The week after Thanksgiving we spent talking about one of the driving forces of American culture–hip hop.  I grew up surrounded by hip hop culture.  From the music and language to the styles and attitudes, hip hop has had a major influence on my life, so I was appreciative to have the opportunity to discuss it with you all.

Hip hop started in the Bronx in the late 70’s.  DJ Kool Herc is seen as one of the true pioneers in developing a new way of using a turntable to create a unique style of music which blended funk break beats with a rhythmic spoken word.  This laid the foundation for all of the hip hop music we hear today.

We got to hear a sample of some hip hop music, such as west coast gangsta rap from N.W.A. and also hip hop that has been influenced by Jazz music from A Tribe Called quest.  You can find all the songs with the lyrics in the link above.

However, hip hop culture isn’t only music.  It is a way of speaking, of carrying yourself, of art and dress and style and ideas.  This is what makes it so rich and interesting.  Perhaps my favorite topic is Ebonix, a language spoken by those in hip hop culture.  A lot of class was surprised by the variations on the English language they heard.  I always try to stress that Ebonix is not “bad English”.  In fact, there is no good or bad English.  There are only different ways of speaking it.  So, you have to keep an open mind when thinking about Ebonix.  You should also be wary of any teacher who tells you that there is such a thing as a right and wrong way to speak a language, for language is constantly in flux.

Check this video from 1994, one of the last years of the golden age of hip hop.  It’s from one of the nastiest MCs to ever grip the mic, Guru, from no where else but Crooklyn itself.

Listen to what another hip hop pioneer, Russel Simmons, has to say about hip hop.

For those of you who were there, and those also who weren’t, please contribute with your thoughts about…




  1. Kool HERC, and the HERCULOIDS. The HERCULOIDS Were What Everyone Called The Speakers That Kool HERC Traveled With When He DJ(ed) Parties. What Truly Made HERC Famous Was The Mixing Of The Breaks Or Break Beats Of The Songs On These Records. The Actual Spoken Word Came A Little Later With Guys Like Busy B, And Grand Master Kas.

    In Agreeance, HipHop Is Definitely A Culture. And In The Words Og KRS-One(a.k.a. Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone).
    “HipHop Is Not Something You Do. HipHop Is Something You Live…”
    And As For, “Bad English” Supposeldy, Any English That Isn’t The Queens English Is Suppose To Be, “Bad English”…I Think We As Adults Know Better Than That…Based On The Track Record Of The British And The Monarch Concept…

    Good Lookin’ On The GangStar Tip…But I’ma Reach Back Further…
    To When You Were A Baby Simon Dust…

  2. Yo that was ill. Had never seen it before. Mad old school. Drop another on me. Peace

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