“Well, hip-hop is what makes the world go around,” - Snoop Dogg;
& ain’t that the truth?
Music has been around since the prehistoric ages, dating back to 40,000 years ago but let’s take a look at how it has affected the world in the recent century. The 1950s gave us rock ‘n’ roll, we shimmied and swayed to the Motown sound in the ’60s, danced to disco and folk music in the ‘70s, and in the decade where it all started, hip-hop music came about in the 1980s.
Different from any other music genre, hip-hop has undergone some major, fleeting changes in a span of roughly four decades, now impacting even the outskirts of the world. The global phenomenon is often perceived as a form of expression that is associated with the African-American culture.
To understand the beauty of Hip-hop and fully appreciate this art form, one has to forget everything the media has shoved down our throats and perceive the true intended meaning of Hip Hop. We invite you to delve into the powerful history of this astounding art form and see that there’s more to this than tattoo-faced rappers yapping about violence, sex, and money.
The roots of hip hop stemmed in African-American music and essentially African music. Daily experiences of poverty, racism, exclusion, crime, neglect and ultimately violence felt by the African-American citizens at the time led to the birth of Hip-Hop. It encapsulates and dignifies resilience, understanding, community and social justice. Creative, young African-American and Latino youth found this channel to express themselves and create art that mirrors their personal realities, their environments and neighbourhoods, and of the larger social circumstances they find themselves in.
The West Coast contributed to the hype of Hip-Hop across the nation with rap legends Ice Cube, Dr Dre and Eazy E - former members of the rap group the N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude) and Snoop Dogg leading the way. Their style of rapping collectively gave rise to the ‘Gangsta Rap’ genre where their lyrics mainly revolve around violence in their real lives in the inner city, and their humble beginnings. Their popularity later developed into a media-driven rivalry and hostility between East Coast and West Coast rappers.
Hip hop in the current age has dominantly influenced the global youth culture. In terms of music, even popular pop bands and singers such as NSYNC are heavily influenced by hip-hop sounds and styles; rhythm and blues, R&B, is considered hip hop and raps close cousin and even gospel has adapted to hip hop.
Hip Hop top-shots today include powerful names such as Jay-Z, Dr Dre, Eminem and Kanye West. Chasing their dust are Kendrick Lamar who is currently branded as the “new king of hip hop”, Drake, also known as Drizzy, a Canadian rapper with the most number-one singles on Billboard’s The Hot Rap Songs, Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and Rhythmic Chart as well as female rappers who are also staking their claim to the hip-hop throne such as Nicki Minaj, known for her flowing sift rap style and provocative lyrics as well as Cardi B, Bronx-born rapper famous for her “no filter” commentary.
The eventual immersion of hip hop culture in Asia came through the exposure of movies, videos, magazines and of course, rap music. Albeit being influenced by rappers from the United States, Asian hip hop is not at all just a mere imitation of its American counterpart. Alternatively, it’s a sound and expression that’s distinctive, unlike anything else.
The hip-hop culture has grown exponentially in Asia with the number of rappers and artists increasing every year. Asian artists have also managed to make their way into mainstream American music. The production house, 88rising which is the brainchild of Asian-American Sean Miyashiro, has signed a couple of new age rappers such as Rich Brian and Keith Ape, hip-hop artists with millions of followers on Instagram and Youtube, with bangers like Dat $tick - Rich Brian and It G Ma (잊지 마) - Keith Ape. Miyashiro is frequently described as the Asian version of P-Diddy who once brought together Notorious B.I.G and other hip hop artists.
Introduced in the ‘80s, hip-hop is no longer an anomaly to the Malaysian music scene. Malaysians have accepted the American-inspired culture from rap music, break dancing and even fashion, into our daily lives. Ever so often, the local radios will spin songs from local emcees like Joe-flizzow, Sonaone, Altimet, Zamaera, Kidd Santhe, Aman Ra, as well as from hip hop crews such as FlowFam XXII and Kartel. New all bad-boy crew, K-Clique is taking over the hip hop music scene this year and was Spotify’s most-streamed local artist of 2019.
There are only a handful of platforms available for our rap artists to share their art and they include ‘16 BARIS’ which is a rap cypher show that showcases local Asian talent from all over South-East Asia who freestyle in 16 Bars as well as underground rap shows held in clubs or private spaces.
Our hip-hop artists are quite underrated and deserve more exposure. It’s up to us, fellow Malaysians, to give our local scene the support needed to propel them into the big leagues and sit at the table with major hip hop artists of the world.
This dream is a grasp away; Hip Hop artists like 21Savage and Travis Scott have collaborated with Asian emcees and with recurrent growth of the Asian entertainment market, Asian hip-hop stars will dominate the world in the near future.
Many international hip-hop superstars have rocked multiple stages across Asia. Not only that, many of them have partied with local artists of respective Asian countries as well. True to the Asian stereotype, we even hold grade ‘A’ parties and concerts!
Fingers crossed you’ll get to pop and lock and jam and break to hip hop with us more this year!
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Peace out, see y’all soon! 🤑