One of my best friends growing up likes to say, “Hip Hop is medicine.” I have pondered this statement for some time now because music in general, not just hip hop, has always been a healing mechanism for me. Music was there when I otherwise felt completely alone in the world. I could sit with my headphones on and get lost in the sounds, the lyrics, and the overall vibe. Punk rock, in particular, changed my life.
Punk was stripped down, unpretentious, and direct. It was inclusive of outsiders because it was made by and for outsiders. Punk was more than music. It was a cultural movement, but it was loose and open, not restrictive. It was a way out of loneliness. Punk was DIY music, art, clothing, and attitude. An alternative to joining cliques, clubs, or gangs, punk was a way to express oneself freely around others who were also doing the same.
Hip hop, as it was originally created and as it still exists in the underground scene, I have concluded is punk. I do not mean to diminish it as being ‘like punk.’ Instead, I am saying that they are the same. Minor Threat are saying with a guitar, bass, drums, and lyrics the same thing Run DMC are saying with two turntables and a microphone, even if they are saying it to different people on different sides of town. Hip hop and punk are medicine for the disenfranchised, for the lonely, for the outsider, lifting up people who have been put down their whole lives.