As reported by Mychal Denzel Smith for GOOD
Hip-hop is (or, was) often referred to as the “voice of the voiceless.” It’s a bit of a misnomer, of course, but this Bronx-born culture made the rest of the world finally pay attention to people who had been all but forgotten. It’s not just a way for America’s black youth communicate ideas with the wider world, it’s a tool to connect us to one another. We took the experiences of kids in New York, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, New Orleans, and celebrated their uniqueness while finding the universality. We created, through the lyrics of our favorite rappers, a language we could all understand and called it hip-hop.
There’s a Rakim lyric that goes, “I can take a phrase that’s rarely heard/flip it/now it’s a daily word.” You’d be hard pressed to find someone who quotes Rakim on a daily basis, but there is a code that mostly young black men have adopted to communicate with one another: Jay-phonics.
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