Bridging the Gap: Hip Hop and Techno's Shared Activist Roots

Posted Jul 16 2008

Slide 16: Planet Rock is such a foundational record in so many genres of music that I had to cover it. Despite being more than 25 years old students recognize elements of it, if not the entire thing.

Slide 17: Afrika Bambaataa's influence went beyond one record. His organization The Universal Zulu Nation was developed for community development. I've used his imagery and language several times as an entry point to discuss the political power of music. The African ties are obvious, but I've also discussed his anti-gang work and significance of his fashion.

Slide 18: Yup, fashion and stereotypes. On dress alone, does Bambaataa's crew have more in common with The Village People or contemporary mainstream rappers? There are so many ways to go with this one, including self-expression and stereotypes.

Slide 19: A discussion of how music reflects society. The first pic is of the Temptations and Motown at its height. The focus was more on defying the stereotype of ignorant, dirty, uncultured African Americans by being even more fashionable, articulate, and well-mannered. The second pic is to show the changing emphasis on individual expression and Black pride, including afros, as well as pushing social boundaries in public settings.

Slide 20: It's a mistake to play this music, and the different approaches in the Civil Rights Movement, against one another. They're intertwined efforts for change that were also interdependent.

Slide 21: When I say hip-hop music didn't exist, I meant that you couldn't run to a store and buy a tape or record. It was created and drew upon various sources, recontextualizing this material to create something new.

Slide 22: There are countless responses to those who think that hip hop is the only music to build upon or recreate older music.

Slide 23: This clip is so layered that it doesn't require much explanation. However, the intro has some swearing so be mindful when showing this in class.

Slide 24: I didn't show this clip, but could be useful

Slide 25: Most students I work with don't "breakdance" and there are countless local dances. At a deeper level, one could discuss definitions of hip hop, but at a basic level, students relate more to "newer" street dances. As I teach in Oakland, I often referenced a style of music called turf dancing. This particular clip features The Architeckz, who've turned their skills into a business.

Slide 26: I like to compare "new" dances with older dances so there's historical context. Very useful opening activities in my history classes.

Slide 27/28:
This an example from Detroit known as "jit," which I trace backwards (see following slides).

Slide 29: I didn't use this in my presentation, but has been useful in my classes.

Slide 30: If this one's purpose isn't clear, watch JB and his dancers, then go back and watch the previous clips.

Slide 31: I didn't show this clip, but since "jitting" comes from the "jitterbug" it's a useful clip.

Slide 32: Besides his footwork, the song itself is a useful talking piece about drugs and social vices that hip hop gets blamed for.

Slide 33:
No notes

Slide 34: I didn't show these clips, but they show how 1)cultures influence one another or 2)similar practices develop independent of one another so who can claim "ownership." This has been useful in the sense that while I often focus on the African and African American roots of these examples bring up commonalities across ethnic lines.


1. Mike said at July 16, 2008 10:29 pm:

Dan, if you want to share slides online, there's a great new service called Have a look, it's really well done.

2. The Galley said at December 18, 2008 9:58 pm:

Yes, it would really be nice to see those slides. I'll have to see them before making any comment though.

3. The Galley said at December 19, 2008 2:13 pm:

After looking at the slides, I have to say it wasn't a bad presentation. It was a learning experience for me too. I liked the videos you used: DJ Rolando Knights was a cool video very low key, I liked the dancing. And of course the beat! I also like the examples you used for what sampling means; re-contextualization basically. Learning about the themes in Techno also helped me understand Techno and its use of sound/beat a little more. I think that was part of the reason I liked Techno (not all of it; like anything else), seems to use more of urban healing style; creative and yet relevant. Like Zulu Nation and their insistence on community as opposed to "me-me-me". Nice historical references too. Still need to look at the dance videos. Life and art is something. Those who get the attention vs those who don't. Relevance vs mindless indulgence. But I think Techno will make its way back. Prolly just a matter of time...yah...time, that sweet grandmother lol. Nice presentation still, quite educational.

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