Hip hop and graffiti share similar roots. Photo: Bronxwall
The quarterly journal Media Development in its new issue looks at graffiti and music (especially hip-hop and rap) as a form of communications and social protest. The new issue can be found here.
Graffiti has long existed, notes the editorial by Philip Lee, with examples dating back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire.
“A whole genre of artistic expression today is based upon spray paint graffiti styles conveying social and political messages. And within hip hop culture, graffiti has evolved alongside hip hop music and both were derided before finding an unassailable place in youth culture,” the magazine notes.
“Hip p can be seen as a kind of oral graffiti that harks back to public speaking – a kind of rhetoric of the people. It is as forms of non-elitist media that graffiti and hip hop have put pressure on the more formal boundaries of communication. Young people, who may feel themselves and their concerns ignored by decision-makers and by traditional mass media, find creative outlets of their own and especially in what appear to be the unbounded domains of social media,” Lee writes.
Itunu Bodunrin, in the article titled “Rap graffiti and social media in South Africa today,” says that “despite the difficulties encountered in utilizing hip-hop as a protest tool in many urban cities in South Africa today, many marginalized youths in the peripheries continue to engage in rap as a means to create spaces to penetrate a public domain that often excludes them in favour of adults, while some rural communities with no access to mainstream media … also utilise graffiti to protest perceived injustice.”
Pastor Michael W. Waters, in “Beats, Rhymes and Life: Hip hop’s unlikely movement,” traces the history of the movement to 1973 and the South Bronx in New York City. “Much of hip hop’s staying power can be attributed to its essential voice for a generation in peril,” he writes.
The magazine's editorial endorses media specialist Clemencia Rodriguez, who says that: “Producing alternative media messages implies much more than simply challenging the mainstream media ... It implies having the opportunity to create one’s own images of self and environment; it implies being able to recodify one’s own identity with the signs and codes that one chooses, thereby disrupting the traditional acceptance of those imposed by outside sources.”
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