If hip hop culture would reconnect itself to the essence of hip hop under today’s new global conditions, it’ll have a positive rippling effect throughout the world.
Hip hop, at its essence, is about being hip to your hop—aware of your movements.
Traditionally, this meant awareness of yourself, and all kinds of relations in your neighborhood, your locality, your region, your city, your state and your country. The music, the dancing, the art, the clothing, the culture of hip hop would amplify the personal and social worlds of its practitioners to the world at large.
Although hip hop’s culture and products are in constant flux, its essence—awareness of ourselves in the society we live in—cannot change. However, in today’s world, which is very different to the world of the 70s, 80s and 90s that hip hop began in and developed through, it would be very beneficial for people and society to redefine this world that hip hop magnifies.
Today’s world is global.
Our technologies, environment, education, economy, culture, society and people have all become globally connected.
Our issues are also globally connected. In every developed country, we face a similar mix of issues on personal, social, economic and ecological scales: depression, stress, drug abuse, suicide, crime, terror, war, poverty, social anxiety, insecurity, unemployment, economic inequality, pollution, natural disasters, climate change… The more we upgrade our technologies and policies, the more these issues press on, constantly challenging us.
We live in uncertain times about where we are, who we are, where we’re headed, and what, if anything, can be done to have lasting positive impact on ours and our future generations’ lives.
Therefore, working with the essence of hip hop—awareness of ourselves in the society we live in—it would be very beneficial for the mental and emotional health of society to expand this awareness globally: to our interdependent world.
Instead of only raising awareness of ourselves in relation to the neighborhoods, localities, regions, cities, states and countries we grew up in, we should consider our global society, environment and connection. We would all benefit from using hip hop as a vehicle to examine what it means to live in today’s world—to clarify and educate about our human nature, motivations, emotions and feelings as part of today’s changing conditions.
How should we deal with all kinds of people—at home, at school, at work, on the streets, with family and friends, on the Internet—and build a better situation: where we can feel good, comfortable, confident and happy?
With a globally-aware emphasis, hip hop can be used to answer why this tougher situation we’re in today places us at a crossroad: either we continue business-as-usual and head in the direction of intensifying problems, or we change to a positive course.
Either we continue trying to deal with increasing amounts of problems using all kinds of temporary band-aid solutions, and continue bearing witness to global deterioration. Or, we use today’s accumulation of difficulties as a means to revise the way we approach everything: to seek deeper causes behind our problems, and their solutions.
This is how I see the definition and role of hip hop today. It’s the same definition of hip hop that’s always existed at its essence, only that now instead of bridging divides on local scales, due to the global world we’re in, I see the need for hip hop to step in and bridge the divides across societies and nations.
The following are the 3 main points I see hip hop hitting today in order to inspire a new, positively-connected society to emerge from the increasingly divided society we find ourselves in today:
- Causes of the world’s problems, personal, social, global, economic and ecological.
- Conditions of a perfect world.
- Solutions to the world’s problems: What’s needed to shift from crisis to harmony?
Originally, hip hop culture closely mirrored its essence. Its founding principles—peace, love, unity, having fun—would find their expression as rival gangs would come together by battling with breakdancing and emcee contests instead of with weapons and angst, and engaging in a positive atmosphere of music, art and culture.
Today, we’ve reached intensifying politically-based social division, the resurfacing of Nazi, fascist and xenophobic tendencies, and increasing anxiety about nuclear weapons and war. Together with that, hip hop products and culture are more active and popular than ever.
Therefore, there is room for hip hop to accept a new form and role: to fit its essential principles of peace, unity, love and having fun into the context of bridging the divides in today’s global society, between people, cultures, countries and ideologies worldwide.
Technologically, the Internet, the superfast speed by which messages can pass around the world today coupled with the freedom to communicate and promote whatever messages we want in a variety of formats, provides an infrastructure that this new form of hip hop can clothe into.
Also, a lot of hip hop cultural stereotypes have dissolved over the years. You can create and engage in hip hop no matter what race, color, gender and background you are, in any part of the world. Moreover, you can hybridize hip hop with literally any other style today. It has developed into a very flexible and open style where you can put down almost anything you want to a beat, and say whatever you want to it, and there is a whole range of stylistic and aesthetic options for you at your fingertips to choose from.
The only thing left that I see is to revise how we can instill hip hop’s core values into our messaging in a way that fits today’s world.
In other words, how can we infuse an atmosphere of “peace, love, unity, fun” in today’s globally-connected world?
Also, why is it even important to generate this positive atmosphere? Why not be content with upholding materialistic values?
These are the issues I’m dealing with at the moment. I’m releasing my music on Genius.com and annotating my own lyrics, because I consider the educational value of these principles as more important than the artistic value of the music itself. This is also why I’m engaging in writing articles and other media, to try and penetrate these concepts into society with any means possible.
With each new article or other content, I’ll be releasing a song with annotated lyrics. Today, I’m re-releasing an old track I did called “Wastelands.” Listen to it here…