By Aria Brent,
AFRO Staff Writer

Aug.11 marks the official 50th anniversary of Hip-Hop. In 50 years it has grown from a genre of music to a culture that has impacted the world. Although Hip-Hop was started in the Bronx, N.Y., artists around the world have contributed to the genre, resulting in a wide array of music, clothes and dance. 

This week the AFRO spoke with some of Baltimore’s most legendary and up-and-coming rappers about how Hip-Hop has influenced them. 

Sir-Titus “Yung Easy” Sessions told the AFRO that Hip-Hop has helped him evolve.

“I was going through a lot and on “American Gangster,” Jay-Z was hitting home with a lot of songs for me,” said Yung Easy.“That album showed me that it was possible to grow.”

Yung Easy is a professional rapper and studio engineer who was born and raised in Charm City. He’s been rapping for about 15 years and is currently working with rapper, Jason “Jadakiss” Phillips, who he credited with being one of his biggest influences. He noted that working under and learning from Jadakiss has been just as fulfilling as he hoped it would be. 

“I mirror a lot of things he does because he’s a legend and I’m still willing to be a student,” said Yung Easy. 

Hip-Hop has gone through many changes and phases throughout its 50 years, but the way it inspires people seems to be timeless. Relatable lyrics continue to inspire new artists who are breaking the proverbial “ceiling” and blazing new trails.

“Back in the day you couldn’t really get on the radio here,” expressed Julian “Huli Shallone” Allen. “It was a few other artists along with myself that were rapping and could get played on the radio. I’m one of the pioneers that was able to get their songs played.” 

Huli Shallone is known for being one of the first rappers from the Baltimore area to receive airplay on the local radio stations.

Much like Yung Easy, Allen was influenced by some of Hip-hop’s most recognizable names such as LL Cool J, Jay-Z and Tupac. He has since begun to pass the torch on to up-and-coming rappers in the Baltimore area, helping them navigate the rap game.

“Nowadays when rappers get on, I’m like the Godfather and they refer to how I did it,” Allen exclaimed. “They say ‘We have to do it like Huli Shallone did it,’ and they use my name at seminars at the radio station explaining how I got played. I’m able to bring fatherly love and advice to the Baltimore music community.”

Hip-Hop doesn’t exist without community and many artists start off rapping by discussing what they know: home. From artists like Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five to Kendrick Lamar, discussing the struggles that take place in everyday life has always been a part of hip-hop’s authenticity. 

What began in 1973 at a back to school party has criss-crossed the globe time and time again. 

The AFRO previously reported on the history of Hip-Hop and some of the key players. DJ Kool Herc, born Clive Campbell, is considered the “Father of Hip-Hop.”

Herc was the first person to use turntables with two vinyl records to focus on the “breakdown” part of a crowd’s favorite songs– the part where people could really dance. 

He debuted his style of going back and forth between vinyl records to play popular dance breaks back-to-back at a party hosted by his sister, Cindy Campbell. The event was a back-to-school event that came about when Campbell decided to raise additional money for school clothes. Fifty years later, what the two Jamaican immigrants began in the Bronx has become so much more than an elongated dance break.

Hip-Hop has been used to comment on all aspects of life, including love, friendships, betrayals and triumphs.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five made people rethink the state of urban America with their hit “The Message” in 1982. Over the years, everything from domestic abuse to civil and human rights have been addressed through the genre. 

“Nas’ album “It Was Written” really influenced me. The lyrical content on that album really spoke to me in a different way,” explained Travis “Bossman” Holifield. “It made me want to take music and hip-hop and my expression seriously. I would read the back of the lyrics outside on the stoop while we were hustling. Some of the things he was saying were so vivid to what was happening with my surroundings. It gave me an outlook on how to never get trapped in that state of mind.” 

Bossman is a recording artist and the CEO of Get Money Music Group. He currently lives in Los Angeles, but he’s a native of Baltimore and that’s where he started his rap career. In 2003, Holifield released his single “Land of the Oh” which was featured on his 2004 project, “Law and Order.” The project sold 10,000 copies and landed him a 1.5 million dollar deal with Virgin records.

“Still, to this day it has impacted a lot of lives in the younger generations in Baltimore. [The project] was like Baltimore’s own “Illmatic.” We had an entire neighborhood behind us, said Bossman. “We did everything from throwing our own tours in the school system, I had multiple records on the radio, selling out in-store signings. I currently still have that impact and I’m celebrating the 20th anniversary of that.” 

Hip-Hop has only been around for half a century and yet so much has been accomplished on its behalf. Yung Easy explained that he’s excited to see how hip-hop grows in the next 50 years.

“I just want to continue to see it growing throughout the world and let everybody know that it doesn’t just reside where it was rooted. I want hip-hop to continue touching the world and doing it’s thing. I love hip-hop,” he said.