Blog Post 5: Hip intertwined (Ch. 4 & 5)
What happens when one lets go of attachment? Hip happens. In chapters four and five of John Leland’s Hip:The History hypermasculinity is a key point in defining hip, and the ultimate hipster is known as Elvis Presley. Leland states that the heart of hip is reinvention. Men definitely reinvented themselves into what they wanted to be like in real life. In 1912 the United States saw a progressive movement in masculinity as men copied the pulp hero/detective. In pulp fiction, detectives were seen as the cool guys who are muscular, smart, strong and unemotional. All men wanted to be this guy, the one who no one dared to mess with. The detectives who were tough and rough were in at the time and hard boiled literature wooed men into wanting to be this detective. With its emphasis on apprehension, horror, terror and awe, hard boiled literature sought to suck the dead out of hard working men and aimed them towards the cynical attitudes towards emotion. There was a sense of letting go from the mother figure in a man’s life since they felt emasculated due to the fact that they worked approximately 40 hours a week while women stayed home to blow their money. Therefore, men wanted to escape from femininity and sought to reinvent themselves literally and metaphorically. In the pulp universe the idea of a “mother” did not exist. In the film noir world, guys invented their own universe. This was considered the hippest of the hip. One key thing that Leland highlighted in chapter four is that the White culture is laid back and restrained while the Black culture is wild. This emphasizes that hypermasculinity was all about the Black culture. From this ideal pulp hero emerged different rappers with the intention of giving birth to a new form of themselves. This can be seen through rappers like Eminem, Tupac and Biggie. Eminem’s song “Kill You” about his mother illustrates his hatred towards his mother and at the same time highlighting his tough, bad guy, unemotional self. Biggie stated that “You’re nobody till somebody kills you,” which further highlights the reinvention of a man getting rid of his old self and giving birth to the tough and aggressive detective. In a more broader sense, “hip is to see the underlying message, to see something not literally, but to see it as more than what it is,” and these men wanted to be more than what they bargained for. Dwelling into chapter five, although not stated in the beginning, Leland’s central focus is that the hippest of them all is Elvis Presley and Dr.Jive. Leland introduces readers to bebop. Bebop was a “nigger music” and a form of rebellion. Many people engaging in bop considered it to be music from “dark days” meaning it came from the past with bad experiences etc. In this chapter it is obvious that there is no real definition for bop because according to Leland bop ranged all the way from the anxieties of racial threshold to “sexual lives of royalty”. Some of the famous artists involved in the culture of bop include Parker, Dizzy, Gillespie and Thelonious Monk who were flamboyant in their personal style, intellectual arrogance and rebel grace. It is important to remember that what lead to bop was the Cold War in which the author mentions that it was the golden age of hip. Bop was not something nice. It was a rebel against society, stereotypes, and even jazz music. Bop was so strong that poet and novelist Gilbert Sorrentino described it as “non-popular” which brought together young people who were tired of living a fake life. Bop addressed real issues and was not afraid. Instead of praising artists that produced music, bop did quite the opposite. Bop was smooth, colder, harder and more purer. People thought that they were going to listen to something happy and eccentric but they were wrong. Bop presented to them the sound of rebellion and hatred in a prideful way. In the beginning of the chapter Leland mentions that there are two important dates that contribute to the golden age of hip. These dates include November 20, 1955 and nine months later.On November 20, Tommy “Dr.Jive” Smalls played simple rhythms in which bop revolved around and lived on. Nine months later Elvis Presley came out as the boy who stole the blues and that was the end of it all. Nothing and nobody could beat him and his music. As Leland states, “The other stuff didn’t have a chance”.