In this essay I explain that hip hop culture and its music is an amalgam of many different influences, and how it became the art form that it is today. But I also want to address some of the most prevalent myths about hip hop that I have personally experienced as an artist, as well as some of the more questionable “facts” that are spread about hip hop. I also address specific challenges facing modern Hip Hop, including social media’s impact, and the fact that Hip Hop and its music are so deeply rooted in the lives of young people. My hope is that this essay will help demystify the art form and provide a clear understanding of the cultural history of hip hop, and its influence.
What Can We Learn From Hip Hop?
A hip hop artist/designer in a music video is like a character in an animation, whose name is never shown, and whose appearance fluctuates according to his style, mood, and motivation. Each video has its own particular appeal: the visual language and imagery of the video have become a part of the Hip Hop experience. Yet to what extent is the aesthetic and the music really the same? In other words, if you listen to a rap song in your car and then stare at it for a while, how likely are you to immediately recognize or associate its art direction with that particular image? A film made in post-digital, virtual media offers a unique opportunity to get a glimpse of a Hip Hop artist’s style, and how this image can appear from any point in the video. For example, let us look at 2pac’s video in the movie, “3rd Degree.”
“3rd Degree” has never been released online, but is available on the video store. If 2Pac watched the video on video a lot, would he be aware of the different images that we can see on the screen in his video? Or is the idea that we identify each individual image as an individual sound, a concept that some have called “art-pastiche” or “rap-pastiche,”?
A video shot in traditional medium, such as film, is static. A photo is dynamic, and it allows each subject to be defined. A video shot in digital and then edited with a new perspective or camera angle will be more dynamic, but the same principles of object positioning and composition apply. Even though Hip Hop is a style of music, its music video format is different: each video has to contain a large amount of movement, or
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