Rap and hip-hop culture as we know it today has undergone tremendous growth over the recent decades. From its origin in New York's toughest and dangerous suburbs in the 1970s such as South Orejuela, to what we now know today as one of the most commercially viable music genres. Notwithstanding the challenges the pioneer artistes had to undergo and the stereotype still associated with hip-hop culture, we can all agree that rap music has indeed come along way.
Origins of the rap culture
Having originated in the suburbs of New York in the mid-1970s, rap culture has defied the boundaries and just like the spread of internet, the hip-hop culture is being felt from all the corners of the universe. The rap culture developed from DJing, MCing, turf dancing, sound innovation and expressionist graffiti by the members of the African American community. The pioneers in this industry voiced their support for the then-popular movements that were seeking to address challenges emanating from racism, poverty, and economic suppression. Hip-hop has therefore left a permanent mark in the lives of most African American and its influence cannot be gainsaid. It is therefore not surprising that the Oakland Museum of California, early this year identified the hip-hop culture among the topmost captivating cultural movements of the last half-century.
Bay Area hip-hop culture
One intriguing place where hip-hop has stayed true to its roots is Bay Area, California. It is popularly referred to as the land of nonconformists and self made hip hop rappers because of its vibrant underground culture. Its rappers pride themselves as people who have taken the destiny of their music in their own hands and just like their predecessors in the industry, they sell their mix tapes at the back of their car trunks. With a young and energetic population, Bay Area has cut a niche for itself as a city where the hip-hop culture continues to be developed as it grows its tentacles reaching the worldwide populace. In the words of Mr. de Guzman who is the director of the exhibition strategy at Oakland Museum of California, the hip-hop culture is more than commercial rap. It transcends our differences and tells the real American stories. And despite the skepticism with which rap music was received in its formative years, it is not in doubt that Bay Area has played a very critical role in preserving the hip-hop culture and continues to do so today. Bay area has a rich history when it comes to hip-hop culture. Its hip hop landscape is bestridden by all genres that are associated with rap music, from internationally respected rap artists to gangster rappers. This shows the versatility that Bay Area represents in the rap movement. One important role played by the hip-hop artists in Bay Area is their effort to change the narrative that rap is only associated with violence, misogyny and other forms of crime. The collaboration with organizations such as Oakland Museum of California and Youth Speaks has played a vital role in appreciating and developing the rap culture. For instance, the recently held hip-hop exhibition brought together renowned rappers who have been in the industry for quite a while and who play a mentoring role to the upcoming artists. Artistes such as MC Hammer and Too Short are the face of conscious hip-hop rappers. They both exhibit rare political assertiveness and entrepreneurism which has come to be associated with Bay Area. Conscious hip-hop is what has differentiated Bay Area with other towns and cities around. The rapid and unprecedented growth of conscious hip-hop over the years has attracted a very loyal fan base who appreciates the message fronted by music.
Dynamism exhibited by Bay Area artists By not letting challenges weigh them down artistes have found innovative ways to commercialize their music while all along maintaining the original hip-hop culture. This is why rapper Too Short was able to sell his mix-tapes on his car trunks, therefore, creating his own trademark without necessarily being beholden down by record labels. It is that kind of dynamism that Bay Area represents. Additionally, the exhibition showed the other distinctive features associated with hip-hop culture. Photography, graffiti, street break dancing and beat making are some of the events that spiced up this whole festivity. It brought with it the relishing memories of the 80s and 90s before it attracted the mainstream America. What continues to make Bay Area special is that despite hip-hop in other areas growing to mean only rap, this has not been the case with it. The reason is that it has remained true to its origins having being propelled by the ever-vibrant labor movements and the underground inner city culture driven by the youth. It is therefore not surprising to find DJ's serving at clubs and dance parties' rhythmic music with break-dancers showcasing their skills and graffiti artists in the other side of town doing their magic on the public walls. Similarly, MCs still play their all-important role as was the distinctive feature of the culture known as hip hop. To understand the dynamism exhibited by hip hop rappers in Bay Area, a comparison with other rap movements that have existed before is important. For instance the answer to the then Los Angeles g-funk in the 1990s was Mobb music. It is from such homegrown hard edge style that rappers such as Too Short thrived with some of their hits going Bay Area should, therefore, be enumerated for preserving rap culture while simultaneously promoting the artistic and commercial development of the rappers. It is the best place where the artists control both the production and distribution of their music. What in essence Bay Area has successfully done, is defying the commercialization of hip-hop by corporate entities whose main objective is making profits irrespective of the welfare of the artists and development of the hip-hop industry.
The emergence of Dynamic Young Artists
Over the years young, ambitious and extremely talented rappers have emerged from Bay Area and go on to conquer the hip-hop industry. They exhibit a rare hunger for prosperity but still look forward to maintaining the traditional hip-hop culture. One such artist is who has shown a promising future in the hip-hop field is Magnitude 7.
Magnitude 7 is a unique artiste in the real definition of the word. He has a way with his words that draws one's ears to every word, phrase and punch lines that he serenades the airwaves with. Having established himself as a poet-songwriter, magnitude 7 is conscious of the fact that fans require more than a nice beat to draw their attention to music. Having started as a poetic rap artist at a tender age, it has been a real transformation for this young rapper who is conscious of the message in his music sends. His lyrics are easier to understand and identify with having learned from the best Bay Area has to offer. Magnitude 7 draws his inspiration from some legendary Bay Area rappers such as E-40, Too Short and MC Hammer, to name but a few, he expresses his creative and distinct style in an effortless manner which he seems to have learned over years.
What makes Magnitude 7 tick is that he has remained true to himself and maintained a positive outlook on life not letting the surrounding environment of despair, substance abuse, and commercial greed define his character as it so often does to many young people. He brings a fresh breath of hip-hop music which he seeks to set him apart from the rest of the crew, therefore, giving him an edge in the ever-increasing competitive hip-hop arena. His versatility has also played a part in his quick ascent in the industry as he is a person who believes in change when necessary Check out for his recent releases and you will surely appreciate not only his flow but also the conscious message he passes.
Bay Area Hip Hop Scenes
Bay Area hip-hop scene can be easily distinguished from what is going on commercially and the hip-hop culture practiced in other cities. For once, in the 1990s, most artists were signed to the major record labels. However, this has since changed with the hip-hop scene being underground and independent labels have sprouted out taking over from the once vibrant major labels. What has made this dynamic change and differentiated Bay Area with other cities is the envious history of political and community activism and not forgetting social justice movements long associated with Bay Area. Therefore, whereas other cities hip-hop culture evolved to mean rap, Bay Area has stayed put to the original representative hip-hop culture that also incorporates the graffiti scene, dance breaking, DJing, and MCing.
Hip hop and it connection to politics scene
There is an intersection between Bay Area hip hop culture and the world of politics. This is the reason why the heavyweights of hip hop world Bay Area are sons and daughters of the all political conscious activists. Artists here, therefore, have an outward look at the musical scene and therefore set to use their position to influence positive movement in the community. Though a good number of people have tried to disassociate the connection between hip hop and politics, this has been a little difficult because of the environment itself that rappers are interacting with. For instance, the Black Panthers did a lot of social awareness which was meant to strike the conscience of the people and hence a wake-up call. This found its way in the musical and art scene therefore in grating itself to the hip hop culture
Conscious hip hop Scene
As had been pointed out earlier in this article, conscious hip hop remains a distinctive feature of the rap culture in Bay Area. It denotes hip hope rap that is respectful to the audience and listeners at large and being mindful of the language used. It transcends the normal message that commercial hip hop has come to be known for and goes deep to the soul of their fan base. For instance, Bay Area artists are renowned for creating awareness in their community, therefore, acting as ambassadors who look to bring the aspirations of their members through their music. Surprisingly, as many would expect from most hip hop rappers to use the N word and other swear words, the underground culture rappers rarely sue such word. However, this is not to say that turf rap is not produced in Bay Area. This being a common occurrence in the violent hot spots of the city where most of the hardcore music trace its origin. United Roots has been holding hip hop camps that offer free training among the youths which has largely played a big role in promoting conscious hip hop.
Some brief facts on rap and hip hop culture that are still alive in Bay Area
With hip hop tracing its roots African American history, the rappers from Bay Area have remained true in advocating for the communities affairs and this is the reason why the underground industry is more vibrant there than in any other city
The hip hop culture has widely been used as an introductory course for students who have no music background. Organizations in Bay Area such as Youth Speaks and Oakland Museum of California continue to hold hip hop camps for kids and youths on the hip hop culture. In addition, the Oakland Museum has created an interactive exhibit about hip hop while all along displaying artifacts used by DJ Grandmaster Flex who was a pioneer DJ in New York
In staying true to the original hip hop culture of the underground rap artists in Bay Area have sort to dispense the controversies associated with rap music such as violence, substance abuse and racial stereotyping
The original hip hop culture should at all cost be protected and just like it has remained a pride for the Bay Area hip hop rappers, other cities should seek to learn from them on how they can edge a living from rap music without compromising on the culture.. It is no doubt that Bay Area remains a true reflection of what the hip hop culture represents and will remain to be so in the foreseeable future.