Hip Hop

Subcultures must be visibly different to the mainstream culture they are often anti-establishment and have reoccurring visual traits with that gang/subculture but different to the mainstream style. Gang culture would mark their territory often by using graffiti, this is illegal which shows a form of identity and the ideology of being fearless. This is also shown by the way that in the 1980s they would steal car badges e.g. Mercedes, Volkswagen etc and would put it on a gold chain as jewellery this “focus on materialism and conspicuous consumption” – Whitley. The way that the badge has changed it’s function is “re signification” – Thornton which is modifying it to make a statement. The way that they used to wear sports clothes day to day also shows how it’s function has been modified. “Branded goods shared a natural affinity with hip-hop music” – Whitley. Lots of the sportswear the wore was Adidas, this created a negative effect for Adidas as it was then associated with gangs, crime and drugs. Although Adidas realised how when people like Run DMC wore their clothes and wrote about them in songs this was creating more publicity for them so they changed their target audience to fit the hip hop street culture. Another strand of the Hip hop street style is the cultural identity. It originally began in New York, in the poverty areas such as; Brooklyn, Bronx, Harlem. Hip Hop is synonymous of black culture, not only the street style but also in music which is predominantly the rap genre. “Afrocentrism was a powerful counterpoint” – Whitley originated from Africa. They show this through the style of clothing for example “Pan-African flag, Kente and mud cloths, artisan-style leather medallions, cowrie shell jewellery and anti-apartheid solidarity t-shirts” (p188) This is expressing their African roots. They way that they also wear some clothing that would have been made in Africa whilst wearing it with nike jordan high tops shows the way that they are expressing how the hip hop culture and they originate from New York America but proud to be African and showing the African history and culture. Lots of the colours they wear are also colours of the African flag, this also embraces Afrocentrism. By looking at the Hip Hop subculture I can take aspects of this to inform my practice. The way of recycling traditional designers or concepts and modifying them or fusing them together with new ideas, this is something that the goths and victorians also do as well as the hip hop street style and their cultural identity. This has shown me how your influences can come from anywhere, not looking at the past to become a better designer, but looking at all different fields and influences being inspired to create something new and exciting, which you will start seeing things differently. This is shown by the way that the hip hop style uses fashion to turn a car badge into a piece of ‘jewellery’. Another way is the way that Adidas had a negative effect because of the hip hop culture although they adapted their product and changed their target audience to embrace that, this shows how if something negative happens if you are open minded you can change your design to over come that. As well as visually expressing culture and identity and how in graphics we can do this with our clients and our own ideas, values and work by taking new meanings in cultural context.


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