Rapping, DJing, Breakdancing, and Graffiti art. These, with debatable add-ons such as beatboxing and sampling, create the now global phenomenon we call hip-hop. Rapping is verbal, DJing is audio, breakdancing is physical, and graffiti is visual. These four walls place us in an aesthetic that surrounds us in a universe of anti-racism and blackness. Hip-hop is a movement that keeps pushing. Born out of the spirit of the Black Power Movement, which in turn was born out of the spirit of Malcolm X after his assassination, it is an artform inseparable from the struggle for liberation. Hip-hop stands as a rallying cry of the oppressed. The same cry that got people into the streets of Ferguson and Baltimore, almost as if it was done with the same breath. As we can see today with Hip-hop albums such as Lupe Fiasco’s Tetsuo and Youth, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly, and even works of lesser-known artists such as Raury’s All We Need and JillReal’s Jilltiltarianism, the art being produced is having life breathed into it from Black Lives Matter while simultaneously breathing the life back into the movement. This is nothing new.
The 20th century was a big century for Black people globally, but definitely for Black America. In that century, Black America made great strides in teaching white people how to deal with people of different races properly, while also raising our own collective consciousness of who Black America really is. Talk about multi-tasking! A challenging endeavor which we clearly are still working towards, but all the progress that was made occurred through a variety of different methods. We had the Back to Africa movement, The Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Power Movement all reminding black people who we are and what we deserve, and showing white people what we are capable of. However, it would be impossible to properly appreciate these movements and campaigns our people advanced without discussing the artistic perspective as well. In this century we also saw the Harlem Renaissance overlapping with the Back to Africa movement and Great Migration and preceding the Civil Rights Movement, and the Black Arts Movement working hand in hand with the Black Power Movement. As our nation became more organized and educated on what it means to be Black, we also became more explicit and expressive in our creative arts. Is this really surprising? I mean we sang Negro Spirituals to help us break off of plantations. Our cultural expression has been our key to liberation since we returned as enslaved humans to this continent.