Money Power Respect: Hip-Hop As A Socioeconomic Movement

Hip Hop from its inception has been about the unique ways and various means of self-representation and self-expression. Breaking, graffiti, rapping, and DJing were not all codified to encompass what constitutes Hip Hop, but through the very limiting and narrow lens of culture vultures, ethnographers and other voyeurs, they have collectively manipulated and constructed a reality for those within Hip Hop to the masses. This commodification of culture has led many participants in Hip Hop to seek retribution and self-determination through the control of their art form. This need to be compensated financially to encompass some semblance of power, marks the distinct shift from Hip Hop’s early stages in the late 70’s and 80’s to it’s contemporary sentiments about getting money, power, and respect.
In the formative years of Hip Hop, simply being heard or seen was enough for most participants. The movement was youth led, oriented, and dominated. Despite there being little to no monetary gain from Hip Hop, in the beginning there was always the need to elevate from the very conditions that bread Hip Hop and change one’s socioeconomic status. What started as one could argue as a movement of self-expression and escapism, has now metamorphosed into a full fledged political movement that uses art as its bully pulpit to gain capital and liberate those within the culture of Hip Hop.

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