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Hiphop is fifty!

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By Andy Douglas. Hiphop is fifty! Fifty years ago a musical style was born when African-American youth gathered to create and explore a new way of expressing themselves, and the style has since expanded its influence with tremendous energy to every corner of the world.
Though some hiphop lyrics have glorified or celebrated values of materialism and sexism, other hiphop artists have critiqued the racism and economic inequities of the contemporary Western world. The form has impacted both high and low culture and united young people around the globe.
“We got to fight the powers that be” rapped Public Enemy’s Chuck D, a call to resistance against oppression. Arrested Development’s song “Mr Wendal” recognized the humanity in people who were down and out and living on the street. Childish Gambino’s hit “This is America” rolled out a starkly shocking view of violence, especially police brutality, in the United States. Artists in Nigeria and Malaysia reworked the song to address similar issues in their countries.
Arab Spring activists and Palestinian freedom fighters have utilized the medium, as well as those who uplifted feminism and class struggles. As this linked article notes, “rap music is a popular medium for calls to action, as well as call-outs of despots and colonizers.”
True change, or revolution, arises organically out of the deepest voices of a culture, those voices that perceive and celebrate the struggles of the human spirit. These kinds of cultural changes that reveal and condemn all sorts of exploitation are the seeds for revolution.


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