The Origins of Hip Hop with Self Suffice

To kick off my INTS 344: Global Hip Hop Cultures seminar, I sought out Self-Suffice, a Hartford-based emcee, educator and author who plays a big supportive role in the annual Trinity International Hip Hop Festival.  For the past couple of years I’ve been collaborating with him on bringing hip hop to the college classrom through lectures and active learning workshops. So when the opportunity came up to apply for a community learning grant from the college, I jumped on it.  After seeing Suffice in action for so long, I knew all I needed to tell him was that 1) most of the students know very little about hip hop and 2) if he could address the origins of hip hop in the US.  Leading up to the lecture, students read materials that gave them insight into the pioneering agency of DJ Kool Herc as a way to shed light on hip hop’s Jamaican roots. This was supplemented by works that addressed the Peurto Rican and Chicano contributions to the hip hop movement as well. To begin the class session, Suffice wrote and displayed 2 phrases for the students to think about: “Peace Love Unity Havin Fun” and “Sex, Money, Violence, Drugs” , opening the lecture with the question:  Which one of these phrases, do you think, is what hip hop is all about? From there, Suffice explored the cultural explosion that unfolded in the South Bronx in the early 1970s by talking about creativity, oppression, individuality, the break beat, the sound system, the fresh styles, the four artistic elements, among other themes. 

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