Monday, April 8, 2013

Rose's HipHop Discussions - Reflection

ooc: Ok, so I'm a little new at this whole thing (blogging). This is pretty much my first time doing something for class. My hands are shaking and I'm still a bit unsure about pretty much everything. I dunno, I figured you all should know that. I’m going to try to connect my thoughts as much as possible, but please tell me if something seems unclear. Also, I’m acknowledging that I don’t listen to hip hop often and that I’m probably not any kind of expert on anything Thanks.


I'm taking this class called Studies in African American Literature. A majority of the literature was in rhythm with this idea of the blues, especially during the days of the Harlem Renaissance. We read lots of Langston Hughes, Zora Neil Hurston, and W. E.B. DuBois, watched some piece preformed by LenaHorne and Billie Holiday. A big theme that seems to run through them all was this pattern of what Tricia Rose was referring to as "decline and despair". And while she was referring to the white exodus in the post-world war days, I'm going to make the argument that it is at least related to this concept of The Blues. While just like all things change, this concept of decline and despair, which has been a sort of underlying motive of the Blues movement, can be applied still to this very day for the "underground" hip hop.


We always talk about America being a melting pot (and from this point on, I’m going to be talking about strictly USAmerican culture, as I’m not any kind of fool to try to generalize hip hop in other countries to that of USA). Many USAmericans feel as though our culture is a mix of all different types of culture from all around the world. Capitalism plays a big part in this. I think because we have this sense of American Capitalism that the cultural products things that enter or emerge in this country are constantly viewed as having potential to be this sort of marketed product. Hip hop (in my opinion), growing out of what I call The Blues Culture, is no different than any other cultural product marketable in America. While the commercialization of hip hop is great for the makers of money, there is still a huge gap between those who listen to hip hop and those understand and make hip hop. This was part of Rose’s point in both of the pieces. This commercialization of what was once the improvisation of hip hop has not only left hip hop close to dead, but is also helping to perpetuate this stereotypic vision of rappers and hip hop. The author describes that “There's a long history of a particular pleasure in consuming the ideas of black-ghetto-excess dysfunction…this idea that a certain kind of sexual deviance or violent behavior defines black culture has had a huge market in commercial mainstream culture…” Rose argues that because we as USAmericans share mass media and pop culture, the images that people understand and are faced with are the repetitive images of the stereotypic rapper. She goes forward to infer that this “black-ghetto-excess dysfunction” that turns the once-unique hip-hop which grew out of The Blues (again, my argument) of the Harlem Renaissance into this stereotypical, marketable, mass-produced and disingenuous-to-its-roots marketable product.




  1. Hi Jacki! Great job on your post! I like the way you tie the content from your other classes to this one; the history on The Blues was, indeed, interesting. I think your discussion of Capitalism (and its negative ramifications on society) is spot-on. In fact, I made similar points in my post (if I'm remembering what I wrote correctly). It really is sad how the commercialization of the hip-hop culture has destroyed it. Again, nice job on your reflection!

  2. Hey Jacki! Glad to see this post, it's wonderfully done. You bring up a lot of interesting points that I didn't meditate on in my own blog post nor while reading.
    I do think, however, that The Blues isn't taking it back far enough. This is something that I also think Rose could have spent a bit more time on, although she did bring it up with the whole "revisioning" part of her talk. It's not just the decline and despair that are key characteristics of hip-hop and The Blues. The creativity, invention, reclaiming, all of that are totally fundamental to these styles of music. And that's why I would argue that we could go back farther than The Blues. For example, "Old Negro Spirituals" on the plantation--these all were certainly created in times of decline and despair. They also dealt with creativity (many of these were songs that were actually messages; coded language to help slaves get to freedom and away from the plantation) and reclamation/invention (taking the religion imposed on them by the colonizers/enslavers and turning it into something new and particular to their community).

    Thanks for this post, it really helped me think about things I didn't give adequate thought to before. Great read :)


  3. I also liked the connections you made to other classes and other types of artists, (because what's the point of education if you can't apply all the knowledge you've gained). I think that another important aspect that Rose brought was the intense focus (I believe that "obsession" was the word she used) on hope and possibility of something more. which also ties into Andrea's point of Hip-hop stretching across U.S. History.
    Great post!

  4. hi

    Although Hip-Hop is a marketable product, it has roots from African-American culture and socio economic conditions that minorities experience

  5. Just going to agree with my peers and say great post!!!

    So I agree that just because the united states is considered a melting pot take that as you may, and that hip hop is a cultural experience, others feel closer to that experience without actually experiencing it. That's when you get people saying "I understand where you come from" .... ummm actually you do not!

    But most hip hop out there is the junk that makes no sense and has no content at all, and to society is considered "hip hop". The more conscious hip hop is unfortunately underground, and most people don't get to listen to it, unless your looking for it and are interested then you wont know its out there.