Bridgetown, Barbados was the site of the nineteenth International Conference on Caribbean Literature [ICCL] in November 2019. Professor Melvin Rahming, Conference Coordinator, invited the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus in Bridgetown to co-host the annual academic meeting with Morehouse College, where he chairs the Department of English. At the conference, Dr. Jon A. Yasin, a board member of the Sister Clara Muhammad Memorial Education Foundation, presented his research on youth culture and Hip Hop emceeing. Currently, almost fifty years old, Hip Hop culture, specifically emceeing, has given a public voice to African American, African Caribbean and Latino youths, who had been marginalized by much of the larger European-American society.
The pioneers of Hip Hop emceeing and its other cultural elements – in spite of the initial all-negative narratives disseminated globally by the majority culture about these youths’ cultures and Hip Hop – have made a plethora of extremely positive contributions in their communities, which have been appropriated by youths around the world. As a result, numerous major international institutions now utilize aspects of Hip Hop culture in contemporary society. Examples include the State Department of the United States’s Hip Hop Diplomacy Program organized in 2001, for example, and the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary – a British publication – identifying African American Vernacular English [AAVE] as the most dynamic variety of English in the United States, at the time they began to include dictionary entries from Hip Hop’s lexicon, such as “24/7/365,” “shout-out,” and “jiggy,” some twenty years ago.