A Triumph in Human Rights
In the early 1980s, New School Rap emerged, but not named as such, obtaining its name with the realization that it differed to previous Rap, which became Old School, a binary hence. Twenty years after human rights, during redlining policy in New York, came young Jamaican producer, Curtis Mantronik.
Mantronik, was central to human rights; his electro-structured Rap and Hip Hop superhumanized inner city New York communities, who performed rap, as super-human beings, i.e. better than robots. By becoming superhuman (alongside breakdancing, popping), Rap afforded these communities agencies to develop musical and sociopolitical capital globally (the world saw Rap and Hip Hop and said WOW). This drew these communities out of economically denigrative states, to become superhuman. The study of Rap is certainly a study of Linguistic Anthropology.
Many know Mantronik: Few realize how significant his music and courage were for global society, for oppressed inner city societies, for human rights. This superhumanizing of the oppressed offered new robotic computerized agencies, at the centre of which was Mantronik and his portable drum machine, his ‘electro smoking gun.’ This new performance changed the world. Mantronik once explained that in the early 80s, in a studio playing with circuits, an electronic sound emerged, a ‘boom’ then ‘tsshhl.’ He said, “what a great sound.” Electro music was born; egalitarianism and anti oppression were given musical and performative fuel. The global spread of electro-influenced Rap has liberated oppressed communities, creating junctures between Linguistic Anthropology and Human RIghts.
Mantronik was the ‘King of the Beats.’ We may do well to label him ‘A Triumph in Human Rights.’
Keywords: Rap, Mantronix, Linguistic Anthropology, Human Rights, Inner City New York