e p e o p l e a r e f r e s h T h e r e was one DJ who had t o p a s s t h e t e s t And now h e ' s down by law and h e ' s r e a d y t o p l a y T h a t ' s r i g h t you a l l , h i s name i s A J Never g e t n e r v o u s when he c u t s t h e b e a t Top n o t c h s e r v i c e i n t h e c l u t c h on t h e s t r e e t A c o m p l e t e e l e g a n t t r e a t t h a t c a n ' t be b e a t Cause AJ n e v e r knew t h e agony of d e f e a t G r a n d m a s t e r F l a s h , A f r i k a Bambaataa S p a r k e y Dee, S p o o n i e G and Run-D.M.C. G o t t a r e a l i z e t h a t he goes way back And now he's down w i t h t h e k i n g And he c o u l d n e v e r be whack So j u s t k i c k o f f your s h o e s and r e l a x your f e e t And r o c k t o t h e rhythms o f t h e K u r t i s Blow Beat Ya, y ' a l l and j u s t shake your b u t t Because A J i s gonna c u t i t up ("AJ Here  his  Kurtis  D J , but s t r e s s e s  a great  that  lends h i s voice  t h e y complement  i n support of  one a n o t h e r  i n forming  sound. At  proper,  Blow n o t o n l y  S c r a t c h " , 1984)  t h e b e g i n n i n g o f many r a p s ,  a crew w i l l  establishes (1983) by  do a s h o r t  them as a u n i t e d  prior  introduction  front.  t o t h e theme  of themselves  F o r example  i n "Here  which We Go"  Run-D.M.C.: 1,2,3 i s t h e p l a c e t o be as i t i s p l a i n t o s e e He i s DJ Run and I am D.M.C. Funky f r e s h f o r 1983 DJ Jam M a s t e r J a y i n s i d e t h e p l a c e w i t h a l l t h e b a s s He l e a v e s w i t h o u t a t r a c e And he came h e r e t o n i g h t t o g e t on your c a s e We a r e t h e c r u s h g r o o v i n ' , body movin' The r e c o r d - m a k i n ' and r e c o r d - b r e a k i n ' And i t goes a l i t t l e s o m e t h i n g l i k e t h i s H i t i t — h e r e we go...  70 Other evidence reflected  f o r mutual support  i n t h e a c t o f back up v o c a l s .  i n t h e " B a s k e t b a l l Throwdown" credentials calling  b e t w e e n crew members i s  the others  The C o l d  Crush  (1983) r a p i l l u s t r a t e  Brothers  this  r e i n f o r c e and e n c o u r a g e h i s e f f o r t s by  o u t h i s name o r t h e name o f t h e c r e w . . . . W e l l I'm a T ( T h e o d o r e ) I ' l l dog my f a c e When I g e t you on t h e c o u r t I ' l l b e a t C h a r l e s Chase (Cold Crush) . . . W e l l I'm t h e R (Rudy Dee) And y o u g o t a l o t o f n e r v e When y o u p l a y a g a i n s t me You know y o u ' r e gonna g e t s e r v e d (Cold Crush)  Clearly  a r e l a t i o n s h i p of mutual a d m i r a t i o n  expressed  f o r as Double T r o u b l e  b r o t h e r s who s t a n d quality the  s i d e by s i d e f r o m b e g i n n i n g  all  blue  t o end".  This  may be a c o n t i n u a t i o n o f  men t o f o r m s t r e e t f a m i l i e s  McCord, e t a l 1969; S c h u l z This  i s being  b e t w e e n gang members and t h e g e n e r a l  p r e d i s p o s i t i o n among g h e t t o 1968;  e x p l a i n s , "we're t r u e  of " t i g h t n e s s " or brotherhood  strong ties  and t r u s t  i s not t o say,  l o v e and r o s e s .  1977).  however, t h a t t h i s  Among c o m r a d e s t h e r e  t e a s i n g and c o m p e t i t i o n .  (Short  relationship i s  i s room f o r f r i e n d l y  UTFO e n g a g e s i n a p l a y f u l  a t t e n t i o n s of a " f l y g i r l " : [Kangol K i d ] I t h o u g h t I had h e r i n t h e p a l m o f my hand I'm gonna be h e r man  vying f o r the  71 [Educated Rapper b r e a k s i n ] Yo, K a n g o l , I d o n ' t t h i n k y o u ' r e d e n s e But you went a b o u t t h e w h o l e t h i n g w i t h no experience You s h o u l d know she d o e s n ' t need a guy l i k e you She needs a guy l i k e me w i t h a h i g h IQ And s h e ' l l t a k e my r a p c a u s e my r a p ' s t h e b e s t [Dr.  Ice cuts i n ] I know y o u ' r e e d u c a t e d , but when w i l l you l e a r n Not a l l g i r l s want t o be i n v o l v e d w i t h a bookworm You g o t t o be s t r o n g , so she c a n ' t r e s i s t ("Roxanne, R o x a n n e " ,  T h i s p r a c t i c e among c r e w s i s not identifies  as a " c u t t i n g c o n t e s t "  among " c u t t i n g b u d d i e s " competitiveness  u n l i k e what Abrahams  strategy, a verbal  (1976: 57).  i s p a r a m o u n t and  1985)  assault  I n a s y s t e m where  masculinity i s evaluated  comparative performance, j o k i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s , while f r i e n d s h i p s , can Signifying, to,  allows  a l s o mask a n t a g o n i s m and  as t h i s  to e x i s t  p r o v i d i n g an o p p o r t u n i t y behavior  —  both  overt  signifying  is referred  among f r i e n d s , as w e l l  f o r s e r i o u s comment on  i n n o c e n t l y masked i n humour  through  hostility.  f o r m of v e r b a l p l a y or n e e d l i n g  competition  individual  as  the r e c i p i e n t ' s  (Smitherman  1977:  119) .  4.2  Competitiveness with  Male  In c o n t r a s t to the  Rivals  r e l a t i o n s h i p w i t h one's crew i s  o v e r t l y h o s t i l e one  which  open a g g r e s s i o n  competitiveness  relationship  and  are  between r i v a l the  norms.  crews.  e x p e n s e and ritual  the primary  insult.  The  fact  Here  The  i s b a s e d on o n e - u p m a n s h i p , of g a i n i n g an  at the o t h e r ' s challenge  and  i s expressed  the  advantage  e x c h a n g e i s one  of  t h a t the  is  insult  ritual  72 in nature i s evident competitive when t h e  sport  when K o o l Moe  and  " i f you  think  are  t h a t was  exhibit  some e l a b o r a t e  with  unless  us  I'm  dissin'  all  across  often  dog  you're l o o k i n g  "calling  me".  The  use  of  me  an  threat  established  o f t e n won  1981:  49).  can  At  voices  attack.  look  is  on my  spreading  insults,  face";  c a l l e d " w o o f i n g " or  and  fear  s t r e e t s with are  and  I can  not  the  jab at the  Fat  to  "chopping" having  from o t h e r s  impunity" aggressor  that  repuation (Kochman  in a  victim. DJs  or p o s s e s  E x a g g e r a t e d m i m i c k i n g of o t h e r  are  MCs  humourous f o r m of s i g n i f y i n g i n s u l t .  a line eat  "don't  used " t o g a i n , w i t h o u t  respect  a  what, a c c o r d i n g  i s to r e f e r to another's m a t e r i a l q u i t e  C o o l J t h r o w s out  direct  i f you  to  while  you're pushing  times p a r t i c u l a r rappers,  i s a popular  A n o t h e r way  t o a l l comers  ( t h e crew p r o c e e d s  are prone t o becoming the  other  f o r an  carnivore,  walk the  Ultimately,  r e l a t i o n s h i p , you  targeted  in general  mocking.  t h r o u g h p h y s i c a l combat.... Once someone's  i s e s t a b l i s h e d he  of  s c r a t c h i n g ) ; " d o n ' t mess  the  and  street strategy  t o a c t u a l l y become v i o l e n t , t h e is  s a r c a s m and  a sucker,  i n f e a r by  but  commands,  cause you're p i s s i n ' m e o f f , c o l d b e t t y your f a c e " ;  Types  for trouble"; "just l i s t e n  Abrahams (1976: 35),was p r e v i o u s l y is  (1987).  f r e s h , bust t h i s "  DJ m i x i n g and  broom"; " I keep s u c k e r s you  t h r o w n out  is a  here c o u r t ,  derogation,  r e a c t i o n s , as w e l l as  Sounding c h a l l e n g e s  "rapping  this  s h a k e y o u r hand"  used i n raps i n c l u d e  threats, defensive  —  explains:  w e ' r e a l l e n e m i e s on  game i s o v e r I ' l l  verbal aggression  Dee  " t h a t ' s why  the  others  much more t h a n a f a t man" Boys.  subtley.  can't eat, (1987).  I'm  This  LL a is a  73 But are  i t i s more t h a n  challenged  expertise  i n rap.  one's g a s t r o n o m i c a l  Primarily,  i n rap i t s e l f .  t h a t have h i g h c u r r e n c y  However,  (1985)  skills,  of e x p e r t i s e  are prime t a r g e t s —  ability.  one's  LL C o o l J ' s r a p "You  i s t h e u l t i m a t e of p u t downs.  the opponent d e s p i s e d  that  i t i s one's  two o t h e r a r e a s  i n the ghetto  s e x u a l p r o w e s s and o n e ' s d a n c i n g C a n ' t Dance"  of c o u r s e ,  abilities  b e c a u s e of h i s a p p a r e n t  Not o n l y i s  l a c k of  dancing  b u t t h e l a c k i s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h a b a s i c i n c o m p e t e n c e and  ignorance.  The c o n n e c t i o n  hand and power  b e t w e e n m u s i c and dance on t h e one  and k n o w l e d g e on t h e o t h e r but t h i s  i s one t h a t w i l l  be  e x p l o r e d more f u l l y  later,  r a p does make i t e x p l i c i t  t h a t , " i f you c a n ' t  d a n c e y o u ' r e n o t h i n g and know n o t h i n g " .  in a contest for superiority means o f r e c o u r s e to others.  i s t o p r o c l a i m your  one o f t h e most own  greatness  Once a g a i n LL p r o v i d e s an e x a m p l e of a  effective  i n comparison boast:  ...No r a p p e r can r a p q u i t e l i k e I c a n I ' l l t a k e a m u s c l e - b o u n d man and p u t h i s f a c e i n t h e sand ...Make you s a y " y o , L L " and do t h e whop I f you t h i n k you can o u t rhyme me Yo, b o y , I ' l l b e t , c a u s e I a i n ' t met a m o t h e r f u c k e r who c a n do t h a t y e t ("I'm  The t r a d i t i o n  Bad",  1987)  of b l a c k b o a s t i n g i n v o l v e s s e l f - p r a i s e  and c l a i m s o f s u p e r i o r i t y  over  humour and e x a g g e r a t i o n .  I t i s not i n t e n d e d  the t r u t h The 63).  f o r no c o r r e l a t i o n  intention Although  o t h e r s and i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d by t o be u n d e r s t o o d  b e t w e e n words and deeds need  i s t o c a s t an image o f g r e a t n e s s much o f t h i s  type  of i n c r e d i b l e  as  exist.  only(Kochman  1981:  boasting occurs i n  74 the  raps there  rap q u i t e  are  like  also claims  I can",  p r e s u m e d s t a t e m e n t of playfulness  and  t o note t h a t existing  4.3  seriousness  category,  absent.  h i s crew (and  The  Role of  As rivalry,  as  the  has  Here a t t a c k s  i n rapping black  t y p e of  are  between  r e l a t e to one  d o z e n s " , has formalized  not  been  insult  as  not the  lyrics,  ritual  insult.  never a l l u d e d  t a k e n as  claim  that  an  arena f o r s t a t u s e v a l u a t i o n  no  doubt t h a t  into their  Actual to.  has  of  conclusive  h i p hop  been or  by  venting,  i m a g e r y and  creative activities i s being  has  of  competition.  evidence to  aggression  b a t t l e metaphor  hop  physical violence  gangs were r e p l a c e d and  hip  However, t h e m e t a p h o r  because i t evokes a sense of c o n t r o l i n the management or w h e t h e r  hopper  b o u n d a r i e s of  aggression  a t r a n s f e r of d e s t r u c t i v e  Whether the  hip  Insult  i n rap  be  to the  mates).  been s u g g e s t e d , w i t h i n t h e  can  is, a  vernacular,  confined  b a t t l e i s c e n t r a l to a l l expressions  of a s s o c i a t i o n s  lines  can  It is also interesting  r a r e l y to h i s female  is virtually  a c t u a l i t y of  the  i s , " p l a y i n g the This  rapper  opponent's f a m i l y , e s p e c i a l l y h i s mother, i s  depicted  Although t h i s the  tested.  combat i n t h e  that  Ritual  institutionalized fighting  are  "no  bragging, that  Here a g a i n  i n t o rap music.  t o w a r d s an  completely and  truth.  although these p r a c t i c e s  incorporated directed  w h i c h b o r d e r s on  forms of v e r b a l  significant  made, l i k e L L's  support  h i p hop there  a carry  as  is over  occurred.  drawn upon  p r o c e s s of  i t a l s o suggests that hip hoppers  simply  image believe  75  that  they are c h a n n e l i n g  tell.  A tradition  fighting, and  trying  i n s u l t s has  actual hostilities  of s u b s t i t u t i n g  t o d e s t r o y someone t h r o u g h  Smitherman 1977;  F o l b 1980;  supposedly  hostility  l o s s of s e l f - c o n t r o l .  avoid having  activities  (Smitherman 1977:  must be  challenges,  expressiveness  Kochman  p r o v i d e d a means of  to prove o n e s e l f through  a r e s t r o n g enough  boasts,  i n black  V e r b a l combat has without  One  can  1981).  managing successfully  deeds i f h i s "word  82).  Yet  interpreted cautiously.  even  There i s  important  b e t w e e n g h e t t o m a l e s i s v i e w e d by  p a r t of t h e i r  image management and  t r u e a n i m o s i t y but merely I have l i t t l e perhaps to t h i s rap, l i k e hostility.  day  the other  evidence  f o r m s of h i p hop,  c h a n n e l l e d at the time  with other  rappers  who  likely  by  operate  L L Cool J's  S e l l more r e c o r d s t h a n  I do"  context  and  ghettos  to channel be  T h i s i s not  have become s t a r s do  l e s s at s t a k e .  1969:86).  real  the  t h a t i n t e n s e anger i s  of p e r f o r m i n g .  r e m a i n s a v i a b l e e n t e r p r i s e , i f i n no suggested  York C i t y ' s  not  still  i n f a c e - t o - f a c e c o n f r o n t a t i o n s , nor  h o n o u r as m a l e s i s any  that  can  an  considered  t h e e x p r e s s i o n s u s e d may  raps, i t i s less  however, t h a t rappers  i s not  a good t i m e " ( H a n n e r z  t h e s t r e e t s o f New  expressions  them as  doubt t h a t i n i t s o r i g i n a t i n g  However, a l t h o u g h  same i n r e c o r d e d being  on  "having  bullets"  these  t h a t much o f w h a t , f r o m t h e o u t s i d e , a p p e a r s as o v e r t of h o s t i l i t y  to  f i g h t i n g words f o r p h y s i c a l  an e s t a b l i s h e d h i s t o r y  (Abrahams 1976;  is difficult  Competitive other  to  compete  that  wanta b a t t l e  ( i n I n t e r v i e w , Dec.  their  battling  sense at l e a s t  c h a l l e n g e : "You  say,  1987,  in me?  p.114).  76 Whatever the tough s e l f - i m a g e gladiators, deadly  boxers,  w o r d s and  and  their  raps.  i t s original  speechless  or u n n e r v e him  have g a i n e d  so  power o v e r him.  of p o w e r , not ghetto  only  dwellers.  amateurs s t u t t e r " .  To  ability  is like  defusing  an  literally  meaning  rapper  claims  a bomb", w h i l e  and  "slaughter-  in action is a i s swallowed, opponent i s to  to c o n t r o l words i s a  f o r h i p h o p p e r s , but  Thus LL c l a i m s  One  pride  render  have  cut".  t h a t h i s rap becomes i m p a i r e d The  most  sound.  a rapper  i n general  "when I'm t o be  ( a c t u a l l y h i s microphone), another boasts me  sound and  bust,  DJs  a k n i f e to  " b u s t i n g " and  Confronting  are s e a l e d " .  And  i s v i o l e n t and  i t into a rhythmically aggressive  another with  the  as  "fierce,  lethal".  s h a r p as  "crushing",  rappers  equipped with  deadly  " n e e d l e s as  creator's  "camouflaged powers i n  a c t of c u t t i n g a r e c o r d  souls cremated, l i p s  black  are  the  i m a g e s of  Raps a r e  dangerous p r o p o s i t i o n f o r "asses are  source  represent with  they're  "cyanide,  R a p p e r s speak of i n g " one  to f i r e  raps.  armed t o k i l l " ;  the music, d e s t r o y i n g  recreating  raps  N i n j a w a r r i o r s who  weapons as w e l l --  up  be,  loaded  music"; they're  Indeed the very cuts  are  weapons of a l l —  devastating  their  and  c a s e may  for  i n v o l v e d a l l the  armed w i t h a  that "trying  to  y e t a n o t h e r warns t h a t  .357 battle "the  m i c r o p h o n e m a s t e r D.M.C. c a u s e s 1,2,3,4 c a s u a l t i e s " . Linquistic  transfers also i l l u s t r a t e  destructive expressions " b l o w y o u r m i n d " was hop  suggests t h a t the  Prior  t o h i p hop  i n t o h i p hop  originally  a transference  c r e a t i v e forms.  The  a t h r e a t of v i o l e n c e , but  s t r e n g t h of the music w i l l  to "turn i t out"  blow you  r e f e r r e d to breaking  of  term in hip away.  something  77  up  by  starting  I n h i p hop p a r t y but using  a fight,  e s p e c i a l l y at a p a r t y  lexicon i t s t i l l now,  according  the m u s i c a l  performances are i n c r e d i b l e , yet  to i n f o r m a t i o n  t h e word " d e f "  spirit  F l a s h and  Melle  African  tribal  or  i n the  Mel war  a p p e a r on  rapping  p u r p o s e of e f f e c t i v e  w h i l e a d v a n c i n g the  o n e ' s own  p o s i t i o n of t h e  i s to gain  r e c o g n i t i o n of one's p e e r s . ghetto  cultural  operate  one  in full  supersonic  style  worldwide  i s indeed their  Performing  o p p o n e n t and  b o t h s e l f - r e s p e c t and  they  can  cool  show o f f the  and  t o money as  suggested that  to  in a  s y s t e m w o r d s have become t o o l s of power  (women, g o o d s , s t a t u s )  informant  Grandmasters  the  c u l t u r a l messages are As  Cut  nature.  rapper.  F o l b has  to  " I ' l l create  in  as e q u i v a l e n t s  commodities  opposed  DJ,  that  "death",  A  them t o l o o s e  an  and  about p e a c e f u l  rapping  causing  manner t h a t w i l l o u t w i t  abilities  fact  a  meaning  like,  name of one  album c o v e r s  gear, yet are  of  f r o m t h e word  in lines  o n l y make s e n s e of t h e  " b l o w someone's m i n d " , t h e r e b y  competitive  Raps  "def"  103).  r e f e r s to  i n t o c o n s t r u c t i v e , as  harmony, i n t e r m s of a t r a n s f e r o f t h i s The  raps,  crowd.  i s derived  i s suggested  a devastating masterpiece" can  context  i t s power f r o m t h a t a s s o c i a t i o n .  destructive, activities,  One  i n the  f r e q u e n t l y r e f e r r e d t o as  of f i g h t i n g  Creator.  w i t h i n the  break to s t i m u l a t e the  presumably drawing translation  operates  ( F o l b 1980:  access  (1980: 9 0 ) .  communicated through b l a c k  Both p e r s o n a l speech  style.  explains:  See yo' r a p i s y o u r t h i n g . I t ' s l i k e your p e r s o n a l i t y . L i k e you k i n s t y l e on some dude by r a p p i n ' b e t t e r ' n he do. Show'im u p ( i b i d . : 9 1 ) .  and  78 4.4  Ambiguity  To  return  r e l a t i o n s , the music i s that investigated all  Concerning  to hip hop  from the  of the  hip hopper to females.  there was  one  involved  rap  in praise  to were ones e i t h e r  i n s t r u c t s the  I love  their desire  say  'sex'  i t ' " . But  has  become a means of  and  this function  men  of the  like  impressing and  respect,  the  hip  for sexual encounters.  and  love  'more sex'  the  say  other hip hop  l a d i e s scream and  raps — holler"  sex, 'I  throw like  expressing activities,  winning over "the  i s a l s o a r t i c u l a t e d i n the  hour, make the  or  evidence  more than an avenue for  for females, rap,  rap  of mothers,  sexually  l i s t e n i n g audience, " i f you  a i r and  i t , I eat  appears to be  in  sample  Based on  raps, other than c o l d cash money and  both hands i n the it,  dedication  expressed  In the  with or sought a f t e r .  hopper's primary p u r s u i t rap  a r t i c u l a t i o n s of s o c i a l  t h i r d category of r e l a t i o n s h i p s  other females r e f e r r e d  romantically  One  Females  ladies",  "we're  the  (Whodini  1984). A c c o r d i n g to the females does not friendship physical  one.  i t out:  l y r i c s , the  relationship  appear to be based on a t t r i b u t e s such  or c o m p a t i b i l i t y .  have a clean spell  rap  Attraction  i s by and  A " f r e s h " female must be s e x u a l l y appearance. "The  Grandmaster Flash  g i r l ' s fresh —  and  dress so  dance f l o o r ( f r e s h ) , body smells sweet  as  large  a  alluring the  and  Furious  ( f r e s h ) , on  (fresh)  to  jeans too  the tight,  blouse so loose and  open ( f r e s h ) , walks so f r e s h , t a l k s so  that  ("She's So  girl  is fresh"  Fresh", 1982).  Five  fresh,  79 A d e s i r a b l e female as a " f l y g i r l " ,  the c o n n o t a t i o n s  w e l l - d r e s s e d , c o o l and sexually available — can  rock  entered  her  "a r e a l  rappers  successful.  to groupies.  t h e y a d m i r e " and  are  being  Fly girls  to  category  although  "Skeezers"  [their]  LL C o o l J , r e j e c t i n g  man,  not  I'm  for hire"  f e e l more c o m f o r t a b l e  so  I  partners  the h i p  hop  desire  jocks".  the  As  j e t s e t women t h a t o f f e r flavours".  But  always responded to f a v o u r a b l y ,  privileges.  be  more  " f l y g i r l s who  lipstick  they are a g g r e s s i v e , p o s s e s s i v e  but  sex  t o as a mark o f s t a t u s when t r y i n g  o t h e r m a l e s , a r e not if  of f e m a l e  a p p e a r t o be  are  " a l w a y s on  face i s a thousand  referred  are c o n s i d e r e d  became more and  Skeezers  raps  most o f t e n m e n t i o n e d a r e  Run-D.M.C. (1985) e x p l a i n s i t , " I g o t f a v o u r s , my  to i n  f l y c u t e y , she's always ready  A special  t h e p i c t u r e as  equivalent man  original.  steady".  commercially  i s most commonly r e f e r r e d  me  skeezers,  to  impress  especially  or o f f e r i n g money f o r s e x u a l a skeezer,  (1987).  says,  "ya  I'm  I t would appear t h a t  i f they  a r e t h e ones who  are  rappers  talk  presumed  a hit they  "hitting  on"  t h e women. Not proudly  o n l y do  to others  of t h e i r  females  t h e more t r a d i t i o n a l  more".  glorification  room"), but  Many h i p hop  Females tend  "she t o be  are  b l a c k man's r a p s used t o  with  lines  like  "hey  r o l e of women d e p i c t e d i n r a p s —  exploits  also  raps  girl,  In a d d i t i o n t o s e x u a l g r a t i f i c a t i o n  the  c o n s e r v a t i v e one  of my  t o p l e a s e women.  set to music, f i l l e d  g i v e you  fed".  ("she's t h e t a l k  abilities  more t h a n  about t h e i r  does my  is a  no  secure I  can  and very  d i s h e s . . . k e e p s a f a t man  referred  boast  t o as v a l u a b l e p r o p e r t y  well that  80 can  be e x h i b i t e d i n o r d e r  fly  girl  on y o u r d e v i n e  wearing n i c e , fancy The  to gain prestige —  [ s i c ] , have h e r come t o y o u r  male h i p hopper's p e r c e p t i o n  romanticism  relationship an  exciting  of females i s an  s u s p i c i o n on t h e one hand and  on t h e o t h e r .  i s one o f a d d i c t i o n .  A metaphor used f o r t h e  I n one s e n s e s e x i s o f f e r e d as  s u b s t i t u t e f o rdrugs, but i n another  viewed as s h a r i n g  shows  clothes".  a m b i g u o u s o n e , one w r o u g h t w i t h idealistic  "you g o t t o have a  i ti s also  t h e d a n g e r s , f o r one c a n g e t " s t r u n g  o u t " on a  f e m a l e b e c a u s e s h e h a s t h e power t o "blow y o u r m i n d " . c o n c e p t o f women i s c o n s i s t e n t w i t h 127)  i n her d i s c u s s i o n of black Often  that reported  discussing  females i n t e n t i o n s are suspect.  the nature  (1980:  by F o l b  teenage r e l a t i o n s h i p s .  " L e t Me L o v e Y o u " (1984), two r a p p e r s  rap,  This  I n F o r c e MD's  are at a party  of love r e l a t i o n s h i p s :  Hey, TCD, c a n you l o v e h e r b e t t e r t h a n me? Y e s , J e s s i e D, c a u s e I have t h e money I t ' s n o t a b o u t t h a t money, i t ' s a b o u t t h a t l o v e , p e a c e and h a p p i n e s s W e l l , I t h o u g h t t h e same t h i n g t i l I was t a l k i n g t o t h i s g i r l l a s t n i g h t -I s a i d , "Yo, b a b y , w h a t ' s up? She s a y s , "Don't s a y n o t h i n g t o me. You a i n ' t g o t no money Not  o n l y a r e women a c c u s e d o f w a n t i n g men o n l y f o r  t h e i r money, b u t t h e y standard and  measure o f p r o m i s c u i t y .  definitely  [she]  a l s o a p p e a r t o be s u b j e c t e d  chillin'",  d i d a tour  thus "not only  Lisa Lips  y e t her " l i p s  t o the double  (UTFO, 1985)  a r e s o r e d and r o u g h  o f t h e w h o l e n e i g h b o u r h o o d and s t i l l  i s [she] nasty,  is "fly  but s t u p i d ,t o o " .  like  w a n t s more"  81 This indecent given  i s i n marked  by Kochman  attached seems be a  contrast  t o be o n e o f p a r t i c u l a r issue.  against  he s u g g e s t s  one e x t o l l i n g  On a s i n g l e  of promiscuity  t h a t w a n t s me  stigma i s  of promiscuity  album Whodini  ("you b r o u g h t  sexuality  i n h i p h o p a n d may a s y e t (1987)  stands  present  and c a l l s  i t on y o u r s e l f " ) ,  t h e v i r t u e s o f one n i g h t  ("I w a n t a g i r l  as somewhat  no m o r a l  The a r e a  ambiguity  the hazzards  of r e s p o n s b i l i t y  females  t o t h e a n a l y s i s on b l a c k  to s e x u a l l y a c t i v e females.  rap warning  sake  to promiscuous  (1981) i n w h i c h  an u n r e s o l v e d  sense do  reference  fora  yet also  and sex f o r sex  f o r my b o d y , my  funky  fresh  body"). Either mainstream there that  Kochman was o v e r s t a t i n g t h e c a s e  values  may be i n p r o c e s s  i s an e m e r g i n g  City.  ("Protect AIDS.  Indeed,  In Kool  Moe D e e ' s  t h e need  sexually  transmitted  by t h e B-Boys  can, at least  contradiction. disease  The F a t B o y s  diseases.  that  "me  The c a l l  wonderment  hand,  a n d my h o m e b o y s  help  there  at the level  of  disease  especially in  deadly  (1987), he makes t o be c a u t i o u s o f  running  expressed like  i s y e t another  to protect  to sexual  of r i t u a l  in  ponies"  factor  apparent  themselves  are attempting  claims  likely,  about  to explain this  rappers  the outrageous  are operating  warns  to  a rap  Thus t h e s e n t i m e n t  f o r youth  i s a s e r i o u s message  On t h e o t h e r  came o u t w i t h  and females  However,  i n part,  risks  of concern,  explicitly  males  i s more  real  "Go S e e t h e D o c t o r "  f o r both  may now b e i n q u e s t i o n . which  source  Y o u r s e l f " , 1986) w h i c h  explicit  1984  r e a c t i o n to the very  h a s r e c e n t l y become a m a j o r  New Y o r k  o r , which  or a s h i f t  against  t o convey. feats of  boasting (or  82 " t a l k i n g b u l l s h i t " as LL r e f e r s to i t ) and i s simply part of their  tightly controlled  image-management and i s not intended, as  a s a n c t i o n of i n d i s c r i m i n a t i v e sexual behaviour r e c e i v e d as one by an i n i t i a t e d  (nor would i t be  audience).  As has been reported f o r ghetto men i n general 1969:  79; Folb 1980:  133) the c r e a t i o n of i l l u s i o n  of male image management operates i s the impression  as a mechanism  i n a t t i t u d e s towards women. I t  of sexual prowess, more than the a c t u a l  e x p l o i t s , that counts investigator  (Hannerz  i n h i p hop masculine  r e c a l l s a case  breakdancer and rapper  in point.  identity.  The  Upon f i r s t meeting a  from Tacoma, Washington, she was bombarded  with boasts of h i s sexual a t t r a c t i v e n e s s and the c o n v e r s a t i o n was h e a v i l y s p i c e d with sexual innuendos.  Only much l a t e r , when  pretenses were slackened, d i d the h i p hopper admit to being s e x u a l l y c o n s e r v a t i v e when i s comes to a c t u a l encounters; maintained  y e t he  the p u b l i c image of a " f l y guy". Nonetheless  " f l y guy" can expect  women who r e j e c t to be r i d i c u l e d .  provided on an UTFO album  the advances of a An i n f o r m a t i v e dialogue i s  (1985) i n which s e v e r a l of the jams  c o n s i s t of crew members t r y i n g to "put some weight o n  1  In one rap, "the r e a l Roxanne" (one of the three female i n the sample) responds to t h e i r  Roxanne. rappers  advances, g i v i n g her s i d e of the  story: Say, me to Rox give up the box so you can brag about i t around the block you must be crazy Once her r e j e c t i o n  i s known then  i n s u l t s are hurled back and  83  forth.  On h e r p a r t  she a t t a c k s  their  musical  and s e x u a l  expertise: Where's t h e b e a t , y o u g u y s c a n ' t do i t I need a man who c a n make me f e e l i t ( T h i s i s b u t one e x a m p l e o f t h e s i m u l t a n e o u s r e f e r e n c i n g t o musical  skill  and s e x u a l  performance a c t i v i t i e s body moves t h a t b l a c k  p r o f i c i e n c y , a s s o c i a t i n g t h e s e two b a s i c  and u n d e r s c o r i n g  t h e r h y t h m i c and e x p l i c i t  music tends t o i n s p i r e . )  who o r i g i n a l l y were r a p p i n g  her p r a i s e s ,  In r e t o r t ,  UTFO,  respond:  I f u g l y was a b u r g e r , y o u ' d be a B i g Mac Two a l l p o r k p a t t i e s s u r r o u n d e d by f a t This  particular  i n t e r a c t i o n even t h o u g h i n d i c a t i v e  exchanges a l s o i s p a r t a rapper,  of a second s c e n a r i o .  B e c a u s e Roxanne i s  as w e l l as a f e m a l e , s h e i s s u b j e c t  battle  r a p and a t t h i s  them.  Thus UTFO a t t a c k  level  c a n be t r e a t e d  of male/female  t o the r u l e s of  (and a c t )  h e r a s t h e y w o u l d any s u c k e r  like  one o f  MC:  Hey, s t u p i d , y e h y o u R o x a n n e , g e t y o u r f a c e o u t t a t h e garbage can Don't t r y and h i d e now s i n c e we've made y o u a s t a r Come o u t and f a c e i t l i k e t h e man y o u a r e ...Roxanne must be t e r m i n a t e d . . . So as o f r i g h t now, Roxanne i s d e m o l i s h e d Thus f a r t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p o f h i p h o p p e r t o f e m a l e s h a s been p o r t r a y e d  as a s e x u a l  t h e more s p i r i t u a l in  sharp contrast  aspects to this  s e t o f r a p s a b o u t women. even raps. ballad  Ocassionally  transaction with  little  often associated  with  c o c k y and c a s u a l And, s t r i c t l y  love.  However,  a t t i t u d e i s a second  speaking,  on a r a p album a r a p p e r  i n which h i s rap bark  reference to  i s substituted with  they are not includes a love a gentle  voice  84 and (The  the  DJ's  mixes  i n c l u s i o n of  recording  hip  such  industry,  t h e i r s . ) This that  switch  hoppers  vulnerable  side  soft".  LL  As  Cool  their  their J  time  sounds  to quiet  i s probably  presumably  only  relax of  hard  material  yet  i s the  from  the  natures,  tough for  factor  expressed  throughout  hard,  a  the  melodies. the  sentiments  expressive  image and  being  of  system  show a  in love  are  more  "makes a  man  explains:  I'm s u r p r i s e d I f o u n d a d e s i r e f o r t r u e l o v e f l o a t i n g a r o u n d i n my soul c a u s e my s o u l i s c o l d One h a l f o f me d e s e r v e s t o be t h i s way t i l l I'm old b u t t h e o t h e r h a l f n e e d s a f f e c t i o n and joy a n d t h e w a r m t h t h a t i s c r e a t e d by a b o y a n d a g i r l — I need l o v e ("I N e e d L o v e " , 1987) In girl  this  I haven't  cheek,  roses  destroy  and  insecure.  masculine its  own  dreams  met  and  can  yet"  He  i s hard  talk  bliss.  with  seeks yet  a woman i s f a n t a s i z e d  and  eternal  opponents  pride,  way,  context  a  his haven  LL,  i s a l l sweet  kisses  Here  hopper,  the  hip  as on  "a  from of at  the  being a  party  world hurt  of  the  man  who  shy  unrelenting  because  where  dream  the  w o r d s , becomes t o n g u e - t i e d ,  is fearful too.  about  the  love,  girl  of  in his  appears: F i n a l l y I g e t t h e n e r v e t o buy y o u one m o r e [ d r i n k ] Sit back, crack a smile T r y t o a c t l i k e I'm r e l a x e d and not a c h i l d . . . Y o u ' r e t h e Queen of E l e g a n c e b u t m a y b e I'm j u s t a n o t h e r puppy l o v e n u i s a n c e I ' l l t e l l y o u s t r a i g h t up — I feel I should disappear — out of s i g h t R e j e c t i o n i s my fear To me y o u ' r e l i k e a d r u g o r a h a z y r e d l i g h t I want you ("I  Want Y o u " ,  1985)  85  A hip hopper through persona,  h i s s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s expands h i s  using them as a means of f u r t h e r i n g h i s impression  management and hence r e i n f o r c i n g h i s i d e n t i t y . which i s being managed i s one  of s u p e r i o r i t y ,  impression  invulnerability  coolness.  LL Cool J has  neccessary  i n order to s u c c e s s f u l l y n e g o t i a t e s e l f - p r i d e and  respect  suggested  The  ( i n Interview, Dec.  1987,  that t h i s c h a r a c t e r i s  p. 116).  Yet  that the s t r u g g l e to maintain the facade through not the only agenda addressed  through  social  role-playing is  relations. of  community. What i s beginning to emerge i n t h i s a n a l y s i s  p i c t u r e of the rapper  attempting  g l o r i f i c a t i o n with a sense i s s u e s and  peer  i t would seem  Complementing the i n d i v i d u a l competitiveness i s a sense collective  and  is a  to balance h i s s e l f -  of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r s e r i o u s s o c i a l  a genuine c a r i n g f o r o t h e r s .  Imparting  i n f o r m a t i o n and norms of behavior, attempting  cultural  to s o c i a l i z e  i s a l s o part of a rapper's agenda and  i s c o n s i s t e n t with  f u n c t i o n s of g e n e r a l i z e d black s t r e e t  t a l k as reported by  l i n g u i s t John Horton  (1972: 29).  peers  the  86  CHAPTER F I V E  portrays, the  RAP MUSIC:  HIP HOP ROLES  A discussion of the various  r o l e s w h i c h a h i p hop male  as e x p r e s s e d  i snecessarily linked to  i n their  raps,  types of i d e n t i t i e s which they a r e c o n s t r u c t i n g f o r  themselves.  Thus, n o t o n l y  with  kings,  help  construct  saviours, wizards, an i d e n t i t y  suggest the various their  community.  profess and  doctors,  o f power, s k i l l  I n b o t h message and p a r t y  t o use t h e i r  fighting  5.1  spirits  social  Hip  that  t o help life.  alleviate They  c o n t r o l and m o t i v a t e s o c i a l  hop l e a d e r s  define The r a p  employed t o  action.  Power Used by H i p H o p p e r s  p r e s e n t t h e m s e l v e s a t t i m e s a s an  ("contagious l i k e  requiring  to e l i c i t  coersion  problems  t h e s e n s e o f power and a u t h o r i t y  i r r e s i s t a b l e force  dance f l o o r  'subjects', yet  s e l f - c o n s t r u c t i o n s c a n be  Sources of Secular  a d i s e a s e " ) ; at other  obedience  ("take a g i r l i e  times  on t h e  a n d i f s h e d o n ' t d a n c e , w e l l I s l a p and y o u know why  i f Run s a y s  'dance' y o u do o r d i e " ) ,  "make a c r o w d do a n y t h i n g leaders  raps h i p hoppers a r e  b e h a v i o u r and a t t e m p t t o i n s p i r e g r e a t n e s s .  through t h e i r  facilitate  within  commentators, m o r a l a g e n t s and s p i r i t u a l  suggest they b e l i e v e  created  and so f o r t h  and c o n t r o l , b u t a l s o  They command o b e d i e n c e f r o m t h e i r  appropriate  —  captains  guide g h e t t o youths toward a b e t t e r  lyrics  b a s e d on a s s o c i a t i o n s  r o l e s they see themselves f u l f i l l i n g  p r e s e n t e d as s o c i a l healers.  do s e l f - i m a g e s  and r e g u l a r  they say".  but u l t i m a t e l y they can  (The d i s t i n c t i o n  members o f h i p hop i s n e v e r made  between explicit.  87  T h o s e w i t h t h e most c u r r e n c y and  skill  i n terms of r e c o g n i t i o n ,  a r e d e f e r r e d t o and e m u l a t e d .  who have become r e c o r d i n g s t a r s , undiscovered,  level  others Boys  and i n d e e d  o f power i s o p e r a t i n g a t a  m e t a p h o r s may be a s s i s t i n g i n  c h a n g e s i n one's p e r s o n a .  B u t , beyond  i s a s e n s e i n h i p hop t h a t a t a v e r y  activities  real  level  c a n be u s e d t o c r e a t e power, power t o  and s t i m u l a t e p o s i t i v e  feelings.  announce t h a t t h e i r  (1984)  rapper  this,  h i p hop  manipulate  T h u s , when t h e F a t has "a m i l l i o n  watts of  power c o m i n g o u t o f h i s m o u t h , m a k i n g a l l t h e young l a d i e s t o s c r e a m and s h o u t " , "bringing this place  o r t h e Bad Boys  microphone w i z a r d ,  c l a i m t o be to the s k i e s of  I can h y p n o t i z e  y o u r body and s o u l , make y o u  are combining  metaphorical  a s s o c i a t i o n s t o superhuman d i s p l a y s o f power w i t h a c t u a l of  their  will  ability  to affect  draw on v i r t u a l l y  position,  their  followers.  Although  t o note t h a t i n b a t t l e  claims  h i p hoppers  any i m a g e r y o f power t o e n h a n c e  i t i s interesting  want  I'm n o t an o r d i n a r y man b u t a  2 4 c a r a t g o l d " , they  like  (1985)  from t h e depths of h e l l  h e a v e n way up a b o v e . . . [ f o r ]  feel  as y e t  heroes.)  actual affective there  Many l e a d e r s a r e t h o s e  but there a r e a l s o l o c a l ,  I n one s e n s e t h e g e n e r a t i o n metaphorical  charisma  their  raps  a s s o c i a t i o n s w i t h w a r r i o r s and d e v i l s p r e v a i l , w h e r e a s i n message raps  allusions The  those  shared  especially and  high  t o h e a l e r s and gods sources  dominate.  o f s e c u l a r power among h i p h o p p e r s  by many b l a c k  ghetto  h i p hop s t a t u s s y m b o l s :  m a l e s -- p r i z e d cash  possessions,  flow, access  s t a t u s and r e p u t a t i o n among p e e r s .  include  to females  The l a t t e r i s  88 primarily appears system  achieved  through  success  t h a t the p r i n c i p l e i s that generated  inspires.  The  closer  by  t h e i r m u s i c and  a performer  through  to l i t e r a l l y  blur  reverse.  C e l e b r a t e d r a p p e r s have  The  developed  into their  (the voice i m i t a t i o n  the d i s t i n c t i o n s  t h e y merge i n t o one.  the  i s a s s o c i a t e d with h i s music  music  of a drum  v o i c e i m i t a t i o n s of s y n t h e s i z e r s and  r e c o r d s which  It  t h e dance i t  t r a n s f o r m themselves  human b e a t - b o x i n g  m a c h i n e ) and  activities.  s o u r c e of power o p e r a t i n g w i t h i n  t h e more power he can w i e l d . the a b i l i t y  i n h i p hop  scratching  between r a p p e r  and  transformation also operates  DJs  can programme s y n t h e s i z e r s t o i m i t a t e  The  n o t i o n t h a t m u s i c and  of  music  as  in  t h e v o i c e s of  rappers.  expressed not  repeatedly.  limited  (References  to breakdancing,  dance p o s s e s s in this section  although  parties  a c t u a l power i s  r a p m u s i c i s of c o u r s e  music used  by b r e a k e r s and  breaking.  A more g e n e r a l r e f e r e n c e t o b l a c k s o c i a l  t h e F u r i o u s F i v e (1984) i n t h e i r  suggest  as a s o l u t i o n  p l a y on".  Another  w o r l d harmony we love-power,  message r a p , "1984  have t o have " p e a c e - p o w e r ,  f u n - p o w e r and  l e a d t h e way  And  the  which Mel  WW I I I " ,  to " l e t the music  message r a p c l a i m s t h a t i n o r d e r t o a c h i e v e  children-power". t h a t young p e o p l e  t o a " w o r l d of one  s t a t e s t h a t "doing the w i l d s t y l e " the mind".  dance  For e x a m p l e , M e l l e  to the world's p l i g h t  o f power i n d i c a t e a b e l i e f o f p l a y can  are  are a u s u a l context f o r  occurs alongside breaking i s included.) and  to dancing  can  unity-power, The and  last  two  their  sources  activities  community".  The  lead to a " r e v o l u t i o n  d o i n g t h e w i l d s t y l e means d a n c i n g ,  being  rap of  89 l i t e r a l l y motivated by the d r i v i n g f o r c e of music to experience an emotional u p l i f t i n g or s p i r i t u a l enlightenment heightened  that leads to  awareness. In a s i m i l a r  rap, "dancing the funk" i s e x p l i c i t l y  p o r t r a y e d as synonymous with knowledge, wisdom and understanding.  Here the rappers see themselves  as world  reformers. From a d i f f e r e n t s o l a r system many, many g a l a x i e s away We are the f o r c e of another c r e a t i o n , a new musical revelation We are on a musical m i s s i o n to help the u n d e r p r i v i l e g e d improve a l l men, s i n g i n g e l e c t r o n i c jams ( A f r i k a Bambaataa and the S o u l s o n i c Force, "The Renegades of Funk", 1984)  And,  again, Rock Steady  Crew, i n t h e i r  u n i t y , c l a i m that " g e t t i n g  search f o r peace and  i n t o something  that w i l l make you  move" i s the s o l u t i o n . The body's an e x p r e s s i o n , the music's i n s p i r a t i o n T e l l us when you f e e l i t cause we're going to rock the n a t i o n . . . I t a i n ' t no b u l l s h i t , t h i s i s hip hop ("Hey The  You, The Rock Steady  a s s o c i a t i o n of knowledge and i n s i g h t  Crew", 1984)  on the one hand, to deep  involvement  with music and dance on the other, i s f u r t h e r  represented  i n raps by the r e g u l a r usage of the double meaning of  the black term  "get down" (profound awareness/deep involvement i n  music and dance). to b e t t e r t h e i r  Clearly a belief  lot in l i f e  that c r e a t i v i t y has the power  i s being  expressed. p  We're the f u t u r e , i t ' s up to us To make our home great and A plus  90 Let your mind be pure and feed i t — c r e a t e Use the beat i n your heart and aims to be great (Grandmaster Caz & C h r i s S t e i n , " W i l d s t y l e Subway Rap #2", 1983) The use of music  as a form of black power i s a w e l l  e s t a b l i s h e d phenomenon w i t h i n black c u l t u r e .  Slave songs, blues,  s p i r i t u a l s and s o u l music  o v e r t l y express community concerns  more than t h i s , the music  a c t s as a s o l u t i o n  to some of those problems. i n t e r p r e t e d and one through the body.  Black music  20).  The  intellectually  (1983:  interests,  based  concepts  as they p e r t a i n to black people" 128).  The music  motivates the body  l y r i c s motivate the mind; together forming an  experiential gestalt  ( L a r k i n 1972:  Problems Addressed  Although  96).  by t h e S u b c u l t u r e  some raps address u n i v e r s a l concerns of  war,  c o r r u p t i o n , i n j u s t i c e and d e p r i v a t i o n , most focus on  e v a l u a t i o n s of ghetto l i v i n g and reform.  i n s i g h t by means " c l o s e r  l y r i c s c o n t a i n the " m o t i v a t i o n s , a t t i t u d e s ,  (Pasteur and Toldson 1982:  political  music  than to the white P r o t e s t a n t church"  of p s y c h o l o g i c a l thought  5.2  than  According to F i r t h , gospel  c o n f l i c t s and other e m o t i o n a l l y and  while the  black  temporary)  The experience of music w i t h i n the body i s  f o r example, a c t i v a t e s s p i r i t u a l  to the dance f l o o r  i s more f e l t  l i s t e n s to and understands  b e l i e v e d to empower the l i s t e n e r . music,  (however  but  l i f e s t y l e s and c a l l  The f i g u r e of the young s t r e e t h u s t l e r , who  for s o c i a l has  enjoyed  a p o s i t i o n of p r e s t i g e and g l o r i f i c a t i o n among ghetto males, i s c h a l l e n g e d by hip hoppers.  A g e n e r a l s u s p i c i o n and d i s t r u s t  of  91  males, who Moe  might be f r o n t i n g or conning i s expressed.  In Kool  Dee's n a r r a t i v e moral t a l e or toast of L i t t l e Jon, t h i s young  con whose " l o o k i n g f o r an easy break" i s depicted as an insignificant  l o s e r , f o r " s t r e e t heroes don't mean z e r o . . . h i s  only choice i s to d i e or l i v e  in j a i l "  and thugs not only are reprimanded  (1987).  for their  Street  hustlers  lack of morals, lack  of sense and s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e n e s s , but a l s o t h e i r  detrimental  e f f e c t s on o t h e r s . Like Hercules your body's s t r o n g but your mind i s l i k e the d e v i l , your i d e a l s are wrong You hurt people's f e e l i n g s , mess with t h e i r minds Then have the nerve to c a l l me brother and wave the 'B' s i g n The young and the o l d , they a l l hate your s i g h t Because of people l i k e you, they're scared to walk i n the night (Grandmaster Flash & the F u r i o u s F i v e , " S u r v i v a l " , 1983) Young pimps are a l s o put down i n raps as f a i l i n g l e g i t i m a t e avenues  to pursue more  of success, such as g a i n i n g an e d u c a t i o n .  T h i s segment of ghetto peers are r e j e c t e d by hip hoppers as being unaware of the r e a l source of power, respect and p r e s t i g e i n the ghetto:  "You  think you're c o o l , you think you're good, you're  gonna pay one day, you b i g time hood"; "you knuckleheads, you're not down, you can't j o i n t h i s p a r t y , you know you can't f i g h t , you're nothing but a f o o l , you a i n ' t It  i s also s i g n i f i c a n t  to note who  a t t a c k as a threat to ghetto youth. of s t r e e t  territorial  context of h i s t o r i c a l  nobody". hip hoppers do not  The t r a d i t i o n a l  institution  f i g h t i n g gangs i s only mentioned recounting:  with a k n i f e , had to pay my  i n the  "got shot with a gun,  stabbed  dues, l o r d , to l e a r n the r u l e s ,  had  92  t o s e p a r a t e the smart from  a l l the f o o l s " .  t h a t h i p h o p p e r s have l e a r n e d f r o m least  their  elements,  especially  and  Crack"  who  take over your  will  swept New  i s characterized life  t h e 70's  mainstream well,  York's  negativity  and  are  inner  cities. demon  you.  " j u s t get o f f the w a l l , y'all".  optimism let's Rappers,  p e e r s w i t h an a l t e r n a t i v e  g h e t t o a v e n u e t o s u c c e s s , one  the apathy,  music  and  r a p p e r s have a t t a c k e d  a r e g o n e , i t ' s t h e 80's  v a l u e s , yet grounded  and  i s repeated over  c o m m e n t a r i e s , r u n s an  s p e a k i n g as l e a d e r s , p r e s e n t t h e i r the t r a d i t i o n a l  it"  destroy  Throughout these s o c i a l  have a b a l l ,  rappers  i n t h e r a p s as a p o i s o n o u s  and  the f u t u r e of g h e t t o k i d s :  Many  In " W h i t e L i n e s " (a  More r e c e n t l y  t h a t has  "Monster  do  selling  an e x a m p l e ,  t h e h i g h s o f sex and  as s u b s t i t u t e s .  the crack epidemic  t o use d r u g s .  to the t o p i c .  r e f e r e n c e t o c o c a i n e ) a p l e a "don't  suggested  denounced f o r  'clean' thus s e t t i n g  raps are devoted  over again i n a chant  criminal  three years.  d r u g s , but g h e t t o k i d s a r e warned not  several  that at  Competition for  the h u s t l e r  o n l y a r e young g a n g s t e r s  d e c l a r e t h a t they are  p a s t and  t h e n e w l y f o r m e d d r u g gangs t h a t have become  so p r e v a l e n t i n t h e l a s t Not  and  suggestion i s  violent  t h i s t y p e of gang i s s i m p l y a n o n - i s s u e .  members i s t h u s b e t w e e n h i p hop  for  The  more i n l i n e  in black ghetto ideology. impotence  e x p e r i e n c e d by  to  with As young  ghetto d w e l l e r s are a t t a c k e d . S t o p s l e e p i n g y ' a l l , i f you know what t i m e i t i s B e c a u s e someone's t a k i n g y o u r s as w e l l as g e t t i n ' h i s ...and d o n ' t c h i l l o u t t o o h a r d or y o u ' l l be o u t of t h e box S t o p r u n n i n g y o u r f a c e and t r y t o l i s t e n i n s t e a d . . . S u c c e s s i s o u t t h e r e f o r e v e r y b o d y , t a k e i t f r o m me A c h i e v e w i t h o u t a l i c e n c e or some s o r t of d e g r e e  93 And, i f they c l a i m you can't do i t , t h i s i s what you say "You f o l l o w , l e a d , but get out of my way" Get yours, winners never q u i t ...Get yours, go f o r yours, we went f o r ours Why s i t at home bummin', j u s t a-wastin' your time when a l l ya g o t t a do i s seek and y o u ' l l f i n d . . . I f you work r e a l hard, a l l your dreams w i l l come true If i t happened to us, i t can happen to you ...Get on top of your game as your confidence grows ...Ya see, what your f u t u r e holds i s no mystery when you're the one whose i n c o n t r o l of your d e s t i n y ...An e t e r n a l flame burns i n everyone of us t u r n i n g the negative things i n your l i f e to a plus (Grandmaster  F l a s h , "Get Yours",  1987)  Or as the Boogie Boys express i t : ...You s a i d you want to get ahead Why are you s t i l l i n bed? You have p o t e n t i a l but i t ' s dead You l e t y o u r s e l f be m i s l e d p l a y i n g a l l those s i l l y games Who are you going to blame? If you want to stay a l i v e i t ' s time to get a nine to f i v e Do or d i e i s the only way to get by You've got to go f o r yours ("Do or Die", T h i s emphasis  1984)  on s e l f - r e l i a n c e c h a l l e n g e s the dependency on  others and on f a t e to f r e e them from the p r i s o n of 'ghetto mentality'. The c a l l  to a g g r e s s i v e l y take charge of t h e i r  lives  and  make something p o s i t i v e out of the l i m i t e d circumstances they were born i n t o i s echoed Crew's raps (1986). less l i t e r a l rap  i n one of Doug E Fresh and the Get Fresh  Here the case i s made i n a more a b s t r a c t ,  sense, however, the message i s e q u a l l y c l e a r .  The  c o n s i s t s of the word "nuthin'" cut by the DJ over and over i n  a monotonous yet overwhelming  tone w h i l e , s p o r a d i c a l l y , the  rapper throws out the c h a l l e n g e , "somebody t r y and change t h i s sound —  come on".  The DJ i s able to create a rhythmic dance  94 beat  with  the "nuthin "  and  chant,  cut  in.  power  "you a i n ' t r e a l l y  Without  to create  a doubt  music which  them,  and r e w o r k i n g  consistent  that with  Not Humourous messages  Mac  "touchdown"  function  hand,  other  that  —  rappers  of drug  Eating  a cooperative,  62).  (1986) a r e  And t h i s  d e a l i n g and  F r i e d Chicken  a  or screaming  'illin'. more  not merely as  but also i n  i s t o mediate  interdependent independent  ordering  i t i s becoming  As H a l e - B e n s o n  appears  incorrect  dog f o o d ,  see themselves  expressiveness  their  that i s  of the s e l f ,  community.  and a c o m p e t i t i v e ,  (1986:  however.  t o convey  discussion of rap unfolds  their  of black  worldviews  serious  ' i l l ' ,  at a Kentucky  form i s  of the l y r i c s .  use examples  i n a transformation  transforming  one  this  more e v i d e n t  involved  the expressive  messed-up and e x h i b i t i n g  than  the actual  sound  i n , " Y o u be I l l i n "  of being  i n their  i s available to  a t a b a s k e t b a l l game a l l c o n s t i t u t e  As and  Run-D.M.C.  a quarter)  which  a r e used  opt f o r the ridiculous.  (with  i n general,  i s deadly  and a n a l o g i e s  But rather  they  messages  a l l h i p h o p dogma  confused,  the b e l i e f  a similar orientation.  that  level  clap  the "nuthin"' i s  a new, f r e s h , s t r o n g  the e x p l i c i t  unknowledgeable,  Big  i tinto  the uncoolness  behaviour.  suggests  exists,  and b - g i r l s  t o which  jam i l l u s t r a t e s  at a structural  as w e l l .  b-boys  out of nothing.  already  anecdotes  discussing  doing..."  h i p hop m u s i c  Taking  illustrates  background  this  something  means o f f o r m i n g  crime  while  1  c l a i m s , one between two  collectivity,  individualism,  on t h e on t h e  t o be t h e c a s e w i t h r a p .  95 5.3  C o n s c i o u s n e s s - R a i s i n q Among B l a c k  What a p p e a r s t o be  the  t h a t of c o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s e r . dedications raps,  a p p e a r i n g on  have i d e n t i f i e d  Martin  Luther King  s p e e c h e s by  j a c k e t s and  and  M a l c o l m X.  as w e l l as  own  them. will  i n f l u e n c e on  They p r o f e s s lead  Kurtis  the  way  black  Actual  s u c h as K i n g ' s M a l c o l m X's  i n t o a number of message r a p s . their  hoppers, both  themselves with  t h e s e men,  freedom r i n g "  p r i n c i p l e r o l e of h i p h o p p e r s i s  Hip  record  Youth  through  d i r e c t references r e f o r m e r s such  s e g m e n t s of  sell  out"  h i p hop  t o a new,  recorded "let  speech are  R a p p e r s c l a i m t o want t o  young g h e t t o p e o p l e t o t e a c h  that  as  " I have a dream" and "no  and  cut  use inspire  c o n s t i t u t e s a master p l a n ,  f r e e , and  in  harmonious s o c i e t y .  that As  Blow e x p r e s s e s i t : W e l l I am t h e member o f a new b r e e d and t h e s o l u t i o n i s a r e v o l u t i o n So I hope you a l l see t h e l i g h t Hear my name - U n i t e ! ("Under F i r e " , The  idea  that  yourself  and  doctrine  o f h i p hop,  anything  work h a r d t o l i v e  is possible  up  as w e l l as  i f you  1984) believe  to your p o t e n t i a l i s  the  e p i t o m e of  the  in  the  American  Dream. Now g e t a h o l d of y o u r s e l f , t h i n k p o s i t i v e b e c a u s e t h a t d e f i n i t e l y i s t h e o n l y way t o l i v e Don't l e t y o u r mind f l o w l i k e w a t e r f r o m a cup Don't you e v e r l e t me h e a r t h a t you say y o u ' r e g i v i n g up (Grandmaster F l a s h & the F u r i o u s F i v e , "Survival", 1983) Melle  Mel  pressures  c o n f i r m s the of  life,  notion  i t can  be  that turned  by  r e f u s i n g to submit to  into a celebration:  the  "the  96 future air  o f t h e w o r l d i s i n y o u r hands so t h r o w y o u r hands i n t h e  and wave 'em  testifying Somebody" for  l i k e you  rap t h a t  just  don't  is a direct  (1987) c l a i m s  care".  tribute  that everyone  Flash provides a  to Jesse Jackson.  has a r i g h t  t o be  "you were meant t o be somebody f r o m t h e s e c o n d  born....Be  p r o u d o f what you  up f o r y o u r h e r i t a g e , The black  emerging)  called,  cities.  a c t e d as an a r t i s t i c  constructive action soulfulness,  liabilities  a r t s and prevalent  The  you've  got....Stand  c u l t u r e as p a r t  of  i n t h e 1960's ( a s h i p movements i n  B l a c k A r t s Movement, as i t was  means o f t r a n s f o r m i n g s u f f e r i n g  (Smitherman  1977:  177-178).  The  into  assertion  i n p a r t i c u l a r , was  an a t t e m p t t o t r a n s f o r m  i n t o a communal a s s e r t i o n  of p r i d e by p r o m o t i n g a  and d i s t i n c t i v e  black  character  and p o s i t i v e  identity.  Soul constituted  a refusal  to wallow  the  t o have f a i t h  daring  you're  as a c o u n t e r p a r t t o t h e p o l i t i c a l  inner  somebody  in fact".  promotion of b l a c k  Northern black  valid  rejoice  c o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s i n g was  hop was  black  a r e and w h a t e v e r  " I am  i n one's s e l f  (ibid.:  group  in self-pity 56;  of  Bonnett  and 1980:  12) .  Thus, acknowledge  like  g h e t t o you  their  listeners  c a n ' t and of  r e f o r m e r s b e f o r e them, h i p  from i t .  Even  s h o u l d not f o r g e t  i f you  succeed i n l i f e  i t , f o r , as W h o d i n i  i n , "Remember Where You  s h o u l d n ' t want t o e s c a p e  t h e i r way  hoppers  the i m p o r t a n c e of a c c e p t i n g your background  drawing strength the  black  Came From"  i t and  back, f o r t o l o s e one's r o o t s  one's sense of s e l f  —  t o be  nothing.  and and  leave  reminds  (1987),  one  s h o u l d never  lose  i s to r i s k  losing  track  97 The strategies  h i p hop ' p r o p h e t '  in hisefforts  d o e s he t e a c h and p r e a c h an e x p e r i e n t i a l their  appears  to inspire through  h i s followers.  he a t t e m p t s  them t o a h e i g h t e n e d  or e u p h o r i a .  'The p a r t y ' i s t h e p r i m a r y a r e n a  performance.  I t i s within  this  message r a p s a r e p r e s e n t e d through  in  provides  to a l l e v i a t e emotional  state  f o r rap music  c o n t e x t t h a t most b a t t l e and  as w e l l a s a l l p a r t y r a p s .  p a r t y raps t h a t rappers attempt Generally  Not o n l y  message r a p s , he a l s o  c o n t e x t w i t h i n which  s u f f e r i n g s and i n c i t e  t o employ two p r i n c i p l e  i n b l a c k American  It i s  t o move t h e i r  audiences.  c u l t u r e and most  certainly  t h e h i p hop s u b c u l t u r e , ' t o p a r t y ' i s synonymous w i t h ' t o  d a n c e ' , t h u s t h e MC's a n d D J ' s j o b i s t o m o t i v a t e p e o p l e t o dance.  Even more r e c e n t l y  restricts  actual dancing,  get the audience air  i t i s essential  moving.  Interjections  and wave 'em l i k e y o u j u s t d o n ' t  from  left  let's  to r i g h t " ;  " r o c k and r o l l ,  rock out of c o n t r o l "  back" a r e used has  a t r a p c o n c e r t s where l i m i t e d  f o r the performer t o  of "put your  hands i n t h e  c a r e " ; " j u s t move y o u r roll  and r o c k , r o c k ,  body  rock  o r , "jump up, jump up, jump b a c k , jump  t o promote a c o r p o r e a l response.  The i n v e s t i g a t o r  a t t e n d e d s e v e r a l c o n c e r t s where t h e e n t i r e a u d i e n c e i s  shimmying, waving  and s h o u t i n g i n u n i s o n .  According to rap l y r i c s use  space  t h e power o f m u s i c —  t o s t i m u l a t e dance which or c a t h a r t i c  experience.  both  aesthetic  t h e words and t h e r h y t h m i c b e a t  i n combination  that rap, l i k e the  operates, at least  therapy, r e i n f o r c i n g  —  stimulate a therapeutic  I t c a n be a r g u e d  other forms of b l a c k music, of s o c i a l  h i p hoppers a r e p r o p o s i n g t o  i n p a r t , as a f o r m  t h e use of  98  e x p r e s s i v e n e s s as a way dance  ( r a p and  instance,  145).  be p u r i f i e d  puts i t , with  breakdancing's k i s s i n '  t o have d e f i n i t e  T o l d s o n 1982: to  and  By  curative qualities  "getting  the s p i r i t u a l  Funk m u s i c  down" i n t o  ( P a s t e u r and  them t h e s o u l  c l e a n s e d f o r , as f u n k s i n g e r G e o r g e  cleansing  and  cousins) are b e l i e v e d , f o r  " f u n k n o t o n l y moves, i t r e m o v e s " .  which presumably of  of d e a l i n g w i t h s t r e s s .  is felt  Clinton  G o i n g hand i n hand  i s an e m o t i o n a l r e l e a s i n g ; b o t h o f  c r e a t e a sense of r e j u v e n a t i o n or  energy, both f o r the i n d i v i d u a l  and  his culture  revitalization (Kochman  1981:  108).  Rappers, use t h e c o m b i n e d mental party  state.  are  on t h e i m a g e r y  e f f e c t s of music  Dr.  and  I c e i n " C a l l i n g Dr.  of t h e m a g i c a l  dance t o a f f e c t Ice"(1982)  i n an a m b u l a n c e t o " b r i n g t h e p a r t y back  Referring or  drawing  to himself  to  healer,  a change i n  i s sped  to a  life".  as a m i r a c l e - m a k e r , he u s e s h i s " d i s c o  " b o o g i e m e d i c a t i o n " t o e f f e c t a c u r e on t h e p a r t y p e o p l e ,  " i l l i n  ,  M  pill" who  .  Y o u ' r e f e e l i n g r e a l i l l - t h e n j u s t r o c k w i t h me Let t h e one and o n l y d o c t o r o p e r a t e J u s t g e t on t h e f l o o r and g e t w i l d ...What you need i s a l i t t l e b i t o f p l e a s u r e You're f e e l i n g f i n e cause the d o c t o r j u s t eases your mind . . . R o c k i n g y o u r m i n d , y o u n g and o l d Ease t h e p a i n , g e t you i n a t r a n c e Several one  raps e x p r e s s the s e n t i m e n t t h a t through music  can g a i n a r e s p i t e  from t h e h a r s h n e s s of e v e r y d a y  and  li°fe and  become e n e r g i z e d . Y o u ' r e f e e l i n ' k i n d a bad Y o u ' v e g o t t o f i n d a way And y o u r b o d y ' s g o t t h e and y o u ' r e f e e l i n ' k i n d a  a b o u t t h e day you t o make i t r i g h t juice loose  dance  had  99 Y o u ' r e s t e p p i n g o u t and t h r o w i n g down t o n i g h t ...The o n l y way f o r me t o s e t my body f r e e i s d a n c i n ' t i l t h e sun b e g i n s t o r i s e ...where t h e m u s i c i s r u n n i n g h o t And l e t t h e m u s i c t a k e you f a r away The DJ i s t h e dude t o keep you i n t h e mood t o keep you d a n c i n ' t i l you have t o d r o p You g o t t o f e e l t h e b e a t , t o g e n e r a t e t h e b e a t t o make you s a y you n e v e r wanna s t o p You g o t t o d a n c e ...Now I know a l o t o f ways t o g e t me t h r o u g h t h e d a y s But n i g h t t i m e i s t h e t i m e I come a l i v e c a u s e d a n c i n ' i s t h e way t h a t I s u r v i v e I got t o dance ( K u r t i s B l o w , "Got t o D a n c e " , 1983) Kurtis of  Blow p r o v i d e s a n o t h e r  a r a p p a r t y as a s t r e s s  suggesting  explicit  r e d u c t i o n m e c h a n i s m , as w e l l  i t as an a l t e r n a t i v e  opposed to the p u r s u i t  e x p l a n a t i o n of the  response  to f r u s t r a t i o n s  function as as  of c r i m e .  I h e a r y o u r g i r l f r i e n d j u s t l e f t town and t h e b i l l c o l l e c t o r ' s c o m i n g a r o u n d To s a v e y o u r j o b you t o o k a c u t i n pay and y o u r w i f e j u s t s a i d s h e ' s gonna s t a y And t h e R u s s i a n s may s t a r t W o r l d war i l l And t h i n g s a i n ' t what t h e y u s e d t o be S h o u l d we s t a r t a l i f e o f c r i m e ? (No!) Then c a l l y o u r f r i e n d s , i t s p a r t y t i m e Y o u ' r e w o r k i n ' e v e r y day t r a d i n g sweat f o r t i n y pay Got no power, g o t no s a y , w a t c h y o u r l i f e s l i p away Tough s t u f f , f i v e d a y s , bad j o b , no r a i s e W h a t c h a , w h a t c h a , w h a t c h a gonna do? In t h e m o r n i n g t a k e t h e t r a i n , b u s t y o u r b u t t and w a s t e y o u r b r a i n G-g-g-g-got t o be a b e t t e r way f o r you ...Do you need a b r e a k ? (You know we d o ) . W e l l , I a i n ' t g o t no b r e a k b u t how a b o u t a p a r t y ? (Well, alright!) ( " P a r t y T i m e " , 1983) R a p p e r s use t h e i r rectify, wild". body and  m a n i p u l a t i v e powers t o "mesmerize,  h y p n o t i z e " an a u d i e n c e , as w e l l as c a u s i n g them t o They i n s t r u c t  their  audiences  l e t i t work f o r y o u " .  The  t o "put t h e b o o g i e  "go  i n your  p a r t y f u n c t i o n s here,, as i t  100 . does wherever  i t a p p e a r s , as a r i t u a l o f l i m i n a l i t y ,  l i c e n c e and c u l t u r a l significant oneself  inversion.  (And i n v e r s i o n , by c r e a t i n g a  difference, creates  a s e n s e o f power.)  transformation  by e n t e r i n g i n t o a f r e n z y , p o s s i b l y even  a t r a n c e - l i k e s t a t e , i s the expressed partying.  Within  "insane"  considered  context  the party  at the l i n g u i s t i c  "stupid", is  level.  there  e x i s t s an i n v e r s i o n ,  In everyday l i f e  inappropriate behaviour.  the opposite  "getting  raps  i n t e n t i o n o f h i p hop  t o be  " i l l " ,  o r i n any way o u t o f c o n t r o l (a l o s s o f c o o l )  i s true.  mind", "bugging out",  are  Giving  up t o t h e m u s i c , a l l o w i n g i t t o e x c i t e one t o a n  emotional  evident  a time of  However, i n t h e p a r t y  "Freaking  "getting crazy"  f l y " are the e x p l i c i t l y  out",  "busting  "blowing  your  l o o s e " and  desired behaviour.  Here  they  u s e d t o r e f e r t o m y s t i f y i n g d i s p l a y s o f w i l d n e s s and  originality  i n performance which  power o v e r o t h e r s . ,  i s i n t e n t e d t o i m p r e s s and g a i n  B o t h t h e h i p h o p p e r and t h e crowd a r e  infected. When we s h o c k t h e p a r t y and do i t r i g h t They seem t o a l l go c r a z y . . . A r e you r e a d y t o f r e a k i t o u t ? W e ' l l make y o u s c r e a m W e ' l l make y o u s h o u t ...Make a dead p a r t y come t o l i f e (Fantastic This  temporary " i n s a n i t y "  Freaks  i s b e l i e v e d t o a l l o w you t o " r e l a x your  body and y o u r m i n d " f o r w i l d n e s s property.  ( l i v e a t t h e D i x i e ) , 1983)  i s t h o u g h t t o have a r e n e w i n g  U l t i m a t e l y t h e r e l e a s e o f e m o t i o n and t h e l o s s o f  s t r u c t u r e allows people t o unite i n p a r t i c i p a t i o n power t o " r o c k  the nation".  and have t h e  101  Take t o t h e s t r e e t w i t h t h e w i l d s t y l e b e a t Rock t h e town w i t h t h e w i l d s t y l e sound Enter the gate t o the w i l d s t y l e s t a t e Shock t h e n a t i o n w i t h t h e w i l d s t y l e s e n s a t i o n ( G r a n d m a s t e r Caz and C h r i s " W i l d s t y l e Theme Rap #1",  Both  r o c k i n g and w i l d s t y l e  Stein, 1983)  a r e not o n l y c o n s i d e r e d a e s t h e t i c  canons,  b u t a r e a l s o p r o m o t e d as a d e s i r e d m e n t a l  to  up t o .  live  Both a r e used  very best at whatever in  1984:  development  in  109-110).  What i s i m p l i e d  strength to manipulate r e a l i t y and  life  and  code  being the (and of  course  t h i s means t o p e r f o r m t o p e r f e c t i o n )  of communitas h i p hoppers  themselves  t o d o i n g and  a r e o r do w i t h y o u r  t h e c o n t e x t o f h i p hop  (Hager  the  you  to refer  state  i s that through  c r e a t e an i d e n t i t y  and g e n e r a t e r e a l  i n the w o r l d around  the that  change  has  both  them.  M u s i c e v o l v e d , t h e p r o b l e m was s o l v e d P a r t y p e o p l e must g e t i n v o l v e d I t ' s g o t t a be b o l d , so you can c o n t r o l Your e m o t i o n s and f e e l i n g s So you won't grow o l d b e f o r e y o u r t i m e B e f o r e you r e a c h y o u r p r i m e (UTFO, " B e a t s and And  once a g a i n , s t r u c t u r a l l y  words.  DJs  encourage  5.4  " r o c k i n g " and  P a r a l l e l s to  An  the music  "breakdown" the music  segment o f p a r t i c u l a r l y  wild  Rhymes",  s u p p o r t s t h e power o f  periodically,  b e a t s and  bass  creating  that  the  a  i s meant t o  "illing".  B l a c k P r e a c h i n g Communication  imagery  1984)  based  on h e a l i n g  effected  Conventions  through music  and  t r a n c e - l i k e d a n c e s u g g e s t s an a n a l o g y b e t w e e n t h e p r e s e n t e d h i p hop  r o l e and  t h a t of b l a c k s e c u l a r p r e a c h i n g .  The  e n c o u r a g i n g of  102 e c s t a t i c f i t s of wildness and righteousness i n d i c a t e d black preaching.  the attempt  to  instill  i n the raps p a r a l l e l s  Holt i n " S t y l i n  189-204) presents a p o r t r a i t  1  the f u n c t i o n s of  Outta the Black P u l p i t "  of the black preacher  (1972:  t h a t , both i n  r o l e and s t r a t e g y (with the exception of the s a n c t i t y of Christianity),  i s almost  identical  to the hip hop  e x p l a i n s that the black church has developed  resulting  T h i s i s accomplished  using the power of the Holy S p i r i t  Holt  as an instrument of  r e s i s t a n c e to low s e l f - e s t e e m and f r u s t r a t i o n r a c i a l oppression and poverty.  rapper.  from  primarily  to transform s u f f e r i n g  sense of s e l f - w o r t h , d i g n i t y and a v i a b l e  by  into a  identity.  Both the content of the preacher's sermons (the message) and toward  the means by which he manipulates  an emotional  r e l e a s e c o n s t i t u t e a dual s t r a t e g y used  promote both short term r a i s i n g which may  h i s congregation  relief  and  longer term  consciousness-  c o n t r i b u t e to a c t u a l s o c i a l a c t i o n or change.  Operating w i t h i n a s m a l l , s t a b l e community system, preacher bestows moral  the black  v i r t u e , comments on p a r i s h i o n e r s '  i n s t r u c t s them on a p p r o p r i a t e behaviour f u t u r e and  to  and  conduct,  i n c i t e s hope f o r the  i n s p i r e s the congregation to continue t r y i n g to  overcome t h e i r hardships. A black preacher does not merely God,  but l i t e r a l l y  He uses p a r t i c u l a r  performs  convey a message from  a s e r v i c e with s t y l e and  charisma.  communication techniques to manipulate  the  congregation to a s t a t e of e c s t a c y , or even f r e n z y , r e f e r r e d as " g e t t i n g happy". through  call  and  Drawing the congregation i n t o  response,  to  participation  r e p e t i t i v e chants, shouting and  103 rhythmic  swaying  feelings — preacher  and r e l i a n c e . o n g o s p e l m u s i c and s i n g i n g  a l l have t h e e x p r e s s e d  and f o l l o w e r s  f u n c t i o n of g e t t i n g  " t u r n e d on" ( F i r t h  1983:  A t t h e r a p p a r t y t h e MC u s e s s i m i l a r t h e h o u s e " and e v e n draws on r e l i g i o u s authority.  Doug E F r e s h t e s t i f i e s , like  to establish h i s  a vow on t h e B i b l e  t o always  through  (1986).The use o f c h a n t s  i s wide-spread  of f i x e d  e f f e c t which  i n raps  rap c l i c h e s ,  and  'party' with  rock t h e  and t h e c r e a t e an  and h y p n o t i z i n g .  One h a s o n l y t o r e p l a c e t h e word s i m p l y imagine  me.  music I ' l l teach"  o f t e n by t h e a u d i e n c e ,  i s a t once a g i t a t i n g  (or  messiah  f r o m God, s e n t t h r o u g h  m i c r o p h o n e and r e a c h and p r e a c h ,  repetition  devices t o "rock  t h a t ' s s t a r v e d f o r e x c i t e m e n t " and  "it's a gift  Moses, took  both  18).  K o o l Moe Dee (1987) p o r t r a y s h i m s e l f a s a  come t o " f e e d t h e h u n g r y s o u l  I'm j u s t  imagery  to stir  'house' w i t h  'church'  i t a s a r e f e r e n c e t o t h e house o f t h e L o r d )  'pray'  to mistake  this  rap f o r a preacher's  "come o n " . A l l t h e l a d i e s i n t h e h o u s e , come on L e t me h e a r y o u s a y 'Owwww' (owwww) The homeboys i n t h e h o u s e L e t me h e a r y o u s a y 'ho' ( h o ) P a r t y p e o p l e a l l we need i s y o u r c o o p e r a t i o n . to rock t h e house L e t ' s go t o work — c a n ' t y o u f e e l i t ? Come on e v e r y b o d y , s t a r t t o c l a p L e t ' s p a r t y t i l l y o u c a n ' t p a r t y any more — can y o u f e e l i t ? ( A f r i k a Bambaataa and t h e J a z z y 5, " J a z z y S e n s a t i o n " , 1981)  104 In  the documentary  rappers  incite  o f h i p hop W i l d s t y l e  (1982)  streetcorner  onlookers:  Throw y o u r hands i n t h e a i r Throw your hands i n t h e a i r l i k e t h i s E v e r y b o d y , I want e v e r y b o d y t o l o o k a t t h e i r hands a n d p r e t e n d y o u r h a n d i s t h a t man who k i l l e d t h e l i t t l e c h i l d r e n i n A t l a n t a And I want y o u t o smack t h e h e l l o u t o f i t L i k e t h i s — come o n — c l a p , come o n , c l a p Come o n , c l a p y o u r h a n d s  And  i n t h e docu-drama  explicit. for  Rappers  a young  Marnier's are  Melle  graffiti  (1984)  t h e a s s o c i a t i o n i s made  M e l and the Furious  a r t i s t , team  B a p t i s t Church  Choir  up w i t h  t o chant  Five, at a funeral  Bernard  Fouler  "do y o u b e l i e v e ?  and t h e —  we  t h e m i r a c l e , we a r e t h e s t r o n g " . The  preacher black  useof the communication  i nsecular  culture.  their  messages  attitudes  share  themes and v a l u e s gospel,  (1977:  Luther  conveyed  blues,  suggests  rhythm  expressive  of the black  Jackson  style,  i nc a l l i n g  of this  tradition  from  soul  and,  the realm  white  although black  music  a n d now r a p h a v e  1984: 47).  soul music,  i t to  f o r a change i n  as w e l l as c h a l l e n g i n g  and blues, (Toop  used  the content of  may n o t a l l b e s i m i l a r ,  concerning  "movement o f t h e s p i r i t context".  and Jesse  among b l a c k s  a spiritual quality  56)  King  a similarity  H i p hop i s p a r t  style  has an e s t a b l i s h e d t r a d i t i o n i n  B u t more t h a n  and b e l i e f s  supremacy.  retained  contexts  Martin  move a u d i e n c e s .  from  Beatstreet  As Smitherman  i tconstitutes a  of the sacred  to a secular  105 T h r o u g h message and p a r t y define the s p e c i f i c their  r o l e s they  see themselves f u l f i l l i n g roles,  using  within  their  power t o c o n f r o n t many o f t h e f u n d a m e n t a l p r o b l e m s w h i c h  plague black ghetto appropriate  existence.  And b o t h  i n developing the  r o l e s and means o f e x p r e s s i n g  a p p e a r t o have r e l i e d on t h e i r reformulating  be  h i p hoppers not o n l y  community, but a l s o a c t i v a t e those  musical  old  raps  cultural  their  messages,  heritage  i t w i t h i n a new a r t i c u l a t i o n .  rappers  while  Indeed making t h e  new i s a theme w h i c h r u n s t h r o u g h o u t t h e s y s t e m , w h e t h e r i t i n musical mixing  5.5  or c u l t u r a l  collaging.  N o t e on Female I n v o l v e m e n t  At  the s t r e e t l e v e l g i r l s  who o p e r a t e  as h i p h o p p e r s  are presumably a t t r a c t e d t o a c t i o n - f i l l e d a c t i v i t i e s breaking  with the t y p i c a l  a r e t h e "torn-boys" role  and i d e n t i t y .  instance, like  ghetto  of the ghetto  female r o l e .  In a sense  and a r e t a k i n g on a  A female g r a f f i t i  position,  when a s k e d , c l a i m t h a t f e m a l e s do n o t n o r m a l l y find  male-defined  as b e i n g  "just  R e g r e t t a b l y t h e r e a r e no r e p o r t s by  female p a r t i c i p a n t s e x p l a i n i n g t h e i r  because they  they  w r i t e r or breakdancer, f o r  i s p e r c e i v e d by h e r male c o u n t e r p a r t s  one o f t h e g u y s " .  and a r e  i t s aggressive  but the males, get involved  and c o m p e t i t i v e  nature  unappealing. The  use of female back-up v o c a l s  i n raps  i s not usual  i n t h e s t r e e t o r p a r t y p e r f o r m a n c e c o n t e x t , b u t was added t o t h e r e c o r d i n g p h a s e t o make up f o r t h e l a c k o f a l i v e T h e s e f e m a l e s a r e n o t members o f t h e c r e w , j u s t  audience.  as c h e e r l e a d e r s  106 a r e n o t members o f a f o o t b a l l h a n d , do e x i s t , after  team.  Female r a p p e r s on t h e  although they are q u i t e  r a r e and  t h e c o m m e r c i a l i z a t i o n of t h e m u s i c i n t h e  business.  Of  t h e one  h u n d r e d and  o n l y t h r e e were by f e m a l e  appeared  Often they e x i s t  investigated as a n o v e l t y  o r an a u x i l i a r y  a t t a c h e d t o a m a l e c r e w , a l t h o u g h more  some do p e r f o r m  in their  s t y l e s and  lyrical  own  who  and  do n o t p l a y a s i g n i f i c a n t  a h i p hop  increased access  t o women.  "b-girls". their  The  the approval  activities Within  rapping contests,, females,  But more t h a n mere " p r i z e s " ,  their  H i p hop  males,  attention  to increasing  .  as  females  judges, with  the  In the case of b r e a k d a n c i n g  and  i n forming a s u b s t a n t i a l portion  t h e a u d i e n c e , assume an a c t i v e f u n c t i o n winners..  aware of t h i s their  acts  c o m p e t i t i o n s a r e i n s u r e d an  i n r o l e s as a p p r e c i a t o r s and  following.  Girls  e n t h u s i a s t i c o n l o o k e r s , are  t o as  o f h i p hop  power t o e v a l u a t e p e r f o r m e r s .  female  that  m a l e i s deemed most d e s i r a b l e by t h e  winners  function  inclination,  i n the s u b c u l t u r e .  motivation for continuance.  o p p o s i t e s e x , and  also  and  i s not t o s u g g e s t  a t t e n t i o n t h e y p r o v i d e t o t h e m a l e s and  group,  own  and  b u t a r e r e c o g n i z e d as p a r t o f  by v i r t u e o f b e i n g r e f e r r e d  as r e i n f o r c e m e n t and peer  role  as s u p p o r t i v e and  not c o n s i d e r e d h i p hoppers,  and  t h u s , by d e f i n i t i o n  as a c t i v e p a r t i c i p a n t s ,  f o l l o w h i p hop,  system  are d e v e l o p i n g t h e i r  i s unquestionably a celebration  e x p l o r a t i o n of maleness,  females  and  recently  messages.  T h a t h i p hop  excludes females  right  only  entertainment  s e v e n t y - f i v e raps  rappers.  other  in selecting fact,  p o p u l a r i t y and  of  the  d i r e c t much of establishing  a  their  107 CHAPTER SIX  RAP MUSIC:  Rapping audience e i t h e r performance  HIP HOP  PERFORMANCE  i s a d i s c r e t e performance  through l i v e  performance  aspect of rap c o n s t i t u t e s  communicating  system  activity  r e a c h i n g an  or records.  The  t h e 'how* o f t h e  since the act of performing p r o v i d e s the  m e c h a n i s m f o r c o n v e y i n g t h e m e s s a g e s embedded w i t h i n well,  by f o c u s s i n g on r a p a s p e r f o r m a n c e ,  further  revealed.  The p e r f o r m a n c e  key t o t h e i d e n t i t y which performance  t h i s system performs  1  a s p e c t o f h i p hop p r o v i d e s a  i sbeing created.  through which  Like  play, transformation,  to transcend r e a l i t y  i n d i v i d u a l s a r e "on" most o f t h e t i m e .  A hip  (Ice T expresses  t h i s a s s o c i a t i o n t h i s way: "I'm a s e l f - m a d e m o n s t e r remotely c o n t r o l l e d  a e s t h e t i c s and p e r f o r m a n c e hop  persona  performance himself.  hopper  o r , put another  what he does i s synonymous w i t h who he i s .  streets,  and i n  h i m s e l f i n t o b e i n g , a s i t w e r e , t h r o u g h h i s deep  commitment a n d i n v o l v e m e n t i n h i s p e r f o r m a n c e , way,  As  t h e ' t o whom i s  s e r v e s image management a n d c u l t u r a l  providing a vehicle  them.  by h i p hop b e a t s " . )  a r e so c l o s e l y  that both a r e a r t i c u l a t e d evaluation parallels  Consistency also  of the c i t y  The a r e a s o f  aligned with the h i p  i n t h e same t e r m s .  Hence  the evaluation of the hip  hopper  i s e v i d e n t b e t w e e n a e s t h e t i c and  c u l t u r a l agendas and i n d e e d t h e e x p r e s s e d a e s t h e t i c c o n c e r n s c a n be t e n t a t i v e l y  used as e v i d e n c e of c u l t u r a l  concerns.  108 6.1  The R e c e i v e r s o f Rap M e s s a g e s  Rap  lyrics  identify  a number o f t a r g e t a u d i e n c e s .  As  s h o u l d be e v i d e n t f r o m t h e p r e v i o u s s e c t i o n s h i p h o p p e r s a r e primarily  speaking t o themselves  significant and  others.  o t h e r s n o t o n l y i n c l u d e t h e crew members,  females d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r ,  Prior  and s i g n i f i c a n t  but a wider peer group  Here  opponents as w e l l .  t o t h e a p p r o p r i a t i o n o f MC r a p p i n g a n d D J i n g by t h e h i p hop  s u b c u l t u r e and i t s s u b s e q u e n t  development  f o r m , i t s p r i m a r y a u d i e n c e was f o r m e d  as a h i p hop e x p r e s s i v e  from t h e g e n e r a l p o o l o f  g h e t t o t e e n a g e r s who a t t e n d e d d a n c e p a r t i e s where MCs and D J s presided.  T h i s a u d i e n c e has p r e v a i l e d  o f h i p hop r a p m u s i c  as a s i g n i f i c a n t  receiver  and i t s m e s s a g e s .  Interaction with  "home b o y s " and "home g i r l s "  people" a r e presented i n raps through a c a l l  or " p a r t y  and r e s p o n s e  mechanism: A l l t h e l a d i e s i n t h e h o u s e , come on l e t me h e a r y o u s a y "owwwww" (owwwww) The home b o y s i n t h e h o u s e l e t me h e a r y o u s a y "ho" ( h o ) T h i s r a i s e s a q u e s t i o n o f t h e b o u n d a r i e s o f h i p hop m e m b e r s h i p . It  appears  that s t r i c t  t o and p a r t i c i p a t i o n c a n be i n t e r p r e t e d essential  m e m b e r s h i p demands a l e v e l  i n h i p hop a c t i v i t i e s ,  calls.  1  However, a c c o r d i n g t o t h e  i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s NYC i n f o r m a n t s , t h i s g r o u p  i s not acknowledged  as  p e r s e , b u t r a t h e r a s p e o p l e who a r e "down" w i t h h i p  hop.  H i p hoppers  least  convey  in  but ' p a r t i c i p a t i o n  as a t t e n d a n c e t o r a p p a r t i e s and p r o v i d i n g t h e  responses t o t h e i r  h i p hoppers  o f commitment  their  also try to recruit  o t h e r young p e o p l e , o r a t  ideologies to the u n i n i t i a t e d  through the music.  by d r a w i n g  them  109 6.2  E f f e c t s o f Promotion  In i t s e a r l i e r exclusively for a limited  t o a Wider  history  Audience  rap was performed  in-group audience.  expand the category beyond New York  and recorded  Recording d i d  C i t y ghettos i n t o other black  urban c e n t e r s , such as P h i l a d e l p h i a and Los Angeles, so that "party people a l l across the n a t i o n " were i n c l u d e d . by the mid-80's that rap music audience.  began reaching the mass youth  Although most themes and concerns  focussed on the in-group, some raps appear i t s newer audience.  But i t was  remained  s t a b l e and  to be d i r e c t e d  Raps, f o r example, which  towards  explicitly  e x p l a i n e d what h i p hop was, i t s h i s t o r y and r o l e emerged. Run-D.M.C, one of the most s u c c e s s f u l commercial rap groups, saw the need, f o r i n s t a n c e , to d e f i n e 'bad' — meaning bad, but bad meaning good" (1986).  "not bad  T h i s of course would  be an absurd a c t when speaking only to the i n i t i a t e d .  Or:  From the s t r e e t s came a r t , very new you see Now seen i n the museum or g a l l e r y Not hung i n mansions or hallow h a l l s but on buses, t r a i n s , even the w a l l s G r a f f i t i ghetto a r t or tagging your name The a r t i s t ' s way of reaching f o r fame by the p u b l i c l i k e a l i g h t n i n g storm Now recognized as a new a r t form (Grandmaster Caz and C h r i s S t e i n , " W i l d s t y l e Theme Rap #1", 1983) I t should a l s o be noted that these d e c l a r a t i o n s can f u n c t i o n w i t h i n the s u b c u l t u r e as an aspect of i d e n t i t y One's own verson of one's h i s t o r y  construction.  i s j u s t as important to  s e l f - p e r c e p t i o n as i t i s to the p r o j e c t i o n of s e l f  to o t h e r s .  As  110 their  anticipated  their  i n f l u e n c e and  desired  audience broadened  so d i d t h e i r  impact, f l a u n t i n g  their  p e r c e p t i o n of  c o n t r o l over  a  product. B r o n x i s t h e home of h i p hop You d o n ' t have t o b e l i e v e me And i f you d o n ' t a g r e e Don't l i s t e n t o me J u s t l o o k what i t s done t o you Now d a n c e s u c k e r (D. S t . , "Home o f H i p Hop",  1985)  Or: The The  Z u l u ' s r u n t h i s m o t h e r , n o t you p e o p l e of the w o r l d are caught i n the (Shango,  Performing w i t h a mainstream c r e a t e d new How  "Zulu Groove", audience  i n the f i r s t  e x p l a n a t i o n of t h i s  p l a c e i s , an consumption  o t h e r f o r m s o f pop  should take i n t o  like  speaks  to adolescent powerlessness.  e x p r e s s i o n s of s e l f - r e l i a n c e  o r why  music,  and  In g e n e r a l terms  i f t h e i n t e n d e d m e a n i n g was As w e l l ,  that  that a l l teenagers experience.  rap  and  rap  of s o c i e t y to  can  be  their  more s p e c i f i c a l l y  In t h e i r  case  They a r e not o n l y b l a c k  g h e t t o i z e d , but a l s o e x p e r i e n c e the urge t o g a i n c o n t r o l of lives  an  i t i s worthwhile to  remember t h a t b l a c k g h e t t o k i d s a r e k i d s , t o o . sense of p o w e r l e s s n e s s i s t w o - f o l d .  However  i s a d o l e s c e n t music  i t s critiquing  toward b l a c k g h e t t o youth.  the appeal  account  by v i r t u a l l y any young p e r s o n as r e l e v a n t  c i r c u m s t a n c e s , even geared  i n mind  i s s u e not e x p l o r e d .  music,  interpreted  1985)  m e a n i n g s f o r them f r o m t h o s e o r i g i n a l l y i n t e n d e d .  r a p messages a r e r e c e i v e d by m a i n s t r e a m e r s ,  exists  groove  the and  their  Ill Considering promoted with The  the development  problems Boogie  where  of s o c i a l  Boys  race  worth.  a mainstream of message relations  raps  with  i n " C o l o r b l i n d World"  i s irrelevant  They  audience  challenge  and people  may  also  specifically  the dominant (1986) p l e a d  a r e judged  young people  have  t o accept  concerned culture.  fora  world  for their  inner  and promote  racial  equality. P r e j u d i c e d w e l l s i n t h e h e a r t s o f men M u s t we b e j u d g e d b y t h e c o l o r o f s k i n ? I g o t a message w o r t h more t h a n d i a m o n d s o r p e a r l s I wanna l i v e i n a c o l o r b l i n d w o r l d In t h i s , o u r w o r l d , I s t a n d s u r p r i s e d Why we a r e l a b e l l e d a s c i v i l i z e d ? We c a n ' t t a k e t h e t i m e t o f o r m a c o n g r e g a t i o n J u s t t o p u t an end t o r a c i a l segregation I t ' s a c r y i n g shame, b u t y e s i t ' s t r u e T h e r e ' s h a t e i n t h e w o r l d b u t i t ' s up t o y o u To make a c h a n g e f o r t h e b e t t e r F o r g e t a b o u t r a c e , s t u d y my h e a r t a n d n o t my f a c e . Many r a p s  appear  t o a d d r e s s more t h a n  one  audience  simultaneously. I'm p r o u d t o b e b l a c k a n d I ' l l s a y i t o u t l o u d and t h a t ' s a f a c t y o u a l l L i k e M a r t i n L u t h e r K i n g , I w i l l do my t h i n g L i k e M a l c o l m X s a i d , I won't t u r n a r i g h t cheek I a i n ' t no s l a v e , I a i n ' t b a l i n g no h a y D o n ' t g e t i n my way c a u s e I'm f u l l o f a m b i t i o n I'm p r o u d t o b e b l a c k a n d I a i n ' t t a k i n g no c r a p I'm f r o n t o f t h e p a c k a n d I'm p r o u d t o b e b l a c k . . . A n y man w i t h a m i n d c o u l d c r e a t e L i k e D r . K i n g s a i d , we s h a l l o v e r c o m e (Run-D.M.C, A message o f b l a c k suppression to  make  pride  i s not only  but a l s o serves  no d o u b t  multivocalism.  operates,  will  take  at least  t o be B l a c k " ,  to inspire  as a warning  room f o r them o r t h e y  ambiguity  "Proud  peers  to  t o the dominant i t .  1986 ) resist  culture  An e l e m e n t o f  i n part,  to f a c i l i t a t e  this  112  Not  a l l addresses  as t h e p r e v i o u s  to the mainstream  a r e as  antagonistic  one:  Wake up you m i g h t y n a t i o n f r o m y o u r s l e e p A c t i v a t e y o u r m i n d , g e t m o v i n ' b e f o r e we're a l l t h r o u g h Do y o u r p a r t b e f o r e you d i e S e a r c h f o r t r u t h and f r e e d o m Get on t h e move w i t h o u t d e l a y , b r e a k t h e bonds F r e e y o u r s e l f , show t h e e a r t h y o u r w o r t h F r e e o f d o u b t s , r e a s s u r e y o u r s e l f you can w i n Sacrifice (The L a s t P o e t s , "Get T h i s rap expresses both a sentiment c o n s c i o u s n e s s r a i s i n g as w e l l to r i s e  t o the c h a l l e n g e of  of i n t e r n a l  as a c a l l  Movin'",  black  t o the dominant  their  Rap  has  l e x i c o n t o convey  of t h e i r  audience  r e p e a t e d l y used  built  on t h e e x i s t i n g a m b i g u i t y i n  i n a s i n g l e phrase.  i n raps i n r e l a t i o n  t o r e f e r e n c e s of  time a g a i n raps t r a n s m i t t h i s  t h e more and  double meaning, f o r i n s t a n c e ,  rock your  body a l l n i g h t l o n g " or  l a s t word i s r e q u i r e d  i n t r o d u c t i o n of rap p e r f o r m a n c e  and  "rocking".  "like  "I'll  b e e n , I want t o r o c k  you  a g a i n and a g a i n " . One  By  i s most  i n s e x u a l i n t e r c o u r s e . . Time  t a k e y o u r mind p l a c e s y o u r b o d y ' s n e v e r a g a i n and  segments  specifically  However, t o r o c k a l s o has  p e r s o n a l meaning of engaging  dynamite,  This practice  s t i m u l a t i n g an a u d i e n c e ,  m o t i v a t i n g them t o d a n c e .  I'm  in i t s ability  d i f f e r e n t messages t o d i f f e r e n t  Rocking a party indicates  T and T,  culture  discrimination.  I n g e n e r a l much o f t h e power o f r a p l i e s t o be m u l t i v o c a l .  1985)  i n f e r e n c e the promotion success i n the music  on t h e i m p a c t  that  to a wider audience  has  the had.  of raps i s t e s t i m o n y to i t s p o p u l a r i t y  industry.  As has  been p o i n t e d o u t i n  113 chapter  two,  t h e new  arena  commercially successful internally  has  become a new  rap groups.  P r e v i o u s l y success  e v a l u a t e d by o n e ' s p e e r s  t h e f o r m o f s t a t u s and  prestige.  begun e v a l u a t i n g t h e m s e l v e s b u s i n e s s as  and  rewards  More r e c e n t l y  rappers  been c o n c e r n e d  of d e s i r i n g  amounts t o d e a l w i t h .  e x p r e s s i n g through  have  i n the r e c o r d i n g  their  i t , but  about " c o l d  cash  r a r e l y have had  any  R e c e n t l y t h e y have been  raps ambiguous f e e l i n g s about t h e i r  found wealth.  They a p p r e c i a t e t h e s t a t u s a t t a c h e d t o i t and  enjoy spending  i t , but a l s o  m o t i v a t i o n and  Thus W h o d i n i  i n d i c a t e a f e a r of l o s i n g  r e d u c i n g h i p hop  comes f r o m  commercially successful  e x p r e s s i n g the concern  r a p becomes, h i p h o p p e r s  will  be  lost  and  viable  concerns  a b o u t j e a l o u s y and  ("people.fronting  f o r your  money, a i n ' t  raised.  as a v i a b l e and Pays", to  success  (1987) I c e T t e l l s  suggests  i n rap performance  to crime.  terms.  are  abusing also  encourages  has  held  I n "Rhyme  But h i s message  t h a t t h e y s h o u l d remember t h a t h i p hop  other than monetary  become "lame".  is clearly  gain.  h i s s u c c e s s s t o r y and  t r y i t as an a l t e r n a t i v e  are  even f u n n y " ) , or  a c c e s s i b l e means o f f i n a n c i a l  matter  insincerity  ( e . g . u s i n g i t t o g e t hooked on d r u g s )  Nonetheless,  No  i n the  i t will  Related  their  r o c k i n g f o r the  t h e h e a r t . . . i t ' s an a r t " .  t h a t i t must r e m a i n  s u b c u l t u r e or i t s potency  t h e i r wealth  venture.  (1987) c l a i m t h a t , a l t h o u g h t h e y have g o t t e n  money, f o r " t h i s  new-  their  to a business  w e l l - d e s e r v e d p i e c e o f t h e p i e , t h e y a r e not  how  in  well.  money", i n t h e s e n s e  original  for  was  were l a r g e l y  i n t e r m s of s u c c e s s  R a p p e r s have a l w a y s  substantial  s o u r c e of c o n c e r n  others  also  value i n  114 Rhyme p a y s , b u y s my f o o d e v e r y n i g h t and day p a y s my r e n t , my b i l l s , I g u e s s I'm d o i n g OK B u t when I s a y rhyme p a y s , I mean i n d i f f e r e n t ways Cause r a p p i n ' g e t s a l o t o f k i d s o u t o f t h e s t r e e t s e a c h day. 6.3  Rap  A e s t h e t i c s and  Any  their  Relation  d i s c u s s i o n o f h i p hop  demands some e x p l o r a t i o n o f h i p hop level  rap music u t i l i z e s  in black expressiveness repetition,  hyperbole, asked  strong visual  a check l i s t  and  Dee  i n h i s "The  needs t o e x h i b i t  i n n o v a t i v e n e s s , and  vocabulary.  He  "feels  structural  by  studio  p l a y on w o r d s  G r a n d m a s t e r Caz,  and 57).  Best"  versatility the  rhymes  (1987) p r o v i d e s According  v o i c e of a u t h o r i t y w h i c h can of a l l ,  this  Lastly  i n t h e use  of  r a p i n a way  that a  he must speak w i t h a l o u d  i n t i m i d a t e a l l comers.  a l l must be  to  articulateness,  i t i n h i s h e a r t " as w e l l as be a b l e t o " t a k e  crowd t o a m e n t a l orgasm".  when  More  rap  b r a i n power,  and  rap  unexpected  " a r t of rap".  able to execute  employed  response,  restricted  ( i n Hager 1984:  f o r e v a l u a t i o n s of the  must be  At a  r a p r e s p o n d e d , "a c l a s s i c  originality,  important  Call  of s l a n g , unusual  imagery"  K o o l Moe  a g r e a t MC  shows he  aesthetics.  r h y t h m , humour, m i m i c r y ,  to describe a c l a s s i c  specifically,  him,  in general.  use  Style  as a p e r f o r m a t i v e e n t e r p r i s e  a r e a l l e m p l o y e d i n a good r a p .  r e q u i r e s an o r i g i n a l and  Cultural  a number of a e s t h e t i c d e v i c e s  improvisation (although  r e c o r d i n g ) , rhyme and  to  And,  done a t r e l e n t l e s s l y  most high  speed. At a m u s i c a l  level  f o r t h e DJ t o c r e a t e a h e a v y ,  p u l s a t i n g , d r i v i n g b e a t , y e t one  that i s rhythmic  and  compels i t s  115 listeners lyrics.  t o move, i s t h e d e s i r e d A good D J n o t o n l y  a e s t h e t i c as p r e s e n t e d  c a n c u t and m i x r e c o r d s  with  p r e c i s i o n and d e x t e r i t y , b u t must " a g i t a t e " t h e r e c o r d s , k e e p t h e b e a t s s t i m u l a t i n g and a g g r e s s i v e s p y d e r D c a n p r a i s e DJ D i v i n e being  "shocking  sounding.  i n rap speed, that i s ,  Thus MC  f o r " c u t t i n g i t up s o e x a c t " , f o r  and n o n - s t o p p i n g "  (1985).  Or D o u b l e  Trouble  (1983) c a n r e f e r t o t h e i r D J ' s m u s i c as "souped up s o u n d , i f y o u stand  t o o c l o s e y o u m i g h t be k n o c k e d down". The  structural "Flash  j u s t t o p r o v e how f a s t he r e a l l y that  fade.  This  three is.  times i n rapid Grandmaster  " y o u r r a p has t o s t a y  [125-144 b e a t s / m i n u t e ] o r y o u w i l l  i d e n t i t y with by  On one jam he c u t s i n  from another of h i s records  (1984: 28) c l a i m s  Blaster  and  l e v e l by G r a n d m a s t e r F l a s h .  i sfast"  succession  rapid  importance of speed i s demonstrated a t t h e  i s r e a l l y whack."  start  consistently  to loose  The a s s o c i a t i o n o f a r a p p e r ' s  t h i s a e s t h e t i c o f r a p i d movement i s made  one MC when he s a y s ,  energy  "I'm so f u l l  explicit  o f a c t i o n my name s h o u l d  be  a v e r b " . The i m p o r t a n c e o f s p e e d , f o r e x a m p l e , i s n o t o n l y a valued  ingredient  cultural  level  of a r a p , but i s a s u r v i v a l technique at the  as i s s u g g e s t e d  w h i c h t h e b-boy e x p l a i n s d e a t h when a t t a c k e d , The  t h a t he e s c a p e d  thanks t o " t h e speed t h a t  i s an a c t i o n - o r i e n t e d  must a c t and t h i n k q u i c k l y i n o r d e r  T (1987) p u t s i t , " j u s t l i v i n g Bitch  didn't  r o b b e r y and c e r t a i n  a e s t h e t i c of speed not o n l y  that ghetto l i f e one  i n t h e r a p , " S t i c k Up K i d " , i n  reflects  "fast l i f e " , to survive.  i n the c i t y  know what h i t h e r , d i d n ' t  [he] possessed". the b e l i e f but also  that  A g a i n as I c e  i sa serious  task.  have t i m e t o a s k " . As  116 well,  t h e r e seems t o be  ghetto l i f e  breeds  t o e n e r g i z e the The level,  apathy  and  l e t h a r g y , hence t h e r e e x i s t s a need  call  f o r m o t i v a t i o n i s e v i d e n t at the  performance  the c u l t u r a l  A common  t o the system  challenges. the l e v e l asked  out  At t h i s  seem t o h i t you  i t i n my  interpreted  f o r t h e MC,  this  are a r t i c u l a t e d  Being c o o l  Not  ("chill") operates  'cool',  i n hiphopland appears  Casualness,  He  suggests  r e s o l v e the c o n f l i c t s  to  on. concepts  to f o l l o w  and  raps and  the It  suggests  l o o s e , both  i n body  a relaxed attitude  intensities —  both  (1966),  "hot"  are normalized through  t H a t t o be c o o l an  of the s e l f  the  s t r o n g as  C o o l , a c c o r d i n g t o Thompson  "stone-cold" r i g i d i t y  a t t i t u d e of c o o l . first  cool.  and  to  'bad', ' s o u l *  b e h a v i o r a l code.  indifference  to balance emotional  s i t u a t i o n s and  or "go  o n l y p e r f o r m e r s , but  b l a c k norms f o r t h i s  signify  DJ i s b e i n g  h i g h - p o w e r e d m u s i c a c t s as  t h a t t h e a c t o r must be a t o n c e c o n t r o l l e d mind.  The  s p u r r i n g h i s rap  i n t e r m s of  those  reference i s to  a e s t h e t i c s evoke the e s t a b l i s h e d  associated with blackness.  and  The  To  as a g g r e s s i v e  " b r e a k d o w n " t h e m u s i c becomes so And  MC  face".  to advance the break  i n the f a c e .  H i p hop  established  "put  i n v o l v e s the  power of t h e m u s i c .  the bass,  a motivational factor  'funk'.  or  DJs  T h i s i s not the c a s e , however.  to b l a s t  themselves  and  t h e s e c o u l d be  o f i n t e n s i t y and  bridge".  agenda of h i p hop.  i n r a p s b e t w e e n MCs  commanding t h e DJ t o " h i t me" unfamiliar  level  community.  paralleling  interaction  the s u g g e s t i o n t h a t at another  and  an  individual  then d i s s o l v e  the  must  117 differences  t h a t l i e between p e o p l e .  Learning  t o l e a r n t o speak w i t h h i g h c h a r a c t e r i n o r d e r " t o c o o l down o t h e r s w i t h y o u r  mouth"  t o speak c o o l i s to enforce  peace,  ( 6 4 ) . Thus n o t o n l y  i n d i v i d u a l s , b u t e n t i r e g r o u p s c a n be c o o l e d down, s e t i n o r d e r , having  s e r e n i t y and s o c i a l  explicitly and  equilibrium restored.  Although  never  d i s c u s s e d i n the r a p s , the imagery of c o o l n e s s  when we c o n s i d e r e d  the expressed  abound  agenda o f h i p h o p , t h e n i t  i s not unreasonable  to accept  t h a t h i p hoppers a r e a p p l y i n g  coolness  of s o c i a l  balance,  to matters  as w e l l  their  as a e s t h e t i c  substance. According  to black  linguist  a l t e r n a t i v e e x p r e s s i o n of c o o l i s simply a l i n g u i s t i c goodness.  (1976: 8 4 ) .  relabelling  On t h e one hand " b a d "  of mainstream values of  Y e t , much o f what i s " b a d " i s i n d e e d  i n mainstream terms.  I t h a s been s u g g e s t e d  g h e t t o - s p e c i f i c behavior with  Roger Abrahams,bad i s an  the q u a l i t y  negative  t h a t s i n c e much o f  i s b a d , t h e n b a d n e s s h a s been b e s t o w e d  of goodness so t h a t s e l f - e s t e e m s  intact  (ibid.:  85).  'being  bad' i s a p o w e r f u l  behavior  What seems l i k e l y  can remain  i s t h a t the concept  one b e c a u s e i t i n c o r p o r a t e s  of  both  p o s i t i v e and n e g a t i v e a s p e c t s .  Folb  evidence  Her d e s c r i p t i o n o f a "bad man"  reads  t o support  this  idea.  (1980: 116) p r o v i d e s  l i k e a modern-day u r b a n t r i c k s t e r .  violent,  The "bad man" i s  d a n g e r o u s and c o u r t s t r o u b l e , y e t o p e r a t e s  o f e t h i c s , h a s s t r e n g t h , c o u r a g e and s t y l e and t h u s and  v i e w e d by many a s a c u l t u r a l  some  w i t h i n a code i s respected  h e r o and a r e a l man's man.  W i t h i n h i p hop t h i s d u a l i t y  o f t h e "bad man" h a s been r e t a i n e d ,  albeit  actuality.  i n image r a t h e r t h a n  118  the  black  S o u l , as  has  already  cultural  heritage  s t a t e m e n t of power and pride.  w h i c h i s w i l d and  raw,  of b e i n g .  t e a r s and with  the  funky part  of  life,  therapeutic  etc.)  (Pasteur  general  black  the  hop  and  connotations  And  145). term  'funky*  ( i . e . smelly, Instead,  p o s i t i v e "clean" aspects  "getting i l l "  sweat,  interaction  of the  lexicon.  term f o r s u p e r l a t i v e g r e a t n e s s ,  p r o m o t i o n of  instinctual  T o l d s o n 1982:  vernacular  Funk p a r a l l e l s much o f what has  that  been p r e v i o u s l y m e n t i o n e d , i s  n e v e r a p p e a r i n h i p hop with  a natural,  body, embracing the  as has  the  that celebrates  something "sweet".  t h e more n e g a t i v e  i n the  suffering into a  ideology  the  of  come t o c h a r a c t e r i z e  i s v i e w e d as  as  been a s s o c i a t e d the  and  life  Interestingly,  has  Funk i s an  semen of  that exist  and  Funk c e l e b r a t e s  t h o u g h t t o be  dirty,  o f s t r u g g l e and  strength  e s s e n c e of b l a c k  way  been m e n t i o n e d , i s a r e w o r k i n g  funky  has  of h i p hop,  "funky f r e s h " ,  as  suggests.  been s a i d i n r e g a r d or w i l d as a  slobby,  t o the  hip  revitalizing  process. To c o n c e p t has  these t r a d i t i o n a l been i n t r o d u c e d  hip hoppers.  over" the in  or as one  rest".  i f they are  i s the  terms of f r e s h t h a t the  old  new.  and  funk  As  LL  has  meet any not  records them.  like At  central  expressive  number o f  system  older  level  by  other never  f r e s h to  "get  impress  l i t m u s t e s t f o r a l l h i p hop  and  i t is  c o n c e p t s a p p e a r t o have been  this  i s a l l about making  r e f e r s to t a k i n g o l d  t h o s e of James Brown and the  and  " f r e s h " they w i l l  s u g g e s t e d h i p hop  At a s t r u c t u r a l  sounds w i t h  black  r a p p e r p u t s i t " i t ' s g o t t a be  'Fresh'  redefined.  i n t o the  P e r f o r m a n c e s may  r e q u i r e m e n t s but  i d e o l o g i e s a new  cultural  level  creating  i t suggests  the  soul new  reworking  119 these  traditional  i d e o l o g i e s by  relating  them t o t h e h i p  hop  self-image. Other than i t s d e s i g n a t i o n  as a t e r m of  excellence,  f r e s h embodies a s e r i e s of c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s which d e s c r i b e only  the  expressive  e n d o r s e d by defined  h i p hoppers.  i n rap  provided  by  forms but  lyrics,  informants  and  and  surprises.  vigour  and  has  allowed  the  And  associated with  invigorating.  w e l l as an  i n v e r s i o n of  fresh signifies  the  filth  connotes the a b i l i t y  striving  fresh represents  newness,  a new  t o be  is a quality  funk,  superiority the  articulations  suggestion w i t h an world.  a l t e r n a t i v e way  life.  as But,  for hip hoppers, i t a l s o  machoism.  To  be  fresh  thus  and  i s sometimes a s s o c i a t e d frenzied intensity  with  and  "wildstyle".  ( " i f i t ' s f r e s h , i t ' s g o t t a be  t h a t h i p hop  refreshing,  to a f r e s h , c l e a n l i f e ,  of f r e s h i n t e r m s of  central defining character  youthful  i s a l l things  T h i s p r o m o t i o n o f an a c t i v e s p i r i t u a l by  tricks  of  t o c o o l and  t o h i p hop  beginning  w i t h both the  to e x c e l that defines  sanctioned  o f new  saucy, impertinent, bold  Indeed f r e s h , l i k e  ' r a w n e s s * and  full  that defines ghetto  s u g g e s t s a r e t e n t i o n of t r a d i t i o n a l  natural  formulate  this  connotations  information  i n v e s t i g a t o r to  references Fresh  explicitly  as w e l l as  i n n o v a t i o n , a f r e s h i d e a , one  clean, having  impudent.  o r i e n t a t i o n being  f r e s h i s never  Most o b v i o u s l y  b r i g h t and  although  Although  s t r e n g t h as w e l l as  e n e r g i z i n g and  cultural  i t s c o n t e x t u a l use  an a e s t h e t i c o f f r e s h . originality  the  not  of h i p hop,  strength  is  moral  right").  Fresh,  as  r e i n f o r c e s the  i s concerned with p r o v i d i n g ghetto i n w h i c h t o v i e w t h e m s e l v e s and  the  youths  120 The  a e s t h e t i c of f r e s h  i s i n keeping  f u t u r e w h i l e r e t a i n i n g your hop.  And,  indeed,  recombinations can  be  s e e n as a n a l o g o u s  b e l i e f s and  lifestyles  Although linking style,  'work f o r t h e  roots' mentality that defines hip  t h e need f o r e v e r  of e x i s t i n g  w i t h the  new  combinations  s o u n d s i n s e a r c h of s o m e t h i n g  t o t h e r e d e f i n i n g of e x i s t i n g  i n a search  no e x p l i c i t  f o r a b e t t e r way  connections  the a e s t h e t i c canons t o t h e i r  v a l u e system  the p a r a l l e l s are q u i t e e v i d e n t .  Style  been o u t l i n e d  earlier  we  have o n l y t o r e c a l l K u r t i s  balance  i n the f a c e of hard  steady"  or t o note  life.  or  raps,  cultural  reflexes  f o r t h e h i p hop  have male.  B l o w ' s d e s i r e t o keep h i s  t i m e s o r t h e h i p hop  t h a t t h e g r e a t e s t MCs  are r e c k l e s s , that i s , w i l l i n g  cultural  in presentation,  r e s o u r c e f u l n e s s , b a l a n c e , and q u i c k as v a l u e d a b i l i t i e s  of  great  a r e made w i t h i n  authenticity,  And  and  command t o  and DJs  to take a r t i s t i c  are those risks,  r e c o g n i z e a c o n s i s t e n c y b e t w e e n t h e a e s t h e t i c and  the  "rock who  to cultural  realms.  6.4  E v a l u a t i o n of  Just  a Poor  as h i p hop  Performance  music r e v e a l s the s t a n d a r d s  by w h i c h  a  good p e r f o r m a n c e i s e v a l u a t e d , i t i s e q u a l l y c l e a r  a b o u t what i s  a poor performance.  suggests  The  reference to "sucker  MCs"  that  by b e i n g l e s s t h a n e m o t i o n a l l y s i n c e r e o r a u t h e n t i c i n o n e ' s p e r f o r m a n c e one proven  can  be  discredited.  i n more t h a n e m o t i o n a l  original  and  identifiable  terms.  style.  And  And  a u t h e n t i c i t y must  M a t e r i a l must e x h i b i t consistently  be an  a s u c k e r DJ i s  121  one  that  i s unable to c r e a t e  resorting the  to fakery.  As  greatest, his cuts  the  Ice T  are  intricate  cuts  and  (1987) e x p l a i n s :  real,  not  not  referred  s e x u a l l y impotent, thus are  toughness, strength as w e l l as a g r e a t the  cultural  projecting yourself". legitimate  and man  a false And  S u c k e r MCs  required  t o be  and  DJs  a great  the  performer trait  at  Rather than v a l u i n g " f r o n t i n g " , or  image, "the  o n l y way  what i t i s t o "be  of  or a k n i f e " .  to survive  i s to  be  y o u r s e l f " i s t o work h a r d a t  h i p hop,  e a s y way  e a s i l y duped and  are  lacking  f o r a u t h e n t i c i t y i s a valued  enterprise, like  a pistol  i n e p t and  —  l e v e l as w e l l .  make i t t h r o u g h t h e with  virility  E is  emulated e f f e c t s  sucker  s o f t and  without  'that E v i l  or a p l a y b a c k tape l i k e t o as  DJs".  fake,  mixes  life,  A sucker  rather  than " t r y i n g  t h i n k i n g you  can  emerges as one  i s approached with  a  hard  to  fake i t  who  contempt  i s both and  condescension. A poor performance i s a l s o d i s c u s s e d 'stale', not  'soft',  'whack' and  o n l y o l d , u n o r i g i n a l and  fresh  r a p ) , but  exhibiting  the  A "whack" r a p  to l i v e  and  i s one  that  i s u n o r i g i n a l or s i m p l y  up  strength,  I t i s out to the  aggressive  i t i s weak, b u t  m o t i v a t e o r s t i m u l a t e an o f p e o p l e or t h i n g s  " s m e l l s " and  is  a  i s , not  sound t h a t  of whack, n o t  proscribed  not  the  impotent, that  loud  no  reinforces  or  of  (as o p p o s e d t o  hard,  has  denoting  A s t a l e rap  non-progressive  is also "soft",  performed at par. fails  'lame'.  i n terms  is  i s expected. not  i n the groove, i t  criterion.  A " l a m e " rap  again  more, b e c a u s e i t i s s l o w i t d o e s  a u d i e n c e t o move, t o d a n c e . found l a c k i n g w i t h  p o s i t i v e connotations,  limited  both at the  The mobility  linguistic  and  122 cultural  l e v e l s , to r a p i d and  1972a,: 160).  u n r e s t r i c t e d movement (Kockman  Elsewhere lame t a l k has  "shooting blanks", a s s o c i a t i n g p h y s i c a l combat  (Folb 1980:  been r e f e r r e d to  impotence in v e r b a l  43).  And,  power with  ultimately,  music i s deemed "lame", " s o f t " , et c e t e r a ,  so too  being denounced as e a s i l y taken advantage of and  as  i f a rapper's i s the  rapper,  unworthy of  respect. Another category of l e s s e r performers, i n a d d i t i o n suckers, are  "toys"  (or " F i s h e r  aggressively  criticized  i n e x p e r i e n c e d rookies play and  at hip hop,  as suckers, rather  or as  rather  P r i c e MCs").  both the  they are  lacking dedication  than operate at the  d i s c i p l i n e of a master or expert.  hand, has  These are  s k i l l s and  not  to as  dismissed  to hip hop.  as  They  l e v e l of commitment  A master, on  the  other  perseverence to succeed.  Jam Master Jay, the b i g beat b l a s t e r He gets b e t t e r cause he knows he hasta It's '83 and he's a l i t t l e f a s t e r And only p r a c t i c e makes a r e a l jam master (Run-D.M.C, "Here We The  v i r t u e s of a master apply to the  aesthetic  realm f o r the  leadership Ultimately,  q u a l i t i e s who hip hop  although every one  implications can  Go",  c u l t u r a l as w e l l are  1985) as  of someone with  c o n t r o l power and  command  respect.  performance i s a performance of contest may  claim  there c l e a r l y are winners and  to be  number one,  losers.  j u s t as  in  and, life,  123 6.5  Summary o f Rap  The illustrates  Analysis  p r e c e d i n g a n a l y s i s o f h i p hop's r a p m u s i c  t h e p o l y s e m i c n a t u r e of t h i s genre  Through i t a d i s t i n c t content of l y r i c s music his  itself,  and, t o a l e s s e r  degree,  Both  the s t r u c t u r e of t h e  t h e h i p hopper's  His persona, h i s s i g n i f i c a n t  relations, h i s role  communication.  image o f t h e h i p h o p p e r has emerged.  has s e r v e d t o r e v e a l  identity.  of  social  p e r c e p t i o n of (and power)  i n t h e c o m m u n i t y and h i s w o r l d v i e w and  aesthetics are outlined. Together traditional  they a r t i c u l a t e  an i d e n t i t y  g h e t t o m a l e i m a g e , one t h a t  that t y p i f i e s the  retains the e x i s t i n g  m e a s u r e o f a man t h r o u g h e x t e n s i o n s o f t h e s e l f — h i s personality,  t h e c l o t h e s he w e a r s ,  t h e p o s s e s s i o n s he d i s p l a y s ,  t h e women he c l a i m s a s h i s own, t h e m a l e s he c a n i n t i m i d a t e a n d , not t h e l e a s t ,  hisability  of a h i p hopper, j u s t another  t o r a p ( F o l b 1980: 3 8 ) .  p o r t r a y e d through  t h e r a p s , i s much more t h a n  r e n d i t i o n o f t h e same o l d s o n g ;  r e a r r a n g i n g of t h e tough  guy image, c o m b i n i n g  models a v a i l a b l e t o b l a c k y o u t h s —  civil  l e a d e r s , g o s p e l p r e a c h e r s and s o c i a l l y entertainers. at r e d e f i n i t i o n result  But t h e r o l e  rather  i t suggests a  i t with other  r i g h t s and b l a c k power  conscious performing  H i p hop i n v o l v e s b o t h a h i g h l y and a r e t e n t i o n o f c e n t r a l  formalized  attempt  community v a l u e s .  The  i s a p e r s o n who, a l t h o u g h he a p p e a r s a g g r e s s i v e ,  m a n i p u l a t i v e , tough  and c o m p e t i t i v e i s a l s o c o m m i t t e d ,  to self-improvement  and a c h i e v e m e n t ,  but t o i n s p i r i n g  not o n l y his fellow  124 g h e t t o youth living  t o do t h e same, t o a v o i d t h e p i t f a l l s  ( a p a t h y , d r u g s , c r i m e , v i o l e n c e , e t c . ) and  strength  of  ghetto  t o use  i t p r o v i d e s i n t h e p u r s u i t of s e l f - f u l f i l l i n g  the  goals.  At o n c e t h e e d u c a t o r , t h e h e a l e r , t h e e n t e r t a i n e r , d e c e p t o r , the f i g h t e r t h e s e r o l e s and g i v e s him world. with  through  a sense  And  —  t h e h i p h o p p e r n e g o t i a t e s power h i s competence i n rap i t s e l f .  of c o n t r o l —  he a p p l i e s t h i s  t h a t g r a n t e d him  through  e x p r e s s i v e form,  instilling  but  together  i t w i t h a sense  to  of  appear w i t h i n  r a t h e r than c o n t r a d i c t perhaps  o p e r a t e a t two  different  exaggerated  self-glorification  call  yourself"  t o "be  his  as a c u l t u r e h e r o ,  c o n t r a d i c t o r y statements  o r i e n t a t i o n s complement one  presumably  h i m s e l f and  pride.  Seemingly  opposing  his position  through  T h i s power  f e e l i n g of p o w e r f u l n e s s ,  e n e r g i z i n g h i s c o m m u n i t y and s e l f - w o r t h and  c o n t r o l over  the  and  not  another. levels.  the  these  i n any Boasting  case  they  and  ("talking shit") co-exists with a "front" others.  The  first  a r t i c u l a t i o n o p e r a t e s as an a s p e c t o f image management i n w h i c h an  illusion  i s created through  p r a c t i s e may powerfulness,  indeed lead i t is  presenting yourself others. suggest  And,  although  distinguishable in a false  t h a t h i p hop  from  the r e a l i t y  l i g h t -- t o y o u r s e l f o r  i s attempting to balance arrogance  containment  ( P a s t e u r and  Toldson  and  of to raps  with  a g g r e s s i o n w i t h t e n d e r n e s s , an e x p l o s i o n of raw  with s e l f - d i s c i p l i n e d  this  t o a c t u a l e x p e r i e n c e s of s e l f - p r i d e  As w i t h o t h e r f o r m s o f b l a c k e x p r e s s i v e n e s s , t h e  sincerity,  203).  role-playing.  energy  1982:  125 in formulating  rap music i t s c r e a t o r s i l l u s t r a t e  rootedness both w i t h i n the c u l t u r a l cultural  e n v i r o n m e n t and t h e i r  mainstream c u l t u r e . reflect  a l l three  h e r i t a g e and t h e i r  involvement with  The q u a l i t i e s  a d v o c a t e d by h i p h o p p e r s , t h r o u g h t h e i r not  o n l y a r e t o some e x t e n t  i n keeping  immediate  the wider  The a e s t h e t i c and l i n g u i s t i c  influences.  their  choices  o f good  rap l y r i c s ,  made  character for instance,  w i t h mainstream values of  h a r d w o r k and d i s c i p l i n e , b u t a l s o w i t h g h e t t o - s p e c i f i c v a l u e s o f extreme c o m p e t i t i v e n e s s the q u a l i t i e s  and s t y l e ,  required f o r successful execution  performance, are i n keeping link  and f i n a l l y ,  with  a specific  b e t w e e n c u l t u r e and p e r f o r m a n c e .  u p l i f t i n g with gospel  paralleling  of a rap  h i s t o r y of such a  The c o m b i n i n g o f s p i r i t u a l  s e c u l a r concerns about l i f e  and s o u l m u s i c , f o r e x a m p l e .  by  i s also evident i n  And t h e g e n e r a l  categories  o f themes -- t h e e g o , t h e c o m m u n i t y , s e x , v i o l e n c e and d a n c i n g have f o r m u l a t e d beginning  the b a s i s of black  sung communication s i n c e t h e  o f A f r o - A m e r i c a n c u l t u r e (Lomax 1 9 6 6 : 1 2 3 ) . T h i s a n a l y s i s , due t o i t s e m p h a s i s on t h e c o n t e n t  recorded  raps, although  agenda, has l i m i t e d  uncovering  value  activity.  studio  i s f a r removed f r o m b a t t l i n g  Prospect accounts, end  Park  much o f t h e s u b c u l t u r e ' s  i n determining  street  And o b v i o u s l y  i n t h e Bronx.  of  t h e f u n c t i o n of t h e  the a c t of r e c o r d i n g against a r i v a l  Keeping  i n mind  raps  in a  MC o r DJ i n  enthnographic  i t i s not unreasonable t o suggest that at the s t r e e t  of the continuum rappers  may i n d e e d  be i n v o l v e d i n a  a c t o f v i o l e n c e c o n t a i n m e n t by e x p r e s s i n g t h a t a t t h e p r o f e s s i o n a l end t h e f o c u s  ritual  i t i n s a f e ways, b u t  i s more l i k e l y  t o be on  —  126 entertainment, f i n a n c i a l  g a i n , fame and  B o t h however a r e f o u n d e d  on a h i g h l y c o m p e t i t i v e s p i r i t  i n v o l v e the n o t i o n of s e l f - i m p r o v e m e n t  "talking  and  The  accommodate b o t h t h e m a i n t e n a n c e  o f p e r s o n a l honour and  mainstream  culture.  of a communication  and  system,  and  neccessarily  level  i n the raps cannot  comprehensive.,  and  of rap.  the  to prestige  w i t h i n the  however, the a n a l y s i s  has been c o n c e r n e d  e x p r e s s i v e , not the e x p e r i e n t i a l , messages conveyed  appears  the d e s i r e to succeed  Ultimately,  people".  restructuring  c o m m u n i t y i n a p o s i t i v e manner.  a t t h e community l e v e l  system  to the  has  wider been  w i t h the And  although  the  be t a k e n as c o n c l u s i v e n o r  t h e y do c o n t a i n s u g g e s t i o n s o f i t s  functions. Rap that too.  music  Rap  music  i s more t h a n f l a u n t and  taunt, although i t i s  a i m s t o do more t h a n e n t e r t a i n , a l t h o u g h i t  does t h a t t o o .  W h i l e p r o f e s s i n g h i s own  the environment  and  cool,  a rapper heats  controls high voltage s i t u a t i o n s  t o s t i m u l a t e t h e m i n d s and  b o d i e s of h i s f o l l o w e r s .  i n an  up  effort  127 CHAPTER SEVEN  7.1  GRAFFITI:  M o v i n g O n t o t h e Subway  GETTING YOUR NAME OP  Trains  You know what i t e v o l v e d f r o m ? The t o u g h e s t g u y on t h e b l o c k a l w a y s h a d h i s name t h e b i g g e s t i n t h e s t r e e t . I t t o l d e v e r y b o d y i t was h i s a r e a , t h a t he had t h e j u i c e t o do what he w a n t e d and nobody c o u l d mess w i t h h i m ( T r a c y 168 i n Hager 1984: 1 3 ) . Hip expressive  other  was t h e  first  o f the h i p hop  f o r m s t o be s y s t e m a t i c a l l y d e v e l o p e d , b e g i n n i n g t o  distinguish the  hop g r a f f i t i  itself  w i t h i n t h e gang i n s t i t u t i o n  two f o r m s w h i c h have a l i n e a g e t o t r a d i t i o n a l  d a n c e a n d m u s i c , i t h a s a more r e c e n t  intimidate  rivals  suggested t h a t the psychodelic  (Ley a n d C y b r i s k y  inscriptions.  asserted  As w e l l ,  more i m p o r t a n t  bound  Kohl  and H i n t o n  i t s "flower  have  power" gang  c o m m u n i t y a r t p r o j e c t s began a t t h i s encouraging ghetto  r a t h e r than deface the "tagging"  black  markers used t o  an i n f l u e n c e on t h e u s u a l  w i t h p r o f e s s i o n a l mural a r t i s t s  As  1974).  h i p p i e movement w i t h  graffiti  Unlike  and l e s s e t h n i c a l l y  u r b a n h e r i t a g e , p r i m a r i l y a s gang t e r r i t o r i a l  beautify,  by 1969.  inner c i t i e s  time  youths t o  (1972:  132-133).  ( w r i t i n g y o u r name on p u b l i c s p a c e ) became  t o some members t h a n o t h e r  gang a c t i v i t i e s ,  they  b r o k e o f f t o f o r m w r i t i n g c r e w s , a n d t h e w r i t i n g was e l a b o r a t e d both a r t i s t i c a l l y  and t h r o u g h t h e  codes.  t o the  the  According  pioneer  phase  film  development of b e h a v i o u r a l  d o c u m e n t a r y S t y l e Wars (1982) i n  (1970-1974) " g e t t i n g up",  that  i s , writing  o n e ' s name a s o f t e n a s p o s s i b l e a n d i n a s many p l a c e s a s p o s s i b l e , was t h e p r i n c i p l e  goal.  To f u r t h e r t h i s end t h e NYC  128 transit  s y s t e m became t h e most d e s i r a b l e s u r f a c e ,  maximum v i s i b i l i t y . aboutbecoming  As one w r i t e r , B l a d e , p u t i t , " g r a f f i t i i s  famous b e c a u s e  the  trains"  due  to accelerations  trains)  allowing for  (in Graffiti  y o u r name i s a l l o v e r t h e c i t y , on  1983: 1 2 ) .  Much l a t e r ,  i n t h e mid 80's,  i n p o l i c i n g and " b u f f i n g " ( c l e a n i n g o f t h e  t h e w r i t e r s were p r e s s u r e d  m o v i n g h i p hop g r a f f i t i  back  t o r e d u c e subway  o n t o s t r e e t w a l l s and  "bombing", handball  courts.  7.2  The D e v e l o p m e n t o f  As t h i s  Style  form of e x p r e s s i o n  gained s t a t u s , p a r t i c i p a n t s  began i n v e s t i n g more o f t h e m s e l v e s i n i t s d e v e l o p m e n t . markers bigger  were r e p l a c e d than l i f e  were e l a b o r a t e d emerged. this  by c o l o u r f u l s p r a y c a n p a i n t s , names g o t  and moved t o t h e o u t s i d e and d i s t i n c t  I n 1975 o n l y  had e x p a n d e d  criterion  for evaluating  emerged.  To t h e v a l u e  recognized  tradition  on by i n t e n s e  competition,  a second  and hence i t s c r e a t o r s , had  o f how many p e o p l e knew y o u r name was name.  One's name c o u l d  be a ( m a s t e r ) " p i e c e "  no l o n g e r  as w e l l .  only  As one  " a n y b o d y c a n be a w r i t e r , b u t i f y o u ' r e  i t means y o u ' r e a m a s t e r "  Interestingly  styles  ( i b i d . : 56).  graffiti,  added t h e q u a l i t y of t h a t  explains,  letters  f o u r m a i n s t y l e s were u s e d b u t by 1983  By 1977, s p u r r e d  writer  of the t r a i n s ,  r e g i o n a l and p e r s o n a l  t o over t h i r t y  be a " t a g " b u t s h o u l d  Magic  this  dual  status  ( i n M a i l e r 1974: n . p . ) .  system p a r a l l e l s  o f m e a s u r i n g a man's r e p u t a t i o n  t h e gang  by b o t h t h e e x t e n t t o  w h i c h h i s name was known and by how " b a d " i t was ( H o r o w i t z 1983:  129  PHASE 2: THE EVOLUTION OF A STYLE, 1971-1982  130 Phase 2  con'd  (Hager, 1984, pp. 28-29)  131 90).  I n h i p hop, h o w e v e r , t h e p r o c e s s  i s reversed.  One's name  d o e s n o t become b i g i n a c c o r d a n c e w i t h o n e ' s r e p u t a t i o n , r a t h e r o n e ' s r e p u t a t i o n i s m e a s u r e d by how b i g (and s t y l i s h ) literally  appears. One's name, s i m p l y  c o n v e y one's i d e n t i t y . peripheral graffiti  w r i t t e n , was no l o n g e r  sufficient to  Embellishments, backgrounds,  images,  e p i g r a m s -- i n a w o r d , s u b s t a n c e was a d d e d .  w r i t i n g moved f r o m s t a t i c  b o m b i n g on t r a i n s , active  one's name  static  designs  wall g r a f f i t i  J u s t as  to motion  were r e p l a c e d w i t h  electrified,  f o r m s -- q u i t e p o s s i b l y s i g n i f y i n g a c u l t u r e "on t h e  move". Letter mechanical, culture —  styles,  s u c h a s b u b b l e , 3-D, c o m p u t e r a n d  were a d a p t e d f r o m t h e v a s t p o o l  t h a t became i n c o r p o r a t e d writer's self-image.  S n o o p y , U n d e r d o g and t h e P i n k  By r e c o n t e x t u a l i z i n g t h e s e  own s e l f - i m a g e .  "The  of  stick  figure insignia  S a i n t " by g i v i n g him a j o i n t  1984:  15).  Violation  i t s significance,  contradictions. popular  Panther,  well-known  r e d e f i n e d them i n t e r m s o f  One w r i t e r whose t a g r e a d  the haloed  —  into pieces, often representing the  c h a r a c t e r s , members o f t h e s u b c u l t u r e  transformed  popular  T.V., v i d e o s , a d v e r t i s i n g , c o m i c s , p o s t e r s , f i l m s  as were t h e f i g u r e s , l i k e  their  of American  "Stay  149"  High  f r o m t h e T.V.  show  t o smoke ( C o o p e r and C h a l f a n t  o f an o r t h o d o x i c o n , t h r o u g h an i n v e r s i o n confronted  But of course  the s t r a i g h t world  with i t s  the s a i n t f i g u r e i t s e l f ,  as a  c u l t u r e f o r m , was a p l a y o n , an i n t e r p r e t a t i o n o f ,  traditional  religious culture.  development of d i s t i n c t  styles  There i s l i t t l e  doubt t h a t t h e  of w r i t i n g expresses  the  132 investment graffiti,  7.3  A  of t h e ego was  e n h a n c e d and  System o f  The  w i t h i n t h e f o r m and  what i t i s t h a t t h e y  communicate i s c e n t r a l  the  process.  to understanding  graffiti writers.are  are attempting h i p hop  to  in general,  and  in particular.  to i t s p u b l i c v i s i b i l i t y  w r i t e r s are merely s u b v e r s i v e manner.  conveying  i t m i g h t be assumed  However, a c c o r d i n g  i m a g e s of power t h r o u g h  to a l l accounts,  in a  the  are p r o c l a i m i n g  bold, durable, confident,  s i g n a t u r e s i s the primary  that  messages t o the g e n e r a l p u b l i c ,  i n t e r n a l d i a l o g u e b e t w e e n g h e t t o m a l e s who  j  the  like  Communication  c o m m u n i c a t i n g and  Due  d i s t i n g u i s h e d through  q u e s t i o n o f t o whom h i p hop  subway g r a f f i t i  t h a t t h e ego,  their  tough-looking  communication g o a l .  We're t r y i n g t o p r o d u c e s o m e t h i n g . I t ' s a challenge. Like g o i n g a l l c i t y so p e o p l e w i l l know who I am and k n o w i n g I can do i t . I t s f o r me and o t h e r g r a f f i t i w r i t e r s . I don't c a r e i f anyone e l s e s e e s i t o r can r e a d i t -- a l l t h o s e o t h e r p e o p l e who c a n ' t r e a d i t , t h e y ' r e e x c l u d e d — they d o n ' t m a t t e r t o me. Tt a i n ' t a b o u t them — i t s f o r us ( i n S t y l e Wars 1 9 8 2 ) . Or: O t h e r w r i t e r s -- t h a t ' s t h e o n l y t h i n g t h a t m a t t e r s . We want t h e p u b l i c t o l i k e u s , but o t h e r w r i t e r s i s what i s important. We want r e c o g n i t i o n ( S m i t h i n C h a l f a n t and P r i g o f f 1987: 2 8 ) . To  reinforce  popular  t h e n o t i o n of e x c l u s i v i t y  "wildstyle"  entangled initiated.  names a r e e n c o d e d  or i n "camouflage" s t y l e .  as t o be v i r t u a l l y (As w r i t i n g ,  like  The  i n d e c i p h e r a b l e t o any the other  i n the  letters but  are  the  f o r m s o f h i p hop,  moves  so  133 away f r o m t h e g h e t t o - s p e c i f i c s t r e e t c u l t u r e end o f t h e c o n t i n u u m t o w a r d s t h e m a i n s t r e a m p r o f e s s i o n a l e n d , o f c o u r s e more c o n c e r n is  e x p r e s s e d about r e c o g n i t i o n  financial  success Not  (Graffiti  only  t o compete w i t h  i n m a i n s t r e a m t e r m s o f fame and  1983).)  t h e need t o c o m m u n i c a t e w i t h  them m o t i v a t e s w r i t e r s .  others  but a l s o  As T r a c y 168 e x p l a i n s :  One t h i n g t h a t k e p t me w r i t i n g on t r a i n s and s e e i n g my name again. You t h o u g h t y o u r t a g w o u l d j u s t d i s a p p e a r b e c a u s e t h e r e were s o many t r a i n s . B u t t h e n i t w o u l d come back t h e n e x t day and y o u ' d s e e somebody e l s e ' s t a g r i g h t n e x t t o yours. T h a t was p a r t o f t h e c o m m u n i c a t i o n t h i n g . . . . C o m p e t i t i o n was i m p o r t a n t t o o ( i n Hager 1 9 8 4 : 1 8 ) .  The evaluating  activity  peer s t a t u s  productivity  i n general,  by p r o v i d i n g  and r e c o g n i t i o n  a means o f  i n terms o f e x c e l l e n c e and  i n w r i t i n g , a f f i r m s the importance of c o m p e t i t i o n  a mechanism o f i d e n t i t y  creation  in this  community. E v i d e n c e f o r  t h i s a l s o appears w i t h i n forms of t h e g r a f f i t i . challenges, other  into the "pieces",  w r i t e r s -- "Can y o u b u r n To  kill  incorporated  i n this  this?".  regulations. nor  being  i s not a r b i t r a r y but operates w i t h i n No " k i n g s "  w o u l d he " b i t e "  o n e ' s own a n d t h a t  i t i s read as a  ( M a i l e r 1 9 7 4 ) and i s c o n s t r u e d  of t h e code o f b e h a v i o u r , t h e p e r p e t r a t o r competition  Written  a r e thrown out t o  " h i t " someone's name by g o i n g o v e r system  as  would ever  as a v i o l a t i o n  denounced. strict  " h i t " another w r i t e r ' s  someone's s p e c i f i c  designs.  Hence  piece,  Honour, both  o f one's o p p o n e n t s , i s a r e s p e c t e d  attribute  134 of a h i p hopper's i d e n t i t y , member.  To be  producing  1984:  i t was  a k i n g of the t r a i n s  "burners"  elaborate designs, capable  as  (dazzling,  f o r the e a r l i e r  i s to respect  brightly  coloured  f r e e of d r i p s ) which are  of t a k i n g out  the c o m p e t i t i o n  gang  t h e code original  "def"  and  ( C o o p e r and  and  thus  Chalfant  31).  As  a p u b l i c performance which  e v a l u a t i o n and mistakes order  reflects  in execution  t o save f a c e .  pieces:  "too  critical  one's s t a t u s i n the community,  call  for explanations  Again  fuckin'  i s subject to  these  dark  are  i n dem  and  any  apologies  incorporated into  t u n n e l s " , "too  in  the  late,  too  tired",  " s o r r y no more b l u e " , " c h e a p p a i n t " , " s o r r y a b o u t  drips",  "chased", "fucked  up,  my  although  illegal  i n t h e e y e s of t h e  of v a n d a l i s m ,  although  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the s u c h as  law,  i s not  p a r t of i t s a p p e a l  intended  own  agenda.  self,  a way  1985:  30).  l e t god  f o r some may  f o r g i v e me"  them as  irrelevant)  i n them.  an be  Slogans  "graffiti  suggest  i t , " I t ' s an e x p r e s s i o n  ' I am  (in Flinker  here'"  then  i t i s to challenge  "The  real  vandalism  and  is  that  i n favour  T a k i 1 8 3 put  i f i t i s a s i g n of r e b e l l i o n  dominant c u l t u r e , i t and  As  of s a y i n g  And,  as  aware o f t h e m a i n s t r e a m r u l e s , a r e p r e p a r e d  them ( o r p e r h a p s d i s m i s s  their  graffiti,  involved in defying authority.  i f a r t i s a crime,  w r i t e r s , although  in  c o n t e x t , h i p hop  "a dream o f some, a n i g h t m a r e t o o t h e r s " o r  an a r t and  defy  risks  the  hands were c o l d " ( i b i d . : 3 8 ) .  Viewed w i t h i n i t s c u l t u r a l  act  while  to of  of  my  Romanowski  a g a i n s t the  them t o see  wider  the  i s what you'd see  beauty i f they  135 scraped Ali  t h e windows [ o f t h e subway c a r s ] c l e a n " , c l a i m s w r i t e r  (ibid.:  33).  A common p r a c t i s e i s t o b e g i n  painting a simulated  brick  wall,  so  o f t h e g h e t t o s , and  then  colourful  i t ,suggesting  name o v e r  e n v i r o n m e n t and  r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of t h e  t o p a i n t one's b r i g h t , s t r o n g  of t h e i r  out  of t h e i r  renewed s e l f - i m a g e  the artwork  uncatchable, will New  we  itself:  are nasty";  "we "we  are unstoppable, are  s u r v i v e " ; " e x t r a , e x t r a , TNT York C i t y " .  a u t h o r i t y and underscores  Use  of the  expressions  (The  and  t o be  own  news h e a d l i n e r s .  a right to t h e i r  (R)  names, or e g o s , a r e b e i n g a g a i n s t v i o l a t i o n s of  or a  Nation's  one  The  Bill  above the S t a t u e flames  and  ghetto  blaster,  we  takes, over those  in  importance a position  in  claiming  (C^ s y m b o l s u g g e s t i n g r e g i s t e r e d and  that  their  copyrighted  authenticity.  rainbows,  with  "cosmic"  t h u n d e r and  images  lightning.  b u s t i n g o u t , w i t h c o l o u r s ^ f l y i n g o f f them  significance  p i e c e by  and  Almost a l l t a g s , f o r i n s t a n c e ,  publicly  clouds, stars, meteorites,  space.  Top)  inflated  P i e c e s are f r e q u e n t l y e m b e l l i s h e d  Tags a p p e a r t o be  statements  W r i t e r s a p p e a r t o be  very e x i s t e n c e .  a r e a c c o m p a n i e d w i t h an  optimism  are  i m p e r a t i v e when a d d r e s s i n g  of t h e i r  their  the sons of the g h e t t o  t h e d e s i r e f o r a s e n s e o f c o n t r o l and  society —  —  we  decay  lives.  a p p e a r f r e q u e n t l y as a s i d e s , c o m p l e m e n t i n g t h e g r a p h i c made by  first  and  t h e power t o overcome  make s o m e t h i n g p o s i t i v e  Articulations  a p i e c e by  of t h e s e  references  i s made e x p l i c i t  B l a s t (1982) i n w h i c h " S k y ' s t h e L i m i t " of L i b e r t y ,  t h e words b e i n g f o r m e d o u t  smoke e m i t t i n g f r o m t h e s t a t u e ' s t o r c h . s y m b o l i z i n g h i p hop,  stands  into  of  floats the  A giant  alongside,  in  136  Figure 2. "Sky's the L i m i t " by B i l l y "Wise" B l a s t , 1982. (George, e t a l , 1985, p. 43)  137 music notes  rising  o u t o f i t and f l o a t i n g  i n t o t h e s k y . The  i m a g e r y i s e l a b o r a t e ; t h e message c l e a r . ghetto  These y o u n g men o f t h e  b e l i e v e t h a t they, a r e f r e e i n g t h e m s e l v e s and s e i z i n g  through  their  as a r o b o t  arts.  Another s e l f - p o r t r a i t  the ghetto w a l l s .  inscribed with  "Beyond C o n t r o l " .  on a p i e c e t h a t b o t h literally, that they  p i e c e shows t h e b-boy  who h a s b r o k e n o u t o f t h e c h a i n s  burst through  through  t h a t b i n d him and  He i s armed w i t h a huge Maze One and B l a d e  s y m b o l i c a l l y , through  i t s inscription,  testifies  (1982),  collaborated  to their  belief  l i v e s , or  reads.  i n t h e h i p hop d o c u m e n t a r y by C h a r l e s Wildstyle  spraycan  i t s i m a g e r y , and  a r e m a k i n g c o n s t r u c t i v e headway i n t h e i r  " b r e a k i n g r o u n d " as t h e p i e c e  power  Ahearn,  Z o r o i s d i s c u s s i n g i d e a s f o r a new p i e c e .  imagines a g i a n t s t a r  r a d i a t i n g e n e r g y and l i g h t  image o f g l o o m and doom.  Admitting  that the star  rising  He  o u t o f an  represents  h i m s e l f , he e v e n t u a l l y p a i n t s t h e p i e c e w i t h t h e hands o f doom surrounding undefeated  h i s personal  by h i s e n v i r o n m e n t .  appears over  and o v e r  again.  who c l a i m s t h a t h i s l i f e and lion  Prigoff  T h i s metaphor of b r e a k i n g o u t Another w r i t e r ,  story i s painted  1987: 1 4 ) , p o r t r a y s h i m s e l f  freeing himself —  breaking  h i p hop c h a r a c t e r , whom Z o r o c l a i m s i s  significant  And a l t h o u g h  (Chalfant  i n h i s work as a  chained  restraints.  f o r m s o f h i p hop e x p r e s s i o n , t h e o v e r a l l  overcome.  i n h i s murals  the f i e r c e p r o t e c t o r of the urban  loose of environmental  of a tough, aggressive  Lee, f o r example,  youth  As w i t h t h e o t h e r  image b e i n g  conveyed i s  who i s e x e r t i n g h i s power t o  t h i s message i s b e i n g  others, i t i s a l s o being  jungle  expressed  spoken t o t h e s e l f .  to  138  Figure 3.  (Chalfant and P r i g o f f , 1987, p. 27)  139 7.4  Individual  As  C o m p e t i t i v e n e s s and C o l l e c t i v e  i s evident  from t h e p r e c e d i n g  Cooperation  d i s c u s s i o n , there i s ,  p r e d i c t a b l y , a c o n s i s t e n c y between t h e statements informants  about t h e s i g n i f i c a n c e  o f h i p hop w r i t i n g  a c t u a l messages communicated through written  explicitly,  and t h o s e  made by  the works —  suggested  and t h e  messages  s y m b o l i c a l l y and  aesthetically. A c l o s e r examination reveal  f u r t h e r evidence  graffiti,  like  two  cultural  for  a powerful  to support  the other  agendas —  these  p i e c e s can then  the emerging n o t i o n  that  f o r m s o f h i p hop e x p r e s s i v e n e s s , individual  self-image  competitiveness  and c o l l e c t i v e  strong moral s e n s i b i l i t y . both  of p a r t i c u l a r  By v i e w i n g  serves  and t h e s e a r c h  cooperation  stressing a  i t a s an a t t e m p t t o f u l f i l l  agendas t h e a p p a r e n t c o n t r a d i c t i o n between  internal  s t y l e w a r s among w r i t e r s and u n i f y i n g e p h i g r a m s o f "make p e a c e , not  war" c a n be The  evident  strong  identification  of the s e l f w i t h the a r t i s  i n L e e ' s comment w h i c h a p p e a r s w i t h i n h i s 1982 " S i l e n t  Thunder" p i e c e : for  understood.  " L e e . . . a l i v e a g a i n . . . . T h e r e i s o n l y one  a r t , t o know t h a t you a r e a l i v e " .  writer  literally  giant,  tough-looking,  In another  reason  mural the  h a s become h i s a r t a s he p a i n t s h i m s e l f as a animated  spraycan.  These b-boy c h a r a c t e r s w h i c h a p p e a r a l o n g s i d e t h e e l a b o r a t e tags are i d e n t i f i a b l e  by t h e i r  r e f e r e n c e s t o t h e h i p hop image — n a m e p l a t e b e l t s and w i d e - l a c e d  direct  pictorial  Kangol h a t s , Kazol  runners.  frames,  P o s e s a r e a g g r e s s i v e and  Figure 4.  "Lee —  S i l e n t Thunder", 1982.  141  Figure 5.  142 tough-looking. objects,  O f t e n these personas are  w h i c h a p p e a r t o be  spraycan.  informants claim graffiti  interchangeable —  Spraycans, aggressively  " d a n g e r " , s u b s t i t u t e as  piece  that  pointing  symbols of  hip  makes t h e  holding  hop  in  army c a m o u f l a g e f a t i g u e s  on  the  a gun  a gun  on  two  and  a  just  marked  as  f o r gang v i o l e n c e .  most g r a p h i c a l l y .  has  of  o u t w a r d , and  toughness —  substitutes  point  one  one  A b-boy  side  and  a  One  garbed  spraycan  other. The  objective  of  t h e s e a g g r e s s i v e b-boy f i g u r e s  to suggest a v i o l e n t threat misinterpreted  by  to s o c i e t y  o u t s i d e r s ) , but  (as has  is  not  been  as w r i t e r P a r i s h  explains:  t o make you l o o k "bad". You know, i t ' s l i k e an image of y o u r s e l f and what you were t h i n k i n g a b o u t t h a t n i g h t . . . . I t ' s l i k e a statement to another w r i t e r . You're t r y i n g to t a l k t o a n o t h e r w r i t e r w i t h o u t r e a l l y m e e t i n g him. The way he s e e s y o u r name, he s e e s c h a r a c t e r s , he can p i c t u r e i t i n h i s head. The t a s k f o r c e s a y when t h e y see t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s , they f e e l v i o l e n c e . I don't understand t h a t . I d o n ' t see a n y t h i n g v i o l e n t a b o u t t h e way i t ' s on t h e r e . I could see i f you were d r a w i n g a b u n c h o f p e o p l e k i l l i n g one a n o t h e r , b u t nobody d r a w s a n y t h i n g l i k e t h a t . The b-boy c h a r a c t e r p r o j e c t s t h e image f o r a n o t h e r w r i t e r . He's not t r y i n g t o show t h a t t o t h e c i t y ( i n C&a&caer.]i aeid P r i g o f f 1987: 12). I n a s y s t e m where t o be hip  hop  someone i s t o  name i s s y m b o l i c a l l y  claims,  by  and  "armed t o combat"  are  over-decorating  The  message o f  "destroy"  armed t o k i l l .  their  a l l comers, one's  As  names t h e y a r e  strength  may  be  as  "Death". '0'  i n one  A bomb, b u r n i n g on writer's  tag.  a short  1983:  b l a t a n t , as the  a s k e l e t a l f i g u r e , swinging a blade, fuse,  writer  imbued w i t h  (Rammelzee i n G r a f f i t i  w h i c h shows a huge b-boy r u n n i n g shoe c r u s h i n g skyline  one  56). i n one  piece  city's  pronounces  substitutes  O f t e n , however, the  power  for  the  image i s c o d e d  and  143  144 only comprehensible to those  familiar  p i e c e s , f o r example, symbolize e q u i v a l e n t t o weapons. intent  of the b a t t l e .  example, i s f e l t indicated  by  According  t o one  the  was  and  1987:  Prigoff In  individual  their  reformers  and  ghetto  cities,  t o i t and  battle  i t ' s ridiculous.  itself"  competitions  (Doc  This to  in Chalfant  establishing  of s t y l e  W r i t e r s produce a concerns:  and  cool  are a  running  "love s t i n k s " ,  rock, don't s t o p " , "stop  the A t l a n t a k i l l i n g s " .  Many h i p hop  "I love real  graffiti  t h e m s e l v e s as s e l f - a p p o i n t e d s o c i a l  are s e n s i t i v e peers.  zero  p e r i p h e r a l messages w h i c h s u g g e s t  l i v e s and  w r i t e r s appear t o see  their  read  "dump K o c h " , " p l a n e t "stop  is  inward.  is definite  c o n t r a s t t o t h i s e l a b o r a t e means of  f o r communal v a l u e s .  Mom",  crime",  next  the  for  i s s a y i n g t h a t , "at ground  o b l i t e r a t e d . . . . This  s e l f - w o r t h through  commentary on my  this  be  38).  the a c c e s s i b l e , e a s i l y concern  self-destruction,  t h e s o l e p u r p o s e o f t h i s p i e c e was  pieces  to  of t h e a r r o w s i g n i f i e s  i s so armed f o r w a r f a r e  a k a m i k a z e r u n and a l l other  They a r e c o n s i d e r e d  u l t i m a t e s t a t e m e n t of power and  informant,  This piece  destroy  direction  Arrows i n  a l l the arrows i n a p i e c e p o i n t i n g  everything i s destroyed, style.  attack.  Representing  t o be  having  The  w i t h the system.  The  f o r e x a m p l e , has  to the  recent elicited  immediate p e r i l s t h a t  threaten  drug e x p l o s i o n i n American commentaries denouncing  inner their  use: A w o r l d so d i f f e r e n t , c a l l i t a wack f r u s t r a t i o n t o l i v e f o r a rock i n such a hard p l a c e . The w o r l d g o e s a r o u n d , b u t c r a c k c u t s you down — Stop Crack Or:  145 F o r t h o s e o f y o u t h a t meet me y o u n e v e r f o r g e t me. I became y o u r e v e r y t h o u g h t , y o u r w o r r i e s , y o u r p a i n — b u t o n c e y o u ' v e met me y o u r l i f e w i l l n e v e r be t h e same — I'm M o n s t e r C r a c k . W r i t e r s a l s o look environment, lending t h e i r  beyond t h e i r voices  immediate  t o the world  social  fight  f o r peace,  providing preacher-like mini  s e r m o n s on t h e g h e t t o  t h e bomb", " s t o p  "no s t a r w a r s " , " p e a c e : w a r " , " E l  Salvador are  the d r a f t " ,  V i e t n a m No. 2", " u n i t e d a r t i s t s  against  walls:  "stop  aparteid",  "we  the world". Other murals a r e p a i n t e d  such as M a r t i n L u t h e r Michael  King  as memorials t o c u l t u r e heroes  and James Dean.  S t e w a r t who d i e d f r o m a b e a t i n g  when c a u g h t " t a g g i n g " ,  consciousness  s u g g e s t s t h a t one s t r o n g m o t i v a t i o n p e o p l e t o work t o g e t h e r  like  r e c e i v e d f r o m NYC p o l i c e  are often paid t r i b u t e .  c o m m e n t i n g on t h e s o c i a l  art"  Hip hoppers,  aspect  K i n g P i n , when o f h i p hop  graffiti  i n t h e p r a c t i c e i s f o r young  " t o change t h i n g s i n l i f e / s o c i e t y  through  ( i n i b i d . : 86).  7.5  "Rocking A l l C i t y " :  If, writers  ( W i l d s t y l e 1982), the primary  city"  (as indeed  out  a l l competitors  participants  apart"  Concern  a s has been s u g g e s t e d by a number o f g r a f f i t i  the  piece  An A e s t h e t i c and C u l t u r a l  aim of w r i t i n g i s t o "rock  i t i s f o r a l l of h i p h o p ) , t h a t with  one's s t y l e ,  how t o e v a l u a t e  "rocking".  n e e d s movement.... I t ' s l i k e (Shane 181 i n C h a l f a n t  then i t should "To r o c k  the piece  and P r i g o f f  i s , t o take be c l e a r t o  on a t r a i n , t h e  i s tearin'  1987: 9 ) .  itself  Indeed,  146  movement, e s p e c i a l l y  r a p i d movement, a p p e a r s t o be  a e s t h e t i c o f h i p hop  in general.  mechanically  and  The  to avoid p o l i c e apprehension,  w r i t e r s work a t a f u r i o u s p a c e . on  And  subway t r a i n s , q u i t e l i t e r a l l y  formal aspect melt,  twist,  a p p e a r t o be  shooting  t u m b l e as  i f they  s p a c e i m a g e r y as and in  Crash  has  his letters  pieces  "a  journey  developed  the  names, when  the c i t y ,  but  a  Futura  Blockbuster  letters  2000 e x p l a i n s h i s is light  and  movement"  (in Graffiti  1983: the  30).  Even on  illusion  towards the  stationary wall  of movement viewer.  by  Characters  a s s o c i a t e d w i t h the w r i t e r s i n the p i e c e s a l s o symbolize  rapid  Superman, a f r e q u e n t l y u s e d c h a r a c t e r , f o r i n s t a n c e , i s  of c o u r s e  "faster  than  a speeding  There i s evidence concern  bullet".  to suggest that t h i s a e s t h e t i c  w i t h speed r e f l e c t s a s o c i a l  hoppers.  The  of one's l i f e  be  outer  a " t o r n a d o - e f f e c t " t o e m p h a s i z e movement  d e p i c t i n g subway c a r s s p e e d i n g  here.  slant  They f l o w i n t o a r r o w s w h i c h  t o where t h e r e  i t i s common t o r e t a i n  speed.  in a  Letters crack,  They a r e p a i n t e d on  in a l l directions.  are w a l k i n g .  both  demands t h a t  o n l y do  f l y across  t u r n , bleed, explode.  energy out  not  principle  of g r a f f i t i ,  bursting with action.  o r on w h e e l s t o s u g g e s t movement. are  execution  a  o r i e n t a t i o n h e l d by  hip  c o n c e p t of s e l f - m o t i v a t i o n i n m a k i n g s o m e t h i n g i n the  At a n o t h e r  f a c e o f c u l t u r a l a p a t h y may  level  echoed i n the a r t .  be  represented  t h e a c t i o n - o r i e n t a t i o n of s t r e e t l i f e Tracy  168  out  d i s c u s s e s w r i t e r s who  may  died:  G r a f f i t i a r t i s t s l i v e f a s t and d i e y o u n g . I t ' s p a r t of t h e way you a r e . A graffiti artist is different. I t ' s t h e way you l i v e . . . a l i t t l e b i t more t h a n most. Y o u ' r e more o p e n ,  147 y o u ' r e " h e r e I am", y o u ' r e l o u d e r , you want t o show p e o p l e t h a t y o u ' r e t h e r e , you l i v e a w i l d e r l i f e and p e o p l e t h a t a r e s e e n t o o much u s u a l l y d i e a l o t f a s t e r and a l o t o f them d i e d f a s t ( i n i b i d . : 92). O r , a s Fab stuff  F i v e Freddy s i m p l y puts i t , " i f i t ' s t r u e t h a t  reflects The  "wildstyle".  life, second  i t ' s a fast criterion  New Y o r k  life"  ( i n G e o r g e 1985: 111).  for "rocking"  i s t o do s o m e t h i n g  C i t y g r a f f i t i i s c h a r a c t e r i z e d , more t h a n  by any o t h e r s t y l e , b y l e t t e r s w h i c h a r e t a n g l e d and beyond  r e c o g n i t i o n and p r o d u c e  aesthetic of wildstyle c r e a t i n g something 1987: 75). for,  this  a feeling  of i n t e n s e energy.  i s t o r e d e f i n e the concept  new and  exciting  contorted  ( C h a l f a n t and  The  'letter', Prigoff  W i l d s t y l e , h o w e v e r , i s more t h a n an a r t i s t i c  canon,  a s T r a c y 168 p u t s i t : W i l d s t y l e i s people. I t a i n ' t even a r t . I t has a l o t t o do w i t h how you a c t and who you a r e . You g o t t a be good a t what y o u ' r e d o i n g . The b e s t w r i t e r s were f r o m a crew " W i l d s t y l e " ( i n i b i d . : 31). As has been p o i n t e d o u t i n t h e c a s e o f r a p p i n g ( a n d  also  i s e x p r e s s e d i n r e s p e c t t o b r e a k d a n c i n g (Mr. F r e s h and  Supreme R o c k e r s 1984: 41)), b o t h r o c k i n g and w i l d s t y l e p h i l o s o p h y t h a t promotes  excelling  i n whatever  b e s t t h a t you c a n be ( H a g e r 1984: 109-110).  the  suggest a  you do —  recombined in  i n new w a y s , b u t f r e s h  letters  then  a r e c u t up and  s e l f - i m a g e s are being c r e a t e d  t h e s e a r c h f o r a s e n s e o f power. As b l a c k  H o l t , has p o i n t e d o u t , power i s t h e a b i l i t y  157).  t o be  I f we a c c e p t t h e  p r e m i s e t h a t a g r a f f i t i t a g r e p r e s e n t s t h e w r i t e r ' s ego, t h r o u g h w i l d s t y l e more t h a n j u s t  the  linguist, toredefine  Grace  Sims  (1972:  148 We  have only to look at the tags s e l e c t e d by hip  hop  g r a f f i t i w r i t e r s to represent themselves to a p p r e c i a t e t h a t , as w r i t e r Cay 1974:  np).  s t a t e s , "the name i s the f a i t h of g r a f f i t i "  Taken together R e v o l t , Zepher, Crash, Futura 2000,  Quik, Blade, B l a s t , Phase 2, Skeme, Freedom, Vulcan, Sane, Daze, F l a s h , S t y l e Messiah, undeniable  Wizzard  Ex-Vandal,  and Dream c r e a t e an  s y n t h e s i s of an i d e n t i t y based on optimism, energy,  confidence and themselves,  ( i n Mailer  vision.  as one  rapper  what we're going to be, the l a t e s t , you  As d e p i c t e d here hip hoppers see puts  i t , as "a new  kind of hero t h a t ' s  the f r e s h e x t r a t e r r e s t r i a l b r o t h e r s , i t ' s  know i t ' s the best"  ( i n S t y l e Wars 1982).  149 CHAPTER EIGHT  8.1  BREAKDANCING:  Battling  i n t h e Inner  The kids dancing The  ROCKING WITH BODY LANGUAGE  Cities  summer o f 1975 f o u n d  s c o r e s o f young  Afro-American  i n f r o n t t h e 77th S t r e e t f o u n t a i n i n C e n t r a l P a r k .  m u s i c t h e y d a n c e d t o was l a r g e l y  Brown a p p e a r e d  p r o v i d e d by James Brown.  on numerous t e e n T.V. shows ( e . g . " S o u l T r a i n " ) a n d  h i s d a n c e moves, many b a s e d  on e a r l y A f r o - A m e r i c a n  dances  (e.g.  the knocked-kneed camel walk  a n d t h e b a c k s l i d e ) , became t h e  accepted  a s 1969 b l a c k gang members i n t h e  standard.  As e a r l y  B r o n x were d o i n g t h e Good F o o t , t o Brown's "Get on t h e Good Foot", which At t h i s streets,  i n v o l v e d q u i c k complex f o o t w o r k , drops  time i n d i v i d u a l  freestyle  b u t i t was n o t u n t i l  dancers  w o u l d compete on t h e  t h e e a r l y 70's t h a t dance  began t o f o r m a n d t o d e v i s e s t r u c t u r e d d a n c e s , competition. It it  crews  specifically  for  (Holman 1984: 4 5 ) . i s c l a i m e d by e a r l y p a r t i c i p a n t s  emerged a s an a l t e r n a t i v e  evaluation.  and s p i n s .  As one b r e a k e r  vehicle  i n t h e dance t h a t  f o r s t a t u s and image  explains:  You s e e , b r e a k d a n c i n g was c r e a t e d by some r e a l t o u g h g a n g s i n New Y o r k . That's t h e t r u t h . The b o t t o m l i n e i s t h a t t h e y g o t t i r e d o f f i g h t i n g w i t h g u n s , k n i v e s and bombs; t h e y s t o p p e d b r e a k i n g e a c h o t h e r w i t h weapons and s t a r t e d b r e a k i n g w i t h music and i n c r e d i b l e dance s t e p s (Watkins and F r a n k l i n 1984 : 2 ) . T h i s u s a g e o f t h e word but it  'break'  suggests  there arealso others reported. comes f r o m  thepractice  socialize at parties,  one o r i g i n  Some i n f o r m a n t s c l a i m  o f gangs b r e a k i n g from  i n which  o f t h e name,  their  that  fights to  d a n c i n g and d a n c e c o n t e s t s were  150 the primary a c t i v i t i e s  (Hazzard-Gordon  1983b).  Hip Hop  historian  C u r t i s Marlow suggests that i t i s d e r i v e d from the v e r n a c u l a r term  'to break', which i s a g e n e r a l i z e d expression f o r an  outbreak its  of anger  and that the dance i s a s s o c i a t e d with i t due  i n t e n s e and a g g r e s s i v e nature What i s now  distinct  (1984: 14).  known as breakdancing was  originally  three  s t r e e t dance forms that merged and were subsumed under  "breakdancing" or "breaking". uprocking, o r i g i n a t e d  Two  i n the South  of these forms, breaking and Bronx.  The  t h i r d was  a  C a l i f o r n i a n form i n t r o d u c e d by C a l i f o r n i a n dancers moving to York  to  and  j o i n i n g New  York  breaking crews.  i s c a l l e d , although performed  E l e c t r i c boogie, as i t  c o m p e t i t i v e l y , d i d not o r i g i n a t e  an a l t e r n a t i v e to gang v i o l e n c e as the other two O r i g i n a l b r e a k i n g , or downrocking referred  to, c o n s t i t u t e s the gymnastic,  dance executed  New  low to the ground.  as  reportedly did.  as i t i s sometimes  a c r o b a t i c aspects of the  Uprocking i s the kung fu mimed  f i g h t i n g moves, and e l e c t r i c boogie forms the spasmatic, i s o l a t e d , mime i l l u s i o n - t y p e g e s t u r e s .  In general the moves  developed demand extreme p h y s i c a l s t r e n g t h , c o n t r o l and  agility.  Although both breaking and uprocking emerged as types of r i t u a l  dance b a t t l e s , the l a t t e r  a l t e r n a t i v e to f i g h t i n g .  proved  u n s u c c e s s f u l as an  It i n v o l v e d two opposing  dancers  d a n c e - f i g h t i n g one-on-one at c l o s e range, using extremely a g g r e s s i v e movements. through  k i n e t i c taunts.  The o b j e c t was  to h u m i l i a t e your opponent  In most cases i t served to s t i m u l a t e  o u t b u r s t s of v i o l e n c e , rather than deter them, and was  eventually  adapted, having i t s movements i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o solo breaking (Mr. Fresh and the Supreme Rockers  1984:  22).  151 Breaking,  from t h e b e g i n n i n g ,  was a  d a n c e i n w h i c h one o r more members e n t e r e d  i n t o the centre  circle  o r s e m i - c i r c l e o f d a n c e r s and s p e c t a t o r s  brief,  but i n t e n s e ,  opposite  team.  routine before  team-structured of a  to perform  their  m a k i n g way f o r a d a n c e r on t h e  N e v e r w o u l d b o t h c r e w s be p e r f o r m i n g  simultaneously  and t h i s  i s believed  t o have c o n t r i b u t e d  to the  containment of v i o l e n c e . As w i t h significant their  gang w a r f a r e ,  verbal  preamble t o a c t u a l  opponents w i t h  confrontation  —  taunts  confrontation  "battles".  intended  forms a  Dance c r e w s egg on  to i n i t i a t e a physical  "You b o y s a r e b i t e r s " ,  "I think  I hear  your  mommy c a l l i n g y o u " , " Y o u ' r e l o o k i n g a t d e a t h , man, y o u ' r e t o have t o p u t a bag o v e r t h a t Street  1984 and B r e a k i n '  continued  face  1984).  t o hide  This  t h e shame", ( i n B e a t  heated exchange i s  i n dance form t h r o u g h a c a l l  and r e s p o n s e  format.  D a n c e r s a r e i n t e r r u p t e d by o p p o n e n t s t h r o w i n g p h y s i c a l performances are punctuated with repeated f o r emphasis.  gestured  In breaking  moves i s a p h y s i c a l e x t e n s i o n Although a s p e c i f i c  innovations  are a central c r i t e r i o n  other  b o a s t s and moves a r e  style  status.  means o f n e g o t i a t i n g  for evaluations.  p o w e r , r i v a l r y and stupid  i s the o b j e c t i v e of " c u t t i n g " , "burning"  "busting" within this battle 247-252).  personal  As w i t h t h e  a p l a y f u l , yet  Shaming a n o t h e r , m a k i n g one's o p p o n e n t l o o k  enhancing oneself,  format  and i n v e n t i v e  forms o f h i p hop, t h e dance p r o v i d e s  competitive,  challenge  your  disparagement.  and h i g h l y r i t u a l i z e d  the dance, i n d i v i d u a l  taunts,  t o " c u t " someone w i t h  of v e r b a l  standardizes  going  while or  ( H a z z a r d - G o r d o n 1983b:  152 Dancers are devised  h i g h l y p r o t e c t i v e of t h e i r moves and  a strategy for competition.  As  one  have  dancer e x p l a i n s i t :  I w a t c h him [ t h e o p p o n e n t ] d a n c e and see how good he i s . I f he i s n o t so g o o d , t h e n I j u s t use my cheap moves. When I d a n c e , I s a v e my good moves. Then i f he comes back w i t h s o m e t h i n g g o o d , I p u l l o u t my good moves (Mr. F r e s h and t h e Supreme R o c k e r s 1984: 28). "Taking  someone o u t "  superior  execution,  by  using  the  i s considered  same move as he  d o e s , but  with  desirable since i t allows  a  d a n c e r t o s a v e h i s o r i g i n a l moves f r o m p o t e n t i a l t h e f t o r "biting".  S t r a t e g i e s are  reputations.  Going a g a i n s t  arouse c r i t i c i s m who  are  carefully  and  an  defeat.  i s a h i g h l y managed a f f a i r i n i t and  initially,  indeed  breaking  inferior  The  maintained  through i t .  be,  as w e l l .  a form of e n t e r t a i n m e n t  p e r f o r m a n c e , t o be nature  8.2  (Kochman 1981:  B r e a k i n g as  To necessary  t o see  continues  be  to  American  viewing just  as  highly competitive  in  144).  Cultural  construct  and  of e n t e r t a i n m e n t ,  e n t e r t a i n i n g , should  is  Although,  Indeed, i n general  p r e d i s p o s i t i o n towards  as a s o u r c e  dance  as a s e r i o u s means of  from the b e g i n n i n g ,  activities  dancers  s i n c e so much of a d a n c e r ' s ego  c o n t a i n i n g v i o l e n c e , i t was  competitive  against  will  performance of the  reportedly functioned  blacks exhibit a c u l t u r a l  enhance  crew, f o r i n s t a n c e ,  d e r i s i v e jokes, yet going  t o o good i s t o r i s k  invested  planned to best  Continuity  a c o m p l e t e p i c t u r e of b r e a k d a n c i n g  i t within a cultural  w h i c h r e a c h e s beyond the  h e r i t a g e of b l a c k  immediate context  i t is dance  w i t h i n which i t  153  arose.  A cultural  specific  c o n t i n u i t y both  dance f o r m a t i o n s  a r t i c u l a t i o n s extending As  documented by  suggests  throughout  direct  other this  and  a r e t e n t i o n of A f r i c a n  dance  American black  Thompson (1986) and  M a r l o w 1984), t h e f o u n d a t i o n has  of a n a l a g o u s f u n c t i o n s  roots to A f r i c a ,  i n f l u e n c e s these  (Banes  upon w h i c h b r e a k d a n c i n g however r e c o m b i n e d and  o r i g i n s may  l i n e a g e a r e many and  others  dance.  be.  t h e few  The  provided  1985;  developed  blended  with  p o s s i b l e threads here are  of  simply  examples. Traditionally Gambia and arena  Senegal,  i n West A f r i c a , p a r t i c u l a r l y  c o m p e t i t i v e and  f o r j u d g i n g t h e s t r e n g t h and  w a r r i o r dances p r o v i d e d e n d u r a n c e of  l e a d e r s , c o n t r i b u t i n g t o male i d e n t i t y education  ( M a r l o w 1984:  markers, channels (Hanna 1979: that shares  10),  180-181).  Another  and type  c o n s t r u c t i o n and  a t t a c k e d and 1966:  behaviour  i s monitored  African  i s t h e d a n c e of  control  and  a d i s p l a y of  p r e t e n t i o n s of o t h e r s and  dance  are  d i r e c t e d (Thompson  96).  Dance as a p r i m a r y Africans  to the Americas.  ridicule  and  white  status  of t r a d i t i o n a l  i t s f u n c t i o n with breakdancing  T h r o u g h mime, t h e p r i d e and  moral  vehicles for sexual display  d e r i s i o n , which forms a b a s i s f o r s o c i a l ethics.  an  potential  as w e l l as s e r v i n g as  for aggression  in Mali,  source  E l e m e n t s of s e l f - a s s e r t i o n and  mockery of o t h e r s  masters),  so e v i d e n t  during slave times.  And  o f e x p r e s s i o n moved w i t h  case  i n breakdancing,  street  phenomenon i n t h e B r o n x and  (in this  d i r e c t e d towards were i n o p e r a t i o n  d a n c e i s by no means a  Harlem.  The  of  tap dancers  of  recent the  154 1900's t o t h e 1930's w o u l d g a t h e r alleys  to challenge  referred  to these  (Hanna 1983: tried  and  s t r e e t corners  s t i m u l a t e one  another.  A n o t h e r s t a t e s t h a t he  to convey t h a t through  h i s dance  as w i t h b r e a k d a n c i n g ,  hated  for  their  own  money and (Stearns be  Charleston  and  r e c o g n i t i o n by and  Stearns  discovered  and  1964).  56).  their  fame and  .  fortune Not  only  example, of the  tranced  d a n c e b a t t l e s of E a s t moves.  The  sharing  an  to give  performers  just an  i n f u n c t i o n but  have moved down t h e body black  culture.  h e a l e r s and  the  The  hand s p i n s and ( M a r l o w 1984: Afro-Brazilian  for  in  line body w a v e s , f o r sports-like  parallel  breaking  uprocking,  m a r t i a l posing.  on West  I b e d i - B e d i , c o n s i s t of a s e r i e s of  freeze positions similar 10).  to  today's  similarities  o r i e n t a t i o n t o w a r d s mimed d a n c e combat b a s e d  the  earning  opportunity  nsunsa i s comparable to breakdancing's  d a n c e s , s u c h as  only  both  as  f a s t moving  A f r i c a ' s Kongo, p r e c i s e l y  l u n g i n g , k n i f e - s l a s h i n g movements and African  s t r e e t s , not  These e a r l y s t r e e t d a n c e r s longed  similarities  through  the  dance.  i n hopes of  s t r e e t p e r f o r m a n c e s as  a c t u a l dance v o c a b u l a r y intergenerationally  but  the  in a position  promoted to stage  b r e a k d a n c e r s see  and  a relationship with  expression,  those  fighting"  violence  (ibid.:  d a n c e r s p e r f o r m e d on  pleasure  back  tapper  "like  mainstream c u l t u r e f a c t o r e d i n e a r l y Afro-American T a p p e r s and  and  One  s t r e e t p e r f o r m a n c e s as b e i n g  49).  And,  on  to those  in  breaking  S h a d o w b o x i n g movements a p p e a r i n  Caporiera  and  the p r e l i m i n a r y steps  r e f e r r e d to  as  155  Figure 7.  Nigerians doing headslides  (Holman, 1984, p. 48)  156 "the e n t r y " i n b r e a k i n g are called  "the  rapid,  the V i r g i n i a  moonwalk was  executed,  competitive V i r g i n i a Black  t o an A f r o - H a i t i a n move  break".  From t h e dances l i k e  identical  fancy  footwork  Essence,  to e a r l y  i n which p o s s i b l y the  Breakdance, the w i l d  b l a c k dance f o r m s ,  t h e 1920's and perpetuated. forward direct  such  t h e L i n d y Hop, The  developing  o r p u r e one, correspondence  i n f l u e n c e s a r e not  are  as  e l b o w s p i n s and  l i n e a g e i s by  lacking  and  Nonetheless, evidence  to suggest  the Afro-American revived  interest  choreographers.  i n the case  in their  African  S e v e r a l New  t h e Chuck D a v i s  Dance Co.,  1970's, r e t u r n i n g t o p e r f o r m c e n t r e s and  schools throughout  s e e n by a s p i r i n g One case  street  reason  of b r e a k i n g  dancers  establish  to  example,  the  African as  Russian  49).  of b r e a k d a n c i n g ,  there i s  between the A f r i c a n  as a r e s u l t r o o t s by  York-based  the  For  e t h n i c moves, s u c h  travelled  straight-  r e q u i r e d to  limited  connection  dance f o r m a t i o n s  recent  the c o m p l e x i t i e s of  (Holman 1984:  a direct  no means a  perceived.  incorporated other jigs  the  have been  Many a s p e c t s  always c l e a r l y  Irish  d a n c e , t o more  the  the a c r o b a t i c f l a s h d a n c i n g of  moves o f e a r l y v a u d e v i l l i a n s w e r e n o t i n s p i r a t i o n s but  first  d e r r i e r e s p i n s of  formal aspects  however.  slave  v a u d e v i l l e performances l i k e  Bottom, the s o l o male Juba c i r c l e  popular  of A f r o - A m e r i c a n  of t h e  and  recent  Afro-American  dance t r o u p e s , s u c h  to A f r i c a  i n the  as  late  r e d i s c o v e r e d d a n c e s i n community  the  inner c i t i e s ;  ( M a r l o w 1984:  for exploring cultural  i s that i t reinforces,  no  doubt  being  10). continuity  through  i n the  historical  157  Figure 8. Flashdancing i n the 1920's. (Holman, 1984, p. 51)  158 precedence,  the claims  problem-solving aggression  mechanism,  vernacular  dance  and c e n t r a l  evidence,  term  down'  as w e l l as s u p e r i o r 104).  According  this  in relation  i s used  'To g o ' a l s o  In  claim,  t o dance.  to signify  ability  i s a  aesthetics.  to support  dancing  to black  competitiveness  of black  evidence  especially  'to throw  ( F o l b 1980:  aspect  as a  a s a means o f c o n t a i n i n g  (1981: 144)  to the h i s t o r i c a l  linguistic  fight,  specifically  Thomas Kochman  well-established  is  the use of b r e a k i n g  and e v a l u a t i n g m a s c u l i n i t y .  culturalist  addition  concerning  The  a contest  or t o compete  i s used  both  there  or  through  f o r 'to f i g h t '  t  and^'to both  dance'.  competing  Similarly, stylishly  There  a form  significant  when v i e w i n g  mechanism.  According  Hazzard-Gordon, Afro-American Not  only  put  one's  of  being  positive being strong no  aspect  of c u l t u r a l  there  'blackness'  i n which  to sociologist exists  a general dance  integrity,  one's  Being  a n d t o be g o o d  that  continuation expression  and p e e r - r e c o g n i t i o n  breakdancing,  of t h i s  may b e .  cultural  or  with  fact  i ta  i s equivalent to i s t o b e a man  (1983a: 2 1 - 2 5 ) .  a t one l e v e l ,  simply  but the very  culture carries  at dancing  experience.  status  dance,  a dancer  historian,  predispositionin  black  in-group  r e i n f o r c e d through  of i d e n t i t y .  dance  cultural  as a core  sense  question  especially  and b l a c k  i n black  self-esteem  dance.  breakdancing  c o n t i n u i t y , one  known a s "a d a n c e r "  somebody —  energetic  i t as a s u c c e s s f u l s e l f - i m a g i n g  c u l t u r e t o view  i s cultural  'rocking' indicates  and s t i m u l a t i o n through  i s a final  constitutes  t h e h i p hop t e r m  with  There i s  i s a natural  c o n d i t i o n , however  "fresh"  i t s  159 8.3  Additional  Sources for  Beyond r e f l e c t i n g b r e a k d a n c e r s a l s o draw on in formulating  high  i n the  reaffirmed given  dance.  physical  s y s t e m of  sports  and  incorporated.  The  cultural three  boogaloo r e c a l l  video  the  Michael  p e r f o r m e d on  thrust  developed  m a r t i a l a r t s became aggressive  movement prowess  a l s o have r e p o r t e d l y  dancers c r e d i t e d with being  profile  and  aptitude.  i m p r e s s e d by  inventing  the  T h i s , combined w i t h  jerky, poorly  an  been  the  ecstatic fits attempt of  synchronized  drum m a c h i n e s u s e d i n b l a c k  Jackson's e l e c t r i f i e d  v e r s i o n of  a l s o been s u g g e s t e d t h a t  of  to  electricity movements  of  w e r e not  dancers through f a c i a l  and  F r a n k l i n 1984:  2).  the  music,  and  robot  v i o l e n t body wave  t h e s e moves were  involved  in breaking.  body c o n t o r t i o n s  g a v e them a n o t h e r s o u r c e o f g e s t u r e s  ( W a t k i n s and likely  and  and high  r e t e n t i o n of f i g h t i n g  experiences  by gang members who  mocking the simply  athletic  "Dance M a c h i n e " , r e s u l t e d i n t h e  I t has  introduced  the  The  enjoy  f i g u r e s , as w e l l as a r e s p o n s e t o t h e r e l e n t l e s s  beats emerging from the  motions.  A c t i v i t i e s which  e f f e c t s of a s t r o b e l i g h t , the p a s s i n g  t h r o u g h t h e body and  finally  heritage,  representation.  as m e a s u r e s o f male  B a p t i s t C h u r c h members.  cartoon  dance.  energetic  a l l o w i n g f o r the  strength  i m i t a t e the  dance  v a r i e t y of s o u r c e s f o r  supports  c o n t r i b u t i n g an  Personal  electric  their  black  B o x i n g moves, a c r o b a t i c s and  sources,  vocabulary  their  c o m m u n i t y have become i n c o r p o r a t e d new  competitive  i n the rich  i n the  Dance  a rich  inspiration status  the  to l a t c h  In a c t u a l i t y  they  onto  i t does not  t h a t a l l of t h e s e s o u r c e s were c o m b i n e d d i r e c t l y  or  seem  By  160 consciously related  t o c r e a t e the dance form.  and u n r e l a t e d  More l i k e l y  experiences reinforced  t h e moves by  p r o m o t i n g one  a n o t h e r t o w a r d an o v e r a l l g e s t a l t .  this artistic  collaging  i s a common and  t h r o u g h o u t h i p hop,  and  and  towards  i t s orientation  available materials  for  themselves.  repeated p r a c t i c e  making something  in surprising  and  f i l m s appear  or comic  book h e r o  new  exciting  by  w a l k was  i s attributed  The  smurf  taken d i r e c t l y  The  r o b o t dance i n c o r p o r a t e d  ways. role  image t h e d a n c e r s c r e a t e  with  inspiring  t h e t u t move.  i n t o b r e a k i n g was  a well-known  developed (Holman  street  and  from  f o r combining  d a n c e and  television  Others p o i n t  that  comedy.  t h e most o b v i o u s i n f l u e n c e of p o p u l a r  adoptions.  i t s i m p a c t g o e s f a r beyond t h e s e  For example,  martial arts films,  a c t u a l moves s u c h as t h e w i n d m i l l and a comic  strip-like  culture  f i g h t - d a n c i n g which  sensibilities  (Toop 1984:  more t h a n t h i s ,  be  superficial  as w e l l  as  inspiring  the b a c k s p i n , a l s o p r o v i d e  image o f t h e s u p e r h e r o engaged i n  choreographed  129;  appeals to hip  Holman 1984:  as t h e p o p u l a r 1979  to  as  on b r e a k d a n c i n g i s i n t h e c r e a t i o n o f d a n c e moves, i t must stressed  the  1984:  D o n a l d O'Connor and Gene K e l l y m o v i e s  inspirations, especially Although  on  from the c a r t o o n c h a r a c t e r s .  mime c o u p l e , p r o v i d e d a m o d e l f o r humorous mime. old Fred A s t a i r e ,  fresh  combining  t o have p r o v i d e d  r o b o t c h a r a c t e r on t h e p r o g r a m " L o s t i n S p a c e " S h i e l d s and Y a r n e l l ,  found  of  S t e v e M a r t i n d o i n g a K i n g Tut r o u t i n e  "Saturday Night L i v e "  130).  Nonetheless,  i s i n d i c a t i v e of the a e s t h e t i c  T e l e v i s i o n and models f o r the c u l t  a number o f  27).  hop But  Chuck N o r r i s f i l m ,  they  do  A Force  161 o f One  illustrates.  Not  balletic  kick boxing  scenes),  but  youth.  executing  ( a l l t h e more p o w e r f u l  t h e m o v i e makes a d i r e c t  exquisitely  i n the s p a r r i n g  appeal  to inner  city  i n i t t h e Chuck N o r r i s c h a r a c t e r ' s a d o p t e d son  streetwise black great  k i d who  f i g h t e r , but  according own  o n l y a r e macho men  t o the  s a k e and  obstacle.  has  a l l t h e p h y s i c a l a b i l i t i e s t o be  t h e wrong a t t i t u d e .  film,  The  right  i s t o abandon r e v e n g e and  seek i n n e r c o n t r o l .  As w e l l ,  is a  With  i t one  the movie suggests  a  attitude, violence for i t s  can  overcome  any  that violence i s  containable w i t h i n a competitive yet honourable o r g a n i z a t i o n . And,  t o f u r t h e r a s s o c i a t e i t s message w i t h h i p hop  film  uses g r a f f i t i e d  members,  the  w a l l s as b a c k d r o p s f o r s t r e e t p e r f o r m a n c e  scenes. While breaking, vernacular  as  dances, i s rooted  the  latest  i n a long l i n e  while orientating  expansiveness execution cultural  parallels  itself  towards the f u t u r e .  the f l e x i b i l i t y  that f a c i l i t a t e s  An  A n a l y s i s of  Form:  When a t t e m p t i n g  This  a mental  and  i n one's  represents.  E x p r e s s i o n s of  to i n t e r p r e t  immediate  e x h i b i t e d i n the  the s h i f t  image-management m a c h i n e r y t h a t h i p hop  8.4  of the  o f t h e d a n c e moves, as w e l l as s u g g e s t i n g flexibility  black  i n t h e p a s t , t h e c h o i c e s made i n i t s  c o n s t r u c t i o n a l s o i n d i c a t e that i t i s a product present,  of  Male  Identity  an e x p r e s s i v e  form such  as  d a n c e t h e v a r i o u s l e v e l s a t w h i c h t h e phenomenon i s o p e r a t i n g within  the c u l t u r e should  However, a t l e a s t  be  d i s t i n g u i s h e d f r o m one  i n the case of b r e a k d a n c i n g ,  another.  i t seems t h a t  the  162 experiential  level  i l l u s t r a t e s a high level. the  (both  individual  and c o l l e c t i v e  degree of c o n s i s t e n c y  with  Thus what i s s a i d a b o u t t h e n a t u r e  dance p a r a l l e l s  experience)  the expressive  and s i g n i f i c a n c e o f  t h e m e s s a g e s e n c o d e d w i t h i n t h e d a n c e moves  themselves. Informants, breakdancing,  when s p e a k i n g  r e f e r to a heightened  a sense of u n l i m i t e d confidence investigator  has w i t n e s s e d  about t h e e x p e r i e n c e euphoric,  yet frenzied state,  and i n v i n c i b i l i t y .  a d a n c e crew u s i n g  means o f i n c r e a s i n g s e l f - e s t e e m .  of  The  their  On o c c a s i o n s  d a n c e as a  when t h e g r o u p h a s  been r e q u i r e d t o do s o m e t h i n g w h i c h demands a s e n s e o f s e l f - w o r t h (such  as s e e i n g  booking agents,  girl)  they w i l l  d a n c e as a p r e p a r a t i o n  explicitly "breaking you  recording producers,  f o r the encounter,  o u t on t h e d a n c e f l o o r  i s getting real",  on t h e f l o o r  you look  and f e e l  like  The  a l l testify  occurring w i t h i n the i n d i v i d u a l character  of t h i s  on  to a  dancers.  t r a n s f o r m a t i o n , one i n w h i c h t h e  d a n c e r ' s s e n s e o f s e l f - w o r t h and p e r s o n a l consistent with  the Hulk",  l i k e you're walking  " i t ' s a f r e a k show on t h e d a n c e f l o o r " ,  transformation  "you do i t t i l  s u a v e and s o p h i s t i c a t e d " ,  "when you b r i n g y o u r r i b c a g e i n you f e e l  air",  a  t o p s y c h t h e m s e l v e s up f o r i t . Comments s u c h a s  f e e l g o o d " , " g l i d e s make me f e e l  "sliding  calling  power i s e n h a n c e d , i s  t h e i m a g e s c o n v e y e d w i t h i n t h e dance f o r m s and i t  can  be a r g u e d t h a t t h e a c t o f e n g a g i n g i n t h e d a n c e s t e p s e f f e c t s  the  emotional  concretized ghetto  change  (Fernandez 1986).  This  empowering i s  t h r o u g h m i m e t i c movements d r a w i n g on  representations  o f s t r o n g men —  traditional  pimps, gangsters,  muscle  163 men and t o u g h  guys.  The d e s i r e t o t r a n s c e n d  to g r e a t h e i g h t s f r e e d from i m a g e r y on g r a f f i t i ) "hang g l i d i n g " boogie  t h e mundane and s o a r  e a r t h l y bounds (much l i k e  i s a l l u d e d t o i n moves dubbed  and t h e " h e l i c o p t e r " .  t h e space,  "moonwalking",  The s e r i e s o f e l e c t r i c  moves i s b a s e d on i m a g e r y o f e n e r g i z i n g t h e s e l f  and t h e  e n t i r e d a n c e v o c a b u l a r y , w i t h i t s e m p h a s i s on e x e c u t i n g moves which  appear undoable,  and c o m m u n i c a t e s a g e n e r a l d e s i r e t o t e s t  t h e l i m i t s o f human a b i l i t y  and c r e a t e a p e r s o n a  that i s  o m n i p o t e n t and c a n d e f y n a t u r a l l a w s . Appearing of t h e machine.  throughout  executed (in  o f v i d e o games o r t h e e f f e c t s o f  i s o l a t i o n movements a r e s h a r p  and e x p l i c i t l y  so t h a t " t h e more y o u l o o k l i k e a m a c h i n e , t h e b e t t e r "  " L e t ' s Break"  1984).  The o v e r a l l a p p e a r a n c e s u g g e s t s  out o f c o n t r o l e l e c t r i f i c a t i o n ,  Seeming a t once  and c o n t a i n e d , y e t l o o s e , f l e x i b l e and j o i n t l e s s  kinetic  articulation  concept  'cool'.  balance  i s the p r i n c i p l e  further  k i n e t i c e x p r e s s i o n i n breaking through  gravity,  looseness  isa  embodied i n t h e  As Thompson has p o i n t e d o u t (1966:  85-97),  a e s t h e t i c component o f c o o l and i s g i v e n  handspins,  In a d d i t i o n i d e n t i t y which  virility.  of the c o n t r o l l e d  rigidly  the defiance of  t h e t e e t e r i n g on t h e edge o f e q u i l i b r i u m t h a t i s e v i d e n t  in the headspins,  ghetto  a wild,  y e t a t t h e same t i m e , an  i n c r e d i b l e body c o n t r o l and p r e c i s i o n . tight  i s a metaphor  D a n c e r s become r o b o t s and h e l i c o p t o r s and  s i m u l a t e t h e pops and s h o c k s strobelight.  t h e dance v o c a b u l a r y  e l b o w and k n e e s p i n s .  t o c o o l , another i s manifested  Dancers b l a t a n t l y  aspect  of t y p i c a l  i n t h e dance f o r m  hump t h e dance f l o o r ,  male  i s sexual  fan their  164  Figure 9. Manny demonstrates a handspin-. begin with a handstand, twisting legs to one side; then spin, balancing on one hand.  Figure 10.  Laurie does an airplane—which makes him look like a pinwheel spinning out of control. Both arms are extended to the sides and he spins on knee. He keeps the left leg in the air and the left foot off the floor as he does his airplane spin.  (Nadell and Small, 1984, p. 55? p. 53)  165 pelvic  areas  ( s u g g e s t i n g t h a t i t i s t o o hot  sexual behaviour  in a flaunting  fashion.  r o l e - p l a y i n g g e s t u r e s , w i t h eye typical boasts  of u l t r a - m a s c u l i n i t y .  Even  b a t t i n g and  homosexual g e s t u r e s , e n t e r  t o h a n d l e ) and feminine  hip swinging,  T h e s e young men  are s a y i n g  m a s c u l i n i t y t h a t they  t h i s and  I t should  be p o t e n t  men.  and  the v o c a b u l a r y , presumably  t h e y a r e so c o n f i d e n t i n t h e i r still  can  be m e n t i o n e d ,  even  its  elicit  i f not  and  directly  The  use  of b l a c k handslap  e x a m p l e , emerge i n t h e d a n c e t o i n t e n s i f y c o m r a d e r y and  lend support  and  approval  form of g r e e t i n g , t h a t of c u p p i n g has  become a d o m i n a n t b r e a k i n g  hip,  s i g n i f y i n g a g g r e s s i o n and  304-305). formatted  These g e s t u r e s  with  for  e n e r g i e s , acknowledge  t o crew members.  t h e hands o v e r  the  Another  genitals,  t h e hands on  deep i n v o l v e m e n t  (Johnson  i n t h e d a n c e as p a r t  poses or " f r e e z e s " w h i c h ,  1975:  of  i n g e n e r a l , have been  mockery towards opponents  the  devised  (Mollov  15). in  is,  directed.  have come  salutations,  s t a n c e , as has  appear  c o m m u n i c a t e d e f i a n c e and  1984:  are  i n t o t h e d a n c e f r o m t h e commonplace b l a c k s t r e e t c u l t u r e  body l a n g u a g e .  to  sucking  much l a u g h t e r  f r o m o p p o n e n t s , t o whom t h e y  A number o f movements i n b r e a k d a n c i n g  do  however,  as m i m i n g a baby  thumb) a l s o p r o v i d e c o m i c r e l i e f  as  that  t h a t t h e s e moves ( a l o n g w i t h o t h e r s s u c h  from o n l o o k e r s ,  mime  a d d i t i o n to stopping with s t y l e ,  t h e p r e d o m i n a n t movement a r t i c u l a t i o n s t y l e and  again  i n t o the dance a r e n a .  indicates a transfer According  as  indeed  i n breaking of s t r e e t  freezing  i s walking  "stylin  to Johnson, rhythmic  1  styles  out" of  166 walking,  akin to dance, d e c l a r e that the s t r e e t man i s s t r o n g ,  b e a u t i f u l , c o o l , y e t d i s d a i n f u l and i n s o l e n t p a r t i c u l a r mode of walking,  (1975: 301). One  a quick p i v o t p r e s e n t i n g one's back  to others at c l o s e range while r a i s i n g the head and b r i s k l y s t r u t t i n g o f f , s i g n a l s both d e r i s i o n and s u p e r i o r i t y and i s i n common use w i t h i n b r e a k i n g . p r o p e l l i n g the s e l f  through  F i n d i n g as many ways as p o s s i b l e of space seems to be the a e s t h e t i c  c r i t e r i o n on which breaking has developed.  "Moonwalking", "the  s p i d e r walk", "the crab", "the worm", "the smurf walk", "the t u t walk", "the ET walk" are testimony  to the search f o r e l a b o r a t e  and  (and are reminiscent of the  new a l t e r n a t i v e s i n locomotion  e a r l i e r Afro-American cake walk).  walk dances such  as the camel walk and the  Knees, hands and even heads are walked on.  are d i s c u s s e d i n terms of walking c i r c l e on your hands"); speed walking,  Spins  ("walk around the f l o o r  ina  s l i d e s and g l i d e s , slow motion and high  running on the spot, miming walking  a g a i n s t the  wind or i n a w e i g h t l e s s vacuum a l l f e a t u r e i n r o u t i n e s . It i s tempting  to i n f e r  i m a g i n a t i v e and seemingly it,  from the predominance of  endless v a r i a t i o n s of locomotion  that the dance, at l e a s t at one l e v e l ,  represents a metonym  f o r s u r v i v a l on the s t r e e t s , where one's a b i l i t y c r e a t i v e l y may l i t e r a l l y  save one's l i f e .  within  to maneuver  And the n o t i o n that an  a c t i v i t y can be c a r r i e d on i n new ways i s , of course, c o n s i s t e n t with the concern existing  of h i p hoppers to f i n d a l t e r n a t i v e ways of  i n the ghetto.  F u r t h e r , the speed, f l e x i b i l i t y and  a g i l i t y with which dancers walking  switch c h a r a c t e r s —  l i k e a robot, the next  one second  l i k e a centipede, the next  like a  167  Figure 11.  Spiderwalk on f i n g e r taps.  168 p i m p -- s u g g e s t s a c u l t u r a l and  role  point  playing.  that  power The  within  black  between  black  that  experiences momentarily,  during  a new  fast  aesthetic street  static by  feel"(241).  To b e " h i p " , f o r b u t t o be h i p  literally point  use  i f we a r e  of breakdancing the dancer  of the s e l f one t h a t  aligned  t o s u p p o r t an  T h i s i s no s m a l l  the performance  reality,  -- f o r i n  (1982) p u t i t  and  y o u must  and c r e a t e s ,  contrasts  t h e h i g h speed  with  which  and e v a l u a t e d by ( " I f you're you pass.")  with  (1972b:  survival  culture  level  and movement.  169).  i s consistent  o f h i p hop and w i t h  life  Kochman  o n e , y e t i s an  at  least  the r e a l i t y  of the  world.  executed  you're  black  changes  and movement a r e c l o s e l y  of t h e term  a transformation  Finally, are  sense  Holt's  actual  understanding of a s i t u a t i o n ,  (Kochman 1972a:  surmise  everyday  i n effecting  t h e way y o u t h i n k  knowledge  of  redefine.  i s , o f c o u r s e , a complex  can change  adaptability  a r e reminded  evidence at the l i n g u i s t i c  the f u l l e s t  towards  7 5 ) ; or as P a s t e u r and Toldson  i s t o have  hips  to  o f body movement  1986:  i s even  example,  to  role  way y o u move  association  your  i s the a b i l i t y  expressiveness cognition  There  in  a g a i n , we  i m p o r t a n t one when e x a m i n i n g  (Hale-Benson "the  And, once  the participant  especially  predisposition  i t s intense 263) and F o l b  slow you blow  both with  the c u l t u r a l spurts (1980:  most b r e a k i n g moves  of high-powered  c o m e s down t o m o v e m e n t a n d t h e c r e a t i o n  and r e s t r i c t i v e  a kinetic  element.  environment.  the general  orientation  128) a g r e e  Street  Reputations are built  but i f  of ghetto  action.  that  ghetto  of a c t i o n  activity i n terms  Both  in a  i s dominated of success  169  his hips, lifts his hands off the ground,  Figure 12.  pushing off again with hands.  (Nadell and Small, 1984, pp. 48-49)  170 in action a c t i v i t i e s . behavior  Even t h e power p l a y i n g and m a n i p u l a t i v e  i s , by i t s v e r y n a t u r e , k i n e t i c  reflexes.  and demands q u i c k  O p p o r t u n i t i e s t o c r e a t e a c t i o n p r o v i d e an a r e n a f o r  s t a t u s n e g o t i a t i o n and t e s t i n g  self-awareness.  Conversely, to  move s l o w l y o r s t o p m o v i n g i s t o be v u l n e r a b l e (Abrahams 1976: 88).  In t h i s  particular,  As  light,  b l a c k p e r f o r m a n c e i n g e n e r a l , and b r e a k i n g i n  i s indeed  a statement  o f p e r s o n a l and s o c i a l  h a s been i m p l i e d i n t h i s  action.  d i s c u s s i o n of h i p hop, t h e  c r e a t i o n o f a s t r o n g s e l f - i m a g e b a s e d on power r e q u i r e s n o t o n l y self-inflation, context  but the d e f l a t i o n  i n which breakdancing  b a s e d on c o m p e t i t i o n t h r o u g h well,  of o t h e r s .  g e n e r a l l y occurs  aggressive gestures  expression.  this  role.  moves a r e p a r t i c u l a r l y  "kiss  of these breaking  containment. successful i n f u l f i l l i n g  Two team members w i l l mime w a l k i n g a d o g , t h e one  c r e w , who r e s p o n d  by h o l d i n g t h e i r verbal  As  i n s u l t s and  helps substantiate the claims that  p l a y i n g t h e dog w i l l l i f t opposing  ritual  The p r e s e n c e  may f u n c t i o n a s a mechanism f o r v i o l e n c e Mimetic  promotes a system  w h i c h a male c a n be e v a l u a t e d .  w i t h i n t h e dance r o u t i n e s t h e m s e l v e s ,  shaming a r e g i v e n k i n e t i c  The c u l t u r a l  w i t h lewd  noses t o suggest  t a u n t s such  finger  and arm g e s t u r e s o r  t h a t the dancer s t i n k s .  a s " e a t my d i c k " , " s u c k on i t " , " s h i t  my a s s " a n d " j e r k  dance g e s t u r e s .  h i s l e g and u r i n a t e t o w a r d s t h e  Common on y o u " ,  o f f " are a l l graphically actualized i n  F o r e x a m p l e , a d a n c e r w i l l mime pumping h i s  p e n i s and s p r a y i n g h i s opponent. t h r o w n o f f t h e hand o n t o t h e f l o o r  Instead of blowing  a kiss  and stomped o n .  The Z u l u  i t is  171  Nation  l o v e and  p e a c e s i g n , or t h e more t r a d i t i o n a l  'V  sign  a g g r e s s i v e l y f l a s h e d i n opponents' f a c e s accompanied w i t h leers and  i n attempts  t o u n n e r v e them.  combat a r e as o v e r t as t h e s e ,  also evident.  A significant  the  informants,  graffiti,  Symbolic  ironic  aggression  codes  are  d e g r e e of p o i n t i n g , f o r i n s t a n c e ,  moves and  arrows s h o o t i n g out  a l l s i g n a l s of  however.  accompani-es a g g r e s s i v e i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s NYC  Not  are  r e p r e s e n t s , a c c o r d i n g , t o one the dance e q u i v a l e n t t o  o f armed g r a f f i t i  a kamakaze a p p r o a c h  names.  i s symbolized  And,  as  i n the  of  the  with  "suicide"  d a n c e move. Thus f a r t h i s on  the  individual  he  i s i m p a r t i n g through  a n a l y s i s of b r e a k i n g  d a n c e r , however i t i s e v i d e n t the dance a r e  shared  visible  i n t h e d a n c e movements t h e m s e l v e s  both  by t h e g r o u p .  ("I  am  and  somebody").  of o n l o o k e r s  expression  concerns  and  s o c i a l messages ( o n l y the  are  occasional  of s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e and  i n t h e c o m m u n i t y who  Observing  power f r o m p e r f o r m e r s  determining  few  somebody") a p p e a r s t o be  momentarily, to those are  t h a t much o f what  t o t h e h a z a r d s of s m o k i n g a r e mimed, f o r e x a m p l e ) ,  the e x p e r i e n c e  self-worth  Although  been f o c u s s i n g  collective  beliefs  references  has  through  the  t r a n s f e r r e d , at witness  infectious elation  to audience,  as w e l l as t h e  least  the dance and  ("we  overflow  of  participation  c l a p p i n g , w a v i n g , c h e e r i n g and u l t i m a t e l y  the w i n n e r s ,  one  c a n n o t h e l p but  be  reminded  of  o t h e r , more v e r b a l l y o r i e n t e d , f o r m s o f c o n s c i o u s n e s s - r a i s i n g i n black  expressive  tradition.  172 The  general ethos  o f t h e d a n c e d e n o t e s an a p p r o a c h t o  t h e , p r o b l e m s o f g r o w i n g up m a l e i n t h e g h e t t o o f h i p hop. their  B r e a k d a n c e r s on a d a n c e f l o o r  moves d e f y g r a v i t y , c r e a t e  kinetics  are redefined.  agenda.  It reflects  equilibrium redefining world.  —  And t h e d a n c e r e f l e c t s  a cultural  concern  r e a l i t y and t r a n s f o r m i n g  with  maintaining  v i o l e n c e and r a c i s m , o f their  experiences  new, t h e y  risk-taking,  manipulation,  balance  and  c o n s t i t u t e the primary  (Hannerz 1969).  a constructive personal  survival  tactics  identity  b o o g i e d a n c e r s who s e e m i n g l y w i t h which t o energize  themselves.  not  used i n g h e t t o  However, t h e means by w h i c h h i p h o p p e r s  and s o c i a l  p o t e n t i a l and p o s s i b i l i t y f o r t h e f u t u r e .  limited  I'm  control,  o f an image o f p o w e r , s t r e n g t h and s p e e d — a r e  cultural  a l s o t o combat a p a t h y and s e l f - d o u b t , a r e a r t i s t i c  their  i n the  The c o n c e r n s e n c o d e d i n t h e d a n c e  have c h o s e n , not m e r e l y t o n e g o t i a t e t h e i r  air  of the  " d o n ' t p u s h me c a u s e I'm c l o s e t o t h e e d g e ,  n o t t o l o s e my h e a d " .  projection  and  the c u l t u r a l  As one r a p s o n g so a p t l y w a r n s , a w a r n i n g e c h o e d  aggression,  living  do t h e i m p o s s i b l e --  i l l u s i o n s ; dance l o c o m o t i o n  i n the face of p o v e r t y ,  dance v o c a b u l a r y : trying  that i s i n d i c a t i v e  bodies,  e n v i r o n m e n t and r e s o u r c e s  ones  conveying  c l i m a t e of l i m i t l e s s L i k e the e l e c t r i c  draw an e n e r g y s o u r c e their  agenda, but  out of t h i n  h i p hoppers p u l l out of t h e means t o m o t i v a t e  173 CONCLUSION H i p h o p i s a n a t t i t u d e w h i c h made i t s m a r k o n f o r m s o f e x p r e s s i o n t h a t h a d b e e n a r o u n d f o r y e a r s -- d a n c i n g , f a s h i o n , g r a f f i t i , d i s c - j o c k e y i n g and s c h o o l y a r d r a p p i n g ( T o o p 1984: 1 4 0 ) . The  preceding  presentation  movement, h i p hop, has drawn the  on t h r e e  construction of a reading  descriptive provided These  finally  the i n i t i a l  made a b o u t  were unpacked,  f o r evidence  communicated  not only  with  This  study  synthesis  which  t o view  t h e phenomenon.  nature  o f h i p hop from  a  precarious  "rap  I does  just  viable who:  that  And  the expressive  forms  black  disparate  expressive data,  and from  conclusions  concerning  an a n a l y s i s of e x p r e s s i v e To i n f e r  caution  the  forms i s  " h i p hop i s " f r o m  communicates"  i t i s with  from  requires  a leap of  a n d some r e s e r v a t i o n  that.  Without concludes  (or dispute)  to extract a perspective Drawing  forms.  to ethno-historical  together  able  or breaking)  on o u r p a r t ; t h u s  participants,  the expressive  to general  e n t e r p r i s e , however.  (or g r a f f i t i  faith that  I has been  Available  to affirm  through  reference  brings  their  of  of data i n  and f u n c t i o n i n g o f h i p hop.  on h i p hop, b u t a l s o  traditions.  actual  f o r viewing  youth  types  of the subculture.  framework  the nature  t h e messages  information  general  m a t e r i a l , i n c l u d i n g the accounts  i n t u r n were examined  claims  of the ghetto  further qualification,  through  alternative  h i p hop an a t t e m p t  lifestyle  and i d e o l o g y  then,  the study  i s made t o p r o v i d e t o young g h e t t o  a  males  174 1.  c o n s t r u c t an  competitiveness 2.  apply  this  establishing to  outline  image o f power f o r t h e m s e l v e s and  s e n s e of g r e a t n e s s  themselves  i t and  At one  and  transforming  level  h i p hop  real  can  be  questions  H i p hop  i t into a positive  one,  through  time. and  face.  experience. of  image-making  an e x p r e s s i v e  outlet  Y e t , on a n o t h e r ,  i t involves  a very  for  real  call  and  cultural  existential  and  their  relationship  a l s o c o n s t i t u t e s a process  through  ground  to i t .  not o n l y p r o v i d e s a means f o r e x p r e s s i n g t h e i r  agenda, but  attempt  i t constitutes a testing  about t h e i r w o r l d  by  by  represents a suspension  o f f e r s s o l u t i o n s to s t r u c t u r a l  p r o b l e m s t h e s e young men  and,  leaders,  existence  s e e n as no more t h a n  f e a t s of g r e a t n e s s  c h a n g e and  for  h e r o e s and  o r t h e c o n s t r u c t i o n of a new  f a n t a s y and  and  t o community c o n c e r n s  as c u l t u r a l  engaged i n d u r i n g l e i s u r e very  role-playing  a strategy for coping with t h e i r  reenergizing  reality,  self-glorifying  b a s e d on c r e a t i v e  cultural  w h i c h i t can  be  actualized. H i p hop  appeared  i n New  of a p e r i o d of r e p o r t e d c u l t u r a l  York C i t y ' s g h e t t o s a p a t h y and  a m a r k e d i n c r e a s e i n gang v i o l e n c e . of s e l f - p r i d e  and  optimism  at the  peak  despair, coupled  with  It constituted a  w i t h i n an a r t i s t i c  movement.  a p p e a r s t o have a r i s e n t o p r o v i d e an a l t e r n a t i v e way self-worth The  and  commanding r e s p e c t and  model e n a c t e d  Traditional  drew on a v a r i e t y  t e s t i f y i n g -- were r e t a i n e d .  of  r e c o g n i t i o n from  of a v a i l a b l e  communication conventions  formation It measuring peers.  orientations.  -- b o a s t i n g , t a u n t i n g ,  E s t a b l i s h e d a e s t h e t i c canons of  rhyme, r h y t h m , humour, r a p i d movement, c a l l  and  response,  among  175 others,  were e m p l o y e d .  repertoire — activist,  the cool s t o i c ,  t h e r e b e l , t h e badman, t h e  the e n t e r t a i n e r , the -athlete, the preacher —  combined t o c r e a t e with  Many r o l e m o d e l s f r o m t h e e x i s t i n g  the a b i l i t y  a distinct  to redefine  synthesis himself  were  o f a superman empowered  and s u c c e s s f u l l y c o n t r o l h i s  environment. The  h i p hop image i s one o f l o o k i n g t o u g h ,  fearless, v i r i l e , provide  s e c u r e and c o o l .  the stage f o r enacting  of t h e p a r t i c i p a n t w i t h  created Hip  this  role.  values  and b e l i e f s i s p e r f o r m e d ,  h o p p e r s a p p e a r t o be s e e k i n g  i n t e n t i o n was r e p o r t e d l y  d e v e l o p e d as a g e n e r a l  culture. hop  this  containing  a substitute that  v i o l e n c e , h o w e v e r , h i p hop  means o f r e e n e r g i z i n g  change.  their  existed  claim.  a dysfunctional  that p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n h i p  c a n r e d u c e i n t e r n a l p r o b l e m s as w e l l as p r o v i d e with  The  i s evidence w i t h i n the  H i p hoppers appear t o b e l i e v e  i n d o c t r i n a t i n g others  hop  and l o w m o r a l e .  to provide  and t h e r e  forms t o s u b s t a n t i a t e More t h a n s i m p l y  has  solutions to their  interpersonal hostility  t h e gang i n s t i t u t i o n  expressive  an  and c h a n g e d t h r o u g h p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n h i p hop.  mechanism f o r c h a n n e l i n g within  identification  form i n d i c a t e s a b e l i e f  concerns about g h e t t o v i o l e n c e , p o v e r t y initial  Strong  An e n t i r e i d e n t i t y w i t h  a c c o m p a n y i n g code o f b e h a v i o r , evaluated,  And h i p hop a c t i v i t i e s  the expressive  t h a t y o u a r e what you do.  inviolate,  philosophy  and l e a d  a means o f to cultural  R e g a r d l e s s of t h e nature of the problem, i n g e n e r a l h i p  o p e r a t e s as a p r o b l e m - s o l v i n g  mechanism, and, whether a t t h e  176 street  level  or the p r o f e s s i o n a l l e v e l ,  o f c r e a t i n g an i d e n t i t y Aspects (primarily although  through  expresses  competition  of t r a d i t i o n a l  ghetto  t h e e m p h a s i s on c o m p e t i t i v e n e s s  "ghetto  and  and c o n f r o n t a t i o n ) , ( p r i m a r i l y the  mentality") are challenged.  d e v e l o p m e n t o f new d e f i n i n g c o n c e p t s ,  both  Through t h e  used as a e s t h e t i c  c a n o n s and c u l t u r a l m a n d a t e s , h i p hop e x p r e s s e s confronting 'Fresh , 1  the r e s t r i c t i o n s  'wildstyle'  which represents  other  an o p t i m i s t i c  perseverence  forms of black  balance  hardships  and f r u s t r a t i o n s  e x p r e s s i o n , h i p hop r e p r e s e n t s  style  competitiveness  —  a struggle to  Much o f h i p hop  i n v o l v e s the n e g o t i a t i n g of  seemingly  of which i s the i n t e g r a t i n g of  and c o l l e c t i v e  t h a t a c u l t u r e chooses t o dramatize  Like  a c e l e b r a t i o n of s e l f ,  i n the f u t u r e .  Abrahams ( 1 9 7 6 : 82) h a s s u g g e s t e d ,  asserts  i n their  and s e l f - c o n f i d e n c e and a s s e r t i o n .  o p p o s i t i o n a l f o r c e s , not the l e a s t individual  living.  e x i s t e n c e and t o o v e r c o m e a d v e r s i t i e s  with celebration —  and a r t i s t i c  of ghetto  and e n t h u s i a s t i c b e l i e f  b l a c k n e s s , m a l e n e s s and a b e l i e f cultural  a masterplan f o r  and ' r o c k i n g ' d e f i n e t h e h i p hop i d e o l o g y  powers t o improve t h e i r through  self-improvement.  ideology are upheld  g i v e n new e x p r e s s i o n , w h i l e o t h e r s  defeatist  the i n t e n t i o n  cooperation  " i t i s precisely these  a n d , as  i n t h e way  oppositions that i t  i t s own c h a r a c t e r i s t i c p a t t e r n s o f l i f e  —  as w e l l a s a r t  style",... As  primary  a r e v i t a l i z i n g movement w i t h i n t h e g h e t t o ,  c o n c e n t r a t i o n a p p e a r s t o be on b u i l d i n g  c o m m u n i t y and f u l f i l l i n g  itself  internally.  h i p hop's  up t h e l o c a l  Yet i t a l s o  177 concerns i t s e l f  w i t h the  ambivalence i s sensed. v i o l e n c e and in  keeping  crime  larger world. On  t h e one  i n favour  (both  certain  h a n d , h i p hop,  by  denouncing  o f s t a t u s m e a s u r e m e n t s somewhat more  w i t h the m a i n s t r e a m and,  technology  Here a  i n i m a g e r y and  by  s e i z i n g modern  in engineering  high  practices) with  vengeance, i t perhaps i s a p p r o p r i a t i n g dominant i d e o l o g i e s attempting  to bridge  r e s i s t a n c e and  t h e gap.  aggression  On  the other  toward the wider  p r o t e c t i v e e x c l u s i v e n e s s are being h o w e v e r , i n any wholesale  subcultures.  become l e g i t i m i z e d  a p p e a r t o be p l a y i n g b o t h biculturalism,  by  Particularly  i s not, subversive  s i d e s of t h e f e n c e ,  fulfilling  as h i p  or  hop hoppers  retaining  t h e g h e t t o - s p e c i f i c code  their  while  f o r t h e s o - c a l l e d " A m e r i c a n Dream".  writer'  interchangeably  and  ' breakdancer'  w i t h the  w r i t e r s and  t h e h i p hop in  hop  i n the mainstream, h i p  Throughout t h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n the  graffiti  Hip  a  r e j e c t i o n o f t h e d o m i n a n t c u l t u r e as s e e n i n Punk  activities  'graffiti  c u l t u r e and  expressed.  and  certain  sense a r e v o l u t i o n a r y or p a r t i c u l a r l y  Heavy M e t a l m u s i c a l  striving  hand a  a  term  'hip hopper', f o r indeed  However, n o t  a l l three a c t i v i t i e s ,  nor  three are  identical  in their  Therefore  some d i s t i n c t i o n s ,  'rapper',  have been u s e d  breakdancers consider  movement.  labels  can  we  rappers,  t h e m s e l v e s members o f  a l l h i p hoppers  participate  a u t o m a t i c a l l y assume t h a t  defining  characteristics.  as w e l l as s i m i l a r i t i e s ,  t h r e e have been a l l u d e d t o t h r o u g h o u t  the  the  text.  among  the  178 R a p p i n g and  breakdancing  p e r f o r m a n c e a r t s w h i c h grew o u t cultural  traditions.  Graffiti  l e s s e t h n i c a l l y bound and the only s a n c t i o n e d all  of a l o n g h i s t o r y writing,  on  activity  of  black  the other  p e r f o r m a n c e - b a s e d , and  criminal  a l i g n e d as  hand, i s  stands  p r o m o t e d by  alone  h i p hop.  as  Yet,  t h r e e were w e l l - e s t a b l i s h e d f o r m s of e x p r e s s i o n s w i t h i n t h e  ghetto.  Graffiti  activities  —  and  d a n c e were p a r t i c u l a r l y  graffiti  as an  d a n c e more as a s o c i a l hand, o r i g i n a l l y adopted  important  outlet.  d i d not  i n t o h i p hop,  alternative  begin  o f t e n by  DJing  the  other  as a gang e n t e r p r i s e , b u t e x - g a n g members s e e k i n g  A l l three express  and  a e s t h e t i c s of f r e s h , w i l d s t y l e  all  three s t r i v e  evident  M C i n g , on  business;  were  an  through and  not  containment  and  particulars  r o c k i n g , et c e t e r a ,  s t r o n g imagery.  of t h e i r  cultural  f o r m s as t h e y a r e  i n the  And,  d r e s s , s t y l e and  the  but  and others  although  agenda a r e not  the as  rapped  t e s t i m o n i e s of p a r t i c i p a n t s s u g g e s t  c o n s i s t e n c y of b e l i e f s ,  to  the c e n t r a l i d e o l o g i e s  o n l y t o empower t h e p a r t i c i p a n t s ,  e n e r g e t i c and  i n the other  articulations,  and  i n v o l v e a s t r o n g commitment of t h e s e l f  respective enterprise.  of l i f e  and  t o gang  of gang  t h r e e forms s t r e s s c o m p e t i t i v e n e s s  o f a g g r e s s i o n and  as w e l l ,  aspect  tied  image-management m e c h a n i s m .  All  way  a r e most c l o s e l y  behavior  a d e g r e e of throughout  the  system. The  overall  d e c l a r a t i o n of s e l f ,  intention a total  i s to create a  unified  mode of e x i s t e n c e t h a t s t r e s s e s  actively  t a k i n g charge of s h a p i n g  o n e ' s own  destiny,  strength  from one's c i r c u m s t a n c e s  r a t h e r than  drawing  succumbing to  the  179 pitfalls, of  p o s s e s s i n g s e l f - p r i d e and d e m a n d i n g r e s p e c t .  b o t h p e r s o n a l and c u l t u r a l  c o m m u n i c a t e d as h i p h o p p e r s c h a l l e n g e s o f coming  The  transformation  apply t h e i r  fighting  spirit  to the  most t r u e s t o r i e s ,  h a s no  I t continues long a f t e r  summed up and t i e d  i s being  up i n t h e g h e t t o .  s t o r y of h i p hop, l i k e  d i s c r e t e ending.  A vision  t h e r e c o u n t e r has  a l l t h e l o o s e ends t o g e t h e r .  Be i t an  e p i l o g u e o r s i m p l y t h e as y e t u n t o l d e n s u i n g c h a p t e r , t h e r e i s a final hip  note that  hop.  this  investigator  Dick Hebdige  (1979), i n h i s d i s c u s s i o n of youth  s u b c u l t u r e s , has s u g g e s t e d t h a t of  resistance  resisted. hop.  i s later  I t appears  w i s h e s t o make i n h e r s t o r y o f  t h a t w h i c h was o r i g i n a l l y  i n c o r p o r a t e d back that  this  i n t o that which  i s happening  an a c t was  i n the case of h i p  What began as a r e s i s t a n c e a g a i n s t g h e t t o gangs has now  come f u l l  cycle.  A s p e c t s of h i p hop, i n p a r t i c u l a r  r a p m u s i c , has  been a d o p t e d by t h e r e c e n t l y f o r m e d  inner c i t y  of  i s that the r i t u a l aggression  their  identification.  so p r e v a l e n t  The i r o n y  i n r a p s h a s come t o r e p r e s e n t t h e v e r y  aggression practised  by t h e d r u g  Drug g a n g s ,  especially  those of Jamaican  t h e m s e l v e s as p o s s e s , a s do h i p hop c r e w s .  of  the u l t r a r i c h ,  such as R o l e x w a t c h e s ,  c a r s , as t o k e n s o f t h e i r  as a means o f i n t e r n a l Here,  image,  communication  however, a s i g n i f i c a n t  real  gangs.  to  flashy  d r u g gangs as p a r t  Both c l a i m  huge g o l d  exists.  refer symbols  c h a i n s and  and b o t h u t i l i z e  (Morganthau  difference  origin,  graffiti  e t a l 1988). The s c r a w l e d  180 c o d e s of t h e gang g r a f f i t i  e x h i b i t s none of  sophistication, bright colours graffiti. out  very  Rather, real  artistic  or e l a b o r a t i v e s t y l e  i t i s a l l black,  t h r e a t s , not  the  ritual  fold  repeat  itself.  image-management  Again reports  to pursue careers  notable  example.  A n g e l e s and  got  I c e T was  new  the  i s --  " I am  life,  - quick  i n gang w a r f a r e .  eventually  Many of h i s r a p s ,  once more.  Yet  one  The  living  persona  life  men  not  to waste t h e i r  strength "A  to avoid  the  "fatal  but  rather  mistake"  of  social  before  t h e y can  Bronx d e s c r i b e s  begin his  win  the  t o p r e a c h and  approach:  was  a  to  it  how  king  of  fire  violent is 1988).  breed  of  conditions  that ghetto  t o d e v e l o p the  mental  joining  (MC  Mind i s a T e r r i b l e Thing t o Waste", 1988).  a w a r e t h a t t h e y must f i r s t  Los  he  u l t i m a t e l y c h a l l e n g i n g young  lives,  most  break  like a  i s v i o l e n t but  t o e x p l a i n the  make gangs i n e v i t a b l e and,  him  devised  R a t h e r t h a n l e a v i n g i t a t t h a t , t h i s new trying  he  psychopath t a l k i n g ,  fuse....My l i f e  the  however, r e p r e s e n t  peace i s a dream, r e a l i t y ' s a k n i f e " ( " C o l o r s "  rappers continue,  the  t h e gang member t e l l i n g  a nightmare walking,  will  moved t o  used i t t o h e l p  i s emerging i n the genre —  i s my  cycle  of gang members l e a v i n g  jungle, just a gangster s t a l k i n g ,  cracker  the  Y o r k C i t y k i d who  i n h i s raps i s t h a t of  spells  taunts.  emerging; i c e T being  a New  t h e gang i n s t i t u t i o n  represents it  and  gang l i f e .  strategy that  confront  are  heavily involved  a l s o drawn t o h i p hop away f r o m t h e  i n rap  hop  harsh l e t t e r i n g which  There i s a l s o evidence to suggest that indeed  of h i p  confidence teach.  As  a gang  These r a p p e r s of KRS  their  Shan, are  listeners  1 of t h e  South  181 H e r e ' s someone you can f o l l o w who's j u s t l i k e you a r e , who s e e s t h e t h i n g s you s e e . Now t h e y ' r e l i s t e n i n g and t h i s i s t h e s e c o n d c h a p t e r of what I see as a book or a k i n d o f a p r o c e s s of e d u c a t i o n . On t h e f i r s t a l b u m , I t a l k about superheroes. On t h i s one I t a l k a b o u t AIDS and c o n t r a c e p t i o n . On t h e f i r s t a l b u m , we had a t r a c k c a l l e d "9 mm Goes Bang" and o n l y now, a t t h i s p o i n t , am I a b l e t o s a y " S t o p t h e V i o l e n c e " ( i n M c C r e a d y 1988: 99). Reportedly 1980-1987 p e r i o d , had drug-related centers.  (Lamar 1988: the  least  21)  New  York C i t y ,  i n c r e a s e per  according  a l l t h r e e e x p r e s s i v e f o r m s o f h i p hop  well  and  membership. hop  will  actively  are a l i v e  and  c o m p e t i n g w i t h t h e gangs f o r  Only time w i l l  succeed  urban  t o s e v e r a l of t h e i n v e s t i g a t o r ' s  informants, i n NYC  the  c a p i t a of  j u v e n i l e a r r e s t s of a l l major American  And,  during  i n winning  tell  i f the f i g h t i n g  this  battle.  spirit  of  hip  182 BIBLIOGRAPHY Abrahams, Roger D. 1976 T a l k i n g Black. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. Banes, S a l l y 1981 P h y s i c a l G r a f f i t i : Breaking Is Hard To Do. The V i l l a g e V o i c e , A p r i l 22-28. Pp. 31-33. 1985 Breaking. In Fresh: Hip Hop Don't Stop. Pp. 79-112. New York: Random House. Barthelmeh, V. 1982 S t r e e t Murals. New York: A l f r e d A. Knopf. Blow, K u r t i s 1985 Foreword. In Fresh: Hip Hop Don't Stop. Pp. x i - x i i i . 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Johnson, Kenneth 1975 Black K i n e s i c s : Some•Non-Verbal Communication p a t t e r n s i n the Black C u l t u r e . In P e r s p e c t i v e s on Black E n g l i s h . J . L. D i l l a r d , ed. Pp. 296-306. The Hague, the Netherlands: Mouton and Co. K i e l , Charles 1972 Motion and F e e l i n g Through Music. In Rappin' and S t y l i n ' Out: Communications i n Urban Black America. Thomas Kochman, ed. Pp. 83-101. Chicago: U n i v e r s i t y of I l l i n o i s Press. 1977 The E x p r e s s i v e Black Male Role: The Bluesman. In The Black Male i n America: P e r s p e c t i v e s on h i s Status i n Contemporary S o c i e t y . D. Y. Wilkinson and R. L. T a y l o r , eds. Pp. 60-84. Chicago: N e l s o n - H a l l . Kochman, Thomas 1972[ed] Rappin' and S t y l i n * Out: Communications i n Urban Black America. Chicago: U n i v e r s i t y of I l l i n o i s P r e s s . 1972a The K i n e t i c Element i n Black Idiom. In Rappin' and S t y l i n ' Out: Communications i n Urban Black America. Pp. 160-170. Chicago: U n i v e r s i t y of I l l i n o i s Press. 1972b Toward an Ethnography of Black American Speech Behavior. In Rappin' and S t y l i n ' Out: Communications i n Urban Black America. Pp. 241-265. Chicago: U n i v e s i t y of I l l i n o i s p r e s s . 1981 Black and White S t y l e s i n C o n f l i c t . Chicago: U n i v e r s i t y of Chicago Press. K e i s e r , R. L i n c o l n 1969 The V i c e Lords: Warriors of the S t r e e t s . New York: H o l t , Rinehart and Winston. Kohl, Herbert and James Hinton 1972 Names, G r a f f i t i and C u l t u r e . In Rappin' and S t y l i n ' Out: Communications i n Urban Black America. Thomas Kochman, ed. Pp. 109-134. Chicago: U n i v e r s i t y of I l l i n o i s Press. Lamar, Jacob V. 1988 Kids Who S e l l Crack. Time, May 9. Pp. 18-25.  186  Larkin, 1972  Rochelle The S o u l M e s s a g e . I n The Sounds o f S o c i a l Change: Studies i n Popular Culture. R. S. D e n i s o f f and R. A. P e t e r s o n , e d s . P p . 9 2 - 1 0 4 . C h i c a g o : Rand M c N a l l y and Co. L e a c h , Edmund 1954 P o l i t i c a l S y s t e m s o f H i g h l a n d Burma: A S t u d y o f K a c h i n Social Structure. L o n d o n : U n i v e r s i t y of L o n d o n , The Athlone Press. L e a v i t t , Rudy 1974 The P u e r t o R i c a n s : C u l t u r e Change and L a n g u a g e Deviance. Tucson: U n i v e r s i t y of A r i z o n a P r e s s . L e w i s , Oscar 1965 La V i d a . New Y o r k : V i n t a g e B o o k s . L e y , D a v i d and Roman C y b r i s k y 1974 u r b a n G r a f f i t i as T e r r i t o r i a l M a r k e r s . Association of American Geographers 64(4):495-505. Lomax, A l l e n 1966 S p e c i a l F e a t u r e s o f t h e Sung C o m m u n i c a t i o n . In E s s a y s on t h e V e r b a l and v i s u a l A r t s . J u n e Helm,ed. Pp. 109127. A m e r i c a n E t h n o l o g y S o c i e t y . MacAloon, John 1984 R i t e , Drama, F e s t i v a l , S p e c t a c l e : R e h e a r s a l Toward a Theory of C u l t u r a l Performance. P h i l a d e l p h i a : I n s t i t u t e f o r t h e S t u d y o f Human I s s u e s . M c C o r d , W i l l i a m M., J . Howard, B. F r i e d b e r g and E. Harwood 1969 L i f e S t y l e s i n the B l a c k Ghetto. New Y o r k : W. W. H o r t o n and Co. McCready, John 1988 Beyond t h e B-Boy. The F a c e 9 8 ( 6 ) : 9 7 - 9 9 . M a i l e r , Norman 1974 The F a i t h o f G r a f f i t i . New Y o r k : P r a e g e r P u b l i s h e r , I n c . Mancini, Janet 1980 S t r a t e g i c S t y l e s : Coping i n the Inner C i t y . H a n o v e r , NH: U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s o f New England. Mangum, G a r t h L. and S. S e n i n g e r 1978 Coming o f Age i n t h e G h e t t o : A Dilemma o f Y o u t h Unemployment. B a l t i m o r e : John Hopkins U n i v e s i t y P r e s s . Marlow, C u r t i s 1984 Breakdancing. C r e s s k i l l , NJ: Sharon P u b l i c a t i o n s . M a r r e , J e r e m y and Hannah C h a r l t o n 1985 B e a t s of the H e a r t : P o p u l a r Music of the World. New Y o r k : P a n t h e o n B o o k s . M i l l e r , Walter 1968 Lower C l a s s C u l t u r e s as a G e n e r a t i n g M i l i e u o f Gang Delinquency. I n Gang D e l i n q u e n c y and D e l i n q u e n t Subcultures. J . F. S h o r t J r . , ed. Pp. 1 3 5 - 1 5 6 . New Y o r k : H a r p e r and Row. 1975 V i o l e n c e By Y o u t h Gangs and Y o u t h G r o u p s as a C r i m e Problem i n Major American C i t i e s . Wash. DC: N a t i o n a l I n s t i t u t e f o r J u v e n i l e J u s t i c e and D e l i q u e n c y P r e v e n t i o n , Law E n f o r c e m e n t A s s i s t a n c e A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , US D e p a r t m e n t o f J u s t i c e .  187 Mr. F r e s h and t h e Supreme R o c k e r s 1984 B r e a k d a n c i n g . New Y o r k : Avon B o o k s . Mollov, Joyce 1984 G e t t i n g t h e B r e a k s . B a l l e t News, A u g u s t . Pp. 15-19. M o o r e , J o a n W. 1978 Homeboys: G a n g s , D r u g s and P r i s o n i n t h e B a r r i o s o f L o s A n g e l e s . P h i l a d e l p h i a : Temple U n i v e r s i t y P r e s s . M o r g a n t h a u , Tom, e t a l 1988 The Drug G a n g s . Newsweek, March 28. Pp. 20-27. Musoum Boy Mans-van B e u n i n g e n 1983 Graffiti. R o t t e r d a m : Musoum Boy Mans-van B e u n i n g e n . N a d e l l , B o n n i e and J o h n S m a l l 1984 Breakdance. T o r o n t o : Totem B o o k s . New Y o r k C i t y Y o u t h B o a r d 1957 Teenage G a n g s . New Y o r k : New Y o r k C i t y Y o u t h G a n g s . P a s t e u r , A l f r e d B. and I v o r y L. T o l d s o n 1982 R o o t s o f S o u l : The P s y c h o l o g y of B l a c k E x p r e s s i v e n e s s . New Y o r k : A n c h o r P r e s s . R o b e r t s , Kenneth 1983 Y o u t h and L e i s u r e . L o n d o n : A l l e n and Unwin P u b l i s h e r s . R o m a n o w s k i , P a t t y and S u s a n F l i n k e r 1985 Graffiti. I n F r e s h : H i p Hop Don't S t o p . Pp. 29-54. New Y o r k : Random House. Roseman, M a r i n a 1980 The New R i c a n V i l l a g e : T a k i n g C o n t r o l o f t h e i m a g e Making Machinery. New Y o r k F o l k l o r e 6 ( l ) : 4 5 - 5 4 . Schulz, David 1977 Coming Up as a Boy i n t h e G h e t t o . I n The B l a c k M a l e i n A m e r i c a : P e r s p e c t i v e s on h i s S t a t u s i n Contemporary S o c i e t y . D. Y. W i l k i i n s o n and R. L. T a y l o r , eds. Pp. 7-32. Chicago: Nelson-Hall. S c h w a r t z , G a r y and Don M e r t e n 1967 The L a n g u a g e o f A d o l e s c e n c e : An A n t h r o p o l o g i c a l Approach to the Youth C u l t u r e . American J o u r n a l of S o c i o l o g y 72(5 ): 453-468. S h o r t , James F. J r . 1968[ed] Gang D e l i n q u e n c y and D e l i q u e n t S u b c u l t u r e s . New Y o r k : H a r p e r and Row. S h o r t , James F. J r . , and F r e d S t r o d t b e c k 1968 Why Gangs F i g h t . I n Gang D e l i n q u e n c y and D e l i q u e n t Subcultures. J . F. S h o r t J r . , ed. Pp. 246-256. New Y o r k : H a r p e r and Row. Silverman, Stuart 1975 The L e a r n i n g o f B l a c k E n g l i s h by P u e r t o R i c a n s i n New York C i t y . I n P e r s p e c t i v e s on B l a c k E n g l i s h . J . L. D i l l a r d , ed. Pp. 331-357. The Hague, t h e N e t h e r l a n d s : Mouton and Co. Singer, Milton 1959[ed] T r a d i t i o n a l I n d i a : S t r u c t u r e and Change. P h i l a d e l p h i a : American F o l k l o r e S o c i e t y . S m i t h e r m a n , Geneva 1977 T a l k i n and T e s t i f y i n : The L a n g u a g e o f B l a c k A m e r i c a . B o s t o n : H o u g h t o n M i f f l i n Co.  Sommer, S a l l y 1983 The P e o p l e Dance. I n I n P e r f o r m a n c e , D e c . Pp. 26-27. Spencer, Paul 1985[ed] S o c i e t y and t h e Dance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. S t e a r n s , M a r s h a l l and J e a n S t e a r n s 1968 J a z z Dance: The S t o r y of A m e r i c a n V e r n a c u l a r D a n c e . New Y o r k : S c h i r m e r B o o k s . S t e w a r t , James B. 1980 P e r s p e c t i v e s on B l a c k F a m i l i e s f r o m C o n t e m p o r a r y S o u l M u s i c : The Case of M i l l i e J a c k s o n . Phylon 41(1):57-71. S u l l i v a n , J i m and L o r i C a l i c o t t 1984 Break Dancing 1 ( 1 ) . Skokie, I l l i n o i s : P u b l i c a t i o n s International Ltd. S u t t o n - S m i t h , B r i a n and D i a n a K e l l y - B r y n e 1984[eds] The Masks o f P l a y . New Y o r k : L e i s u r e P r e s s . Thomas, P i r i 1970 Down These Mean S t r e e t s . New Y o r k : A l f r e d A. K n o p f . Thompson, R o b e r t F a r r i s 1966 An A e s t h e t i c o f t h e C o o l : West A f r i c a n Dance. A f r i c a n Forum 2 ( 2 ) : 8 5 - 9 7 . 1973 An A e s t h e t i c o f C o o l . African Arts 7(l):41-67. 1986a P e r s o n a l Communique. F e b r u a r y 6. 1986b H i p Hop 101. R o l l i n g S t o n e , M a r c h 27. Pp. 9 5 - 1 0 1 . Toop, David 1984 The Rap A t t a c k : A f r i c a n J i v e t o New Y o r k H i p Hop. B o s t o n : S o u t h End P r e s s . Turner, V i c t o r 1982[ed] C e l e b r a t i o n s : S t u d i e s i n F e s t i v i t y and R i t u a l . Wash., DC: Smithsonian. W a l l a c e , A n t h o n y F. 1956 A c c u l t u r a t i o n : R e v i t a l i z a t i o n Movements. American A n t h r o p o l o g i s t 58(2 ) : 264-281. W a t k i n s , W i l l i a m and E r i c F r a n k l i n 1984 Breakdance. Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc. W i l k i n s o n , D o r i s Y. and R o n a l d L. T a y l o r 1977[eds] The B l a c k M a l e i n A m e r i c a : P e r s p e c t i v e s on h i s S t a t u s i n Contemporary S o c i e t y . Chicago: Nelson-Hall. Wolff, Janet 1981 The S o c i a l P r o d u c t i o n o f A r t . London: M a c M i l l i a n .  189 DISCOGRAPHY Extended Play  1979 1981  Singles  S u g a r h i l l Gang, " R a p p e r ' s D e l i g h t " , Furious  F i v e / S u g a r h i l l Gang, "Showdown", S u g a r h i l l .  Grandmaster Sugarhill.  1982  Sugarhill.  F l a s h and t h e F u r i o u s  F i v e , "Wheels  A f r i k a Bambaataa a n d t h e S o u l s o n i c P e r f e c t B e a t " , Tommy Boy.  of S t e e l " ,  Force, "Looking f o rt h e  1983 G.L.O.B.E. a n d Whiz K i d , " p l a y T h a t B e a t Mr. D J " , Tommy Boy. G r a n d m i x e r D. S t . a n d t h e I n f i n i t y (Cut I t U p ) " , C e l l u l o i d .  Rappers, "Grandmixer  J o n z e n Crew, "Space Cowboy", Tommy B o y . Shango,  "Shango's  Message",  Celluloid.  S p e c i a l R e q u e s t , " S a l s a Smurph", Tommy B o y .  1984  Afrika  Bambaataa/James Brown,  " U n i t y " , Tommy Boy.  A f r i k a Bambaataa a n d t h e S o u l s o n i c Funk", Tommy Boy. B o o g i e Boys, Disco  "Do o r D i e " , [ l a b e l  3, " F a t B o y s " ,  Grandmaster Sugarhill.  Melle  unkown].  Sutra.  Mel and t h e F u r i o u s  K u r t i s Blow, "AJ S c r a t c h " , K u r t i s B l o w , "8 M i l l i o n Pumpkin,  F o r c e , "Renegades o f  F i v e , "Beat S t r e e t " ,  Mercury.  S t o r i e s " , Mercury.  "Here Comes T h a t B e a t " , P r o f i l e .  Run-D.M.C, "30 D a y s " , Run-D.M.C, "Rock  Profile.  Box",  Whodini, "Friends"/"Five  Profile. M i n u t e s o f Funk",  Sutra.  190 1985  The B Boys, " S t i c k Up K i d " / " G i r I s " , V i n t e r t a i n m e n t . Bad  Boys (with K Love),  [untitled],  Starlite.  Boogie Boys, " C i t y L i f e " / " A F l y G i r l " ,  Capital.  Doug E. Fresh and MC Ricky D, "La-Di-Da-Di", R e a l i t y . Grandmaster F l a s h , " L a r r y ' s Dance Theme", E l e k t r a . Marley Marl with MC Shan, "Marley Nia Records  Marl S c r a t c h " ,  Run-D.M.C., "Can You Rock I t L i k e T h i s " , P r o f i l e . 1986  . Run-D.M.C., "Together  Forever(Krush-Groove  4)", P r o f i l e .  Boogie Boys, " C o l o r b l i n d World", C a p i t a l . Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew, " A l l the Way to Heaven"/"Nuthin'", R e a l i t y . Albums  1980 K u r t i s Blow, K u r t i s Blow, Mercury. 1981 The  S u g a r h i l l Gang, 8th Wonder, S u g a r h i l l .  1982 Grandmaster F l a s h and the Furious F i v e , The Message, Sugarhill. Various a r t i s t s ( i n c l u d i n g Capt. Sky, Count Coolout, Dr. Ice, Treacherous Three, Disco Four), Rap Tracks, Virgin. 1983 K u r t i s Blow, Party Time?, Mercury. V a r i o u s a r t i s t s ( i n c l u d i n g Grandmaster Caz and C h r i s S t e i n , The Chief Rocker Busy Bee, L i l Rodney Cee with DJ Grandwizard Theodore, Cold Crush Bros., The F a n t a s t i c Freaks, Double T r o u b l e ) , W i l d s t y l e , Animal Records. 1984 Fat Boys, Fat Boys, Sutra. Grandmaster Melle Mel and the Furious F i v e , [ u n t i t l e d ] , Sugarhill.  191 1984  con'd V a r i o u s a r t i s t s ( i n c l u d i n g Grandmaster F l a s h and t h e Furious F i v e , T w i l i g h t 22), Breakdance, K-Tel.  1985  LL C o o l J , R a d i o ,  Def Jam R e c o r d i n g s .  UTFO, [ u n t i t l e d ] , S e l e c t R e c o r d s . V a r i o u s a r t i s t s ( i n c l u d i n g Shango, D. S t . , M a t e r i a l , Zone, L a s t P o e t s ) , New A f r i c a 2, C e l l u l o i d . V a r i o u s a r t i s t s ( i n c l u d i n g D r . J e c k y l l and Mr. Hyde, K y l e a n d B i l l y B i l l , R u n - D . M . C ) , Rap 2, P r o f i l e . Various a r t i s t s (including Rappin', A t l a n t i c .  Force  MDs, L o v e b u g  Time Kool  Starski),  V a r i o u s a r t i s t s ( i n c l u d i n g A f r i k a Bambaataa and t h e S o u l s o n i c F o r c e , A f r i k a Bambaataa and t h e J a z z y 5, P r e s s u r e D r o p , F o r c e MD's, B e a t m a s t e r ) , Tommy Boys G r e a t e s t B e a t s , Tommy Boy. 1986  F a t s Boys, B i g and B e a u t i f u l , Run-D.M.C, R a i s i n g H e l l ,  Sutra.  London.  1987  Fat Boys, C r u s h i n ' ,  Polygram.  G r a n d m a s t e r F l a s h , Ba-Dop-Boom-Banq, I c e Tea,  Rhyme P a y s ,  Sire.  K o o l Moe Dee, K o o l Moe Dee, J i v e . LL C o o l J , B a d , Def Jam R e c o r d i n g s . W h o d i n i , Open Sesame,  Jive.  Elektra.  192 L I S T OF FILMS AND VIDEOS  S t y l e Wars, Tony S i l v e r and Henry C h a l f a n t , 1982. Wildstyle,  Charles Ahearn P r o d u c t i o n s ,  Beat S t r e e t , Orion P i c t u r e s ,  1984.  B r e a k i n ' , Cannon Group Inc., 1984. "Breakdance", K - T e l ,  1984.  "Let's Break", I M A  Inc., 1984  B r e a k i n ' I I , Cannon Group Inc., 1985. Rappin', Cannon Group Inc., 1985.  1982.  193 APPENDIX I "Throughout Your Y e a r s "  SELECTION OF RAPS Kurtis  Blow  T h r o u g h o u t y o u r y e a r s , y o u r ups a n d downs Y o u r h i g h s and y o u r l o w s I'm t h e man w i t h t h e m i k e who r o c k s t h e h o u s e The man c a l l e d K u r t i s Blow So g e t o u t o f y o u r s e a t a n d g r a b a g i r l B e c a u s e I'm a b o u t r e a d y t o r o c k t h e w o r l d And l i s t e n t o my s t o r y c a u s e i t ' s g o t t a be t o l d L i k e an O s c a r w i n n i n g a c t o r when he's p l a y i n ' a r o l e When I went t o b e d t h e r e was s o m e t h i n g i n my head To be a r a p p e r was my dream L i k e i n the morning w i t h the bacon and eggs t h e c o f f e e and t h e c r e a m So I made up my m i n d t h a t I w o u l d a l w a y s t r y t o be t h e b e s t t h a t I c o u l d be Now h e r e I am r a p p i n ' a t t h e jam w i t h t h e , h u h , f l y g u y s and t h e y o u n g l a d i e s [bridge] You j u s t t a k e y o u r t i m e , y o u d o n ' t have t o h u r r y Hang i n t o u g h , y o u d o n ' t have t o w o r r y In s o c i e t y , the s t r o n g s u r v i v e So r a p , s o s i n g , g e t a n i n e t o f i v e W i t h a l i t t l e h a r d work a n d d e d i c a t i o n W e ' l l p u l l t o g e t h e r and rock the n a t i o n So i f y o u do t h e do a n d y o u t h i n k y o u ' r e g r e a t Come on e v e r y b o d y , p a r t i c i p a t e [chorus] Say ho-oo ( h o - o o ) You g o t t o s a y ho-oo i f y o u ' r e r e a d y t o go Say owwww (owwww) You g o t t o s a y owwww i f y o u ' r e r e a d y r i g h t now say p r i d e ( p r i d e ) C a u s e p r i d e ' s what we g o t i n s i d e To t h e t o p ( t o p ) We're g o i n g t o t h e t o p a n d we a i n ' t gonna s t o p Get down When I s t a r t e d o u t t h e way w a s n ' t c l e a r T h e r e was much c o n f u s i o n a n d a l o t o f f e a r W a l k i n g i n t h e shadow, s e a r c h i n g f o r t h e l i g h t t o be t h e me t h a t I c o u l d be t h a t m i g h t make i t r i g h t Cause i t a i n ' t a l l champagne a n d c a v i a r R i d i n ' 'round t h e town i n t h e f l y e s t c a r L i v i n ' i n the s k y l i f e of l u x u r y  194 " T h r o u g h o u t Your Y e a r s "  (cont'd)  and b e i n g s e e n a r o u n d t h e w o r l d i n t h e p l a c e t o be L e t d o w n s , no j o b s , f a l s e h a n d s h a k e s , hang-ups s e t b a c k s a n d , h u h , bad b r e a k s So y o u ' v e g o t t o b e l i e v e y o u c a n be t h e b e s t Y o u ' v e g o t t o work r e a l h a r d t o a c h i e v e s u c c e s s So l i s t e n c l o s e c a u s e I i n s i s t , I g o t some and i t goes l i k e [bridge] [chorus] T h e r e ' s a man up t h e r e who c a l l s t h e s h o t s He s a y s who's gonna have a n d , h u h , have n o t T h e r e ' s o n l y one way t o s t a k e y o u r c l a i m You g o t t a b e a t t h e man, y o u g o t t a p l a y t h e game Some p e o p l e y o u may be a r o u n d have n e g a t i v e v i b e s and t r y t o g e t y o u down But i f y o u r m i n d i s s o u n d and y o u r w i l l i s s t r o n g You've g o t t h e f a i t h t o o v e r r i d e t h e wrong W i n t e r , summer, f a l l and s p r i n g G i v e i t y o u r a l l and y o u r e v e r y t h i n g Don't be no o t h e r , be y o u r s e l f You c a n do t h a t b e t t e r t h a n anyone e l s e Now I c a n ' t t e l l y o u what t o do But t h e t h i n g s I s a y a r e s u r e enough t r u e [bridge] Say  na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na (na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na)  [repeated 4 times] Owww!  this  195 "The  Message"  Grandmaster  Flash  & the  Furious Five  It's  l i k e a j u n g l e s o m e t i m e s i t makes me wonder how I keep f r o m g o i n g u n d e r B r o k e n g l a s s e v e r y w h e r e , p e o p l e p i s s i n g on t h e s t a g e you know t h e y j u s t d o n ' t c a r e I can't take the s m e l l , can't take the n o i s e Got no money t o move o u t , I g u e s s I g o t no c h o i c e R a t s i n t h e f r o n t room, r o a c h e s i n t h e back J u n k i e s i n the a l l e y w i t h a b a s e b a l l bat I t r i e d t o g e t away b u t c o u l d n ' t g e t f a r c a u s e a man w i t h a r e p o s s e s s e d my c a r Don't p u s h me c a u s e I'm c l o s e t o t h e edge I'm t r y i n g n o t t o l o s e my head I t l i k e a j u n g l e s o m e t i m e s i t makes me wonder how I keep f r o m g o i n g u n d e r S t a n d i n g on t h e f r o n t s t o o p , h a n g i n g o u t t h e window W a t c h i n g a l l t h e c a r s go by, r o a r i n g as t h e b r e e z e s b l o w A c r a z y l a d y l i v i n g i n a b a g , e a t i n g o u t of g a r b a g e p a i l s u s e d t o be a f a g hag Had a s e x c h a n g e , seems t o l o o s e h e r s e n s e s Down a t t h e p e e p show, w a t c h i n g a l l t h e c r e e p s s o she can t e l l t h e s t o r i e s t o t h e g i r l s back home She went t o t h e c i t y and g o t s o c i a l s e c u r i t y She had t o g e t a p i m p , she c o u l d ' t make i t on her own [chorus] My b r o t h e r ' s d o i n g b a d , s t o l e my m o t h e r ' s T.V. S a i d she w a t c h e s i t t o o much, i t j u s t not h e a l t h y A l l My C h i l d r e n i n t h e d a y t i m e , D a l l a s a t n i g h t C a n ' t e v e n s e e t h e game o r t h e S u g a r Rae f i g h t The b i l l c o l l e c t o r s t h e y r i n g my phone and s c a r e my w i f e when I'm n o t home Got a bum e d u c a t i o n , d o u b l e d i g i t i n f l a t i o n Can't t a k e the t r a i n t o the job t h e r e ' s a s t r i k e at the s t a t i o n Neon K i n g Kong s t a n d i n g on my back C a n ' t s t o p t o t u r n a r o u n d , b r o k e my s a c o r i l l i a c [ s i c ] M i d - r a n g e , m i g r a i n e s , c a n c e r , membranes S o m e t i m e s I t h i n k I'm g o i n g i n s a n e I swear I might h i j a c k a p l a n e [chorus] My  s o n s a i d , "Daddy, I d o n ' t want t o go t o s c h o o l c a u s e t h e t e a c h e r ' s a j e r k , he must t h i n k I'm a f o o l And a l l t h e k i d s smoke r e e f e r , I t h i n k i t ' d be c h e a p e r  1982  196 "The  Message  (cont'd)  i f I j u s t g o t a j o b , l e a r n e d t o be a s t r e e t s w e e p e r d a n c e t o t h e b e a t , s h u f f l e my f e e t and wear a s h i r t and t i e and r u n w i t h t h e c r e e p s c a u s e i t ' s a l l a b o u t money, a i n ' t a damn t h i n g f u n n y You g o t t o have a con i n t h i s l a n d o f m i l k and honey They p u s h e d t h a t g i r l i n f r o n t o f t h e t r a i n Took h e r t o t h e d o c t o r ' s , sewed h e r arm on a g a i n S t a b b e d t h e man r i g h t i n h i s h e a r t Gave him a t r a n s p l a n t f o r a b r a n d new s t a r t I c a n ' t walk t h r o u g h the park cause i t ' s c r a z y a f t e r dark Keep my hand on my gun c a u s e t h e y g o t me on t h e r u n I f e e l l i k e an o u t l a w , b r o k e my l a s t g l a s s jaw I h e a r them s a y you want some more l i v i n g on t h e s e a s h o r e " I'd  [chorus] A c h i l d i s b o r n w i t h no s t a t e o f mind b l i n d t o t h e ways o f m a n k i n d God i s s m i l i n g on y o u , b u t he's f r o w n i n g , t o o b e c a u s e o n l y God knows what y o u ' r e g o i n g t h r o u g h Y o u ' l l grow i n t h e g h e t t o , l i v i n g s e c o n d r a t e and y o u r e y e s w i l l s i n g a s o n g o f deep h a t e The p l a c e s you p l a y and where you s t a y l o o k l i k e one g r e a t b i g a l l e y w a y Y o u ' l l a d m i r e a l l t h e number book t a k e r s T h u g s , p i m p s and p u s h e r s and t h e b i g money m a k e r s D r i v e b i g c a r s , s p e n d i n g 20's and 10's and you want t o grow up t o be j u s t l i k e them Smugglers, s c r a m b l e r s , b u r g l e r s , gamblers p i c k - p o c k e t , p e d d l e r s , even p a n - h a n d l e r s You s a y , "I'm c o o l , huh, and I'm no f o o l " b u t t h e n you w i n d up d r o p p i n g o u t o f h i g h s c h o o l Now y o u ' r e u n e m p l o y e d , a l l n o n - v o i d w a l k i n g a r o u n d l i k e y o u ' r e P r e t t y Boy F l o y d T u r n s t i c k - u p k i d , b u t l o o k what you done d i d Got s e n d up f o r an e i g h t y e a r b i d Now y o u r manhood i s t o o k , and y o u ' r e a maytag S p e n t t h e n e x t 2 y e a r s as an u n d e r c o v e r f a g b e i n g u s e d and a b u s e d , j u s t s e r v e d l i k e h e l l t i l l one day you was f o u n d hung dead i n a c e l l I t was p l a i n t o s e e y o u r l i f e was l o s t You was c o l d and y o u r body swung back and f o r t h B u t now y o u r e y e s s i n g t h e s a d , s a d s o n g of how you l i v e d so f a s t , b u t d i e d so y o u n g [chorus]  197 "Shango's Message"  Shango  We a r e Shango, t h e gods o f T h u n d e r We came t o p r o t e c t you and g i v e a h e l p i n g Don't f o l l o w f a k e r e l i g i o n s Do what you know i s r i g h t J u s t l i s t e n t o Shango We p r o t e c t t h e s h i n i n g l i g h t J u s t f u n k t o o u r r h y t h m s and g e t on down We a r e t h e a l m i g h t y Shango and we d o n ' t f u c k a r o u n d Take heed y o u f o o l i s h p e o p l e The w o r l d i s o u t o f h a n d and i f y o u d o n ' t b e l i e v e us t h e n y o u a r e damned, damned, damned  J  1983  hand  198 "Basketball  Throwdown"  Cold Crush Brothers vs. the F a n t a s t i c Freaks  W e l l I'm a T ( T h e o d o r e ) I ' 1 1 dog my f a c e When I g e t y o u on t h e c o u r t I ' l l b e a t C h a r l i e Chase (Cold Crush) C h a r l i e C h a s e , a s c u t e a s c o u l d be You'd s e l l y o u r s o u l t o t h e d e v i l t o p l a y l i k e me W e l l , I'm t h e R (Ruby and y o u g o t a l o t o f when you p l a y a g a i n s t You know y o u ' r e gonna (Cold Crush)  Dee) nerve me get served  Davy L, t h e l o r d o f l o r d s Ruby Dee's my man Y o u ' r e s h i t i s on t h e b o a r d s You a l l c a n ' t b a l l , y o u a l l c a n ' t b a l l I'm t h e K ( K e v i e Kev) and n o t t h e f i n k You know I ' l l e a t y o u r a s s up l i k e t h e s t a k e ( ? ) you t a k e (Cold Crush) You know y ' a l l t h e game l e g i t and when we g e t t h e c o u r t I'm gonna s t i c k y o u r s h i t The W ( W h i p p e r Whip) and I'm h e r e t o s a y I c o u l d rock t h e w o r l d l i k e t h e Dr. J . (Cold Crush) T o n e y Tone, known t o be i l l but e v e r y o n e knows I c a n d e a l w i t h I'm t h e D ( D o t a R o c k ) on t h i s h e r e c o u r t Been n i n e y e a r s p l a y i n g t h i s (Cold Crush) Hey, well  Dee, h i g h e s t I'm a b e t t e r  here  the p i l l  sport  degree jump s h o t t h a n R i c k  Berry  1983  199 "Basketball  Well Like I'll like (Cold  Throwdown"  (cont'd)  I'm t h e M ( M a s t e r Rob) a l l the g i r l s s e r v e y o u r monkey a s s E a r l the P e a r l Crush)  I'm M a s t e r Caz o r G.M.C. I'm gonna s t i c k i t on t h e b o a r d Now c a n ' t you s e e - P l a y b a l l ! (Bad Crush)  200 "Wildstyle  South Kids South Kids  Subway Rap  Bronx, growing Bronx, growing  New up New up  #2"  York, i n the York, i n the  Grandmaster  Caz  & Chris  Stein  1983  what do I s e e ? community what do I s e e ? community  Hey, C a z , C a z , l o o k a t t h o s e k i d s o v e r t h e r e - c h e c k 'em o u t Y e h , y o u know C h a r l e s C h a s e , t h o s e k i d s now t h e y ' r e t h e g r o w n - u p s o f t o m o r r o w , man, t h e y ' r e t h e f u t u r e I h e a r t h a t , I know where y o u ' r e c o m i n ' f r o m , man T h a t ' s what I'm t a l k i n g a b o u t , man S t r e e t s are f i l t h y , crime i s high P e o p l e l o o k s u s p i c i o u s when y o u w a l k by T h o s e s m i l e s and g r i n s a s t h e c i t y s i n s And when i t comes t o v i o l e n c e nobody w i n s Man, l o o k how d i r t y e v e r y t h i n g i s , man I h e a r t h a t , hey l o o k a t t h a t I h a t e t h i s p o v e r t y , man I t ' s not l i k e t h a t everywhere, though I j u s t hate t o see i t - t e r r i b l e Look p a s t t h e g a r b a g e , o v e r t h e t r a i n s Under t h e r u i n s , t h r o u g h t h e r e m a i n s A r o u n d t h e c r i m e and p o l l u t i o n And t e l l me where do I f i t i n ? S o u t h B r o n x , New Y o r k , t h a t ' s where I d w e l l To a l o t o f p e o p l e i t ' s a l i v i n g h e l l F u l l o f f r u s t r a t i o n and p o v e r t y B u t , w a i t , t h a t ' s now how i t l o o k s t o me I t ' s a c h a l l e n g e , an o p p o r t u n i t y I t r i s e s a b o v e t h e s t i n k and d e b r i s Got t o s t a r t w i t h n o t h i n g and t h e n y o u b u i l d F o l l o w y o u r dream u n t i l i t ' s f u l f i l l e d I c a n d i g t h a t - a b o u t f o l l o w i n g a dream, man c a u s e I g o t a dream I t ' s t o be number one i n t h e number f i v e l i n e My dream i s t h e same a s y o u r s I w a n t a be up t h e r e - w e l l , we a l l have o u r dreams I'm a w a r r i o r , my a r t i s my sword A p l a c e i n s o c i e t y i s my r e w a r d A mind i s a t e r r i b l e t h i n g t o w a s t e S u c c e s s i s s o m e t h i n g we a l l want t o t a s t e E v e r y o n e ' s g o t a t a l e n t on t h e e a r t h  201 " W i l d s t y l e Subway Rap  #2"  (cont'd)  And you c a n t a k e i t o r l e a v e i t f o r what i t ' s w o r t h No m a t t e r how h a r d t h i n g s may seem You've g o t t h e p o t e n t i a l - f u l f i l l y o u r dream We're t h e f u t u r e , i t ' s up t o us To make o u r home g r e a t and A p l u s L e t y o u r mind be p u r e and f e e d i t - c r e a t e Use t h e b e a t i n y o u r h e a r t And a i m t o be g r e a t Word! T h a t ' s what i t ' s a b o u t , man I'm gonna do my t h i n g and l e t n o t h i n g e l s e h o l d me b a c k , you J u s t t r y t o be number one - a l w a y s T h a t ' s t h e same t h i n g I t o l d my l i t t l e b r o t h e r He s a i d he w a n t e d t o d r o p o u t of s c h o o l and I had t o t e l l h i m , man, you know, you g o t t a p u s h , p u s h T h a t ' s what i t ' s a l l a b o u t , man I hear t h a t , C h a r l e s S o u t h B r o n x , New Y o r k , what do I s e e ? T a l e n t r i s i n g out of the community [chorus repeated 6 times]  know  202 "The  Truth"  Grandmaster M e l l e the F u r i o u s F i v e  Mel  and  Rap i s our way o f l i f e , t h a t ' s why we do what we do B o r n t o r o c k t h e m i k e l i k e E. F. H u t t o n , d o n ' t say n u t h i n ' Yo, I am t h e man c a l l e d S c o r p i o The one t h a t ' s s e e n b u t n e v e r h e a r d But a l l my s o n s j u s t r u n n i n g t h e i r mouths So i t ' s t i m e f o r daddy t o s p e a k h i s word You see t h e b i g g e s t p r o b l e m w i t h a l l t h e MCs i s t h a t I l o o k good and t h e y a r e u g l y They a l l g e t t o g e t h e r , say I'm not c o o l The c u r l s i s o u t , b e i n g my f o o l C a u s e I'm t h e f i r s t a t t r a c t i v e , e x o t i c male t o w a l k a r o u n d town w i t h b e a d s i n h i s h a i r Be s t o p p e d on t h e s t r e e t by t h e p e o p l e I meet s a y i n g w h e r e ' d you g e t y o u r b e a d s ? Cause you l o o k so s w e e t Hey, f o r any f e l l o w s who t h i n k I'm gay I ' l l p u l l f i v e g i r l s r i g h t i n your face I'm n o t s a y i n g t h a t I'm t h e p l a y b o y k i n g c a u s e I d i d n ' t make i t up, b u t I made i t s w i n g I s p e n t more on s p i c e t h a n t h e y d i d on c l o t h e s So how can t h e y f r o n t t h a t t h e y ' v e go g u s t o They j u s t b a r e l y made enough f o r a gram o f b l o w To s t a r t h o p i n g and p r a y i n g b e f o r e t h e i r n e x t show But a b r o t h e r l i k e me c o u l d r o c k i t a l l day But I'm s m a r t e r t h a n t h a t i n my own way And you know what I'm s a y i n g i s a n a t u r a l f a c t c a u s e momma s a y s he's o u t s i d e , W h e r e ' s t h e y a t ? Check me o u t w h i l e I r u n my game T h e r e ' s n o t a n o t h e r MC t h a t can make me f e e l shame My name's Cowboy, n o t g i v e n no s l a c k I'm l i k e 4,5,6 b e t t e r known as H e a d c r a c k I ' v e been r o c k i n g t h e p a r t y e i g h t y e a r s of my l i f e Got s h o t w i t h a gun, s t a b b e d w i t h a k n i f e Had t o pay my d u e s , had t o l e a r n t h e r u l e s Had t o s e p a r a t e t h e s m a r t f r o m t h e f o o l s P e o p l e t a l k b e h i n d my b a c k , but n e v e r t o my f a c e But t h e y make a c l e a r p a t h when I s t e p i n t h e p l a c e I can make them c l a p t h e i r h a n d s , stomp t h e i r f e e t Make them p a r t y t o t h e r h y t h m s e v e n d a y s a week Make them s h i v e r and s h a k e , j u s t l i k e an e a r t h q u a k e M a k i n g p e o p l e jam w i t h o u t a m i s t a k e I can c r u i s e around the w o r l d , a l l a c r o s s the n a t i o n Get a b i g k i c k o u t o f c o m p e t i t i p a t i o n Make them h i p t o t h e hop and a l l t h a t s t u f f Cause t h e o t h e r MCs know I'm j u s t t o o much  1984  203 "The  Truth"  (cont'd)  My e y e s a r e b r o w n , my l e g s a r e b o l d I can t e l l an MC r i g h t where t o go I c a n g e t a y o u n g l a d y w i t h a wave o f my hand I can s t r e t c h o u t l o n g l i k e a r u b b e r band S a y i n g , one f o r t h e t r o u b l e , two f o r t h e b a s s C a u s e I'm t h e Cowboy — p u t a s m i l e on y o u r f a c e You know 'K' i s f o r K o o l , i t r u n s t h r o u g h t h e v e i n s I g o t t a s m a r t e r bunch so I show no shame I n t e l l i g e n c e and dex and t h a t s t a n d s f o r ' I ' I t ' s s o m e t h i n g you i n h e r i t and you can not buy 'N' i s f o r K n i g h t , I'm gonna s h i n e S l a y i n g o t h e r MCs w i t h v i c i o u s - s t y l e rhymes And 'G' i s f o r g r e a t , t o d e s c r i b e t h i s man My name i s K i n g L o u , I g o t a m a s t e r p l a n From t h e s h o r e s of P a r i s t o t h e s t r e e t s of Maine T h e r e ' s a c e r t a i n r e p u t a t i o n I've g o t t o m a i n t a i n I ' v e g o t t o w r i t e good rhymes and say them w e l l And i f I d o n ' t do t h a t I know I've f a i l e d T h e s e a r e a few t h i n g s I use t o g e t me ovuh They a l l f i t t o g e t h e r l i k e a f o u r l e a f c l o v e r F i r s t and most i m p o r t a n t i s o r i g i n a l i t y You g o t t o be an i n n o v a t o r , v e r s a t i l e as can be S e c o n d on t h e l i s t you g o t t o know how t o f a k e G o t t a make t h e c r o w d s h o u t , c a u s e a m a j o r e a r t h q u a k e Make them stomp on t h e f l o o r and s c r e a m f o r more From t h e v e r y f i r s t m i n u t e t h a t you w a l k i n t h e d o o r M o v i n g r i g h t a l o n g t o t h e end of t h e l i n e You g o t t o g e t a f l y g i r l on y o u r d e v i n e Have h e r come t o y o u r shows w e a r i n g n i c e f a n c y c l o t h e s L o o k i n g s h a r p as a t h o r n on t h e s t e m o f a r o s e M e l l e Mel i s p o t e n t , s u p e r h i g h p o w e r e d To make o t h e r MCs f e e l d e v o u r e d T a u g h t a l l t h e MCs t h e b i r d s and t h e b e e s But t h e y s t i l l c a n ' t g e t y o u r y o u n g l a d y W e l l , I'm a l e g e n d i n l e a t h e r — t h e l o r d of t h e rhymes I f you c a n ' t see t h a t you must be b l i n d I a l w a y s wear b l a c k and I a l w a y w i l l C a u s e I'm d r e s s i n g f o r y o u r f u n e r a l Heads a r e gonna r o l l , r a p p e r s gonna d i e And who e v e r w a n t s a b a t t l e , I'm gonna g i v e him a t r y A i n ' t no p r e s s u r e , you know I'm f r e s h e r Cause I was b o r n t o n e v e r be l e s s e r I t ' s more t h a n a r e c o r d and i t ' s s u r e t o be C a u s e I came h e r e t o s e t t h e w o r l d f r e e From a r o u n d t h e way, back i n t h e d a y s We g o t b e a t so you c o u l d g e t p a i d We made you a j o b , you s t u p i d s l o b  204 "The T r u t h "  (cont'd)  Now y o u d o n ' t have t o w o r k , l e a r n , s t e a l o r r o b You g o t a l i t t l e b i t o f fame and w e a l t h Now y o u t h i n k y o u d i d i t a l l by y o u r s e l f - huh I am y o u , b u t you a i n ' t me Cause y o u d i d n ' t s t a r t r o c k i n g t i l l '83 M e l l e Mel i s the best t h a t w i l l ever e x i s t And i f I g o t t a be a s u c k e r — s u c k on t h i s .... We're b o r n t o r o c k t h e w o r l d  205 "Beat S t r e e t "  G r a n d m a s t e r M e l l e Mel F u r i o u s F i v e w i t h Mr. Cowboy  & the Ness and  Beat S t r e e t , the k i n g of the beat See you r o c k i n g t h a t b e a t f r o m a c r o s s t h e s t r e e t Beat S t r e e t i s a l e s s o n , t o o c a u s e you c a n ' t l e t t h e s t r e e t s b e a t you W e l l , a p r e a c h e r can e x p r e s s a thousand words t o d e s c r i b e a l l t h e b e a u t y o f l i f e you g i v e and i f t h e w o r l d was y o u r t o do o v e r I know you'd p a i n t a b e t t e r p l a c e t o l i v e where t h e c o l o r s w o u l d s w i r l and t h e boys and g i r l s w o u l d grow i n p e a c e and harmony where m u r a l s s t a n d on w a l l s so g r a n d as f a r as t h e e y e s a r e a b l e t o s e e I n e v e r knew a r t t i l l I saw y o u r f a c e and t h e r e ' l l n e v e r be one t o t a k e y o u r p l a c e c a u s e e a c h and e v e r y t i m e y o u t o u c h a s p r a y p a i n t c a n M i c h a e l a n g e l o ' s s o u l c o n t r o l s y o u r hands Then s e r e n a d e s o f b l u e and r e d and t h e b e a u t y o f t h e r a i n b o w f i l l s y o u r head Crescendo c o l o r s hanging tune Man, why oh why'd you have t o d i e so soon Ashes t o a s h e s , d u s t t o d u s t When t h e good d i e young as a l l t h e y must L i f e must l i v e and d e a t h must d i e and t e a r s w i l l f a l l f r o m t h e l i v i n g eye The t e a r s w i l l f a l l f o r t h e s t a t e o f m i n d o f t h e b e a u t i f u l l a d y you l e f t b e h i n d In l o v e and a l o n e b u t now y o u ' r e gone and she s t i l l c a n ' t g e t you o u t o f h e r head More t e a r s f a l l f o r a l l y o u ' v e done T r i e d t o be a good f a t h e r t o y o u r o n l y son But now whose gonna make s u r e he's f e d p u t a s h i r t on h i s back and a r o o f o v e r h e a d T e l l me whose g o i n g t o dream t h e i m p o s s i b l e dream o f t h e b e a u t i f u l c i t i e s and t h a t your works of a r t brought i n t o b e i n g and a l l t h a t t h e g h e t t o s t o p p e d you f r o m s e e i n g Bums on t h e s i d e w a l k , g a r b a g e i n t h e s t r e e t A b a n d o n e d b u i l d i n g s , b r i c k s and c o n c r e t e The l a d i e s on t h e c o r n e r a r e s e l l i n g t h e i r b o d i e s and e v e r y o n e w a n t s a p a r t i n t h a t p a r t y I'm h a n g i n g o u t t o u g h , r o c k i n g l a t e a t n i g h t R u n n i n g w i l d i n t h e town o f t h e neon l i g h t s You e i t h e r p l a y some b a l l o r s t a n d i n t h e h a l l You g o t t a make s o m e t h i n ' o u t o f n u t h i n ' a t a l l I'm s i t t i n g i n t h e c l a s s room l e a r n i n g t h e r u l e s and i t s a y s you c a n ' t do g r a f f i t i i n s c h o o l  1984  206 "Beat S t r e e t "  (cont'd)  They c a n ' t be wrong i n t h e h a l l o w h a l l s s o my n o t e b o o k t u r n e d i n t o a b r i c k w a l l The h e a r t o f a l i o n and t h e c o u r a g e o f t h r e e i n t h e mind o f a man t h a t ' s w i s e r t h a n me Y o u ' r e t h e s o u l o f t h e b r o t h e r who won't come back who d i e d i n my arms a t t h e r a i l r o a d t r a c k Cause I'm c a u g h t i n t h e r a t r a c e l o o k i n g f o r my own s p a c e T h e r e ' s g o t t a be a b e t t e r p l a c e f o r you and me T h e r e ' s p i e i n t h e s k y and an eye f o r an eye Some p e o p l e g o t t o d i e j u s t t o be f r e e S e a r c h e d f o r j u s t i c e and what d i d you f i n d ? You f o u n d j u s t us on t h e unemployment l i n e You f o u n d j u s t us s w e a t i n ' f r o m dawn t o dusk T h e r e ' s no j u s t i c e , t h e r e ' s (huh) j u s t us S t i l l - l i f e urban m a s t e r p i e c e , your trademark w i l l be w r i t t e n on t r a i n s and w a l l s A m i l l i o n d o l l a r g i f t o n l y God r e l e a s e and y e t you g o t k i l l e d f o r n u t h i n * a t a l l So a f t e r t h i s t h e r e ' l l be no more h a r d t i m e s , no more bad t i m e s no more p a i n , no more chump c h a n g e , nonna t h a t b u l l J u s t m o v i e s , museums and t h e h a l l o f fame So a l l you h i p h o p p e r s g e t on up and l e t ' s t a k e i t t o t h e t o p where we b e l o n g The age o f t h e B e a t S t r e e t wave i s h e r e E v e r y o n e s i n g a l o n g , come o n , s a y "ho" (ho) s a y "ho" (ho) and t o l e t me know I'm r o c k i n g t h e m i c r o p h o n e , e v e r y b o d y s a y "Raymond" (Raymond) Say "Raymond" (Raymond) Rah A newspaper b u r n s i n t h e s a n d and t h e h e a d l i n e s s a y man d e s t r o y s man E x t r a , e x t r a , r e a d a l l t h e bad news on t h e war o r p e a c e t h a t e v e r y b o d y w o u l d l o s e The r i s e and f a l l o f t h e l a s t g r e a t e m p i r e The s o u n d o f t h e w h o l e w o r l d c a u g h t on f i r e The r u t h l e s s s t r u g g l e , t h e d e s p e r a t e gamble The game t h a t l e f t t h e w h o l e w o r l d a s h a m b l e The c h e a t s , t h e l i e s , t h e a l i b i s and t h e f o o l i s h a t t e m p t t o c o n q u e r t h e s k i e s - l o s t i n s p a c e And what i s i t w o r t h ? The p r e s i d e n t j u s t f o r g o t a b o u t e a r t h S p e n d i n g a l l t i m e b a i t i n g [ ? ] and maybe even t r a d i n g The c o s t o f weapons r a n i n t o z i l l i o n s T h e r e ' s g o l d i n t h e s t r e e t and t h e r e ' s diamonds under f e e t And t h e c h i l d r e n i n A f r i c a d o n ' t e v e n e a t F l i e s on t h e i r f a c e s , t h e y ' r e l i v i n g l i k e m i c e and t h e h o u s e s e v e n make t h e g h e t t o l o o k n i c e The w a t e r t a s t e s f u n n y and i t ' s f o r e v e r t o o s u n n y and t h e y work a l l month and d o n ' t g e t no money  207 "Beat  Street"  (cont'd)  A f i g h t f o r power, a n u c l e a r shower A p e o p l e s h o u t out i n t h e d a r k e s t hour The s i g h t s u n s e e n and v o i c e u n h e a r d And f i n a l l y t h e bomb g e t t h e l a s t word kill , Germans k i l l Jews And e v e r y b o d y ' s body i s u s e d and a b u s e d M i n d s a r e p o i s o n e d and s o u l s a r e p o l l u t e d S u p e r i o r i t y c o m p l e x i s deep r o o t e d I l l e g a l [ ? ] a r e l i c e n c e d and p e o p l e g o t p r i c e s Egomaniacs c o n t r o l the s e l f - r i g h t e o u s N o t h i n g i s s a c r e d and n o t h i n g i s p u r e so t h e r e v o l a t i o n of d e a t h i s our c u r e H i t l e r , C a e s e r , C u s t e r and Reagan N a p o l e o n , C a s t r o , M u s s o l i n i and B e g i n G e n g h i s Khan and t h e Shah o f I r a n met t h r o u g h t h e b l o o d o f t h e weaker man The p e o p l e ' s i n t e r r o r , t h e l e a d e r s made an e r r o r and now t h e y c a n ' t e v e n l o o k i n t h e m i r r o r c a u s e we g o t t a s u f f e r as t h i n g s g e t r o u g h e r and t h a t ' s why we've g o t t o g e t t o u g h e r So l e a r n f r o m t h e p a s t and work f o r t h e f u t u r e and d o n ' t be a s l a v e t o no c o m p u t e r Cause t h e c h i l d r e n o f man i n h e r i t t h e l a n d and t h e f u t u r e of t h e w o r l d i s i n y o u r hands J u s t t h r o w y o u r s i n t h e a i r and wave 'em l i k e you j u s t d o n ' t and i f you b e l i e v e t h a t y o u ' r e t h e f u t u r e s c r e a m i t o u t and s a y "oh y e h " (oh yeh) "oh y e h " (oh yeh) Rah Beat S t r e e t - Breakdown [ i n the B e a t s t r e e t has been a d d e d ] Everybody —  do  you  care  Rah  movie v e r s i o n  the  b e l i e v e , l e t me  following gospel-like h e a r you  say  "yeh"  chant  (yeh)  They b u r n e d us so we became a f l o w e r ( b e l i e v e i t ) They gave up n o t h i n g so we t o o k power ( b e l i e v e i t ) They t r i e d t o b r e a k us and now w e ' r e t h e b r e a k s ( b e l i e v e i t ) w e ' r e t h e h i p hop, we're g o i n g t o t a k e i t t o t h e t o p They c a n ' t s t o p us ( b e l i e v e i t ) We a r e t h e f u t u r e and we w i l l s u c c e e d ( b e l i e v e i t ) We a r e t h e m i r a c l e , we a r e t h e s t r o n g We a r e t h e r a p t h a t came f r o m y o u r own We make hope t h r o u g h our s o n g  208 r  " B e a t s and  Rhymes  OTFO  Fly g i r l s , f e e l the groove Homeboys, b u s t t h e moves I ' l l b e a t some r h y t h m s you c a n ' t Bust t h i s : Beats Beats Beats Beats  and and and and  1984  resist  rhymes rhymes rhymes rhymes  The f u t u r e r a p i s i n e f f e c t , so g e t up on t h e l a t e s t We're t h e b e s t and you c a n b e t , t h a t we a r e now t h e g r e a t e s t P l e a s e remember, d o n ' t f o r g e t you l o v e u s , you d o n ' t h a t e us S t a y on o u r s i d e , d o n ' t you b e t r a y us When you meet u s , t r e a t us r i g h t , c a u s e you need us You need us t o n i g h t , and you c a n ' t d e f e a t us M u s i c e v o l v e d , t h e p r o b l e m was s o l v e d P a r t y p e o p l e must g e t i n v o l v e d So a l l t h e l a d i e s i n t h e p l a c e t o n i g h t We've g o t a r a p we t h i n k w i l l make you f e e l r i g h t I t a i n ' t no p r o b l e m , baby as you know The c u r t a i n ' s o p e n , so w e ' r e gonna s t a r t t h e show So g i r s , d o n ' t you w o r r y Don't you t h i n k a b o u t t h e t h i n g s you m i g h t have l e f t So g i r l s , d o n ' t you h u r r y Cause UTFO's MCs a r e f u l l o f b e a t s and rhymes  behind  The b e a t has g o t t a b e , g o t t a be f r e s h G o t t a be f r e s h t o i m p r e s s t h e r e s t I t ' s g o t t a be b o l d , so y o u can a l l c o n t r o l Your e m o t i o n s and f e e l i n g s so you won't grow o l d B e f o r e y o u r t i m e , y o u r t i m e , b e f o r e you r e a c h y o u r p r i m e Y o u ' r e b e g g i n g i n t h e s t r e e t , i n t h e s t r e e t f o r a n i c k e l and a dime W a i t i n g on t h e c o r n e r on t h e w e l f a r e l i n e Got t o be t h e r e a t a q u a r t e r t o n i n e We're no f i c t i o n , w e ' r e f a c t , w i t h t h e rhyme s t y l e p a c t We e x p r e s s our f e e l i n g s and we n e v e r h o l d back Hey g i r l s , d o n ' t deny i t , d o n ' t knock i t ' t i l you t r y i t You h e a r t h i s r e c o r d , I a d v i s e you t o buy i t Don't w a i t , d o n ' t h e s i t a t e C a u s e i f you do, you m i g h t be t o o l a t e Keep i t i n m i n d , d o n ' t w a s t e no t i m e UTFO i s f u l l o f B e a t s and Rhymes The jam i s w o r k i n '  209 " B e a t s and Rhymes"  (cont'd)  We g o t t h e B e a t s and Rhymes F u l l force! Get F r e s h ! Don't s t o p t h e b e a t Don't s t o p t h e rhymes Don't s t o p t h e rhymes M u s i c ' s one o f a k i n d We g o t f r e s h B e a t s and Rhymes G i v e us a c h a n c e t o b l o w y o u r m i n d  210 "Five  M i n u t e s o f Funk"  Whodini  [ e l e c t r o n i c r o b o t - l i k e v o i c e announces " f i v e minutes of funk"]  1984  that t h i s w i l l  be  Now t h e p a r t y d i d n ' t s t a r t t i l I w a l k e d i n And I p r o b a b l y won't l e a v e u n t i l t h e t h i n g ends B u t i n t h e meantime and i n bewteen t i m e I f y o u work y o u r t h i n g and I work mine We came h e r e t o g e t h e r s o we c o u l d have f u n Me a n d y o u , b a b y , g o i n ' one on one Now t h i s i s t h e l a s t c h a n c e f o r us t o g e t o f f So e i t h e r g e t l o o s e o r y o u o u g h t a g e t l o s t Cause I'm j u s t a b o u t r e a d y t o do my t h i n g Cause I'm a s t o n e - c o l d New Y o r k r a p m a c h i n e I'm gonna g i v e y o u what I g o t a n d , b a b y , t h a t p l e n t y And n e v e r has one man r o c k e d s o many I'm gonna make y o u wet and make y o u s w e a t J u s t t o s e e how f u n k y y o u c a n g e t Now w i t h t h e motor m i k e I do s e r v e w e l l And I go by t h e name o f t h e r a p p e r J a l i l (four minutes of funk) Now s i t b a c k , r e l a x , p u t on y o u r head g e a r Get r e a d y f o r a t r i p t h r o u g h t h e a t m o s p h e r e I'm gonna t a k e you f o r a r i d e t h r o u g h t h e t w i l i g h t zone I d o n ' t need a s p a c e s h i p , I u s e my m i c r o p h o n e So h o l d on t i g h t , w i t h a l l y o u r m i g h t Cause I ' l l be r o c k i n g l i k e t h i s f o r t h e r e s t o f t h e n i g h t J a l i l , yo, your master rapper And when I'm on t h e m o t o r m i k e , i t ' s a s h e e r d i s a s t e r Cause MCs c r u m b l e when we r u m b l e Some t h i n k I'm s o f t j u s t c a u s e I'm humble So a l l you MCs I hope y o u ' r e r e a l good l i s t e n e r s Cause i n t h i s b a t t l e I'm t a k i n g no p r i s o n e r s I'm s l a y i n g MCs r i g h t on t h e s p o t Cause I'm t h e m a s t e r o f t h e r a p , t h e d o c t o r o f t h e r o c k The j a c k o f a l l t r a d e s , t h e m a s t e r o f one And t h e t h i n g I m a s t e r i s c a l l e d h a v i n g f u n We g o t t h r e e m i n u t e s l e f t t o r o c k t h i s f u n k To s e p a r a t e t h e good s t u f f f r o m t h e j u n k So, g e t i n t h e g r o o v e and f e e l t h e sound And once y o u ' r e i n s i d e s p r e a d y o u r s e l f a r o u n d From t h e b o t t o m t o t h e t o p , t h e t o p t o t h e b o t t o m Come on M a s t e r D and g e t f u n k y w h i l e we g o t 'em (three minutes  left)  211 "Five  M i n u t e s o f Funk"  (cont'd)  Me and my p a r t n e r f r o m t h e s t a r t We u s e d t o g e t t o g e t h e r a f t e r d a r k Sometimes we r a p , s o m e t i m e s we s i n g I n t h e summer o r w i n t e r c a u s e i t a i n ' t no t h i n g And e v e r s i n c e I f i r s t came r o u n d S i d e by s i d e we throwdown We came h e r e t o t h i s h e r e p l a c e To s e r v e you a l l r i g h t t o y o u r f a c e Cause t h i s jam h e r e i s o u r show s t o p p e r We d i d n ' t wanta u s e i t , b u t I g u e s s we g o t t a We're t h e men o f t h e h o u r , make t h e l a d i e s s c r e a m and h o l l e r Too h o t t o t r o u t , t o o sweet t o be s o u r I'm gonna s e t t h e r e c o r d s t r a i g h t And I hope t h a t i t i s n o t t o o l a t e I f y o u want t h e b e s t and won't s e t t l e f o r l e s s P u t y o u r money on me, I'm y o u r b e s t b e t Come o n , one f o r t h e t r o u b l e , two f o r t h e b a s s T h r e e f o r t h e l a d i e s , f o u r f o r t h e pay F i v e m i n u t e s o f f u n k , t h i s a i n ' t no j u n k So p u l l y o u r b o t t o m o f t h e t r e e stump L a d i e s r e a l p r e t t y , from c i t y t o c i t y B u t now we're g e t t i n g down t o t h e n i t t y - g r i t t y From t h e b o t t o m t o t h e t o p , t h e t o p t o t h e b o t t o m I'm gonna r o c k 'em w h i l e I s t i l l g e t 'em Our r a p p i n ' shower h a s s t y l e and power And t h i s i s o u r d i s c o hour I d o n ' t know i f a l l o f you. have h e a r d So i t ' s up t o me t o s p r e a d t h e word A b o u t t h e man t h a t we f e e l has g o t t o be r e a l Our c r o w n e d p r i n c e o f t h e w h e e l s o f s t e e l He goes by t h e name o f G r a n d m a s t e r D So i f i t ' s a l l r i g h t w i t h y o u , i t ' s a l l r i g h t w i t h me We're gonna r o c k y o u p e o p l e ' s m i n d s w i t h e a s e We need some h e l p f r o m t h e m a e s t r o , i f y o u p l e a s e (one m i n u t e  left)  212 "The  Old  School"  Kool Kyle  & Billy  Bill  1985  [Kyle] W e ' l l do i t t o you -- g e t f u n k y , g e t l o o s e , g e t down F o r t h e n e x t two m i n u t e s y o u r body i s mine I ' l l c o n t r o l y o u r s o u l , d o m i n a t e y o u r mind The power o f my v o i c e ' l i m i n a t e s a l l c h o i c e So r e l a x baby d o l l , g e t f r e s h t o s t a y m o i s t Now who do I t h i n k I am? The c h i l d s t a r K o o l K y l e I'm t a k i n g command o f s t i m u l a t i o n — t h a t ' s what i t ' s a l l a b o u t I l i k e t o c a u s e a s c e n e , w a t c h 'em s c r e a m and s h o u t Rock 'em t o a f r e n z y , b r i n g them t o t h e i r knees Make 'em c l o s e t h e i r e y e s , s a y "Do i t , K y l e , p l e a s e " Not a f a n t a s y , p u r e r e a l i t y I'm t h e r e a l c h i l d s t a r , n o t a p h o t o c o p y I p u t t h e "K" i n c o o l , r o c k e d t h e o l d s c h o o l B r o k e a l l t h e r u l e s as I c o n t i n u e d t o g r o o v e L e a r n e d how t o r a p E v e r s i n c e t h a t day o t h e r MCs I began t o s l a y Show no mercy W h e r e v e r I went o t h e r MCs' egos I began t o bend Had t o s t a k e my c l a i m i n t h e h a l l of fame Put a spark t o the f i r e , r e i g n i t e the flame D e d i c a t e my name and l e t e v e r y b o d y know K o o l K y l e i s back and I'm s t i l l t h e show It's a fact, y ' a l l [Billy Bill] I t ' s K o o l K y l e and B i l l y B i l l I'm t h e man w i t h t h e c o o l , t h e man w i t h t h e c h i l l I l i k e making l o v e , I don't l i k e f i g h t i n g I'm t h e man w i t h t h e w o r d s , I do t h e s o n g w r i t i n g L i k e r o c k i n ' t h e h o u s e and m o v i n g a l o n g W h i l e t h e b o x ' s i n my h a n d , t h e y ' r e p l a y i n g my s o n g See, we a r e t h e g u y s of a t h o u s a n d t h r i l l s They c a l l him K o o l K y l e and I'm B i l l y B i l l L i k e t h e f i s h must swim and t h e b i r d must f l y We're b r i n g i n g MCs down -- I ' l l t e l l you why We're f r o m t h e o l d s c h o o l and go way back G i v i n g o t h e r MCs a p a r t y a t t a c k We t a k e a f u n k y r a p and t h e n we s a y i t We p u t i t on t h e waves and l e t t h e DJ p l a y i t [Kyle] W e l l , I took a l i t t l e t r i p , c o l d c h i l l i n ' f o r a w h i l e E v e r y b o d y w a n t e d t o know what happened t o K y l e Kool Kyle i s back, yes, t h a t ' s a f a c t A i n ' t n o t h i n g you can do — so get used t o t h a t I'm a g r e a t b e a t b u s t e r w i t h a n i t r o s o u n d I ' l l g i v e you a t a s t e t h a t m i g h t knock you down  213 "The  Old School"  (cont'd)  I ' l l g i v e you f a i r w a r n i n g b e f o r e I s t a r t On my bedroom w a l l hangs a t h o u s a n d h e a r t s Cause I'm t h e K d o u b l e 0 R a i s e a l o t o f h e l l and t a k i n g vows Put you i n a s p e l l K p l u s a Y and a L and t h e E From t h e b o o g i e town r o c k , y o u know t h a t ' s me Now I l i k e t h e w i l d t h i n g e v e r y once and a w h i l e I need t o body r o c k , g i r l , y e s , t h a t ' s my s t y l e Great, v e r s a t i l e , unique p r o f i l e K o o l K y l e s t a n d s a l o n e on t o p o f t h e p i l e N e v e r b i t e a rhyme t o s a v e my l i f e Cause I'm a l w a y s f r e s h - e v e r y day and n i g h t So a l l y o u new f e l l o w s b e t t e r beware P o l i s h up y o u r rhymes and t r y t o p r e p a r e B e c a u s e K o o l K y l e ' s c o m i n g — I'm h e r e t o s t a y So p a c k o f f p e r p e t r a t o r s , g e t o u t o f my way (Billy  Bill  i t ' s up t o y o u , now g e t on t h e mike and do t h e do)  [Billy Bill] L e t ' s t a k e a t r i p , l e t ' s go way b a c k To t h e o l d s c h o o l when we l e a r n e d t o r a p D i d n ' t need no b o o t h , when I l e f t home J u s t two t u r n t a b l e s and a m i c r o p h o n e W i t h a D J b e h i n d us t o s t a y on t o p W h i l e me and K o o l K y l e b u s t f u n k y rhymes So keep o n , keep on T e l l a l l t h e o t h e r r a p p e r s t o go mow t h e lawn We've g o t a f u n k y r a p , j u s t f o r y o u It's Kool Kyle, i t ' sB i l l y , too We do i t i n t h e E a s t , we do i t i n t h e West In t h e N o r t h , i n t h e S o u t h -- w e ' r e now t h e b e s t We a r e t h e g u y s w i t h t h e f r e s h , f r e s h b e a t s Got p e o p l e d a n c i n g a l l i n t h e s t r e e t s so i f you're from t h e o l d s c h o o l s t o p m e s s i n ' around Don't l e t me down I'm f r o m t h e o l d s c h o o l , my name's B i l l y B i l l And I'm r o c k i n ' f r o m t h e v a l l e y t o t h e t o p o f t h e h i l l I'm r e a l l y b a d , l i k e a hook and a j a b I ' l l knock you o u t and t r y t o k i c k y o u r a s s So come on down t o t h e p l a c e t o be And r o c k , r o c k t o t h e r h y t h m o f l i t t l e o l d me Move y o u r body t o t h e f u n k y s o u n d , g i r l Get on down and do i t , do i t , do i t K o o l c a n ' t r e s i s t , gonna r o c k t o t h e b r e a k o f dawn  214 "La-Di-Da-Di  n  Doug E .  Fresh  & MC  Ricky D  1985  OK p a r t y p e o p l e i n t h e h o u s e Y o u ' r e a b o u t t o w i t n e s s s o m e t h i n g you've n e v e r w i t n e s s e d b e f o r e Y e s , i t ' s t h e o r i g i n a l human b e a t - b o x Doug E. F r e s h And h i s p a r t n e r , t h e g r a n d w i z a r d , MC R i c k y D D-and t h a t ' s me and t h e p l a c e t o be We're g o i n g t o show you how we do i t f o r '85 Kick i t l i v e , a l l right? B e c a u s e I have a f u n n y f e e l i n g you're a l l s i c k of t h e s e c r a p r a p p e r s b i t i n g t h e i r rhymes b e c a u s e t h e y ' r e back s t a b b e r s B u t when i t comes t o me and my f r i e n d Doug F r e s h , h e r e T h e r e i s no c o m p e t i t i o n c a u s e we a r e t h e b e s t , yeh F i n e s s e , i m p r e s s w h i c h we p r o v e And y o u ' l l r e a l i z e we a r e t h e move So l i s t e n c l o s e so y ' a l l d o n ' t m i s s As we go a l i t t l e s o m e t h i n ' l i k e t h i s -- H i t i t [Doug E. F r e s h s t a r t s t o b e a t b o x ] You know w h a t ? L a - D i , L a - D i , Da-Di, Da-Di, La-Di-Da-Di You know what - r e p e a t t h i s - L a - D i - D a - D i We l i k e t o p a r t y , we d o n ' t c a u s e t r o u b l e , we d o n ' t b o t h e r nobody We're j u s t some men who a r e on t h e mike And when we r o c k upon t h e m i k e we r o c k t h e m i k e - r i g h t For a l l y ' a l l k e e p i n g y ' a l l i n h e l l J u s t t o s e e you s m i l e and e n j o y y o u r s e l f C a u s e i t ' s c o o l when you c a u s e a c o z y c o n d i t i o n T h a t ' s what we c r e a t e c a u s e t h a t ' s our m i s s i o n So l i s t e n t o what we s a y b e c a u s e t h i s t y p e of s h i t i s happens e v e r y d a y I woke up a r o u n d t e n o ' c l o c k i n t h e m o r n i n g I g i v e m y s e l f a s t r e t c h and a m o r n i n ' y a w n i n ' Went t o t h e b a t h r o o m t o wash up Had some s o a p on my f a c e and my hand upon a cup I s a i d , " m i r r o r , m i r r o r on t h e w a l l who i s t h e t o p c h o i c e o f them a l l ? T h e r e was r u m b l e - d u b l e , f i v e m i n u t e s i t l a s t e d The m i r r o r a n s w e r e d , "You a r e , you c o n c e i t e d b a s t a r d " W e l l , t h a t ' s t r u e , t h a t ' s why we n e v e r have no b e e f So t h e n I washed o f f t h e s o a p and b r u s h e d t h e g o l d t e e t h Used o i l o f o l a y c a u s e my s k i n g e t s p a l e Then I g o t t h e f i l e s f o r my f i n g e r n a i l s Chewed t h r o u g h t h e n i g h t , and on my b e h a l f I p u t t h e b u b b l e s i n t h e t u b so I c o u l d have a b u b b l e b a t h C l e a n , d r y , was my body and h a i r I t h r e w on my b r a n d new G u c c i u n d e r w e a r F o r a l l t h e g i r l s t h a t I m i g h t t a k e home I g o t t h e J o h n s o n ' s baby powder and t h e P o l o c o l o g n e F r e s h , d r e s s e d l i k e a m i l l i o n bucks  215 "La-Di-Da-Di"  (cont'd)  Threw on t h e V a l i e s h o e s and t h e f l y g r e e n s o c k s S t e p p e d o u t o f my h o u s e , s t o p p e d s h o r t -- "Oh, no" I went back i n , I f o r g o t my k a n g o l Then I d i l l y - d a l l i e d , I r a n t h r o u g h an a l l e y I bumped i n t o my o l d g i r l , S a l l y , f r o m t h e v a l l e y T h i s i s a g i r l p l a y e d h a r d t o g e t , so I s a i d , "What's w r o n g ? " c a u s e she l o o k e d u p s e t She s a i d , " i t ' s a l l b e c a u s e o f you I'm f e e l i n g s a d and b l u e You went away and now my l i f e i s f i l l e d w i t h r a i n y d a y s And I l o v e d you s o , how much y o u ' l l n e v e r know Cause you t o o k y o u r l o v e away f r o m me [ c r y i n g ] Now what was I t o do? She was c r y i n g o v e r me, she was f e e l i n g b l u e I s a i d " d o n ' t c r y , d r y y o u r e y e , h e r e comes y o u r m o t h e r w i t h t h o s e two l i t t l e g u y s " Her mean m o t h e r s t e p p e d up, s a i d t o me, " h i " L o o k e d S a l l y i n t h e f a c e and d e c k e d her i n t h e eye P u n c h e d h e r i n t h e b e l l y and s t e p p e d on h e r f e e t Slammed t h e c h i l d on t h e h a r d c o n c r e t e The b i t c h was s t r o n g , t h e k i d s was gone S o m e t h i n g was w r o n g , I s a i d , "what i s g o i n g o n ? " I t r i e d t o b r e a k i t up, I s a i d , " s t o p i t , l e a v e h e r " She s a i d , " i f I c a n ' t have you she c a n ' t e i t h e r " She g r a b b e d me c l o s e l y by my s o c k s So I b r o k e t h e h e l l o u t , l i k e I had t h e c h i c k e n pox B u t she g a v e c h a s e , she c a u g h t up q u i c k She p u t a f i n g e r i n t h e f a c e o f MC R i c k She s a i d , "why d o n ' t you g i v e me a p l a n So we c a n go c r u i s i n g i n my OJ And i f you g i v e me t h a t OK, I ' l l g i v e you a l l my l o v e t o d a y R i c k y , R i c k y , R i c k y c a n ' t you s e e Some how y o u r w o r d s j u s t h y p n o t i z e me And I j u s t l o v e y o u r j a z z y w a y s , o h , MC R i c k My l o v e i s h e r e t o s t a y " And on and on and on and o n , she k e p t on The b i t c h been a r o u n d b e f o r e my m o t h e r ' s b o r n I s a i d , "Cheer up" and g a v e h e r a k i s s I s a i d , "You c a n ' t have me, I'm t o o young f o r y o u , m i s s " She s a y s , "no, y o u ' r e n o t " t h e n she s t a r t s c r y i n g I s a y s , "I'm n i n e t e e n " she s a y s , " s t o p l y i n g " I s a y s , " I am, go ask my m o t h e r , and w i t h y o u r w r i n k l e d p u s s y I c a n ' t be y o u r l o v e r " ( h e , he, he) t i c y t i c t i c you d o n ' t s t o p t o t h e t i c t o e you d o n ' t q u i t Hit i t [beatboxing]  216 "Is  It  Run-D.M.C.  Live?"  1986  The m i c r o p h o n e m a s t e r D.M.C. c a u s e s 1-2-3-4 c a s u a l t i e s Y o u ' l l be p r a i s i n g D down on y o u r k n e e s c a u s e I'm p o p p i n g and j u m p - s t o m p i n g a l l MCs C o n n e c t , d e j e c t and c o l l e c t r e s p e c t Get down t o t h e s o u n d c a u s e I come d i r e c t So when I w r i t e , d o n ' t b i t e and I m i g h t c h e c k And i f I f i n d y o u r b e h i n d I ' l l b r e a k y o u r neck I t ' s w o r l d - r e n o w n e d r a p p e r r e a d y t o have f u n You r e a s o n w i t h t h e r e c o r d c a u s e i t ' s made by Run I t ' s d e f -- y o u were l e f t i n a t o t a l s t u n So b u s t t h e moves w h i l e I p r o v e whose number one Got q u a l i t y and s k i l l b o t h b e y o n d b e l i e f Do I s t e a l ? Be f o r r e a l , I'm n o t a t h i e f D i c t a t o r and h a t e r — I b u i l t t h a t beat T h a t ' s r i g h t , I c a n f i g h t and I'm t h e c h i e f P e o p l e i n t h e p l a c e d o n ' t p u t D down I'm t h e m i c r o p h o n e m a s t e r , t h e b e s t a r o u n d T h e r e ' s n o t t o o many o f my t y p e and a l l r a p t i t l e s I w i l l s w i p e You s e e me t a l k i n g t o a g i r l A sweet young t h i n g w i t h j e r r i - c u r l s I n e v e r , e v e r wore a b r a i d Got t h e p e e z i e s t [ ? ] h a i r and s t i l l g e t p a i d W e l l I'm d r o p p i n g MCs w i t h j u s t one punch C a u s e I'm t h e b a d d e s t on t h e b o a t They c a l l me C a p t a i n C r u n c h S l a y i n g MCs, m a k i n g them w a l k t h e p l a n k and w a t c h i n g them w h i l e t h e y swab t h e deck w h i l e I c o u n t my bank I'm t h e w i z a r d o f w o r d s , t h e r u l e r o f r a p Not s o f t , n o t a s u c k e r , c o u l d n e v e r be a sap You m i g h t g e t j a c k e d c a u s e you t a l k c r a p When I b u s t my r a p t h e y a l l s t e p back I'm p l a y i n g on s t a g e , Run's on my l e f t On h i s r i g h t , on t h e m i k e , I r e c i t e "I'm d e f " because e v e r y p e r f o r m e r i s o n l y a l l gonner Keep a l l s i s s y s o f t s u c k e r s o f f my c o r n e r . [Is i t l i v e ? commercial]  —  repeated several  Cause D a r y l Mack w o u l d do C a u s e I'm a s o p h i s t i c a t e d I t ' s s e r v i n g you s u c k e r s , It's rocking this party I f a g i r l i e t r y t o p i n me? I won't a l l o w h e r  t i m e s t o t h e t u n e of t h e Memorex  things l i k e that sound, not s o f t or sour s e l l i n g dreams i n t h e shower h o u r , h o u r , a f t e r hour (What's up w i t h t h a t ? )  217  "Is I t L i v e ? "  (cont'd)  C o o l c h i e f r a p p e r , I s e e a g i r l and t a p h e r Then I t a k e h e r on t h e dance f l o o r I f she don't dance I s l a p her The g i r l s t a r t t o c r y and t h e c r o w d ask me why I f Run s a y s "Dance", you do o r d i e  218 "My  Rhyme A i n ' t  Done"  LL  Cool J  The P r e s i d e n t wake and he c a l l e d t h e Pope He a s k e d the, L o r d t o r a i s e M i c h a e l a n g e l o f r o m t h e dead so he c o u l d make a f r e s h p a i n t i n g o f my head Then I hung o u t w i t h t h e K i n g and t h e Queen and t h e Queen p u t me down w i t h a p o l o team The way I s c o r e d p o i n t s a l l a r o u n d t h e c l o c k I had t h e i r d a u g h t e r , t h e P r i n c e s s , r i d i n g my j o c k I knocked the f r e a k o f f l i k e a c r a z y r e t a r d Then I t o o k a l i t t l e t r i p i n t o a deck o f c a r d s The diamond j a c k , j o k e r and t h e ace of s p a d e s was amazed a t Cut C r e a t o r on t h e f a d e Then I p l a y e d c a r d s w i t h t h e q u e e n of c l u b s The q u e e n o f h e a r t s and me f e l l c o l d i n l o v e As f o r t h e q u e e n of d i a m o n d s -- she d o n ' t l i k e men c a u s e you know t h a t a diamond i s a g i r l ' s b e s t f r i e n d The d o u b l e t r o u b l e s p a d e , was named a duce and t h e j o k e r a c t e d s t u p i d so we gave him t h e news T h e r e were 52 c a r d s and I met e v e r y o n e T h a t s t o r y i s o v e r , b u t my rhyme a i n ' t done. Then I t o o k a t r i p t o t h e c e n t r e o f t h e e a r t h I was k i n d a s c a r e d so E L o v e went f i r s t I met t h e s e f u n n y l o o k i n g p e o p l e , t h e y c a l l them s k e e z e r s so h e l d o n t o my w a l l e t l i k e E b e n e z e r T i g h t l e a t h e r p a n t s t h a t w i l l make you g r u n t Two n i c e s o f t t h i n g s r i g h t up f r o n t The c e n t r e o f t h e e a r t h a i n ' t g o t no c r i m e j u s t p e o p l e body r o c k i n g t o t h e LL rhyme I f y o u ' r e k i n d a c o n f u s e d a b o u t what a s k e e z e r i s I t ' s j u s t a g i r l whose on my j o c k c a u s e I'm i n Show B i z There were a whole l o t of s k e e z e r s — I dogged e v e r y o n e T h a t s t o r y i s o v e r , b u t my rhyme a i n ' t done Woke up l a t e i n t h e a f t e r n o o n r e a l i z e d I was i n t h e w o r l d o f c a r t o o n s He-Man t o l d me he'd b e a t me up b e c a u s e he t h o u g h t I l o o k e d l i k e D o n a l d Duck Then I hung o u t w i t h S p i d e r m a n He t o l d me he was g o i n g t o s t a r t a c o m i c s t r i p band The i n c r e d i b l e H u l k was g o i n g t o p l a y t h e drums C h a r l e s Brown g r a b b e d a g u i t a r and s t a r t e d t o s t r u m Snoopy t r i e d t o r o c k on t h e m i c r o p h o n e b u t Tom and J e r r y b o t h s a i d he s h o u l d l e a v e i t a l o n e Then I hung o u t w i t h M i c k e y Mouse He had two f r e a k s , so we went t o h i s h o u s e M i c k e y ' s f r e a k was u g l y , b u t mine was def so I k n o c k e d i t o f f t i l l t h e r e w a s n ' t none l e f t T h e r e were c a r t o o n c h a r a c t e r s and I met e v e r y o n e T h a t s t o r y i s o v e r , b u t my rhyme a i n ' t done  1987  219 "My  Rhyme A i n ' t  Done"  (cont'd)  S i n c e I'm a good f r i e n d o f F a t h e r Time I'm n o t g e t t i n g o l d e r as I s a y t h i s rhyme I was warm i n t h e snow a t t h e Alamo Before • — I s t o l e t h e show I was down w i t h G e o r g e a t t h e D e l a w a r e b u t I wore a K a n g o l , n o t t h e f a k e w h i t e h a i r Me a n d E L o v e met S i t t i n g B u l l We made a p e a c e p i p e , t h e n we t o o k a p u l l Then he b r o u g h t more l e a v e s f r o m a g o l d e n c h e s t He t h o u g h t i t was t o b a c c o , t h e s h i t was c e s t T h e r e was a l o t o f g r e a t men a n d I met e v e r y o n e T h a t s t o r y i s o v e r , b u t my rhyme a i n ' t done E l e v e n t h i r t y - t h r e e , I swear i t ' s no s o o n e r I went i n s i d e my T.V., met t h e Honeymooners R a l p h w a n t e d me t o b u s t a c o u p l e o f rhymes b u t I had my e y e s on A l i c e ' s b e h i n d N o r t o n came down r i g h t a b o u t t h a t t i m e l o o k i n g i n t h e f r i d g e s o we c o u l d s w i n e and d i n e Then I s a i d t o m y s e l f I s h o u l d g i v e them a t a s t e so I p u l l t h e m i c r o p h o n e o u t o f my b l a c k b r i e f c a s e S a i d i t a i n ' t Bob Hope o r B a r r y M a n i l o w Then I b o r r o w e d N o r t o n ' s h a t c a u s e I f o r g o t my K a n g o l R a l p h s a i d , " I g o t a scheme, l e t me g e t t o i t — N o r t o n , my p a l " I s a i d , "Yo, d o n ' t e v e n do i t " They were a l l Honeymooners and I met e v e r y o n e T h i s s t o r y i s o v e r , b u t my rhyme a i n ' t done Cause my t o n g u e i s s h a r p , I h i t a n o t e l i k e a h a r p L i k e a h a r m o n i c a v e r o n i c a [ ? ] I do my p a r t I n a bedroom w i t h l e g room, I'm s h o r t l i k e a monsoon C h i l l e d , mauwi-wauwi, I c a r r y a h a r p o o n — style A l i c e ' s s m i l i n g c a u s e we g o t i l l W r o t e my name on a r o c k a t t h e t o p o f t h e h i l l I s e r v e d a l l t h e w a y s , made l o v e i n c a v e s I k i c k e d t h e L b e a s t [ ? ] a n d made t h e n a t i v e s r a g e Now I'm g o i n g t o t e l l y o u what a l l t h i s means From Thomas B o u l e v a r d , S t . A l b i n s , Queens T h e r e ' s a l y r i c a l t e c h n i c i a n who came t o p l a y Number one B-Boy — LL C o o l J A l l o f t h i s i s j u s t a s t o r y t h a t I made up Def l i n e s I s a y on t i m e as Cut C r e a t o r c u t s Some o f i t ' s f i c t i o n , some o f i t ' s f a c t Not a n o t h e r c o m i c r a p w i t h a h e a v y drum t r a c k A w h o l e l o t o f rhymes and I w r o t e e v e r y one T h a t s t o r y i s o v e r and my rhyme i s done  220 "Go See t h e D o c t o r "  Kook Moe Dee  1987  I was w a l k i n g down t h e s t r e e t , r o c k i n g my b e a t C l a p p i n g my hands and s t o m p i n g my f e e t I saw a l i t t l e l a d y s o n e a t and p e t i t e She was s o sweet -- Y a , I w a n t e d t o meet h e r So I a s k e d t h i s l a d y i f I c o u l d t a k e h e r o u t We c o u l d w i n e and d i n e and t a l k a b o u t t h e b i r d s and t h e b e e s a n d my w a t e r b e d And y o u c a n t r e a t me l i k e a Buddha and bow y o u r head We c o n t i n u e d t o t a l k a n d b e f o r e y o u knew i t we were a t my house and i t was t i m e t o do i t As s o o n as I ' d f i n i s h e d I l o s t my p o i s e Ran o u t s i d e and t o l d a l l my b o y s I s a i d , " L i s t e n up f e l l o w s , come o v e r h e r e - b u s t i t " They s a i d , " D i d y o u g e t i t ? " I s a i d , " Y a " , t h e y s a i d , "How was i t ? " The p o o n t a n g was dope and y o u know t h a t I r o c k e d h e r But t h r e e d a y s l a t e r — go s e e t h e d o c t o r I rocked her t o the l e f t , I rocked her t o the r i g h t She f e l t s o g o o d , hugged me s o t i g h t I s a i d , "Good n i g h t " T h r e e d a y s l a t e r , woke up f u s s i n g , y e l l i n g and c u s s i n g D r i p , d r i p , d r i p p i n g and p u s s , p u s s , p u s s i n g Went i n t o t h e b a t h r o o m and s a i d , "Mummamia" I'm g o i n g t o k i l l t h a t g i r l n e x t t i m e I s e e h e r The madder I g o t t h e more I r e m i n i s c e d Why was my t h i c k t h i n g b u r n i n g l i k e t h i s ? W e l l I remember t h e f i r s t day I saw t h a t g i r l I j u s t c o u l d n ' t w a i t t o rock her w o r l d I s a i d , "Hey, good l o o k i n g , w h a t ' d y o u g o t c o o k i n g ? " What h a v e I done s t u c k my d i c k i n And now I know why h e r e x - b o y f r i e n d Dave c a l l s h e r M r s . M i c r o w a v e Cause s h e was h o t t e r t h a n an o v e n a n d I had t o l e a r n t h e h a r d way S t a y i n a microwave t o o l o n g , you g e t burned But t h e p o o n t a n g i s dope and y o u know t h a t I r o c k e d h e r B u t t h r e e d a y s l a t e r — go s e e t h e d o c t o r I went t o t h e d o c t o r ' s o f f i c e , I s a i d , "What do I g o t ? " He s a i d , " T u r n a r o u n d , b o y , and t a k e t h i s s h o t " I l o o k e d a t h i m l i k e he was c r a z y and I s a i d , "What — a i n ' t nobody s t i c k i n n o t h i n ' i n my b u t t " He t u r n e d and s a i d , i n a r e a l deep v o i c e "Have i t y o u r way i f t h a t ' s y o u r c h o i c e I ' l l p u t i t down i f y o u want me t o p u t i t But d o n ' t blame me i f i t t u r n s i n t o a f e e t E x t e n d e d f r o m t h e m i d d l e o f y o u r body And n e x t t i m e y o u s e e a c u t e h o t t y [ ? ] You won't be a b l e t o s c r e w , t h e o n l y t h i n g y o u c a n do i s k i c k h e r So go t a k e k a r a t e  221  "Go See t h e D o c t o r "  (cont'd)  As I t u r n e d a r o u n d t o r e c e i v e my i n j e c t i o n I s a i d n e x t t i m e I ' l l u s e some p r o t e c t i o n I f I s e e a n o t h e r g i r l and I g e t an e r e c t i o n I'm w a l k i n ' i n t h e o t h e r d i r e c t i o n C a u s e I d o n ' t want t o do t h e s i c k , s i c k dance So I'm k e e p i n g my p r i c k i n s i d e my p a n t s And i f I s e e a n o t h e r g i r l and I know I c a n r o c k h e r B e f o r e I p u s h - u p I ' l l make h e r go s e e t h e d o c t o r  222 "Protect  Yourself"  The  F a t Boys  Yo, K o o l , I'm t e l l i n ' y o u , t h e r e ' s a l o t o f d i s e a s e o u t Word! AIDS and e v e r y t h i n g , man, y o , you g o t t a be c a r e f u l man Word up! Yo, s o we want t o t e l l a l l t h e homeboys o u t t h e r e T h i s i s a message c o m i n ' f r o m t h e F a t Boys Fat Boys! F a t Boys! You know what I'm s a y i n ' ? I t goes l i k e t h i s Now, t h e r e ' s s o m e t h i n g r e a l o l d , b u t s t i l l h o t news It's been a r o u n d s i n c e L i n c o l n , b u t o u t o f v i e w You'd s t u f f i t i n y o u r w a l l e t s o y o u r mom c a n ' t s e e It's c a l l e d a condom, b a b y , and you b e t t e r b e l i e v e I t a i n ' t u n d e r t h e s h e l f , now, i t ' s on d i s p l a y With a l l t h i s disease going around today You need p e a c e o f mind when y o u do t h e w i l d t h i n g So, a condom, b r o t h e r , d o n ' t f o r g e t t o b r i n g Protect yourself! Word! p r o t e c t y o u r s e l f ! Get b u s y ! Protect yourself! M a r k i e Dee c a n y o u g e t f u n k y , now? Now c h e c k t h i s o u t , l i s t e n t o me r e a l c l e a r Now, i f what I s a y s o u n d s a l i t t l e b i t s l e a z y I f u s i n g a condom makes y o u f e e l k i n d o f q u e a s y Don't t a k e i t t o o h a r d 'cause t h e r e ' s no doubt T h a t modern d i s e a s e s c a n t a k e y o u o u t So, d o n ' t be ashamed, t a k e one when y o u go d a n c i n ' And u s e t h e condom f o r a l i t t l e r o m a n c i n ' C a u s e b e i n g s a f e d o n ' t mean y o u ' r e weak And y o u won't f i n d y o u r s e l f up t h e c r e e k Protect Protect Protect  yourself! yourself! yourself!  Word! P r o t e c t y o u r s e l f ! Homeboy! My man, i f I was y o u , I ' d . . .  1987  there  223 APPENDIX I I  GLOSSARY  bad  - good  battle  - a h i p hop c o m p e t i t i o n  b-boy,  - originally  b-girl  hopper  a b r e a k d a n c e r , now any h i p  o r someone "down" w i t h h i p hop;  someone w i t h  t h e s t y l e of a h i p hopper  b e a t box  - an e l e c t r o n i c  bite  - t o s t e a l someone's m a t e r i a l  blow  someone away  - to k i l l  drum m a c h i n e  someone; t o i m p r e s s someone;  t o b e a t someone i n a c o m p e t i t o n blow  someone's mind  - t o manipulate another; t o impress; t o overwhelm  bomb  - prolific  graffiti  boogie  - t o move e n e r g e t i c a l l y dance); intense  box,  boom box  break  something  breakdown  - large portable down  - t o make s e n s e - go w i l d  energy  of  deck  something  in a positive  sense  of  displaying  and e n t h u s i a s m  - t o erase or c l e a n o f f g r a f f i t i (especially  bug o u t  (especially to  r a d i o and t a p e  i n t e n s e energy buff  writing  - going wild  f r o m subway  trains)  and c r a z y i n a p o s i t i v e  going f u l l  out, fast  sense;  and f u r i o u s ; t o  m y s t i f y , to impress with a display  of o r i g i n a l i t y ;  acting  n o n - s e n s i c a l or s t r a n g e i n a n e g a t i v e way bust  - t o do s o m e t h i n g an  w i t h enthusiasm; t o outdo  opponent  bust loose  - an e x p l o s i o n o f u n c e n s o r e d  burn  - t o s h o o t someone dead;  emotion  t o b e a t o r show up  an o p p o n e n t i n a " b a t t l e " burner cest  - a graffiti  p i e c e which  opponent;  aesthetically  - high q u a l i t y  marijuana  shows up an superior  graffiti  224 chill  - c o o l , "bad"  c h i l l out  - t o r e l a x ; t o remain calm or a l o o f  cold  betty  - sweat  cold  crushing  - powerful,  colors  devastating  - specifically  c o l o r e d c l o t h e s use t o  i d e n t i f y gang member cool  - emotionally posessing  steady;  i n control;  stylish;  the c o r r e c t a t t i t u d e or  characteristics crush  groovin'  - serious  partying  crew  - a h i p hop g r o u p  cut  - t o s t a b ; t o b e a t someone i n c o m p e t i t i o n ; to  def  disparage  - attractive;  or harass r e a l l y good  (derived  from  •death ) 1  dis  - t o show d i s r e s p e c t  DJ  - disc  jockey  - being  aware, knowledgeable about a  (do)  y o u know what  time i t i s  (?)  dog  situation - to metaphorically put to  down  t o embarass,  down, mess w i t h ; t o t a k e  f o r granted;  disrepect  - t o be p a r t o f , i n w i t h , a g r o u p , a c t i o n or  down by l a w  ideology  - possessing  - having  fly  claim to authority,  sanctioned, veteran  fly  destroy;  legitimate; signifies a  or expert original  or c o o l  attractive, well-dressed; guy, f l y g i r l  - attractive,  stylish,  style; being  wild  c o o l person of t h e  o p p o s i t e sex fierce  -  freak  - name o f a p o p u l a r  outstanding an  e n t h u s i a s t , someone who shows o f f  whatever they an  dance i n t h e l a t e 7 0 ' s ;  have o r do, o u t d o e s  a t t r a c t i v e but strange  girl  others;  225 freak  (out)  - t o have a r e a l l y control,  great  time;  engage i n w i l d or  to  lose  bizarre  behaviour - fantastic,  fresh  b e a u t i f u l , great;  new  and  different front  - to p r o j e c t a f a l s e it;  funk  i m a g e , show o f f ,  fake  t o be i r r e s p o n s i b l e  - earthy,  sexual, natural; i l l - k e p t ,  smelly  in disrepair funky get  fresh  - s u p e r l a t i v e l y good  down  - t o be do  get  over  serious, intently  something e x c e p t i o n a l l y w e l l ;  - t o overcome a s i t u a t i o n , s u r v i v e ; to achieve  get  up (rock)  a l l city  l a r g e amount and  hanging  out  - a principle referring involved casual  hit i t  homegirl  city  ghetto  social or  activities,  looking  for  to  encourage  loose" advances, often i n v o l v i n g  - someone f r o m you who  a l l major  i n the s t r e e t s ,  a d i s p l a y of v e r b a l homeboy,  name on  do  - t o make s e x u a l  on  to  name, e s p e c i a l l y  - to impress w i t h your s k i l l ; "breaking  dance  accomplish  i n the  in informal  something to h i t me,  activity  conversation  to  difficulty;  or t h r o u g h o u t the  to being  aware;  often  - t o have one's g r a f f i t i subway l i n e s  hit  or  - t o w r i t e one's g r a f f i t i in  go  involved,  persuasion  n e i g b o u r h o o d ; someone  shares your s t y l e  or  ideology;  comrade, companion - voice  i m i t a t i o n of a drum m a c h i n e  ill  - looks  bad  illin'  - acting unpredictably,  human b e a t  i n the jam  boxing  house  - at a  i s poorly  done silly,  intense  party  - a record, dance  or  a song, a p i e c e  of m u s i c or  a  226  jet set  fast,  used  active  i n reference  to sexually  females  jock  oenis  juice  i n f l u e n c e , p o w e r , fame, money, t h e ability  to accomplish  a graffiti  king  best  and s u c c e e d  master w r i t e r , acknowledged as  i n h i s area  o r subway  line  lame  ineffective,  MC  r a d i o or discotheque  master of  c e r e m o n i e s ; h i p hop  rapper  on  one's  jock  reference  weak  to a possessive,  sexually aggressive party  people  those  demanding o r  female  who s h a r e t h e h i p hop s t y l e and  ideology; attendees  of a dance  piece  elaborate  poontang  vagina;  posse  same a s c r e w ; g r o u p o f c l o s e f r i e n d s  put  to  some w e i g h t on i t  'love  apply  with  or s u p e r i o r g r a f f i t i  mural  juices'  yourself; attack  the s i t u a t i o n  vigour  rack  to  steal paints for g r a f f i t i writing  raw  great;  rocking  to  new  do s o m e t h i n g w i t h h i g h  (especially dancing);  any r h y t h m i c  energy movement  t o do s o m e t h i n g  like  (especially  p e r f o r m ) v e r y w e l l ; t o e x c e l ; t o compete with  style;  t o s t i m u l a t e t o an  h i g h ; t o engage i n s e x u a l scratching  backcuing sound  serve  to  skeezer  hip  emotional  intercourse  a record to create a desired  effect  o u t d o o r b e a t someone i n " b a t t l e " hop e q u i v a l e n t  to a groupie;  sexually  a c t i v e and a v a i l a b l e f e m a l e soft  l a c k i n g p o t e n c y ; t o be e a s i l y  taken  advantage of soul  the  expressive  nature  c h a r a c t e r i z e black  w h i c h has come t o  culture  227 sport  to  h a v e , buy o r wear s t y l i s h  material  goods; t o l e n d such goods stale  unoriginal, old  stupid  bizarre  behaviour,  superlatively  crazy,  or e x t r a o r d i n a r i l y  sucker  incompetent; without  tag  one's g r a f f i t i  tagging  writing  or s t r e e t  subway  t o b e a t an o p p o n e n t i n a  throwdown  to  and i m p r e s s i v e l y ; t o do  something e x c e p t i o n a l l y real  well  and w i t h  zeal  to perform your b e s t ; a quick move u s e d t o ' s c o r e '  (both  aggressive  an a l l u s i o n t o  the b r i d g e  i n m u s i c and t h e b r i d g e  basketball  hoop)  inexperienced; lacking  voice imitation to  amateur or  on a  beginner;  commitment  characters t u r n i t (you) out  competition  o f dance; t o dance  energetically  transform  spaces,  f i g h t ; t o compete; a c o n t e s t ,  especially  toy  name  trains  take out  the bridge  great  integrity  o n e ' s name i n p u b l i c  especially  to  "goofy";  o f t h e TV  cartoon  the Transformers  ' d e s t r o y ' w i t h a show o f f o r c e o r  skill wack(whack)  substandard;  incorrect;  poorly  performed;  unoriginal wheels of s t e e l  turntables  whiz o f f  piss off  wildstyle  t o be t h e b e s t your  life;  a t w h a t e v e r you do w i t h  h i p hop s t y l e w h i c h i s  particularly wild contorted  graffiti  particularly word!  affirmation  and e l a b o r a t e ; a s t y l e which i s  difficult  t o read  t o acknowledge or support  s t a t e m e n t ; t h a t ' s r i g h t I , how t r u e I  a  

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