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Weekly Write Up V
Maverick A. Garces
University of Washington - Seattle

Weekly Write Up V
Being Hip Hop is much more than speaking, dressing, or acting a certain way. Hip
Hop in itself is a culture of its own, and thus its is more than understandable that Black people
are often infuriated when they see others, especially White folk, wearing their culture as a mere
costumea joke. Its practically no different than the minstrelsy of the past, with the only
defining factor is that the perpetrator is no longer wearing makeup. The culture of Hip Hop is
shared throughout the Black community on the basis of a shared experienceone of oppression
and the resulting awareness and elevation. This knowledge is necessary to truly be apart of the
Hip Hop culture. Thus for this weeks element, I have decided to create a piece that highlights
this essential fifth element.
Awareness and Elevation
As stated above, Hip Hop is much more than the musical and stylistic elements that have
come to symbolize Hip Hop in White America. However, its much more than that. As Harrison
(2015) states in Hip Hop and Race, Hip Hop is first and foremost a mode of political
conscious knowledge building (p. 194). Ever since its conception, Hip Hop in the Black
community has primarily been used as a way to bring awareness to the issues of white
supremacy in hopes of elevating their respective communitys notions of themselvestheir selfworth. It acts to deconstruct the social, cultural, and political boundaries placed around black
bodies (Harrison, p. 195). Without these experiences, Hip Hop inherently doesnt have any real
This is why it is often found to be extremely crude and offensive when white folk attempt
to take a slice of the pie in regards to Hip Hopespecially if they are just going to box Black
people into categories through caricatures performed onstage. As documented in the film,

Blacking Up: Hip Hops Remix of Race and Identity, many white people have attempted to find a
place for them in Hip Hop. These rappers would put their hair in braids and wear dreads.
Others would wear chains, durags, and such in order to take on a Black appearance just for the
hell of it. It was the blackface of the new millennium (Clift, 2010). White folk had, and
perhaps still have such a narrow view of Black folk that when they attempt to take on a Black
appearance, they feel that its appropriate to act as ratchet, ghetto, and hyper-masculine as
possible. And what is even more infuriating is that the white rappers in this documentary even
felt that they were actually giving something back to the community. Many even stated that
the caricatures they were undertaking during performances and their daily lives were not racist
at all (Clift, 2010). The only things they were accomplishing was mimicking the Black
community under this banner of entertainment. I think Paul Mooney puts this outrage and
disapproval of these actions best when he states, When white people start getting shot in the
back by police, they can do all the Hip Hop they want (Clift, 2010). It is all about the

Figure 1. One of the several perpetrators of Black insensitivity from the film Blacking
These same sentiments were mirrored in Moorpheus Magnetiks lecture on the fifth
element of Hip Hop: knowledge. Without the spirit and soul of Hip Hop, youre simply just a

clown. It isnt something that can be patented or repeated (Magnetik, 2016). Hip Hop is
meant to tell a very specific story that most outside the Black community just have no experience
with. As Moorpheus Magnetik (2016) stated, Hip Hop was a way in which Black people could
speak for themselves so other people couldnt miss-tell their story.
And this is why it is so important for Hip Hop to remain a primarily Black culture. We
have already seen the stories of white people millions of times from every angle imaginable.
There is no need or want to see their stories repeated through a Black medium. This is what is so
irksome about Macklemore and other white rappers. Sure, they may not be inherently bad
people, but there is nothing new for me, as a listener, to be gained from their experiences at some
thrift store. However, when you listen to Public Enemies (1990) Fight the Power, you are
listening to a song that contains samples from an entire 20-year span of Black historyin a way,
archiving Black history by sampling beats and vocals from Black artists of generations past
(McLeod, 2015, p. 89). Many from the Black community have given their entire life essence to
Hip HopBlack music is their life, and it deserves to be preserved.

Figure 2. My element for this weekMoorpheus Magnetiks analogy of okra

symbolizing the fifth element of Hip Hop: knowledge just really stuck with me.

Harrison, A. K. Hip Hop and Race. In Shepherd, J., & Devine, Kyle. (2015). The Routledge
reader on the sociology of music. New York, NY; Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
McLeod, K. "5. An Oral History of Sampling: From Turntables to Mashups." In Navas, et al, The
Routledge Companion to Remix Studies. New York: Routledge, 2015.
Clift, R. A. (Producer), & Clift, R. A. (Director). (2010). Blacking Up: Hip-Hop's Remix of Race
and Identity [Motion picture]. San Francisco, CA: California Newsreel.
Magnetik, M. (2016, April 27). 5th element of Hip Hop: KNOWLEDGE. Lecture presented at
Archiving Hip Hop in the Pacific Northwest in University of Washington, Seattle.
Ridenhour, C., Sadler, E., Boxley, H., Boxley, K. (1989). Fight the Power [Recorded by Public
Enemy]. On Fear of a Black Plant [Record]. New York, NY: Motown.