Hip Hop: A Way of Life: Derby

In my original post I said that I felt many people see Hip Hop as a wholly negative art form, focusing on violence, greed and misogyny. In his foreword to That’s The Joint! The Hip Hop Studies Reader edited by Foreman and Anthony Neal, Hip Hop academic Michael Eric Dyson says that while critics like to focus upon Hip Hop’s obsession with materialism, stereotypes, offensive views and hedonism “… this argument demands little engagement with Hip Hop; these views don’t require much beyond attending to surface symptoms of a culture that offers far more depth and colour when it’s taken seriously…”

This week I went to Derby to meet MC Reggiimental (see picture) and he took me to meet some of the people involved with the Hip Hop scene there. At Baby J Studios I met producer and rapper Rukus. He had this to say when I interviewed him: Rukus on Hip Hop I think his comments on the the different levels of  rap are very interesting. I can think of many MCs such as KRS-One, Nas and Kool G Rap who, while making hardcore records have also made some of the deepest, most philosophical tracks. Nas’s I gave you power and Kool G Rap’s Streets of New York spring to mind. It seems that many critics are quick to jump on the records that portray a negative image, while conveniently ignoring those songs that convey more enlightened observations.

This trip to Derby also gave me the opportunity to begin to get the type of pictures and subject matter I am looking for with this project. Reggiimental was kind enough to invite me into his home, meet his daughter and her mother and cook me dinner. Throughout this whole experience I was struck by his humanity, open-mindedness and generosity. For me this again confirmed my view that Hip Hop is so much more than the its critics would have us believe. No where in my discussions with Reggiimental, or during our tour of Derby, did I hear any indication that he bought into any of the more commercial aspects of the culture. I hope the pictures associated with this blog can begin to convey some of my message, that of humanity among Hip Hoppers.

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