The West Bronx born and bred culture known as hip-hop commemorates its 40th anniversary this weekend, and the organization that established it—the Universal Zulu Nation—will observe its 41st anniversary. Their theme of “peace, unity, love and havin’ fun” is expected to be displayed throughout four days of events in Brooklyn and Harlem this weekend.
At previous anniversaries, pioneers from the True Skool and Golden Era generations have taken hip-hop aficionados down memory lane to an earlier time, before the fame and celebrity status. Artists usually expressed their art forms, which vividly describe the dilapidated and oppressive social conditions of their environments.
“It wasn’t a fun thing when we said, ‘I am hip-hop!’ The cops were like, ‘No you’re not. Put your hands behind your back,’” reflected hip-hop legend KRS, in his documentary “40 Years of Hip-Hop.” “So people went to jail just ‘cuz that attitude that there was a time when hip-hop was not popular, and they were reppin’ it to the fullest, before it was popular.”
Each year, a global audience from far-off places, such as Africa, Asia, Australia, South America and Europe, congregates in New York City during the second weekend of November, aka Hip-Hop History Month, to experience firsthand all five of hip-hop’s “elements”: DJ-ing, MC-ing, B-boying, graffiti and the knowledge, culture and overstanding. They also indulge in some cultural socializing in a grand display of harmony from throughout the Diaspora.
“Every urban area on the planet Earth is governed by hip-hop,” claims KRS. “What the people are listening to, what the people are trusting each other with, is hip-hop. Doesn’t matter what race, ethnicity or class.”
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Cold Crush Brothers, Crash Crew, the Force M.D.’s and the Treacherous Three are just some of the legendary acts that have previously provided their presence. Their creative forces were developed during a time when it was done primarily for the love, when individuality and skills garnered attention and respect.
KRS adds, “Everybody else was in designer jeans. We took the cheap jeans, ripped ’em up, wore ’em baggy and was representing hip-hop before it was popular to do it!”
Hip-hop’s founding father, Kool DJ Herc, concludes by explaining how it all got started back in 1973: “I was doing it for fun, for the love of it. We started it, but we never named it. We never looked at it like we were going to make money off of it. We were just enjoying ourselves, and that’s the same feeling I have right now—for the love of it.”