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Hip-Hop News: Whatcha Celebratin' For
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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
1/31/2005 7:41:19 AM

Tags and topics realted to this article include Various Artists.

We are now winding down the anniversary of hip hop’s 30th year of existence as a populist art form. Testimonials and televised tributes have been airing almost daily, thanks to Viacom and the like. As those digitized hip-hop shout-outs get packed back into their binary folders, however, some among us have been so gauche as to ask, What the heck are we celebrating exactly? A right and proper question, that one is, mate. One to which my best answer has been: Nothing less, my man, than the marriage of heaven and hell, of New World African ingenuity and that trick of the devil known as global hyper-capitalism. Hooray.

 

Given that what we call hip-hop is now inseparable from what we call the hip-hop industry, in which the nouveau riche and the super-rich employers get richer, some say there's really nothing to celebrate about hip-hop right now but the money shakers and the moneymakers—who got bank and who got more.

 

Hard to argue with that line of thinking since, hell, globally speaking, hip-hop is money at this point, a valued form of currency where brothers are offered stock options in exchange for letting some corporate entity stand next to their fire.

 

True hip-hop headz tend to get mad when you don't separate so-called hip-hop culture from the commercial rap industry, but at this stage of the game that's like trying to separate the culture of urban basketball from the NBA, the pro game from the players it puts on the floor.

 

Hip-hop may have begun as a folk culture, defined by its isolation from mainstream society, but being that it was formed within the America that gave us the coon show, its folksiness was born to be bled once it began entertaining the same mainstream that had once excluded its originators. And have no doubt, before hip-hop had a name it was a folk culture—literally visible in the way you see folk in Brooklyn and the South Bronx of the '80s, styling, wilding, and profiling in Jamel Shabazz's photograph book Back in the Days. But from the moment "Rapper's Delight" went platinum, hip-hop the folk culture became hip-hop the American entertainment-industry sideshow.

 

No doubt it transformed the entertainment industry, and all kinds of people's notions of entertainment, style, and politics in the process. So let's be real. If hip-hop were only some static and rigid folk tradition preserved in amber, it would never have been such a site for radical chang

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