The Co-Optation of Hip Hop


Hip Hop is one of the most powerful dialects of the language of resistance. Hip Hop culture and the ways it has been co-opted through commodification and being incorporated into capitalist culture were explored at an event on January 7 at Lincoln High School organized by the All Peoples Revolutionary Front as part of Enero Zapatista.

A crowd of well over one hundred squeezed into Lincoln High's Black Box Theater and listened to local speakers interspersed with performances and announcements from community groups.

Some words from the speakers:
DJ Charlie Rock: When people are using that word Hip Hop they are using it very loosely. Its really irritating to people like us that really love the culture, because we preserve it in a different way. They want to do it because they want to make money off it. Say for instance 24 Hour Fitness. Hip Hop aerobics. Come on now, just call it aerobics. Hip Hop is not an exercise, it's a culture.
Abel Macias: Because of capitalism and the contradictions of capitalism, it was those conditions that created the poverty in the Bronx where Hip Hop came out. People were living in these government housing projects where it was like a war zone. And if you have ever been in those conditions, you try to get out of those conditions. One of things that people did to get out of that place was to create something, they made something, they made Hip Hop.
Bridgette Castillo: Hip Hop. When I think of Hip Hop and what i means to me, I think of truth, love and hope… This music fills my soul with peace, with hunger, with realness. Hip Hop helped me find myself, find truth in who I really was and what I believed in. If it wasn't for these beautiful women speaking the truth, saying that as a women I have a powerful mind with a voice that needs to be heard, I think I would be another lost soul. Hip Hop moves me. It tells me the importance of cultivating my mind. It speaks to the pain I feel. It tells me to stand up to the struggle we are all facing. It feels my pain and it heals it. My getaway and reality check is Hip Hop.
DJ Kuttin Kandi: Chuck D stated that Hip Hop is the Black CNN. Speaking truth to power. It's important for me, someone who is Filipino, to recognize that Hip Hop comes from and is rooted from Black experience, Blacks and Latinos from New York City. To deny where it is rooted from is to culturally appropriate and not give it the full respect and its full honor. It is important for me to speak of my relations too, of my connectedness to Hip Hop.
RAWfiki: When I was learning a lot of these things, BBoying and stuff, there wasn't Youtube. How I was learning was from people who are around. I feel that's how you can learn your history, your cultural history. People are going to be around so you can learn from them. What's missing is a lot of [younger people] are not touching base, learning from older generations.
Miki Vale: I don't want to say that the negative music gets pushed to the forefront, but it kind of seems that way. You turn on the radio and you just hear a whole bunch of wild stuff. The beats are dope. The beats are real dope. We're like 'yeah' And thats the thing with Hip Hop. We're nodding our heads yes to everything. Hip Hop is yes music. We're nodding our heads to the beats and we're like 'Yeah, yeah, I get that, uhuh, do that man.' We're affirming everything we're hearing, we're subconsciously taking that in. We're saying that's ok. It comes out in the way we treat each other. How boys treat girls.

Videos: DJ Charlie Rock and Abel Macias | Bridgette Castillo and DJ Kuttin Kandi | RAWfiki and Miki Vale | Performances | Shoutouts and Announcements ||| All Peoples Revolutionary Front Web Site | Event Announcement