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更新时间:2006/11/9
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Not Merely Music: The Phenomenon of Hip-Hop
所向披靡嘻哈风

It seems that hip-hop music is ubiquitous1 these days, from popular radio to TV commercials. Whatever your opinion of hip-hop music may be, there is no denying it has impacted pop culture around the world, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Hip-hop brings with it its own unique terminology. “Rap” is the literal action of speaking over a beat. “Hip-hop” is both a kind of music and a culture, which includes four main elements: “emceeing” (rapping over a beat), “deejaying” (spinning records and mixing samples), “breaking” (an acrobatic form of dance), and “graffiti art”. Along with these are other distinctive.htmects of hip-hop culture such as language and fashion.

Hip-hop has its roots in the African traditions of percussion and oral storytelling. Its modern origins, however, can be found in New York City’s crime-ridden South Bronx in the early 1970s. Fed up with the insipid2 disco of the times, youth who were short on money but rich in ingenuity3 created a new, dynamic art form: verbally competing and chronicling life in the ghetto by rapping poetry over a beat.

The person regarded as the father of hip-hop is Kool Herc, a Jamaican who immigrated to New York at age 12. Around 1973, he began deejaying at house parties in the Bronx. To his infectious4 playlist of R&B, soul, and funk he added the Jamaican customs of “toasting” (talking to the crowd) and “dub talk” (speaking rhythmically over a beat). 

Hip-hop culture’s positive energy was fostered5 by Afrika Bambaataa, a former gang leader and dj who is regarded as the godfather of hip-hop. His efforts brought together the burgeoning6 hip-hop community and inspired gangs to battle creatively through rapping and breaking rather than through violence.

In the 1980s, as hip-hop became more popular, new offshoots developed. East Coast styles were generally hard-core,7 with rappers espousing political and social ideals, often from an afro-centric perspective. West Coast hip-hop was heavy on gangster rap, filled with references to gangs, guns, and the inescapability of street life. The West Coast style caught the larger public’s imagination, and became wildly popular in urban and suburban areas alike.

While some fans complain that today’s hip-hop has lost its edge and political message, the genre continues to expand, innovate, and influence. Through its brief history, hip-hop has gone from just two turntables8 to samplers and live musicians; from rapping on a four count to increasingly complex verbal gymnastics; and from its roots in the South Bronx to the four corners of the world.

“Run” of the East Coast hip-hop band Run DMC once said that when people called hip-hop a fad, they had no idea of the passion that lay behind it. Once considered a flash in the pan, hip-hop is set to continue its path of creation and celebration, bringing more and more converts along for the ride.


1. ubiquitous a. 无所不在的
2. insipid a. 枯燥乏味的
3. ingenuity n. 发明的才能
4. infectious a. 易传染的
5. foster v. 助长,培育
6. burgeon v. 萌芽,迅速发展
7. hard-core a. 核心的
8. turntable n. 转盘


现在,从大众广播到电视广告,嘻哈音乐似乎无所不在。不管你对嘻哈音乐的看法怎么样,无可否认它已经对世界各地的通俗文化造成冲击,并且没有减弱的迹象。

嘻哈风带来了一些专有术语:“说唱乐”是指配合节奏念文字的动作。“嘻哈”既是一种音乐,同时也是一种文化,嘻哈文化包含四大要素:“MC”(随节奏说唱)、“DJ”(转动唱片及混音)、“霹雳舞”(一种特技般的舞蹈),和“涂鸦艺术”。除此之外嘻哈文化还有其它一些特殊的方面,如语言和服装时尚等。

嘻哈文化起源于非洲传统的打击乐和口述故事。然而,现代嘻哈则是70年代初期来源于纽约市犯罪行为猖獗的南布朗克斯区。那些口袋空空却富于创新的年轻人,厌倦了当时流行的乏味的迪斯科音乐,便创造出了一种新的动感十足的艺术形式:通过配合节奏念词的方式,在言辞上相互较量,并且记录了贫民区的生活。

被公认为嘻哈之父的库尔·贺克是牙买加人,他是12岁移民到纽约的。1973年左右,他开始在布朗克斯区的家庭宴会中担任DJ。在他主持的节奏布鲁斯、灵歌和方克舞等极富感染力的节目里,他还加入了“toasting”(对群众说话)和“dub talk”(跟着拍子有节奏地讲话)等牙买加风俗节目。

培养嘻哈文化的正面力量要归功于曾做过帮派头目和DJ的阿弗里卡·班巴塔,他被公认为嘻哈文化的教父。他不仅努力把迅速发展的嘻哈音乐团体团结起来,而且还激励帮派份子在说唱和霹雳舞上进行创造性的互相较量,而不是通过暴力。

80年代,随着嘻哈风更加盛行,新的流派发展起来。总的来说东岸风格是核心力量,说唱歌手拥护以非洲为中心观点的政治和社会理想。西岸的嘻哈风主要是帮派份子的说唱,充满了关于帮派、枪枝和不可避免的街头生活等内容。西岸风格引起了更多群众的兴趣而为之激动,所以在都市和近郊地区都很受欢迎。

尽管有些嘻哈迷抱怨说,现在的嘻哈文化中,原有的锐气和政治信息已经没有了,但这种类型仍在不断扩展、革新并且发挥其影响力。在他短暂的历史中,嘻哈文化从仅有两个唱机转盘发展到了混音器和现场演奏的乐手;从四拍子的说唱到越来越复杂的嘴上功夫;从南布朗克斯的发祥地到世界的每个角落。

东岸嘻哈乐团“Run DMC”中的“Run”曾说:在有些人称嘻哈只是一种时尚时,他们根本不了解它背后的热情。一度被视为昙花一现的嘻哈风,却决心继续走他的创造与赞美之路,带领更多的归附者上路。

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