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Urban English

Bridgette Soto

English Comp / Prof. Buchanan

Title: Urban English

Phase I

Pin on The 1980's in NYC   

Hip hop can be defined as dance, music genre, fashion, and a culture. Hip hop originated in New York City in the late 1970’s and is divided into elements. There was Dj-ing. DJs like Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizard Theodore, and Grandmaster Flash were the first pioneers to introduce turn table cutting, scratching, and electro tracking. The second element was MC-ing.  The initial innovator MC’s were Sugar Hill Gang, KRS One, Chuck D, Big Daddy Kane, and Rakim are equivalent to current day rap legends like LL Kool J and Dr. Dre. The third element was B boyin/girlin. It was the first form of hip-hop dance. Dancers like Crazy Legs, Rokafella, and Kwikstep were some of the popular original hip-hop dancers. The fourth element of Hip Hop was art better known as graffiti. Lady Pink and the Tats Cru were  fundamental to the incorporate art of the hip hop culture. The Fifth element of Hip Hop is fashion. The Kangol hat, and Adidas sneakers were synonymous with Hip Hop as is Russell Simmons with Phat Pharm. Over the decades the Hip Hop genre, fashion, art, and dance have evolved, however it’s a way of life for the marginalized of New York City and every city where there is urban decay.



  Cartoon Doodle Art Discount - fvde.org 1702313301I am a first generation American in my family, both my parents were born in Puerto Rico and migrated from Puerto Rico during the Puerto Rican diaspora. They settled in the Bronx before it became the origins of Hip hop music which was home to many diasporic minorities, predominately Blacks and Latinos. Hip hop music was my influence growing up and was inevitable not to adapt to the language when it was the language of the youth. The genre did not only influence music but, it impacted fashion, language, and eventually American culture. I remember how adidas sneakers, hoodies and Levis were a must have.  Phrases like “What’s up” and “What’s good” it is urban English for “How are you?” The word “fresh” was not used to describe food but to something nice. “Your bugging” meant you’re crazy and the term “bad” meant something good.  Urban English was the language for areas with “urban decay ”aka “the hood” and only peoples from there could understand these phrases which continue to evolve today.  Although we go to school to learn the standard and proper English,  the minute we were out of school it was back to Ebonics.  I didn’t even realize how it consumed me until I started working in a corporate environment where my Hip hop accent was evident. Once my workplace became my dominate environment, my business vocabulary became noticeable with my friends and family. Don’t get it twisted now because I can switch it like a light now Lol.  I’ve learned over the years that Hip hop urban English will always be a part of me it also lets me identify with my surroundings and the people within my community.  Living in a big city like New York it helps to be savvy in all aspects of language.



 Growing up in the South Bronx in the midst of the Hip hop explosion adapting the language is inevitable. The language has become part of my identity in addition to being a staple part of New York City, in addition to becoming a part of American society and pop culture. Today, the Hip hop language is a hot topic in academia . Sociolinguist have been interested in how Hip-hop language relates to Afro American English as well as its innovation in terms of grammar and vocabulary and because here I am writing this essay about it. Personally find it amazing how the music genre transformed into a multi -faceted conglomerate that continues re-innovating.



best 80s rap songs playlist featureHip hop continues to evolve and has become more mainstream and part of today’s pop culture. The was once associated with drugs crime and violent ghettos is now being assimilated by youths worldwide, I can truly say that Urban English has established its place in modern society. I feel that the Black Lives Matter Movement assisted in the Black / Indigenous Culture Movement and Ebonics is a part of that liberation which in my opinion was way overdue. Hip Hop English took 5 decades in the making and will be here for generation to come.

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