Thursday, February 14, 2013

Harvard Hip Hop At Cambridge Public Library

Professor Marcyliena Morgan is Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the Executive Director of the Hiphop Archive.

Elise Noel, Student Programs and Outreach Officer,
Committee on African Studies,
Harvard University

Elise Noel Student Programs and Outreach Officer for the Committee on African Studies at Harvard University introduced Marcyliena Morgan Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the Executive Director of the Hiphop Archive. Prof Morgan spoke at the Cambridge Public Library on Wednesday February 13, 2013. 

She said that Hiphop culture is part of the African disapora. Though she said she admired the Cambridge Public Library she admitted this was the first time she was actually in the library. 

Prof. Morgan said the web site rapgenius is for the "Hiphop impaired." That site will provide the lyrics for Hiphop music. She said that Hiphop is really about love and devotion. She said there's no doubt that Hiphop is the "lingua fanca" of youth. 

Concerning current events Morgan said, countries with troubles have large populations under 30 years of age. Some have under-30-populations over seventy percent. One aspect of the struggles in the United States is how youth in other countries understand Hiphop. 

Elements of Hiphop include MCing, DJing, graffiti writing and B-boy/b-girl dance. Being able to move the vinyl to keep the beat is one part of it. Hiphop according to Morgan is 40 years old. Some of the performers are 40 years old too. The roots and routes of Global Hiphop include scenes described as translocal. "Glocalization" mixes global and local. Morgan says there is a cultural exchange across local, national and online Hiphop cultures. It retains features of the African diaspora. Hiphop in Paris is not the first instance of American Artists in Paris. 

There are Global flows. Lyrical rhyming is found throughout Africa and the Caribbean, as well as in the United States. Many young black and Latino artists are recent immigrants. 

Flavor-Flav didn't just appear from outer space she said. "Fight The Power" a video, had a great influence to change a party atmosphere into political advocacy. She said, "Youth get it. But international corporations get it too. It sells." 

Hiphop artists learn to be good ciphers, by rhyming, MCing. Onlookers form a circle. Cipher is where they develop battle skills, and how to give and accept critique. Free style is improvisation. Hiphop is marketed globally but the United States dominates. It is about social and political issues. One lesson is "You can do something no matter who and where you are." 

The video NAS one MIC by K'naan explains what is hardcore, e.g., armed fights, guns, grenades. Hiphop does not have just one point of origin. Hiphop spreads the same as the English language. Morgan says, Hiphop and English have always been "aboriginal,  dusty foot philosophy." 

Some say Hiphop began in Africa. Here she played some music of Fela Kuti from the CD "Red Hot Riot." 

Morgan noted that a lot of movement came from Nigeria to New York. In the sixties and seventies some activists went to Cuba for social and political education. US citizens were prohibited from going to Cuba. 

Hiphop exhibits influences from other forms of music including classical, jazz, and some country.

Morgan says Hiphop played a role in the Arab Spring, showing clips of some Hiphop artists. She reports that most Hiphop artists consider themselves Christians even the Muslims. 

She showed some video clips of Egyptian Hiphop artists who sang about Tahiri Square events. 

She explains that these artists have a responsibility to talk about what is going on around them.

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