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Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop 2023

Updated: Aug 25


Born in the Bronx, New York City, Hip Hop is a global cultural phenomenon.The five elements laid down in the early 1970s are MCing, DJing, Beatboxing, B-boy and B-girling, and Graffiti. August 11th, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop and Art In The Park is ready to celebrate with the community! Want to learn more about Hip Hop and how it all started? Let’s go back in time and start with the basics.




DJ Kool Herc hosting a party in his apartment building’s recreation room at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx. This “Back to School Jam” is thought to be the definitive origin of early Hip-Hop. Image & description from Backyardopera.com.



MCing (Rapping)


Hip Hop Music is popularly known as “Rap Music” and its singers are termed “Rappers”. Rap Music started around 1970 in the Bronx at Block Parties. Rap Music is different from regular songs because it delivers an expressive speech in rhythmic sounds, usually the thoughts and feelings of a Rapper. It is a type of musical art many have used to express emotions about political issues, relationships, and many more topics, often with hidden meaning between the lines.


DJing


DJing started in 1973, when DJ Kool Herc first introduced it by mixing two similar records to increase the breaks at block parties in the Bronx. This is from where Turntablism was born, which is the use of turntables to play music and make different sounds thereby “DJing”.


Beatboxing


Beatboxing or B-boxing is another part of Hip Hop Music, born in the 1980s on the streets of Harlem. Beatboxing involves the mouth, nose, tongue, lips, and throat to make sounds and no other instruments are used. It is quite unique and entertaining!



A picture of the rapper LL Cool J portraying how rappers dressed at the time. Picture from Pinterest.


Hip Hop Fashion


Hip Hop fashion originated from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, it has evolved over the years from baggy clothing to tailored suits. One popular brand such as Adidas started linking itself to this unique style back in the 80s partnering with RUN DMC on their popular hit “MY ADIDAS.” and of course Kanye West with the Yeezy’s.















Breakdance performance in a NYC subway train. Image from Pinterest

Breakdancing


Breakdancing or b-boying/b-girling is the core of Hip Hop Culture. It dates back to the late 1960s and early 1970s and is associated with the unique body movements in African dancing. Breakdance is a very lively form of street dance performed to Hip Hop Music with complex body movements, acrobatics, and fascinating foot movements. From our perspective, we have often seen awed pedestrians watching this street dance for great lengths of time. It is simply captivating to see such tricky body movements being performed to the beat of catchy Rap Music! Next time you are in New York City, we urge you to visit Time Square to watch Hip Hop performers street dance to Rap Music. It is quite a spectacle. Click this link to watch Times Square, NYC Break Dancing in action!




An old NYC subway train with extensive Graffiti artwork. Image from widewalls.ch.

Hip Hop Art - Graffiti


So what is Graffiti? Graffiti Art dates back to the 1960s with its in urban Philadelphia.. It is writing which is either painting or drawing on a surface such as a wall in places where it is sometimes allowed and other times not permissible, such as on government property, bridges, tunnels, parks, playgrounds, and subways. Graffiti is not always illegal and looks beautiful if permission is taken to create this masterpiece. It is very vibrant and colorful and usually spray paint bottles are used by artists to create their works of art! Graffiti sends a message to the reader usually in the form of words or sentences in bubble-like letters or other fonts. We think Graffiti is an amazing work of art that more museums there are museums that display graffiti artwork year round like the “Museum of Graffiti” located in Miami, FL. In 2024 the Bronx, NY will open its doors to a Hip Hop museum that will showcase many graffiti works of art from various artists that contributed to the culture of Hip Hop.



Keith Haring’s Crack Is Wack Mural located in East Harlem. Image from architecturaldigest.com


Hip Hop Art - Graffiti


So what is Graffiti? Graffiti Art dates back to the 1960s with its in urban Philadelphia.. It is writing which is either painting or drawing on a surface such as a wall in places where it is sometimes allowed and other times not permissible, such as on government property, bridges, tunnels, parks, playgrounds, and subways. Graffiti is not always illegal and looks beautiful if permission is taken to create this masterpiece. It is very vibrant and colorful and usually spray paint bottles are used by artists to create their works of art! Graffiti sends a message to the reader usually in the form of words or sentences in bubble-like letters or other fonts. We think Graffiti is an amazing work of art that more museums there are museums that display graffiti artwork year round like the “Museum of Graffiti” located in Miami, FL. In 2024 the Bronx, NY will open its doors to a Hip Hop museum that will showcase many graffiti works of art from various artists that contributed to the culture of Hip Hop.



An iconic image of Keith Haring posing in front of his masterpiece, Crack is Wack Mural in 1986 ( Photo Credits to Tseng Kwong Chi)


Art in the Park is hosting an event on June 24th, 2023 commemorating the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop in the Crack is Wack Playground located on East 128th Street, 2nd Ave, New York 10035. You can click this link to visit our events page and RSVP. This event is free and open to the public. It is also a great chance to see the amazing mural.



A Brief History of Hip Hop Music Over The Decades




1970s


Hip Hop originated in the Bronx, New York City in the 1970s and notably Black, Caribbean and Latino youngsters were part of this amazing culture. These youths would arrange block parties where this amazing Hip Hop Culture was celebrated. DJ Kool Herc, Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa are considered the fathers of Hip Hop since they used different techniques such as freestyle to make Hip Hop and Rap Music. In 1979, “Rapper’s Delight” was the first hip-hop record which made it to the top 40 on the US Billboard charts, bringing Hip Hop music into the spotlight!



Hip Hop block parties were how it all started. Image from Pinterest.


1980s


During this decade, Hip Hop spread its wings internationally through even more experimentation. Drum kits were one of the advances including electro music and figurative rap songs. Hip Hop had officially spread to many countries including the UK, Japan and Australia. In 1984 “new school hip-hop” emerged from unique ideas such as drum machine beats, minimalism, short songs, and social politics in commentary.


Basically, there was a shift from the “old school hip-hop” to “new school hip-hop”.



1990s


Hip Hop was at it’s peak during the late 1980s and early 1990s, which is also referred to as the golden age of hip hop. Artists such as the renown Snoop Dogg, Big Daddy Kane and many more played a major role during this time and “gagsta rap”, a subgenre was introduced. Towards the end of 1990s, Hip Hop was well established and included artists like Jay-Z, Eminem, 50 Cent, Timbaland and more.


2000’s to Modern Day Hip Hop


As we move towards modern day Hip Hop, a variety of artists and experimentation is involved in Hip Hop music. Modern day Artists are Cardi B, Travis Scott, Waka Flocka Flame, Migos, 21 Savage, Nicki Minaj, Lil Uzi Vert and many more.



Hip Hop has a very rich history and today it is a culture which represents the youth. Having lived in Bronx, New York for so many years in my childhood, I can say I truly appreciate Hip Hop as a culture that helps youth express themselves in a positive way. I have witnessed the vibrant and beautifully colored graffiti on the historic walls of New York City. From watching live breakdancing performances in Times Square and in the NYC subway trains to writing and performing rap songs at my school, I can say I have loved every bit of it. Hip Hop is a very positive form of expression and if it is used to vent emotions creatively, I feel it is vital for modern day youth.


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