Saturday, April 3, 2010

Hiphop's 5th Element: Kickin' Knowledge

As mentioned before, hip-hop culture is typically broken down into four elements: emceeing, breaking, DJing and graffiti. Throughout this blog we've examined these artistic aspects and how much they have impacted the globe. However, we haven't discussed one other important element in hip-hop culture: Knowledge.

Knowledge, an element made by Afrika Bambaataa and the Universal Zulu Nation, is the glue that holds the artistic elements within the context of hip-hop. Without knowledge, a person who can rap will never be an emcee. A person who can mix records on a turntable can never be considered a DJ if he or she doesn't have knowledge. Spinning on your head without possessing knowledge only makes you capable of getting dizzy. Tagging the walls without knowledge is just vandalism.

Knowledge is the element that explains the difference between mainstream society and the hip-hop community. It helps the people of hip-hop learn about and embrace their differences, from language to physical abilities. It teaches the hip-hop community how to properly express themselves for the entire world to experience.

Knowledge can be seen in numerous ways. It explains the reason why folks who are in tune with hip-hop can rhyme over any beat about political and social issues. For example, if you put a rapper on the spot and ask them to rap about the health care reform, and this person says one line about health care and seven lines about how great they can rap, then that person lacks knowledge.



Another way knowledge is portrayed is in pieces drawn by graf writers. The famous "Tuff City" piece by Skeme is not just a picture showing off the skills, but a story of corruption in the eyes of a then 17-year-old. A true graf artist won't stop at writing his or her name in the subway train. They want everybody to know who they are and their story.

In essence, that's what knowledge is. It is the element that teaches the hip-hop community about their identity and how to express it. The entire concept of knowledge dates long before hip-hop; it lies within its roots and sheds light on why hip-hop is so powerful.

1 comment:

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