What is the appeal of Hip Hop and especially graffiti?What is the appeal of Hip Hop and especially graffiti?

Expert Answers
Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hip-hop refers to a musical culture and form of expression founded in the 1970’s by Black and Latino communities of New York City. Hip hop culture has pulled from many different elements and subgroups and has had a powerful impact on American society. Merging funk, jazz, spoken-word poetry, African musical elements, and dance, hip-hop created a new kind of artistic expression and community, which was unprecedented at the time, especially for minorities of the inner city.

Graffiti represents one of the most important and influential aspects of hip-hop culture. Graffiti refers to large images or lettering that often appear on the sides of building, railroads, underpasses and other places where they can be easily seen. Modern graffiti, and graffiti associated with hip-hop is usually large, colorful and expressive. Graffiti was used as a means of social and political activism and rebellion. It became coupled with hip-hop because the two shared the same community and values and arose during the same time period. Graffiti and hip-hop helped to give voice to a community and culture that felt ignored and oppressed.


amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

They are both art forms which allows for creative expression.  Hip Hop is an urban dance tradition and reminds me of West Side Story and other stories like it where gangs would have "dance off" competitions to prove their prowess, strength, and abilities as opposed to gunning each other down in the streets. 

Graffiti, however you want to look at it, can be quite beautiful.  The difference in this art form and most others is that it is done quickly and takes a skill that other artists don't have...the ability to perfect and get the art or tag done quickly the first time without much revision.  There is a wall in Gainesville, Fla., where students share their graffiti art, and it is amazing!  I'm sure if you google it or use some other search engine, you will be able to see photographs of the paintings. 

Both of these art forms began as and to some extent, still are, a rebellion against the established "norms".

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hip Hop came as a genre of urban music years after rap and some other underground people were trying to produce something that would mainstream with the popular media. The main difference between hip hop and rap is that rap has always been more limiting in its choice of delivering the message, and in some styles of beat. Hip Hop can incorporate the basic traits of rap and infuse other music types while creating a piece that is malleable, flexible, and creative.

Hip Hop is also a culture, a community of its own. Its delineated by a dress code, a dance style, themes, topics, and ways of living. It is more rebellious than rap in that it includes many more themes than rap alone. It is also a lifestyle that continuously transforms with the passing of time. It is multicultural, it is artistic, highly physical in treatment and very musical indeed.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the appeal of these things can be explained sociologically.  Hip-hop and graffiti are fairly defiant modes of expression.  It makes sense that they would appeal to groups who feel that they have been held down by the dominant society.  I would argue that it is for this reason that these forms of art are so popular among people of color.  It is also why they are popular among white teens, many of whom want to see themselves as rebels.

I would argue, then, that the appeal is in the defiant aspects of these art forms.  They appeal to those who feel they have been ill-treated by society.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like any dance form, the appeal of hip hop is the rhythm and body movement. That was the appeal of the Viennese Waltz; that was the appeal of Rock n' Roll; that is the appeal of Hip Hop. As for graffiti, if I can channel a graphic designer's brain for a moment, I can explain that the appeal of graffiti is that graffiti art transcends the using of common people as the subject matter in art and makes art the subject matter of common people's daily experience: graffitti art becomes embedded within the fabric of common people's daily lives.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both are forms of expression for individuals who feel they are left out, marginalized by society and unable to use other, possibly more socially acceptable, forms of communication to express themselves and their feelings of frustration/anger/impatience with their life circumstances. The appeal lies in the fact that hip hop and graffiti do provide outlets for those feelings, in spite of and possibly in intentional defiance of social norms and expectations.

literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that graffiti is simply a mirror to hip-hop. While one focuses upon the acoustic aspects, the other focuses upon the visual aspects. This being said, historically, I must agree with post #3. It seems to be the flag of the oppressed. Fortunately, hip-hop became (for many) a universally accepted expression of self. Unfortunately, graffiti is typically looked at as a criminal behavior regardless of it beauty and self-expression.

bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think all the above posters have it right. Hip Hop and graffitti are edgy, urban forms of expression that do reflect a kiind of anti-establishment feel that is very popular with young people.

Being into this type of music, and this type of art gives the young person street cred...and an in with the "cool", trendy, movers and shakers of the big cities today.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with poster 3.  In the early days, Hip Hop and grafitti were anti-establishment.  Now they are fairly mainstream.  The appeal comes as an outlet for societal angst.  It also makes the person appear tough, or the person thinks it does.

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question