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Harlemville – Five Elements of Hip-Hop, How bout Six?

September 15, 2019

Let me take you to 1977, I’ve been teenaging for a couple of years now, kick-the-can, hot peas and butter is phasing out of my daily activities. Junior High School freshman cooling with my boys, learning know to rap to girls. My vices and lusts are in the beginning stage so things are a little awkward. My barber – I chose – is in Harlem, not the local Bronx barber, Roy’s who probably gave every kid in Bronx River projects their first cut. The guy will drink, talk and cuss while cutting your hair. Sometimes you can escape a miss.

I discovered how to smoke weed, earned money using my wits, and dipped in my older brother’s weed stash. Learned how to inhale cigarettes by finding butts with the white on it. Occasionally, a clip of weed, and money. After a hot Saturday breaking night, at the break of dawn on Sunday morning the hunt was on in the Big Park. That year a citi-wide Blackout had us all wilding, solidifying my adolescence.

The Five Elements (Confirmed by the masses)

Fast forward to 1978, on my way to cop smoke from Mapes Avenue I was dazzled by the brilliance of my favorite graffiti artists. Comet & Blade’s artistic top to bottom tags was a beautiful sight when the #2 train hit the curb at West Farms Square.

The walk to Mapes Avenue was well worth it, rolling twenty loose bambu joints per nickel bag. Parlaying the profits led to copping bundles of Red Devil for sale from my 112th street-Harlem connect.

My hustle game kicked up another notch, when my slumming partners met a Brooklyn God named Understanding, our 14k hitter on the slum side at Union Square Park. My gear improved before the fashionable Karl Kani hit the scene. Clyde suede Pumas and mock necks, flare legged Lee’s and leather bombers were my attire. Then the phenomena hit like clock work fusing the elements, providing a lane putting Hip-Hop into play.

The First Hint

Music blared. Not just any music from a record player with a speaker out the window, but funky beats played on Technic brand turntables with removable needle cartridges, that moved your body against its will. A wild adventure was beginning, touching every New York City borough and its inner city youth would be the driving force.

From the first floor of 1595, to the back of the Bronx River neighborhood center, Dj Afrika Bambaataa kicked new beats to our eardrums. What we did not know, was, that we were caught in the grips of the birth of a global phenomenon, the most lucrative musical genre in the history of music, Rap, aka Hip-Hop.

The movement was subtle at first, Dj’s were spinning, each cornering various sections of the Bronx borough. Parties sprung every weekend, T-Connection, 123, The PAL, Monroe and the Classic, at the Home of the Gods, *the birthplace of Hip Hop, Bronx River projects. Emcees accompanied Dj’s. The beats were so captivating some youth were compelled to demonstrate extraordinary dance moves in tune. Bboy’s were born. At every party, enclosed by a circle of fans Bboy crews were breakdancing wildly for clout.

Sweat suits were their attire, a loose fitting stylish fashion allowing for unrestricted movement became associated with the Hip Hop of early.

Historically, the five elements listed in boldface are inclusive to Hip-Hop. But, unfortunately or fortunately, depends on your stance on the matter, like most sub-cultures, drugs discretely played its part.

The Sixth Element (Lets debate)

Marijuana smoke drifted like morning fog. In every bathroom at the early Hip-Hop spots, a drug bazaar existed.

I hustled during the week, to prepare for the weekend. Where there are people, there is money to be made. We hustled Red Devil at the parties drinking quarts before the start. Nothing like having a buzz on, and listening to beats banging out ridiculously loud sound systems.

Everyone had on their flyest gear, listening, dancing or hustling product. Shit, some emcees were buzzed out.

Legitimately, if were speaking of attributes that make up the culture of Hip-Hop, It then, hustling plays its part. It exists. The influence is felt today with most rappers claiming to be trapping. Jewelry dripping with diamonds, custom made. Designer threads. All the hustlers I know wore fine clothes. Today it’s designer this or that. Wads of cash. Hustling is a cash business. Rap artists of today have no problem showing cash. The hustling influence is present. What are most rappers lyrics about today?

Jus tryna make a point!

Writer’s write…, Farewell till forever…

Ahmad C. Wakanda

*sidebar(Kool Herc is globally recognized with that honor)

Depends on what side of the Bronx you grew up on!!

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