Inspired by Art After Dark at the Cincinnati Art Museum
By Kurt Holocher
What is Art? My Dictionary.com app defines art as: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. Art and culture are in a constant state of flux, always influencing one another, and forever existing in a state of co-dependence. Current cultural values constitute what is considered art, as art provokes shifts in social attitude and ideas.
The street-level culture represented in Hip-Hop is a prime example of the relationship between art and culture. Hip-Hop started off in marginalized areas of society. This form of self-expression was borne out of struggle, the need to form identity and construct a world from within. Today Hip-Hop’s influence has spread around the world, and there are few aspects of American culture that remain untouched by its presence.
Hip-Hop artists are like any other artist in that we draw inspiration from multiple sources, our trials and triumphs, current issues and events, or aspects of our immediate surroundings. Like most artists we want to be appreciated. We want our art to be seen or heard. Most importantly we want that opportunity to create our own identity, our own special niche in this world.
What differentiates us is our drive. We constantly push the boundaries of our art- seeing who can innovate the most and create something new, fresh, or dope. We can take things as simple as a photograph, an image, and create a piece of spoken-word poetry expounding on that and expressing our thoughts powerfully- as Mars the Shinobi and Rae ‘Soleil did last week. We create new forms of dance, contorting our bodies while seeming to bend time, flowing with the beat of the music or chopping it up into tiny fragments, mixing in raw emotion as the dancers of Studio Kre8v and Stoney D of the Millenium Robots demonstrated. Some, like DJ Apryl Reign take records and mix them with other records, creating a continuous stream of sound that fluctuates and merges creating a desired ambiance. We utilize trends such as the selfie to connect with our audience on a more personal level, while also shamelessly sneaking a plug in to market our talent. (Shout out to Mars on that one).
We are our own innovators, inventing and then reinventing, always redefining what is current, and influencing the world around us. Hip-Hop is art. Hip-Hop is culture.