Hip-Hop was a youth culture, meaning many of the early graf writers, B-boys, DJ’s and Mc had relatively short careers. A lot of early legends essentially aged out of their respective disciplines like Menudo.
However, Hip-Hop culture had a built in mentorship/apprentice program so the previous generation would teach and prepare the following generation of participants, who added their own style evolutions. They would in turn pass on their knowledge to a new generation that would do the same. This is essentially how the culture worked between 1973 and 1984 until the outside world (read: the corporate world) became interested in it.
By 1985, media oversaturation forced B-Boys underground, thus removing one of Hip-Hop culture’s elements from us. B-Boying relied on the older cats teaching the youth about finding and developing their own styles to express themselves. In addition, it taught them how to dance to the record and accentuate it as opposed to doing power moves or acrobatics to wow an audience. With that key discipline and opportunity to mentor the younger generation removed, we were left with graf writing, DJ’ing and MC’ing on the slate.
In urban music, a new generation or wave happens every 3 to 5 years.
Even though graf writing was the first of the four elements in existence and the first to attract any media coverage, it’s been saved by the fact that it’s an outlaw culture and it’s illegal. This means that it’s extremely tough for corporate interests to infiltrate it enough to change it’s actual culture. However, it’s still susceptible to being exploited and used for commercial means. The mentorship program that’s existed with graffiti is still alive and well after more than 45 years of existence. Younger writers have been tracing older writers outlines and practicing hand styles, control & spraying techniques for close to 40 years.
In a similar manner, older DJ’s mentored younger ones and sometimes they’d introduce or discover style evolutions that forced the previous generation to fall back. This was true with both Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore, who ended up taking the audiences of their idols, mentors and even their own family members due to their technical brilliance and showmanship behind the wheels of steel.
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