The history of Hip Hop

Hip Hop is the culmination of 'Black' thought, born centuries ago, out of the struggles of African s

Though Hip Hop was born in the 1970’s and came to prominence in the 1990’s, any historical analysis of Hip Hop must begin with the story of a group of Africans who were captured and enslaved some 500 hundred years ago. Between the 15th Century and the 19th Century, this group of Africans were stripped of their names, languages, history and cultural heritage.

They were forced to work from sun rise to sun down for free, and subjected to some of the most dreadful torture the world has witnessed. This group of slaves would provide the human resources necessary to build the western world. But though the story is often told otherwise, also amongst this group were people like Nat Turner, Paul Bogle and the Haitian revolutionaries who would refuse to be enslaved and lead rebellions against the British and French colonial masters. It is in the spirit of the above mentioned that you find the antecedents of a culture that would come to be known to the world as Hip Hop.

This spirit is found not only in their revolutionary acts, but in the words and campaigning of abolitionists like Frederick Douglas, civil rights activists like Martin Luther King, Black Nationalists like Malcolm X and Black Power theorists like Huey Newton. Hip Hop is the culmination of ‘Black’ thought. It is a culture that is rooted, even today, in rebellion and struggle. Like the movements before it, Hip Hop is maligned by the fact that not all of those that the culture aims to speak to want to be aligned with it, the media and the system attempt to discredit it and it is portrayed as aggressive.

Hip Hop as we know it began in the 1970’s in Bronx, New York, when Afrika Bambaataa founded the Zulu Nation. Bambaataa, a former gang member, influenced by the Afrocentric teachings of the 5 per centers and Dr Malachi Z York, decided to challenge inner city violence and gang culture and promote peace through music, rap, art, movement and street knowledge. The purpose was to provide an outlet for the frustration and anger that characterised life for youth of African descent in New York. The alienated youth of Bronx needed a sense of identity and something to believe in and Hip Hop would provide this. At first, Zulu Nation would hold block parties for peace. It later started to hold regular classes that taught youth about their heritage, the great achievements of their African ancestors and what would become the original 4 key artistic elements of Hip Hop, Rap, Breakdance, Turntablism and Graffiti.

From its humble beginnings in New York, the movement that would come to be known as Hip Hop has expanded into the five boroughs, across states and nations. The birth and growth of Hip Hop has produced millionaires and multinational companies. It is a cultural and musical phenomenon like no other and our gift from God.

Anthony Thomas is the founder and CEO of Hip Hop Generation. He is a philosopher,organiser and entrepreneur. He is a director of London Citizens and the Black Londoners Forum.
Photo: Getty Images
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There are risks as well as opportunities ahead for George Osborne

The Chancellor is in a tight spot, but expect his political wiles to be on full display, says Spencer Thompson.

The most significant fiscal event of this parliament will take place in late November, when the Chancellor presents the spending review setting out his plans for funding government departments over the next four years. This week, across Whitehall and up and down the country, ministers, lobbyists, advocacy groups and town halls are busily finalising their pitches ahead of Friday’s deadline for submissions to the review

It is difficult to overstate the challenge faced by the Chancellor. Under his current spending forecast and planned protections for the NHS, schools, defence and international aid spending, other areas of government will need to be cut by 16.4 per cent in real terms between 2015/16 and 2019/20. Focusing on services spending outside of protected areas, the cumulative cut will reach 26.5 per cent. Despite this, the Chancellor nonetheless has significant room for manoeuvre.

Firstly, under plans unveiled at the budget, the government intends to expand capital investment significantly in both 2018-19 and 2019-20. Over the last parliament capital spending was cut by around a quarter, but between now and 2019-20 it will grow by almost 20 per cent. How this growth in spending should be distributed across departments and between investment projects should be at the heart of the spending review.

In a paper published on Monday, we highlighted three urgent priorities for any additional capital spending: re-balancing transport investment away from London and the greater South East towards the North of England, a £2bn per year boost in public spending on housebuilding, and £1bn of extra investment per year in energy efficiency improvements for fuel-poor households.

Secondly, despite the tough fiscal environment, the Chancellor has the scope to fund a range of areas of policy in dire need of extra resources. These include social care, where rising costs at a time of falling resources are set to generate a severe funding squeeze for local government, 16-19 education, where many 6th-form and FE colleges are at risk of great financial difficulty, and funding a guaranteed paid job for young people in long-term unemployment. Our paper suggests a range of options for how to put these and other areas of policy on a sustainable funding footing.

There is a political angle to this as well. The Conservatives are keen to be seen as a party representing all working people, as shown by the "blue-collar Conservatism" agenda. In addition, the spending review offers the Conservative party the opportunity to return to ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ as a going concern.  If they are truly serious about being seen in this light, this should be reflected in a social investment agenda pursued through the spending review that promotes employment and secures a future for public services outside the NHS and schools.

This will come at a cost, however. In our paper, we show how the Chancellor could fund our package of proposed policies without increasing the pain on other areas of government, while remaining consistent with the government’s fiscal rules that require him to reach a surplus on overall government borrowing by 2019-20. We do not agree that the Government needs to reach a surplus in that year. But given this target wont be scrapped ahead of the spending review, we suggest that he should target a slightly lower surplus in 2019/20 of £7bn, with the deficit the year before being £2bn higher. In addition, we propose several revenue-raising measures in line with recent government tax policy that together would unlock an additional £5bn of resource for government departments.

Make no mistake, this will be a tough settlement for government departments and for public services. But the Chancellor does have a range of options open as he plans the upcoming spending review. Expect his reputation as a highly political Chancellor to be on full display.

Spencer Thompson is economic analyst at IPPR