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From ‘fight the power’ to advertising for the power: hip-hop turns 50

todayAugust 9, 2023

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    From ‘fight the power’ to advertising for the power: hip-hop turns 50 NPR

Islen Milien for NPR

The legend goes that on a sweaty August night in 1973, there was a block party in the South Bronx where DJs had to hack a streetlight to power their equipment. Someone picked up a mic and spontaneously started rhyming over the the breakbeat, and that’s how hip-hop was born. In the five decades since that eureka — or, rather, that “yoooo” — moment, hip-hop music and culture has morphed into a multi-billion dollar industry, with billionaire artists, and global fandom. And as hip-hop evolves, its many contradictions become more obvious.

In this week’s Code Switch we dig into those contradictions – how hip-hop is “fight the power” but also advertises for the power; how rappers rhyme about injustice and inequality while also toting their grind and how they’ve come up or will come up; and how the conditions that created hip-hop are ones of American deprivation, but American institutions have helped the genre and culture thrive all over the world.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit

Written by: NPR

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