Graffiti - from the Greek graphein, "to write", the ancient practice of scrawling images on walls; associated most closely in current times with hip-hop culture.
If, as KRS-1 has proclaimed, graffiti (along with DJing, MCing, Breaking, and Beatboxing) is a central pillar of hip-hop; Banksy must then be hip-hop as well. He might beg to differ on whether his particular art is graffiti or not and whether KRS-1 is correct or not, but his medium as exemplified in this piece, "hip hop is not a spectator sport" appears to acknowledge the connection.
Still, Bansky did not appear fully formed speaking his artistic language in the lexicon of hip-hop: illegality, incongruity, rebellion, analysis of social problems. There are forefathers to his style. Before there was Banksy, there was SAMO(c): Jean-Michel Basquiat; certainly an element of hip-hop's foundation, but not hip-hop itself. While I can see clearly the influence of say, Blondie's "Rapture" which featured Jean-Michel; or his connection to Fab Five Freddy and again early 80's hip-hop; or the fact that he was going to a Run D.M.C. show on the night of his death; it does seem strange or unfitting to label Basquiat hip-hop. Yet without SAMO(c)'s proto-hip-hop influence and nascent hip-hop's influence on him, where would the culture be?
SAMO(c)'s literate graffiti is a progenitor of Banksy hip-hop art.
I know... calling Banksy hip-hop seems so uncool, as hip-hop today on the surface seems like so much steaming feces. But it is what it is. Wiz Khalifa might be the hip-hop flava of the month, that doesn't change the essence of the genre anymore than Kenny G. alters the essence of Jazz. Hip-Hop is. At this point not dependent on contemporary rappers to assert its significance.
Proto-Hip-Hop(c): the seedling of culture; Like James Brown, Like Fred "Rerun" Barry; Like Jamaican toasting; proto-hip-hop; the primitive, ancestral stages of hip-hoppesque expression without which the current aesthetic would be diminished if not extinguished.
Jacques Derrida developed. Taking apart the object and examining the components so as to better understand the whole. Proto-hip-hop is not old school hip-hop. Old school is still hip-hop: the child descended from proto-hip-hop ancestors. While related to it's proto- forebears, hip-hop is fundamentally distinguishable, in the same way that homo sapien while related to its progenitor homo erectus is a wholly different species. Basquiat is not hip-hop. James Brown is not hip-hop. But without James Brown, hip-hop as we understand it would not be. Rerun is not hip-hop, but hip-hop is evident in What's Happening!! episodes like Season 3, ep. 1 "Disco Dollar Disaster" when the portly protagonist tries to win $100 in a dance contest. In the competition between Rerun and Danny "Disco Dynamite" Domino (dressed in a John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever-style white three piece suit), Disco Dynamite and his female partner cut a classic disco routine together; as a couple. Rerun and his partner strike a clearly distinguishable routine wherein Rerun pop-locks around the crowd at different points taking an onlooker's hat or handkerchief, incorporating the objects into his moves then returning them to the amazed onlookers, all while his partner stands off to the side with the crowd almost unseen. Disco versus what would become hip-hop; proto-hip-hop. Without Rerun's early pop-lock routines, breakdance as we understand it, would not be. Without proto-hip-hop, the ancestral pieces of the whole today, hip-hop would not be.
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