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Hip-hop is more than just a genre of music. It’s a way of life.

by Amber D. Dodd
collage of hip-hop art

Even before the inception of Black America to now, music has sent a cultural message to the masses to reflect the times onto itself.

It is said that Harriet Tubman masked the Black spiritual hymn “Wade in the Water” as directions for the enslaved to escape and find freedom. James Brown’s “Say it Loud: I’m Black & I’m Proud” unified Black Americans reeling from the Civil Rights Movement in 1968. Queen Latifah’s 1993 Grammy-winning song “U.N.I.T.Y.” dished the female perspective of misogynoir in the Black community. Lil Baby’s 2020 hit “The Bigger Picture” adds onto the legacy of Southern rappers portraying the battle between Black male survival and white supremacy in America’s societal and systemic structures.

From ragtime blues to trap music, music has preserved Blackness in ways the world wants us to refuse. Hip-hop’s 50-year run is a testament to the diversity of our communities and the genre’s global impact to hold a mirror to the world’s joys and pains.

There aren’t enough words to thank hip-hop. Here is Howard University’s grand attempt.


This story appears in the Fall 2023 issue.
Article ID: 1761

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