150 Songs from 100+ Rappers Get Artfully Woven into One Great Mashup: Watch the “40 Years of Hip Hop”

On what he deemed the 30th anniver­sary of hip hop, in 2004, Vil­lage Voice crit­ic Greg Tate wrote that the music’s “ubiq­ui­ty has cre­at­ed a com­mon ground and a com­mon ver­nac­u­lar for Black folk from 18 to 50 world­wide.” Its glob­al reach, how­ev­er, has made it a rich site for “cor­po­rate exploita­tion.” The com­pli­cat­ed rela­tion­ship of hip hop and cap­i­tal­ism is some­thing of a “bit­ter trick.” The music “rep­re­sents Black cul­ture and Black cre­ative license in unique ways to the glob­al mar­ket­place, no mat­ter how com­mod­i­fied it becomes.” And yet it “has now become a seller’s mar­ket, in which what does or does not get sold as hiphop to the mass­es is what­ev­er the board­room approves.”

Tate’s argu­ment that the music and cul­ture of hip hop are insep­a­ra­ble from glob­al­ized cap­i­tal­ism may part­ly explain why it roared into life in the eight­ies as a “con­ver­gence of ex-slaves and ch-hing,” just as the glob­al con­sumer mar­ket­place began to take its mod­ern shape. Young, artis­tic entre­pre­neurs begged, bor­rowed, and stole records and equip­ment, sens­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty for fame and rich­es in the cre­ative recu­per­a­tion of old sounds with new tech­nol­o­gy. Theirs was a lan­guage of ambi­tion and desire, a cel­e­bra­tion of sex and power—the lan­guage of moder­ni­ty writ­ten in com­plex rhyme and call-and-response. A lan­guage spo­ken over gen­er­a­tions and nations, and—now over ten years after Tate’s essay—spo­ken for over forty years of ever-increas­ing mar­ket share.

The ori­gins of hip hop have pro­vid­ed ample mate­r­i­al for enter­tain­ing fic­tion­al­iza­tions like Baz Luhrmann’s The Get Down and pop­u­lar his­to­ries like the doc­u­men­tary Hip-Hip Evo­lu­tion. These lin­ear accounts present the genre to us in for­mats we find eas­i­ly digestible. Even as Luhrmann’s series attempts to mim­ic the hyper­ki­net­ic pace of rap, it tells a sto­ry as con­ven­tion­al as they come. To expe­ri­ence the past 40 years of hip hop on the genre’s own terms—its per­pet­u­al call­backs to its ances­tors, its seam­less inter­weav­ing of past and present—it’s almost as though you’d need to expe­ri­ence it all at once. And so you can, in the incred­i­ble mash-up video above from The Hood Inter­net.

Tak­ing over 150 songs from over 100 artists, the video puts them all in con­ver­sa­tion with each oth­er “40 Years of Hip Hop” mash­es up “rap­pers from dif­fer­ent eras fin­ish­ing each other’s rhymes over inter­sect­ing beats, all woven togeth­er to make one song.” It’s an impres­sive tech­ni­cal achieve­ment, and one that throws into relief not only hip hop’s smooth, shiny hyper-cap­i­tal­ist embrace of tech­nol­o­gy but also, as the­o­rist and Black Atlantic author Paul Gilroy wrote, its counter-cul­tur­al core as a “means towards both indi­vid­ual self-fash­ion­ing and com­mu­nal lib­er­a­tion.”

See all of the artists rep­re­sent­ed here at the video’s YouTube page and stream or down­load the audio here.

via Boing­Bo­ing

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Found­ing Fathers, A Doc­u­men­tary Nar­rat­ed By Pub­lic Enemy’s Chuck D, Presents the True His­to­ry of Hip Hop

Hip Hop Hits Sung Won­der­ful­ly in Sign Lan­guage: Eminem’s “Lose Your­self,” Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yel­low” & More

The His­to­ry of Elec­tron­ic Music Visu­al­ized on a Cir­cuit Dia­gram of a 1950s Theremin: 200 Inven­tors, Com­posers & Musi­cians

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness


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