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Hip Hop Culture

"The hip hop culture is just like electricity. It can be used negatively or positively. The same electric current that lights up your house can also electrocute you. It is the misuse of hip hop culture to attack our women and promote violence. We must encourage the proper use of hip hop culture. We are all influenced by the hip hop generation." (Al Sharpton on social responsibility and hip hop, Jet Magazine, December 2000) Hip hop is the defining African-American cultural movement of the past 25 years. Yet it is ideologically suspended between the hip hop generation and the civil rights generation. The communication gap between the two generations has serious implications on the development of African-American political power, economic organization, and overall race consciousness. When examined the generations have more in common than not, and their failure to address the issues of the race in a cooperative fashion only underscores their similarities. While the attitudes, styles, and expressions of each generation differ, both aspire to meld into a mainstream reality at the expense of attacking racist institutions through autonomous organization. The development of hip hop culture is a study in the damaging effects of the generation gap, and the failure to communicate and cooperatively organize across the generation divide is a dominant theme in the last quarter century of African-American history. In the late 1970's and early 1980's hip hop became the _expression of a new generation squeezed between the fading promises of civil rights era policies and inner city blight spawned by black middle class abandon. hip hop was as much a byproduct of African-American cultural heritage as jazz and blues, but its aesthetic reflected the growing tide of nonconformity in mainstream culture and the backlash against middle class values among African-American youth. Grafitti and dee-jaying in the underground party scene were the initial cultural dist

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