the history of modern culture on the back of a butterfly’s wings

i find the synchronicity of elements that shape the development of culture as fascinating as its effects. like the random mutations of evolution that become brilliant adaptive advantages, there’s almost a kind of magic to these whimsical convergences of what retrospect makes appear like fate. a butterfly flaps its wings in the concrete jungle, and eventually the world world shifts on its axis.

i’m about a third of the way through Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation. we’re circa 1979 now, when rapper’s delight gets released. the first hiphop 12-inch single ever pressed, the best-selling 12-inch single pressed–EVER.

but it’s not the bith of the hiphop industry that’s the exciting part. hiphop, the music meme of global dominating proportions, was incubated within the confines of a seven mile stretch of the bronx ghetto, and you best believe there wadn’t no tentalce of the recording industry naturally springing up in that desolate radius.

by the time rapper’s delight was recorded it was just a natural progression of the amplification of this butterfly’s roar that had already been underway. what’s really fascinating is what happened JUST before that step, what facilitated that next step, the first moves that hiphop rocked to break out of the gangland dance floor.

the fortunate cultural phenomenon that happened to have ended up at the right place at the right time, hiphop came of age parallel to the casette tape.

before that there was simply no way to record, redistribute, and replay recorded music as easily and cheaply ( waaait a second… that… sounds familiar for some reason?)

the first way that anyone outside of the bronx EVER discovered hiphop was, according to jeff chang, through:

“The live bootleg caseette tapes of Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Flash, etc….. [that] were the sound of the OJ Cabs that took folks accross the city. The tapes passed hand-to-hand in the Black and Latino neighborhoods of Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, Queens and Long Island’s Black Belt. Kids in the boroughs were building sound systems and holding rap battles with the same fervor the Bronx one possessed all to itself.”

makes you wonder how many other musical and cultural styles must have come and gone, disappearing forever into the dust of disintegrating, discontinued vinyl, the momentum to expand them never able to get fulfilled, held back by the constraints of antiquated music technology, don’t it?

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