it’s hard to comprehend this now, but before hiphop there was no such thing as a racially integrated culture. when hiphop came down from the bronx and created the roxy in downtown NYC it brought with it not just a fad, but a complete cultural shift that was ushering with it a racially integrated lifestyle. and the first culture that brought white kids and black kids hanging out together started less than thirty years ago!
if you can fucking believe THAT!
from Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation:
FAB 5 FREDDY recalls the turning point as a July night…. “And everybody kinda bugged out looking at each other. You had these ill b-boys with the poses and shit, checking out these [punk & new wave] kids with the crazy haircuts and that whole vibe. And everybody kinda got into each other, so to speak. That’s when it really kinda took off as the first really major downtown club that had like a legitimately mixed scene.”
David Hershkovits, a music journalist who would go on to publish PAPER magazine: “The crowds were very diverse. That was why I was so excited to be there. Suddenly this racially mixed group was having a good time partying in a room together, which was a very rare thing. On the level of music and art, people were able to bridge all these boundaries.”
Dante Ross, who would become a key hip-hop A&R exec during the late ’80s, remembers: “The word ‘alternative’ didn’t exist. It was this great moment man, the ‘Grafffiti Rock’ moment. Everything was all mixed up, it was cool to be eclectic.”
this was not just some studio-54 remix, however. in 1982 afrika bambaataa had released “planet rock.” arguably just as influential as “rapper’s delight“–whose lasting testimony is as the first hip-hop shout that was hear round the world–planet rock defined a “grand statement” for what afrika was calling the hip-hop movement.
Planet Rock was hip hop’s universal invitation, a hypnotic vision of one world under a groove, beyond race, poverty, sociology and geography. [The lyrics] shouted, “No work or play, our world is free. Be what you be, just be!”
Bambaataa says, “I really made it for the Blacks, Latinos, and the punk rockers, but I didn’t know the next day that everybody was all into it and dancing. I said, ‘Whoa! This is interesting.'”
That was the move that proclaimed that this wasn’t just an “urban” thing, it made it inclusive, it took hiphop global.
which is making me wonder: what’s next?
all throughout history the art of miscegenation has been the art of creating cultural change itself. it seems like it’s an essential component for the achievement of a significant cultural shift that it empower inclusivity and integration. on a much smaller scale, i’ve already touched upon the ways in which i see the inclusivity trend playing out in the world of social network app sites, but really, in the grand scheme of large-scale global culture shifts… what’s next?
what sort of social divisions still apply so universally that the act of demolishing them becomes universal?
culture is like the water temperature of a pool: you don’t even notice it once you’re really acclimated. bursting a ubiquitous cultural taboo is like saying, ‘hey, i want a pool with a totally different temperature,’ climbing out, going to get a hose, and pumping new water in. so who’s going to climb out of the pool and usher in the next great cultural revolution?
and what’s the water going to be like once they do?
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