In an atmosphere dominated by gang activity, It is evident that the most popular way of seeking freedom from this harsh environment of drugs and violence is self- expression through the popular culture of hip-hop. Whether it is dance, music, or even the fashion aspect of hip-hop, It seems to be the most common escape from such rough surroundings. It is also very apparent that many of these escapees actually make a living out of indulging themselves in the hospitable culture of hip- hop.
In fact, many famous hip-hop dancers and music artists one might see In the media today have a history of gang affiliation. While the majority of these hip- hoppers choose to retain their roots of connections with gangs (a lot of rap artists flaunt the fact that they are/have been In a gang), one would be mistaken In saying that it is a much more favorable way of living life over being under such dangerous conditions as being a gang member in an active street gang. One outlet of hip-hop that Is used for self-expression is the art of hip-hop dance.
Many popular dance crews originating from poverty-stricken areas have a history of gang affiliation. Interestingly enough, according to NAP radio, dance “suppressed some of the lenience between rival gangs” (Del Baric). Although It did not completely eliminate violence, dancing was a way for gangs to choose which one would pick the location for a fight. This may not seem like it is helping the cause too much, but it is in fact deteriorating some of the most extreme aspects of gang violence.
Kenny Bermuda Is a specific example of this. Growing up, he was a gang member and now he has been on the hit show which showcases talented dance crews, America’s Best Dance Crew, along with his crew “Rhythm City’. Bermuda Is now attending college and owns his own dance school. Additionally, a group called Massive Monkeys (who also were featured on America’s Best Dance Crew) is a dance crew who have a history of gang affiliation. They now strive to teach high school kids that gangs and hip-hop do not always have a connection.
Graffiti, although recognized in many countries to be vandalism which is a punishable crime, is another way of diverting one’s focus from something other than gang activity which can be, In some situations, a lot less serious in terms of consequences. Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked In any manner on property. In urban context, it is mostly seen In more public places Like subway stations or on the sides of buildings_ This is because graffiti artists, including gang members, tag these popular places to mark their territory and get an everyday audience admiring their works of art.
An academic article called “Urban Graffiti as Territorial Markers” stated that “a new trend appeared in 1970. Graffiti writing had spread to the inner city. Almost all of the graffiti reports discovered for 1972 and half of those for 1971 were concerned with the newfound popularity of spray-painting among Inner-city youth” (Lye & Cyberpunks, 491 According to this, graffiti started trending in inner-city youth (in which many of this population is involved in gang activity) in the early sass’s, around the same time that the whole hip-hop culture was established.
This shows that the escapement of harsh gang activity in poor, ghetto neighborhoods through self- expression in hip-hop culture is and always has been one of the most prominent indicators of attitudes, behavioral dispositions, and social processes in settings where direct measurement is difficult” (Lye and Sybaritic, 491). This is a direct indicator that at least some teenagers involved with gangs have made clear action of discontinuing their gang affiliation through self-expression of graffiti.
It is also apparent that graffiti replaced gang violence in the sense that it decided which was the more dominant gang solely on the basis of who had marked their territory more. The music aspect of hip-hop culture is undoubtedly the most popular and most widely-distinguished part of this hospitable culture. It has made its way over the years into the mainstream media heard and seen on a daily basis, and in such has come the most acceptable component of hip-hop. Because of this, it has had a great affect for these “refugees” requesting removal from the gang environment.
Not only does this take these inner-city kids out of their gang affiliations, but it can sometimes be made a career and take someone from rags to riches as it is the most successful part of hip-hop. Africa Bumboat, also known as the “Grandfather of Hip Hop Culture” and by his birth name Kevin Donovan, is living proof of this. Known as being instrumental in the development of hip hop, Bumboat, a founding member f a gang called the “Savage Seven” (later known as The Black Spades), is a hip-hop music artist who has produced 15 albums to date.
He was known as being the warlord for the Black Spades meaning it was his Job to recruit members and expand turf of the gang. Basically he was the manager of this gang which controlled over 50 divisions in the state of New York alone. It is known as being one of the most renowned gangs in history. Bumboat would later use his leadership skills to turn those involved in the gang life into something more positive to the community.
This cession began the development of what later became known as the “Universal Zulu Nation”, a group of socially and politically aware rappers, b-boys, graffiti artists, and other people involved in the hip-hop culture. Hip-hop music undoubtedly shaped Bumboat into the unselfish and better man he is today. Bumboat isn’t the only example of this though. Many rappers heard in the mainstream media today have had a history of gang relation. Mac’s like 50 Cent, Young Jeez, and Snoop Dog, who have all made a name for themselves in the popular culture of music have all had the experience of being in a gang.
But this is not the full list of successful rappers today that have shared that experience. In fact, hundreds of these relevant rappers have/ had some sort of gang affiliation. While a slight majority of these rappers take pride in knowing they have been dispersed in this hostile and harsh environment, they must all realize that it is a much better life to live than that of an active gang member. To conclude, it has come very obvious that self-expression through hip-hop culture is the most prominent way of evading gang-related activity.