Friday, 11 August 2017

Hip Hop.

An interesting day - all because of a 'Google Doodle' commemorating 40 years of Hip-Hop.

It came as a real surprise to me, although it shouldn't have. It took quite a while for the music to make it over the water to Britain. To start with the first we knew of it was The Sugarhill Gang's 'Rappers Delight' which came out in 1979 and Blondie's single 'Rapture', which borrowed from Rap - that only came out in 1981.

So I'm not really apologising for my ignorance, as I said, it took a while for the music to make it here.

What I spent the day thinking about was something that had been in my mind for a while. I'd noticed the obvious link between Punk and British Reggae, which both started up in the mid 1970's, a long time ago.

I know that Reggae (in the form of a feel good/goodtime kind of music) had been around since the mid 1960's, but something changed in the mid seventies; Reggae became more angry, more political. This was especially so in the UK where a new generation of bands came along that were all about the inequality, prejudice and Police brutality that black youngsters faced at that time.

Punk started up in the mid 1970's too - an angry scream from a generation of white young people who had realised that the good times that the previous generations had enjoyed weren't coming their way. Instead, unemployment and lack of opportunity were all that generation had to look forward to.

It's no surprise that Punk and Reggae came together in Britain; they may have been two very different kinds of music but both were a response to similar problems.

And now it looks like Hip Hip (the angriest music ever) came about at around the same time and for similar reasons.

It's interesting because Punk died very quickly, failing in a series of defeats and worsening economic news. British Reggae also died a premature death with it's replacement by 'Lover's Rock'. That threatened no one.

More interestingly, Hip Hip didn't die. Instead it became the main form of music for young black American youngsters for the next forty years.

There are a number of possibilities.

First, the angry punks and reggae fans got less angry as life improved. I don't think this is right - I'm as angry as I ever was and mainly about the same things. So are many of the people my age. 

But there may be something in this; public opinion surveys all show that there is a gulf between those in the UK who are over forty (angry and frustrated) and those under forty who are more accepting of the changes that Thatcher brought in. But that implies a twenty year delay, which just didn't happen.

Maybe black Americans have a lot more to be dissatisfied about and this is reflected in musical terms.

Maybe Hip Hop just had much broader roots. After all, it wasn't just the music - it was a blend of graffiti, breakdance, D.J.'ing and Rap.

But forty years is quite amazing.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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  1. Yes I never thought it would last this long. But, since it started it has not been an only black youth following.

  2. I never thought it would last this long.