Is hip-hop a "culture"?

hogginthefogghogginthefogg 6,098 Posts
edited March 2016 in Music Talk
It's been a while since we've opened this particular can of worms. I vote no.It's a musical genre, period. You can argue that the four elements make it a culture, but I call bullshit on that, too. Reggae has DJs, MCs, specific dances, and--if you count L.A. Lewis--grafitti (joking). But no one says, "I'm reggae! Dancehall is something you do, reggae is something you live." The same argument could be made for country music. And it would also be ridiculous. And don't try to tell me that "urban black culture" is hip-hop culture. That's narrow-minded and--here you go--racist. I know plenty of black people who live in cities who hate hip-hop. Please add on until page 10 is reached.
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  • hmmm...this is interesting...I say yes, and no...for various reasons...I think initially yes...it was...now, it's not....it began with communal/connected community...whereas now...no...

  • Big_ChanBig_Chan 5,088 Posts
    Thank you for starting this thread Ross. This should be good! I vote no as well. True "Culture" needs to be deeper than the four elements and needs a much longer history than something from the 1970s. I guess you could call hip-hop "Popular" culture.


  • HAZHAZ 3,373 Posts
    Reggae has DJs, MCs, specific dances, and--if you count L.A. Lewis--grafitti (joking). But no one says, "I'm reggae! Dancehall is something you do, reggae is something you live." The same argument could be made for country music. And it would also be ridiculous.

    I don't know if music itself can be a culture, but it's a facet of culture. I can't picture some one saying "I'm reggae", but its a part of Caribbean culture. Country music is a facet of american culture.

  • Reggae has DJs, MCs, specific dances, and--if you count L.A. Lewis--grafitti (joking). But no one says, "I'm reggae! Dancehall is something you do, reggae is something you live." The same argument could be made for country music. And it would also be ridiculous.

    I don't know if music itself can be a culture, but it's a facet of culture. I can't picture some one saying "I'm reggae", but its a part of Caribbean culture. Country music is a facet of american culture.

    I know a lot of Jamaicans who don't like most reggae.

  • faux_rillzfaux_rillz 14,343 Posts

    And don't try to tell me that "urban black culture" is hip-hop culture. That's narrow-minded and--here you go--racist. I know plenty of black people who live in cities who hate hip-hop.

    Well, I definitely don't think that, but there is/are such a thing as Black youth culture(s), of which rap music can be an element (arrgggh!) that may or may not be embraced by individual members.

    Really the "Hip-Hop is a culture" and "Urban Black culture is hip-hop" arguments are two sides of the same reductionist coin, the former advanced by people that don't know what the word "culture" means, and the latter by individuals whose interaction with Black people is limited to the TV screen.

  • piedpiperpiedpiper 1,274 Posts
    I vote no.

    especially this "four elements" argument is
    However, there is all this special clothing, behaviour aso, which somehow adds a "cultural" element.


  • And don't try to tell me that "urban black culture" is hip-hop culture. That's narrow-minded and--here you go--racist. I know plenty of black people who live in cities who hate hip-hop.

    Well, I definitely don't think that, but there is/are such a thing as Black youth culture(s), of which rap music can be an element (arrgggh!) that may or may not be embraced by individual members.


    I agree with you there, but we both know that the major proponents of the "Hip-Hop Is A Culture" argument are not talmbout "rap music." They're talking about the Four Elements, and it seems they're trying to wield them as a tool with which they'll pry their way into Black Culture. They go about this by trying to state that something like b-boying is what's real, while leaning/rocking with it is not real.

    "That's rap!"

  • faux_rillzfaux_rillz 14,343 Posts

    And don't try to tell me that "urban black culture" is hip-hop culture. That's narrow-minded and--here you go--racist. I know plenty of black people who live in cities who hate hip-hop.

    Well, I definitely don't think that, but there is/are such a thing as Black youth culture(s), of which rap music can be an element (arrgggh!) that may or may not be embraced by individual members.


    I agree with you there, but we both know that the major proponents of the "Hip-Hop Is A Culture" argument are not talmbout "rap music." They're talking about the Four Elements, and it seems they're trying to wield them as a tool with which they'll pry their way into Black Culture. They go about this by trying to state that something like b-boying is what's real, while leaning/rocking with it is not real.

    Exactly. When the idea emerged in the early nineties, I think it resonated so strongly with white kids because it offered them a back door to authenticity.

  • I was caught yesterday trying to explain to a friend of the one DJ Shadow why certain fans of his were distraught over his work with hyphy artists.

    The friend said: "oh, they are prog fans."

  • BamboucheBambouche 1,484 Posts
    I think it resonated so strongly with white kids because it offered them a back door to authenticity.


    Would now be a good time to discuss how much back door you've been offered?

    (Page Me)

  • being offered back door is definitely an element of hip-hop culture.

  • GropeGrope 2,970 Posts
    It's not a culture!

    HAZ is right. It's a facet of culture (for people at a certain age. mostly teenagers - 40 year-olds.)

    There are many other things like Hip Hop. Punk, Goth, Rock'n'Roll, Rockabilly, etc. Hip Hop is just more popular.

  • Would now be a good time to discuss how much back door you've been offered?



    "Hey, Shaaaaawty...."

  • CraigCraig 271 Posts
    tricky one this. i want to say yes, but as a writer i would have to say no. graffiti pre dates "hip hop" by several years. i think the media did'nt help by lumping it all together to help flame the myth that it is a so called "culture".

    today you can be into just one "element" without having any intrest or support any of the others. a lot of writers i know have little or no intrest in any of the other so called "elements"....

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    Hoggs,

    Great question...one that gets debated endlessly (as I'm sure we'll do here).

    Part of the difficulty in answering it with a strict "yes" or "no" has to do with even defining what "culture" means to begin with. This isn't just a dictionary thing - even in academic disciplines that ostensibly are meant to deal with "culture," there's not always agreement over what the term is supposed to mean.

    Is it material or symbolic?
    Does it require institutions or simply beliefs?
    Is it enough that culture = "a state of mind" or do you need more encoded social norms such as ingrained practices, "laws" (or some equivalent), etc.?

    Personally, I'm rather ambivalent. I think one could easily make the argument that hip-hop both IS and IS NOT a culture even if you can agree on the basic criteria.

    What I'm more interested in is understand what the application of hip-hop as or as not culture means. So, if it is a culture...ok, so what? What do we - as a society - do with that? What new ideas or social realities would be created?

    Likewise, if hip-hop is not considered a culture, then what would be the point in establishing that? What follows from that social perception?


    All this said, one thing that I do think is relevant is that regardless if you can convince people that hip-hop is or isn't a culture, I think there are millions of youth around the world who can identify with one another - even on the thinnest of threads - on the basis of a shared interest in the music. By that alone, I think one can say that hip-hop exerts a very powerful cultural force - as a way of bonding disparate populations to one another, however shallow or ephemeral that bonding - even if it doesn't meet the criteria as a full-fledged culture in its own right.

  • CosmoCosmo 9,761 Posts
    OG graffiti writers listened to Bar-Kays and Black Sabbath more than listening to any hip-hop.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    It's not a culture!

    HAZ is right. It's a facet of culture (for people at a certain age. mostly teenagers - 40 year-olds.)

    There are many other things like Hip Hop. Punk, Goth, Rock'n'Roll, Rockabilly, etc. Hip Hop is just more popular.

    This raises the question: has any musical genre legitimately given rise to its own culture?

    Punk and goth have both earned the title of "subcultures" by many participants and analysts...if that's the case, why wouldn't hip-hop also achieve the same status?

  • Birdman9Birdman9 5,417 Posts
    Main Entry: sub??cul??ture
    Pronunciation: 's&b-"k&l-ch&r
    Function: noun
    1 a : a culture (as of bacteria) derived from another culture b : an act or instance of producing a subculture
    2 : an ethnic, regional, economic, or social group exhibiting characteristic patterns of behavior sufficient to distinguish it from others within an embracing culture or society [/b]
    - sub??cul??tur??al /-'k&lch-r&l, -'k&l-ch&-/ adjective
    - sub??cul??tur??al??ly adverb
    - subculture transitive verb

    I vote subculture[/b]

  • kennykenny 1,024 Posts
    sorry i just need to know this:

    i'm a chinese who grew up kin happy valley (not bronx) and my frist hiph-hop album was the priority records "rap-g-style" comp...

    am i hiphop?

    i'm a bit drunk tonite so prease excuse the typos..

    peace out yo1

    k

  • I was gonna say subculture, too.

  • dCastillodCastillo 1,963 Posts
    OG graffiti writers listened to Bar-Kays and Black Sabbath more than listening to any hip-hop.



    Hip hop is only a culture so Sprite can make $$$$

  • deejdeej 5,124 Posts
    Is "gangsta" a culture?

  • Birdman9Birdman9 5,417 Posts
    It's not a culture!

    HAZ is right. It's a facet of culture (for people at a certain age. mostly teenagers - 40 year-olds.)

    There are many other things like Hip Hop. Punk, Goth, Rock'n'Roll, Rockabilly, etc. Hip Hop is just more popular.

    This raises the question: has any musical genre legitimately given rise to its own culture?

    Punk and goth have both earned the title of "subcultures" by many participants and analysts...if that's the case, why wouldn't hip-hop also achieve the same status?

    Jazz in the broad sense exerted HUGE influence on a number of literary and artistic and musical movements, involving people from different nations, diverse ethnic and economic groups and created/appropriated it's own language used by musicians and non-musician adherents alike. So Hip Hop's social and cultural acomplishments, while impressive and perhaps more pervasive, are not altogether new under the sun, IMO.

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    Deej,

    There is gang culture thouogh I don't think that's what you mean by using the deliberate term "gangsta".

    The question is - is there enough of a shared identity between those who adopt a "gangsta" pose/p.o.v. that would constitute a community of people? (Of course, community is hard to define as well).

    Personally, I don't think this works in the case of gangsta. That seems to be more of an individual pose but not one that has enough power to bridge disparate individuals together into a form of collective identity.



    Btw, subculture vs. culture = a debate around semantics. If hip-hop is a subculture then basically it means that it is a "culture" as well. It's just a difference in scale perhaps but the fundamental definitions apply to both terms.

  • Birdman9Birdman9 5,417 Posts
    Is "gangsta" a culture?

    Well, DUH!

  • mannybolonemannybolone 15,029 Posts
    Jazz in the broad sense exerted HUGE influence on a number of literary and artistic and musical movements, involving people from different nations, diverse ethnic and economic groups and created/appropriated it's own language used by musicians and non-musician adherents alike. So Hip Hop's social and cultural acomplishments, while impressive and perhaps more pervasive, are not altogether new under the sun, IMO.

    I totally agree with you - I don't know if anyone was arguing that hip-hop was new in this regard though. I think the basic question is: does hip-hop meet the requirements to be labelled a culture?

    And, along the same lines, did jazz for that matter?

  • deejdeej 5,124 Posts
    Hip-hop is a common denominator for existing subcultures - a loose confederation of subcultures. To me its pretty nitpicky to not label it as a culture; obviously its boundaries are impossible to define because they're constantly shifting, but just because something is marketed doesn't mean it doesn't exist (if anything this reinforces its existence in some ways).

    O-Dub got what I was getting at w/ the gangsta question and i think he's right -'gangsta' seems like more of a general, not-too-accurate label outsiders tend to put on certain aspects of hip-hop culture. (see? I can't help it)



  • Soulstrut self-identifies as "Crate Digging And Hip-Hop Culture".

    This is a problem because there are people typing here who:

    1. Don't like rap music

    2. Don't own any records

    3. Don't dig

    4. Don't know hip-hop handshakes/pounds

    5. Don't have a security team

    6. Wear skinny-leg jeans

    7. Wear Dockers

    8. Won't eat the catering

    9. Never had a ghetto pass

    10. Always follow "crate" with "and barrel"

    11. Always follow "barrel" with "of monkeys"

    12. Always follow "can" with "of worms"

    13. Never owned an 8-ball Jacket

    14. Only have one testicle

    15. Drive to the suburbs to buy spray paint - from another subub

    16. Are friendly to the soundguy

    17. Have hearts that pump Kool-Aid

    18. Carry beard-trimmers onto planes

    19. Ask on message boards about new slang

    20. Say "It ain't where you from"

    21. Say "Chicken is chicken, but the wing is the thing!"

    22. Say "It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken."

    23. Frap fresher

  • deejdeej 5,124 Posts
    Is hip-hop a culture?


    "All signs point to yes."

  • deejdeej 5,124 Posts

    15. Drive to the suburbs to buy spray paint - from another subub
    You can't buy spray paint in Chicago, everyone has to go to the burbs!
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