Atlanta Has Wild Style

In recent years, the Hip-Hop we see on television and hear on the radio has been reduced down to ridiculous clown images of men and women in oversized clothes or scantily clad dresses shaking oversized and unhealthy fat asses over and over again. When I hear Hip-Hop heads talk about the culture it makes me wonder what happened to it (Yes, I know corporate thuggery happened) and where did it go?Right now, I’m a graduate student in Atlanta at an art school. I don’t make music. I don’t want to rap. I damn sure have no interest in being a video hofessional. However, I do love Hip-Hop and I love listening to it all the time. In the midst of my nasty, guilty-pleasure habits of playing ignorant music or just simply abandoning Hip-Hop for Rock, there are enlightening moments that I observe around town that make me think: Hip-Hop really hasn’t died, it just went further than an underground subculture, it has become a historic culture.When I tell people I live in Atlanta and I love it, they often send a quick rebuttal of how much disdain they have for Atlanta and its Crunk/Snap movement. Well, um, yes, those things are here but the entire city is not encompassed by that particular music or party style. Hip-Hop is still alive, however, it’s overshadowed by the Music Industry Devil’s decision to make all things ignorant the coolest s**t to hear and be. Hip-Hop just ain’t dead, man. Last week while partying on a Wednesday, I realized how alive Hip-Hop really is. Sometimes, we forget that Hip-Hop started as block parties meant for people in one neighborhood to come together and just have fun. Think to yourself when was the last time we went out in your backyard to do just that. To just have fun with Hip-Hop? We don’t always have to be in constant debate about the culture when it started out as a fun loving get together. In a room the size of medium-sized bar I heard A Tribe Called Quest sing about Bonita and how she got it going on. I heard ODB tell me how much he likes it raw and how Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothing to f**k with. I saw B-boys bust moves to an impressed crowd as if they wait the entire week to show other breakers what they’ve practicing. I saw an old White man, slightly off-beat, totally grooving with a young lady because it cracked her friends up. I saw a Black couple grind to beat as if no one was there but them and the music spinning. I saw an Asian man standing near the bar bobbing his head with a beer in his hand just listening to Biggie’s “Gimme the Loot.” The crowd alone was mixed with different people from their own cultures. From preppy Lacoste-wearing White boys to pale gothic girls and boys in all black and a couple hood n***as dancing with what appeared to be classy, nontraditional Black woman.Around Atlanta, you can see graffiti thrown up on the backs of billboards or along the train tracks of MARTA. I ride MARTA a lot because at $3 a gallon and no job, I can’t afford to drive all around the city but I do have time to hop a train and pay attention to the choice of colors from taggers across the city as they make their marks of political or artistic statements on walls and buildings. See, when our main focus becomes geared on who in the hell Kinfolk Kia Shine is how he miserably destroyed the classic Beastie Boys “Paul Revere” track with “So Krispy” we forget about what made us listen and pay attention to the culture of Hip-Hop. We forgot about people like the Cold Crush Brothers and movies like Wild Style and Beat Street. We forget about who forged what ways for the sake of the rhyme. And who paved the way for regions across the U.S. to showcase their talents besides always hearing music from New York. Now, New York will always be the capital of Hip-Hop because of its beginnings in the Bronx. Music still pumps from this area but our Hip-Hop, the 21st Century Hip-Hop, is so international yet so much closer to home that we need not travel so far or honestly look to Nas to see when Hip-Hop became a dead relevancy. Hip-Hop has grown as something so much more than just music. It is our culture when I listen to old school Sugar Hill Gang in a room filled with different colored people and see that they know all the words and don’t mind grooving with someone they really don’t know. It is our culture when rich boys have something in common with poor boys when they discuss which areas of their cities they’ve tagged.At that party, in Atlanta (East coast city, yes I know, Pimp C) I felt elated to know that even in this city that loves to lean wit it, rock it while snappin’ fingers and doin’ steps to rock yo’ hips, Hip-Hop isn’t a forgotten legacy to some. From East to West, from dirty South to Midwest, Hip-Hop exists in our backyards. Maybe it’s finally time we all shut off the televisions and radios, get out the damn houses and find a connecting point with all the Hip-Hop heads in our community. We can pay Hip-Hop that much respect if we love it so dearly.