Hip-Hop is an art form that I grew up in. The culture, the aesthetic, the authenticity of it. So, you can imagine my excitement when I attended the recent art exhibit at the High Museum of Art. Africa: A Muse for American Hip-Hop, was a pure treat for any hip-hop enthusiast.
Prior to viewing the exhibit, we attended the discussion panel featuring hip-hop connoisseurs, DJ Nabs, Professor Griff, Dr. Paula Grissom-Broughton and moderated by Dr. Joyce Wilson. There were so many jewels of information dropped during the panel. The conversation weaved between the new wave of mumble rap to the appropriation of hip-hop to the preservation of the culture. The entire panel was a delight and very well versed in their appreciation and attribution to the culture.
Following the panel, we visited the exhibit, which held tons of beautiful art pieces from African artists showcasing and interweaving their love for American hip-hop. It was reflected in the art but it also showed how Africa and Hip-Hop are synonymous. There is no hip-hop without our African roots. Which makes it very easy to see why Africa would be drawn to the hip-hop culture.
The Black American has long felt our connection to the continent of Africa. We know that is where our roots lie. However, I’d be remiss if I failed to note that the Black American has also developed our own culture. The melting pot of our fading ties to our African history and culture (thanks to the establishment), we held on to what we could and intertwined it with the European culture that was forced on us. Sometimes, we were forced to alter some of our cultural behaviors as a way to disguise it from our masters in an attempt to keep it alive. Yes… it can be so confusing, but those were confusing times. With all of these factors at play, we created a culture all our own. This Black American culture, would birth Hip-Hop and take over the world.
I am a lover of hip-hop culture in its pure form and I also understand that as with everything it must evolve. But as DJ Nabs stated during the panel, we have to be careful that in evolution we don’t lose the root principals of the culture. If you get an opportunity to check out the exhibit, please do. If you’ve already seen it, leave a comment below telling me your thoughts. See you guys around town!