For a long time I have thought about this, not really spoken with anyone in too much depth — doesn’t make a lot of sense to people who aren’t big hip-hop heads.
And to preface — all references to hip-hop are made strictly to the pre- millennia era hip-hop. Not the hip hop imagery the record companies have slapped all over it in the past couple of decades.
So, I grew up in the hip-hop subculture, we were rascals
— however we were a part of something. For people like me, hip-hop ranged between spiritual belief at least, and an extremist ideology or religion.
Through it all, there were some core principles that underpinned the movement.
1. Trust, transparency & respect
2. Act as a group
3. Mentor & encourage
Hip-hop is further broken into four streams.
- MC/Freestyling (Rapping)
- Turntablism (DJ’ing)
- Breaking (Breakdancing)
Each considered an art form in their own right, all constantly innovating.
On that — to pause a second and think about it — this has been a mammoth effort by a movement of people, to consistently grow multiple art forms, over decades of rebuilding and rebranding — and the hip-hop movement as a whole, through thick and thin is still pushing itself forwards.
Pretty powerful stuff.
How does this happen? ..Interesting right?
Among many bits and bobs, one word — sitting somewhere around the heart;
The theft of another’s artistic ideas, concepts, styles, etc.
“… There is nothing original, innovative or groundbreaking about their whole crew, they’re all biting from the originators!. …”
- Urban Dictionary
Biting is when you copy someone else’s work, could be;
Someone’s breakdance moves / Lyrics in a rap battle / Graffiti style etc.
Biting is frowned upon within the community — however, ironically — is a keystone piece to the progression of the subculture as a whole.
What isn’t frowned upon — and the process required to move forward, is taking someone’s something, and creatively working with it, until you can make it your own — being the goal of the creative process,.
Anything less is just biting.
It all started in the way back, when digital samplers emerged in the 1970’s. People began recording parts of songs — creating small samples, playing them back on repeat — and then overlaying other parts of other songs etc — suddenly they were creating *their own* music.
The best part of the song to sample was usually the break in the music — a drum solo or guitar riff or something along those lines.
This became called the breakbeat.
This is how the roots of not just hip-hop, but a world of music movements began — ever evolving still.
So, we’re generally talking about the idea of taking what someone else has done, building on, or with it — or as legal peeps may say, ‘make new from something old’, and then releasing it publicly — by virtue gaining respect within a peer group, and in the public domain for others to make their own.
This happens with graffiti artists, when they create a new way to paint a 3d part, or a style of arrow. They take what someone else has done, copy it, change it until it looks right to them — and same with rap music styles, breakdancing moves — all of hip-hop works this way.
It’s a group of people contributing their own little creative part, to a small part of a bigger part of a movement of parts of a collective — ever progressing with every contribution, and driven by nothing but passion for the creativity and cause.
And forever in control. Generational mentors driving the innovation for the creativity and cause to exist and progress.
— Seemingly akin to open source culture in some ways.
By no means do I claim to be an expert of anything, or know anything about writing, journalism, maths, physics, science, computers etc. apart from binge-watching some docuseries on Netflix.
Originally published May 11, 2019.