09
Sep
10

Hip Hop: A Way of Life: The Starting Point

I’m interested in details. To the informed eye even the smallest details can reveal something about a subject. In ordinary life one may see lots of things and have no idea about the cultures, habits and lifestyles they allude to. Thus it is so with Hip Hop. The Adidas Superstar (or “shell toe”)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adidas_Superstar) is probably one of the most famous item of Hip Hop fashion. Made famous by 80’s Hip Hop group Run DMC, it is now the choice of B-boys across the world and is so popular that in 2005 Adidas released a 35th anniversary edition, to celebrate this quintessentially Hip Hop shoe. Even if the wearer is not aware of this, the fact remains that by wearing these shoes they are celebrating Hip Hop.

Adidas Superstar and the Far South West of Bolivia

It was this picture that started my on my journey into Hip Hop. As I travelled in the back of a four wheel drive car across the high altitude desert of South Western Bolivia, I realised that this was Hip Hop: there were no rappers, no DJs, no break-dancers or graffiti artists, but the here was the shell toe, thus here was was Hip Hop. This picture also got me thinking about what Hip Hop is. The MC KRS-One said in his song 9 Elements “Rap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live”. This is really the case with much of Hip Hop: DJing alone is not Hip Hop, but the way in which you do it can be. Soul or Funk music is not Hip Hop, but when played in a certain way it is:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcOC3JS5xXY

In this video DJ Biggie B-Boy Beatmaster B is doubling up funk and soul breaks, making them Hip Hop through his mixing techniques. This method of playing records is at the base of Hip Hop music. Back in the late 70s the godfather of Hip Hop Dj Cool Herc realised that B-Boys (break-dancers) only danced to the instrumental break of a song (the part where there is no singing). He found that if he had two copies of the same record he could extend this break by looping it over and over again, keeping the B-Boys on the dance floor. This looping and sampling is the basis for most Hip Hop music.

I find this idea of making something Hip Hop through actions very interesting, and when I took the picture of the shoe above, I felt it fitted this idea of Hip Hop being something you live: I was rough travelling though South America, but by being me and having the shoes, I was making this experience, at least in some small way, Hip Hop.

Tune to check out for this post: KRS-One 9 Elements from the album Kristyles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGQ0tBfoRVw

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3 Responses to “Hip Hop: A Way of Life: The Starting Point”


  1. 09/09/2010 at 11:38 am

    i like this post a whole lot. i just started blogging as well, mostly bout Hip Hop in my country Zambia.

  2. 20/09/2010 at 8:48 pm

    Interesting article. I’m not into Hip-Hop myself, but I did used to own a pair of “shell-toes”, god that brings back memories – I wanna another pair now 😀
    I like the angle you’ve taken with this post.


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