Hip-hop, as it’s defined by such
aging psychopaths important scholars as KRS-One and Chief Rocker Busy Bee, is generally said to consist of four elements – rappin’, dancing, DJing, and graffiti writing. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that that fourth element, graffiti writing, should no longer be considered an element of hip-hop.
First of all, it’s worth noting that graffiti writing was only ever tangientally related to hip-hop to begin with, having been invented by old white guys who were into classic rock and could care less about rap music. No less an authority on what counts and what doesn’t count in hip-hop than Jeff Chang noted this in his critically acclaimed Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation.
Hispanic Americans will often try to claim they invented graffiti writing during ancient times, but then they’ve been known to try to claim all kinds of shit. Did you know that Mexicans invented a calendar, based on the solar system, that’s even more accurate than the calendar we use today? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? I’m not sure.
Regardless (or as they say in certain communities, “irregardless”) of who invented graffiti writing, it’s value as an actual form of art has always been highly debatable. There was a time in the early 1980s when the fruits in New York’s art community would attempt to patronize graffiti writers by showing off fake graffiti, drawn on canvases, in real art galleries.
Cracka-ass crackas put the kibosh on that shit with the quickness though once artists’ entourages started shooting at each other outside shows. But that’s the thing: What use is graffiti anyway if it’s not on a wall or a train somewhere and hence illegal? Any old ‘tard with a few magic markers can draw his name in some fancy design on a sheet of paper.
Not to climb on top of my soapbox, as us midwesterners are wont to do, but there’s a certain thing called private property. When a man buy’s a wall, he likes to think that that wall will remain free of paint, unless he himself decides it could use a coat. This also happens to be the law.
Graffiti writing is wrong because it destroys private property and brings down the value of the community. Furthermore, there’s nothing particularly revolutionary about it if it’s some wall or train in the ghetto, which is the case more often than not, and not, say Jimmy “Double Fantasy” Iovine’s house.
Therefore, I’m suggesting that from here on out graffiti writing no longer be considered an element of hip-hop. If people like KRS-One and Busy Bee think it’s such an integral part of hip-hop, I think we should all spray paint their houses and see how they feel.