The Philosophy of the
As the essays in this volume demonstrate, hip hop not only invokes many ideas and arguments from the Western philosophical tradition, it is rooted in its own classic battles of philosophy. Although hip-hop philosophy developed from many influences, I first became aware of its importance in the 1980s. It did not come to me in the form of lyrical competition, displays of unfathomable skills, or demonstrations of devotion to the power of The Word. Instead, it came to me in the form of kungfu movies. On Saturdays from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., the local television station presented a series of Hong Kong films they aptly named Kung Fu Saturday. I was treated to six hours of uninterrupted battles of will, martial arts skills, betrayal, revenge, and lessons of honor and integrity! I learned about styles of fighting and that some styles, though lethal, have subtlety and wit, while others are simply brutal, blunt, and deadly. Battle or fighting styles were associated with different houses or crews. Each house was guided by sets of philosophical principles that had to do with the individual, the inner self, the mind, the body, desire and much more.
I watched warriors involved in endless philosophical teachings and contests coupled with practice sessions, with crouching, kicking, swooshing sounds and arms waving and momentary breaks when the “master” would query the novice about the philosophical lesson of the day. Those working under different philosophical schools/houses/crews and masters practiced against imaginary foes and battled for the future of humanity.