New York’s HipHop Scene From the 70’s and 80s
The HipHop scene and culture appeared here in New York during this period. This is also the time when Martha Cooper, a photo-journalist, began documenting the whole HipHop scene and the B-boy (break-boys). But like with almost every other new cultural thing that appears, many people don’t instantly accept it. This was also the case with HipHop and the way many New Yorkers saw it.
While Martha found it as a brand new art form through which people were expressing their views of the world around them, many other New Yorkers saw it as uninspired and even offensive. What Martha Cooper was able to achieve was to forever capture the infancy of HipHop as it first appeared in the alleyways and subways of the big city.
“The first question people usually ask me is, ‘What made you photograph HipHop?’ My answer is that the words “HipHop” were not even in use in the late 70s when I began this project. From 1977 to 1980, I was a staff photographer for the New York Post.
One day I discovered a boy who showed me drawings of his nickname that he painted on walls. After I saw that these kids were more graphic designers than vandals, I became hooked on graffiti. My idea while documenting subway graffiti was to attempt to show the paintings within the context of the culture that created them.”
“In 1980, while on another Post assignment, I happened upon some kids break-dancing in Washington Heights. They explained how they battled each other with dance and I began to document that.
The next thing I knew, there was a cultural revolution going on. It included music, dance, and art, and I was standing in the middle of it! In 1982, the words “HipHop” appeared in print for the first time. I thought I was photographing a specifically New York phenomenon. Never did I imagine Hip Hop would spread like wildfire to every country in the world.”
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