Street Gangs and the Evolution of Hip-Hop

Journalist Davey D digs through the archives to bring sense to our current musical moment.

By Jamilah King Oct 13, 2010

Hip-hop journalist [Davey D](!/mrdaveyd) recently dug up some archival interview footage with ColorLines’ founding co-editor Jeff Chang. Back at the 2008 National Hip Hop Convention, Chang talked to Davey D about an important part of his seminal book "Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation" that explored the influence of street gangs on the early development of what’s now a globally recognized culture. Davey D [explains]( > Chang talks to us about the culture of abandonment in the late 60s and early 70s when many whites fled the Bronx in what we call ‘white flight’. This left many of the areas impoverished with its decreased tax base. This in turn led to what Chang described as chaos which led to the explosions of gangs who attempted to create and enforce some sort of order. > > The gangs grew in size and began to war against one another until it reached a critical point where folks reached a fork in the road. Should they make peace and transform the neighborhoods or continue down a path of destruction. In 1971 the gangs of the Bronx got together and forged a Peace Treaty. The cult movie Warriors was inspired by this Peace Treaty. The interview also references the roles of Afrika Bambaataa and the Mighty Zulu Nation, the Ghetto Brothers, and the Rocksteady Crew. Head on over to [Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner]( to see interviews with those legendary pioneers of hip-hop. It’s an especially relevant conversation now, as black and brown communities under siege struggle to [use music to define themselves](