A modern tradition

This week, I’ve come to learn that Hip Hop is more than a style of musical expression, for many it is considered a way of life. A vehicle for representing one’s identity through multiple elements including: MC-ing, DJ-ing, graffiti, breaking and beat boxing. In the past 50 years the Hip Hop genre has globally expanded resulting in various appropriated forms.

In some ways, Hip Hop has become a hybrid genre with culturally specific styles. Blending tradition and trend. Hip Hop has proven to be a fluid genre, taking the world by storm, but where did it all begin?


Hip Hop arose from a series of events, with roots set in African American and African cultures. Break-dancing, especially in the Bronx during the 1960s, was a point of origin for this cultural practice. A 1983 broadcast of U.S reality program That’s Incredible in 1983 featured Floormaster Crew, a group of American break-dancers, this footage was instrumental in connecting Hip Hop to other cultures.

In particular, the Maori and Pacific Islander community of New Zealand recognised the dance form as a way of representing identity, particularly that of minority groups. The global spread of Hip Hop is credited to film and television  and prior to the That’s Incredible programs, featuring Maori and Pacific Islander people on TV was rare. However, Hip Hop then became a point of contact through which they could represent their culture and blend traditional dance with this modern form known as Hip Hop (Henderson, 2006, p192).

Although Hip Hop, at times, is considered an American form of popular culture, its worldwide spread has proven it to be adaptable. It brings modernity to traditional aspects, particularly to those of Indigenous people or minority groups in society.

Here in Australia, the Indigenous TV program Move It Mob Style broadcast on NITV can be considered as an example of how Hip Hop is modernising traditional forms of dance, performance and rhythm. As an article on the program’s website states, “Move It Mob Style continues to break new ground by combining Hip Hop with contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander moves to the beats of local Indigenous musicians.”

The following video is one of the routines from the program’s third series…

In many ways the influence of Hip Hop in Australia and around the world has become a medium influencing connection to place, community and therefore identity. Hip Hop has become a globalising agent in an increasing international and interactive world.

Thanks for reading…


Source: Henderson, A (2006) ‘Dancing Between Islands: Hip Hop and Samoan Diaspora’ The Vinyl Ain’t Final: Hip Hop and the Globalization of Black Popular Culture Basu, Dipannita and Sidney J. Lemelle, eds. London: Pluto Press, p 192


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