Introducing: The pillars of hip hop

BY SHARON JACOBS
Assistant Arts Editor
Published September 29, 2010

In a corner of the Bronx in the 1970s, a movement began to emerge in four parts. Mix masters like Clive Campbell — who would later be known as DJ Kool Herc — flipped between records for neighborhood parties, spinning only the instrumental breaks. MCs started rapping over the music, with more and more complex rhymes. Kids took to the streets to tag their names in spray paint wherever they saw suitable. And B-boys introduced a new style of athletic dancing. It was DJ Afrika Bambaataa who joined the elements together under the term “four pillars of hip hop.”

But what does Ann Arbor in 2010 have to do with Bronx in the 1970s? Is “four pillars of hip hop” still a relevant term? Since hip hop’s early days, DJs have forayed into clubs and continued to join forces with MCs in rap groups. Graffiti has found its way into art museums worldwide, and breakdancing has gone in and out of style too many times to count.

Last week and this week, The B-Side has looked at how each of the hip-hop elements exists at the University and in Ann Arbor today. Last week, the focus was DJ-ing and MC-ing as writers looked into the lives and art of local vinyl spinners and rappers. This week, campus breakdancing groups and local graffiti artists go under the lens.