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Hip Hop

Hip hop has been a vibrant part of Australian cultural life for almost 40 years. Initially dismissed as a fad, hip hop has endured to become one of today’s most popular forms of musical storytelling.

Born in The Bronx, New York City, in the late 1970s, hip hop emerged during a period of great social unrest for the African-American, Caribbean and Hispanic communities who lived in the local housing projects. More than just a musical style, hip hop culture developed around four key elements - DJing, MCing, breakdancing (B Boy and B Girl), and writing (graffiti art). Australian audiences were introduced to the culture via commercial music videos such as Malcolm McLaren’s ‘Buffalo Girls’ and Blondie’s ‘Rapture’ in the early 1980s.

Dancing and graffiti were the first forms of hip hop to take off in Australia with music-making remaining an underground endeavour supported by independent labels, record stores, community radio stations and fans. Mainstream success would not come until the early 2000s when 1200 Techniques had a crossover hit with the song, ‘Karma’ which led to commercial airplay and industry awards.

From its earliest days, Australian hip hop has been enriched by the talents of artists from varied cultural backgrounds with Indigenous Australian, Pacifica and African influences contributing to its unique character. Hip hop artists have also used the art form to encourage debate in Australia on important issues such as racism, climate change, land rights and detention of asylum seekers, in an effort to create a fairer, more compassionate society.

Music Stories:

 Australian Indigenous Hip Hop - A Force to be Reckoned with

 The Ever Changing Face of Australian Hip Hop

Learning Resources for Schools:

 Hip Hop Kit

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