Hip-hop expressions analyzed, defended
Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 19:03
RICHMOND — In recent history, society has grown to include the surround sounds, artistic beats and flows that hip-hop has given civilization, providing the opportunity to let expressions and voices be heard in a different lyrical rhythm.
Following in this spirit, the "Listening To and Cultivating Our Youth" conference was held at Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church Saturday to separate the significance of hip-hop from what others often see as a threat to youth and voice for violence and often associate negatively with drugs, sexism, murder and utter profanity.
Terence Elliott, dean of the Natural, Social and Applied Sciences Division, attempted to convey the real image of hip-hop to churchgoers and students of Contra Costa College and help them look at hip-hop from a different perspective to understand the cultural background.
"How is it really negative? How do we look at music as being negative? How do we look at expressing ourselves and the issues of today as a negative?" Elliott said.
He said the culture has many different themes, and music is just an expression from people.
"We as people are a part of humanity," Elliott said. "When we think of being human, art makes us that part of who we are. We are only human."
When people talk about the black arts movements that happened in the 1960s, they should also include the hip-hop movement of the '80s and '90s, as it is also more than just music, he said.
"It started by the youth," Elliott said. "These youths were poets. They were lyrical figures. They were people who wanted to express themselves in writing."
The history and power of the youth culture plays a big role on the outcome of our future, he said.
Poetry from Langston Hughes, Tupac Shakur's lyrics and early historic hip-hop artists like Grand Master Flash were presented and interpreted during the program by African-American studies professor Lia Bascomb.
"Hip-hop is a tradition of the youth culture, and the youth changed what art meant," she said. "They made it into a social commentary, and they made it very prepped. They brought an idea into the art world."
"When we talk about the power of youth culture and the power of hearing your voice, we are only one small group, compared to larger things," Bascomb said, "but we have the power to change that."
The presentation triggered constant applause during the encouraging speeches.
"I was inspired by how well the history and roots of hip-hop (were) presented," student Andrea Alonso said. "I understand the real meaning and messages of the hip-hop culture, and it helped me recognize the issues of our community in a form of art."
San Pablo Mayor Leonard McNeil said that when people hear music, they move, but there is a piece that is missing.
"In all that we are dealing with in our community and culture, in terms of education, power and violence, all the issues that we think about are intact with on one side, (but) on the other side there is something missing," he said. "The leisure forms that will help us organize and educate ourselves to adjust to those issues in society, in the aura of culture, we are missing that beat."
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