On Hip Hop (The Prelude of Black Expression)

The history of black expression has allowed me to view Hip Hop as the reigning bastard son destined to be king.

The rebellious son of the Civil Rights Movement that grew up without a father, because the leaders of that movement were killed.

This young rebel turned to parties to get his mind off of the heartbreak and the worsening conditions around him. He was harmless, poor, impoverished, miseducated, and was predicted by many to fade away in only a few years.

But instead he grew more appreciated within the trying times he existed in. As he got older, he began to expand his message beyond having a good time in the streets he lived.

He brought more attention to the problems that plagued those streets he had grown in, and these topics begin to brighten his spotlight. He mirrored a voice similar to his deceased activist father, who had used his wits, storytelling, soul, and philosophies to gain momentum as a leader among his people before being assassination.

The entities that held control in our unequal system contributed to the unfair treatment of African Americans. They knew they had to act and they decided to approach Hip Hop differently in order to avoid another bastard child that would be another nuisance to them.

They chose to let the boy live and grow, but to make sure they poison and reprogram his messaging, distribution, and as a result the reciprocation of it.

They offered him money, they offered him fame, and they made him sign contracts so he wouldn’t get too out of control.

They taxed him, they beat him, they decided which parts of his are of his art were worth being advertised or safe for the masses to see.

They sold his style, they gave him drugs, they gave him guns, they gave him jewelry.

They gave him anything, and they took as much as they could from him and his people.

They gave him opportunity, a platform, and false hopes. But along the way, they would eventually forget who he was at his core...

Hip Hop is a rebel,

inherited from a long line of many other brave rebels who live through him. They continue to fight.

None have been destroyed like Hip Hop, and therefore none will triumph like Hip Hop.

Black expression will always evolve and find a way to live through the hardships.

-Jeron "Ignis" Nicholas

Timeline of Black Expression

A component we can’t ignore when understanding the rise of black music, is how tragedy within the community precede our need for creating new outlets to be our new voice. People of color dig into their spirits and find new ways of letting feelings manifest, creating a new future for themselves. As a result we continue to connect the path of where we came from to our trudging forward, no matter the circumstance.

1800s – Negro Spirituals developed on Plantations by African American Slaves

1861-1865 – Civil War

1865-1877 – Reconstruction Era

1870s – Blues is born along the Mississipi Delta (By Sharecroppers)

1893-1897 – American Economic Depression

1895 – Jazz is Born in New Orleans

1914-1918 – World War 1

1919- Red Summer of 1919

1920s- Harlem Renaissance

1929- The Great Depression

1954-1968 – Civil Rights Movement

August 11th, 1973 – DJ Kool Herc’s Back 2 School Party (Hip Hop is Born)


Smith, Virginia Whatley. “The Harlem Renaissance and Its Blue-Jazz Traditions: Harlem and Its Places of Entertainment.” Obsidian II, vol. 11, no. 1/2, 1996, pp. 21–60. JSTOR,

“The African Americanization of Hip-Hop.” Filipinos Represent: DJs, Racial Authenticity, and the Hip-Hop Nation, by Antonio T. Tiongson, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis; London, 2013, pp. 1–16. JSTOR,

“Claiming Hip Hop: Race and the Ethics of Underground Hip Hop Participation.” Hip Hop Underground: The Integrity and Ethics of Racial Identification, by Anthony Kwame Harrison, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 2009, pp. 83–119. JSTOR,

Belle, Crystal. “From Jay-Z to Dead Prez: Examining Representations of Black Masculinity in Mainstream Versus Underground Hip-Hop Music.” Journal of Black Studies, vol. 45, no. 4, 2014, pp. 287–300.,

(Vanity fair article by Steven Daley. October 10, 2006)

Howland, John. “‘The Blues Get Glorified’: Harlem Entertainment, Negro Nuances, and Black Symphonic Jazz.” The Musical Quarterly, vol. 90, no. 3/4, 2007, pp. 319–370. JSTOR, Accessed 30 Apr. 2020.

“‘Harlem Jazzing’: Claude McKay, Home to Harlem, and Jazz Internationalism.” Jazz Internationalism: Literary Afro-Modernism and the Cultural Politics of Black Music, by JOHN LOWNEY, University of Illinois Press, Urbana; Chicago; Springfield, 2017, pp. 27–58. JSTOR, Accessed 30 Apr. 2020.

(Article by Elizabeth Winter. December 16, 2007)

(Article by Ed Kopp. August 16th, 2005)

Article by Mike Oppenheim. March 3rd, 2013)

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