The history of hip-hop music dates back to the 20th century or roughly the 60s. It was introduced by one of the DJs coming from Jamaica who used his turntable to create a continuous flow of music. The musician was generally referred to as a griot who told rhythmic historical stories in the west of Africa. They used the simple beat of a drum to narrate stories in villages. The music that stems back to more than 50 years back continues to evolve to date.
Murray Forman agrees to the idea that “hip-hop has gone worldwide.” He is a professor of media and screen studies at Northeastern University and dedicated his career to the research of hip-hop and pop culture. His recent visit to Moscow, Russia gave him a deep insight into the hip-hop culture of the country. It did not differ much from the hip-hop scene in the U.S.
The b-boys and b-girls showcased their fundamental knowledge of various dance forms, the walls were adorned with graffiti, and the technical skills of the beats were at par with the producers and deejays in the U.S. Forman states that, “We got a sense that hip-hop is in the major cities across Russia, that they understand the history, and in some cases, they’ve done their homework even more assiduously and with more rigor than I see among young people here in the U.S.” Even though the young folk has not been directly exposed to the African -American or Latino influence, their talents resonate with them quite admirably.
The thing that intrigued Forman the most is what these artists based their songs upon. The songs were less of “gangsterism” motifs and were based more on their daily concerns, like the neighbourhood and the Russian culture, in general. Often, they tend to be based on politics.
Oxxxymiron, one of the three rappers who filled the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, Russia, said, “The impact of hip-hop has been massive. Through music, visual art, movies, dance, clothing styles and more, key values of hip-hop have spread through contemporary Russian culture.”
Forman’s research studies how music touches and affects millions of people. However, one question has been consistent in his mind ever since he returned: “How does a culture start, and how does it take root in a place where there are significant barriers, political and otherwise?” He wishes to find the answer as he keeps on exploring more cities in the future.