Hip Hop at Europe's Edge: Music, Agency, and Social Change

By Milosz Miszczynski; Adriana Helbig | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16
“KEEP IT 360”:
(Re)envisioning the Cultural and Racial Roots of Hip
Hop through DJ Rhetoric and Ethnography

Todd Craig

IN HIP HOP, there is an adage that has remained relevant as the language and rhetorical patterns of the culture have changed. That adage is “Keep it real.” The focus of the statement truly means to keep things brutally honest, truthful, raw, and uncut. As the rhetorical landscape of hip hop has shifted, so has the scope of the saying “Keep it real.” In contemporary times, the saying has changed to “Keep it 100”—as in to keep it 100 percent; but while the slogan has slightly changed, the sensibility remains the same. Now there are many variations of this saying, ranging anywhere from “Keep it one hunnid” to “Keep it one-hundo,” as said by Peter Rosenberg, one of the hosts of the Morning Show on New York City’s FM radio staple for hip hop music, HOT 97. The premise of this statement is very simple: The act of “keeping it 100” is an extension of “keeping it real.” Sometimes to “keep it 100” does not fall in line with popular sentiment, but requires one to completely go against the grain of what popular culture defines as “real,” “authentic,” and “true.” However, similar to the Nation of Gods and Earths’ idea of “my word is my bond,” to “keep it 100” means to stay true to oneself, regardless of what the outcome may be. After all, isn’t that the level of unadulterated honesty that we should all strive to attain as scholars, educators, researchers, and lifelong learners? But the fact of the matter remains: to “keep it 100” is a straight hip hop paradigm … make NO mistake about it.

With these ideals in mind, this chapter aims to “keep it 100” on a number of different levels. It focuses primarily on the cornerstone of hip hop music and culture: the DJ—who utilizes the 360 degrees of circular vinyl and constantly connects elements of the past, present, and future through music. This idea moves the DJ full circle into hip hop historian, tastemaker, and trendsetter. Because, let’s

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