Friday, March 13, 2015

Information Diffusion and Hip-Hop

Information and knowledge are diffused via artistic expression in Hip-Hop culture among other methods. Here is a very brief sketch of some ideas on this topic. ANY and ALL comments will be answered and are valued. 

Graffiti and Tags

There is a lot of metadata here!  
Tags and other graffiti carry metadata. for instance, when one sees a tagger's tag--and one is familiar with the the tagger, then one will know about them--how brave they are--by where they throw up their tags--the more dangerous, the braver. One would know much about their style oftentimes. If they are a local, they might have legendary status, people might know much about the tagger from the metadata derived from their tags, yet they might not even know the tagger's real identity.


Political Information Hip-Hop Mural

Hip-Hop murals tell stories. Sometimes the story is that of the local neighborhood. The art will be done by someone who intimately knows the neighborhood's characters, triumphs and tragedies. This kind of artwork is powerful, moving and imparts information and knowledge about the neighborhood even if the observer is a stranger to the area.

Educational Concepts in Hip-Hop Lyrics

Hip-Hop lyrics are often full of rich educational information that informs the listener in their own language and on their own terms via Hip-Hop music. For example, Immortal Technique imparts knowledge on a wider-variety of subjects from politics to the drug war. His song Peruvian Cocaine tells the story of the drug trade from the people's point of view--in this case indigenous people forced into the drug trade and how the governments involved in the drug war all profit from it in one way or another.

Dead Prez are another amazing example of Hip-Hop imparting knowledge via flow and beats. Their music addresses so many topics it is hard to cover. Some topics include, social behavior information, political information, historical information, artistic information among other great and relevant topics. Dead Prez has songs about health and fitness, discipline and education--real education--not the White-supremacist standard education, but education from the people's POV.

Both Immortal Technique and Dead Prez sample historical figures such as Malcolm X, Mumia Abu Jamal, members of the Black Panther Party for Self-defense and others. These samples allow young people to hear historical leadership and their ideas. They impart an historical narrative from a Black and Brown POV The information and knowledge imparted by Dead Prez and Immortal Technique cannot be underestimated.

Only Educational Opportunity for Many

In many cases these are the only arenas people will get a chance to hear about COINTELPRO, Colonialism concepts, other political viewpoints. Also, the people speaking are respected teachers and artists in our community and have authority to speak to social, cultural, educational and political issues. I know I trust these artists more than almost any politician I can think of today.

These ideas can be more fully developed, but I would love to work with someone to get more detailed articles written on this subject.


Rachel Martinez said...

I love that you integrated the ideas of metadata into actual tagging. Information takes many forms, and I think that people forget that these forms have the ability to take expressive "in-your-face" routes such as tagging. I'm interested in: A)what kind of information could we mine from these works of art? and B) What are the knowledge connections to similar tagged walls?

Max Macias said...

Thanks so much for your comment Rachel!

Yes, I think many people don't think too much about all the types of metadata around us for sure.

Those are interesting questions!

a) I think the mining mainly is done by the community who produces this kind of information.

It would be super cool to research a community about the information they glean from such work/s. Both metadata and educational information general.

b) Not to be stereotypical, but I would investigate gang tags and the relationships between different tags, and those crossed out, etc...Where does the new "territory" begin? Who controls this territory? Is this territory contested? What does the Name mean, and what other types of metadata are included within the image of the tag.

Just two thoughts when I read your astute questions.

What do you think?

Hanni Nabahe said...

Max, I'm currently in library school and working on a project related to this piece in my intro to archives class. We are documenting an exhibit that took place last fall at the Arizona State Museum (UoA campus) titled Neoglyphix, where local Native American artists put up an amazing display of graffiti art while Native hip hop musicians provided the entertainment. Do you mind if I reference (even link) this article in that project? We will be using Scalar ( -- I'll make sure to send you a link when it's all done (in the next couple weeks or so)

Max Macias said...

HI Hanni,

That program sounds amazing! I will have to look it up. Thank you for telling me about Neoglyphix. Please also see my post: Tags, Tagging and Information Diffusion and Hip Hop and Web 2.O. I would be honored if you reference my post. I am also very interested in learning more about your project. Thank you for commenting and for your work!


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