Painting without Permission: Hip-Hop Graffiti Subculture

By Janice Rahn | Go to book overview
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The Structure of Hip-Hop Graffiti Culture

BRIEF HISTORY AND TERMINOLOGY

This brief history is written to contextualize the stories of individual writers who participated in the making of this book. It provides a comprehensive background for subsequent chapters and points to references for further research. Hip-hop existed as an oral tradition until there was enough interest to document a history. The first recorded history of rap and hip-hop was written in The Source in the autumn, 1993. Kool DJ Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash met in New York to discuss and reach a consensus about which myths and legends were true. DJ Culture (1998 [1995]), by Poschardt is the best source for a complete historiography written with the tone of hip-hop musicians in their own environment. He wrote, “The desires of the western sense of history cannot be satisfied here, but the African-American tradition of oral history permits imprecision, as long as there are no crass untruths” (p. 160).

Where does the term “hip-hop” come from and what does it mean? It goes back to its associations with the “cool” culture of the bebop musicians in the 1940s. Here are a series of quotes from The Birth of Cool by MacAdams (2001). “Thelonious Monk says that he actually called the music ‘bip-bop,’ but ‘everybody must’ve misheard’ (p. 45). “In his book To Be or Not to Bop, Gillespie defines ‘hip’ as ‘in the know,’ ‘wise,’ or ‘one with the knowledge of life’ (cited in MacAdams, p. 51). Cool and hip are terms that go hand and hand with Black culture and its appropriation by mainstream America. “Cool joined the aesthetic to the political …” (p. 46).

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