Hip hop is now a global product that has been produced and distributed all over the world since the 1980s. With its roots considered to be in the ghettos of downtown L.A and the backstreets of New York, hip hop reached the world stage through globalization. From there the formula of hip hop has spread around the world, allowing other cultures to create and develop their own forms and understanding of hip hop culture as a vehicle for cultural identification.
Example of British hip hop – The Streets : the irony of it all.
Elements of hip hop
The hip hop formula is made up of four main elements, MCing (rap), DJing (music), breaking (dancing), graffiti (visual) and sometimes beat boxing – these elements allow different interpretations and representations of hip hop to be formed. For example, Australian hip hop culture places less emphasis on breaking and more emphasis on the spoken word and the music in order to be considered authentic. In contrast the Samoan hip hop culture places great importance on breaking as seen in Henderson’s article Dancing Between the Islands: Hip hop and the Samoan Diaspora.
There is one element of hip hop culture that transcends all others and is a crucial foundation for hip hop culture: the notion of authenticity. Being authentic is about ‘representing,’ whether its geographical location, race, group, religion – the authenticity of a hip hop artist is determined by how well they represent a community’s social and cultural context
Hip hop as a product of hybridity.
In 1984 Malcolm McLaren released what is considered to be the first Australian hip hop song – Buffalo Gals.
Although it was initially a hit, McLaren’s song and film clip was an imitation of American hip hop culture with shots featuring city skylines, graffiti and scratching that weren’t specific to Australian culture but typical of American hip hop videos. The lyrics of the song had no identifiable voice, that could be related to – I don’t believe that it was authentically hip hop.
Interestingly, a number of years on and taking many elements of American hip hop culture, the Australian hip hop scene has developed with Australian MC’s making names for themselves by creating a completely separate sub-genre with its own distinctive voice and sound. The Australian accent features heavily and themes surrounding middle class day to day life are prevalent – this was highlighted in Week 4’s group presentation.
Seth Sentry’s song Room for Rent highlights some of the struggles young people face trying to make ends meet in Sydney. His modest and joking tone and his culturally identifiable lyrics helped to make this song a success in Australia.
Hip hop is now a product of glocalisation – the global formula for the hip hop has been applied by artists on local levels thus making the music culturally identifiable to the audience.