A Historical Guide to the Impact of Hip Hop Music on Society


Hip Hop is predominantly black cultural movement started in the United  States by the inner city project kids in the 1970s. A lot of the Hip Hop heads credits DJ Kool Herc (born Clive Campbell) as the founder of Hip Hop. DJ Kool herc was a Jamaican-American who had his early life in the Bronx, New York City (The Empire City that never sleeps). This legend whom we lost in August 28, 2021 at the age of 64 threw a party at his sister’s apartment building, where he created a masterpiece by extending the drum breaks of Funk and Soul Records, creating a continuous groove for dancers with MCs ‘toasting’ over the music which led to the origination of rapping.


Over the years, Hip Hop music gained a wide recognition amongst the Black community and great minds like Africa Bambaataa, Grandmastr Flash, The Suger Hill Gang became a part of the force that helped shaped and hence pioneered Hip Hop growth to glory.


It is undeniable that the life of DJ Kool Herc was a life well spent as he inspired a great culture which would later change icons like Biggie Smalls, 2pac Shakur, Run-DMC and Public Enemy’s lives. A lot of Hip Hop Heads has argued that not one individual can be credited for founding this great genre called Hip Hop, he is no doubt considered the god father of Hip Hop as he played pivotal roles in its origination and subsequent development.


In line with this, Hip Hop music has grown to be a gold mine for the music industry enthusiasts and has on that note yielded a lot of dividends for them.


Prior to Hip Hop’s widespread acceptance, it was viewed by a lot of folks differently in the early days. Hence, at its first emergence in the Bronx, New York in the 70’s – it was seen as a rebellious and disruptive force. As many were concerned about the violence and misogyny in its lyrics (basically Gangster Rap Music) and this has led many others to argue that Hip Hop music promotes negative stereotypes about Black people and other minority groups and in some cases led to censorship and regulation. Take for instance, Ice-T’s song “Cop Killer” was banned by several radio stations and retailers due to its aggressive lyrics about police officers. The year 1993, saw the NWAs facing a court case as the rap group was sued by the Parents Music resource Center (PMRC) for their album “Straight Outta Compton” which was accused of  having the intent of violence and racism.


The role of Hip Hop in the society is undeniably profound on young minds, hence a lot of Hip Hop heads has argued that the positive role that Hip Hop plays outweighs its negative perception. Therefore, the impact of Hip Hop music has continued to be a growing debate. Although some studies have found that the young listeners who listen to Hip Hop music tend to be aggressive and violent. But, delving deep into the positive impacts of Hip Hop reveals that it can also be used as a positive force for social change – it all depends on the message. Songs released by great minds like KRS-One, Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation, founded in The Bronx, New York in 1973 – whose aims were targeted at promoting Peace, Unity and understanding. Their message later went on to help shape the early development of Hip Hop and to distinguish it from other forms of Music that were more focused on aggressive tendencies and misogyny.


In line with this, in addition to speaking out against social vices, early Hip Hop pioneers also helped promote values such as education, community and self education as evident in KRS-One’s lyrics was intent on advising young minds to stay in school, avoid violence and to build a better future for themselves.


In essence, early Hip Hop was a pivotal element in the psychological and moral development of the inner city black and coloured kids as the culture’s message of hope and empowerment helped to inspire young people to make positive decisions that will give their lives a turnaround.


Therefore, the positive impact of Hip Hop cannot be over emphasized as it has been used as tool against social vices like Poverty(MC Lyte – “I’m a Young ‘un” – 1988), Violence(Public Enemy – “Fight the Power” – 1989),  and Racism (KRS – One –“Sound of the Police” – 1987).


Therefore, it is important to note that the debate on the positive and negative impacts of Hip Hop on the society has not come to a consensus and the continuous growth and development of Hip Hop has been unwavering.

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