Censorship of Graffiti Art and DJ Music in late 70s

KUNTA THE BLeU PEPE
8 min readJan 28, 2024

1. Introduction to the emergence of graffiti art and DJ music in the late 70s

In the late 1970s, two distinct art forms emerged and rapidly gained popularity, revolutionising the cultural landscape of urban environments. Graffiti art, with its vibrant colors and bold statements, began to appear on walls, subways, and buildings, challenging traditional notions of artistic expression. Simultaneously, DJ music, fuelled by the creativity and innovation of individuals behind turntables, transformed the music scene, introducing new genres and paving the way for underground movements. However, with the rise of these unconventional art forms came the inevitable clash with authorities, leading to censorship measures and restrictions. This article delves into the fascinating era of late 70s graffiti art and DJ music, exploring their significance, the impact on youth culture, and the challenges faced due to censorship.

Virus, Patrick Amadon, 2024, via https://exchange.art/series/Sequence, License CC0

The cultural landscape of the late 70s

Ah, the late 70s, a time when disco ruled the airwaves and bell-bottom pants were a fashion staple. But amidst the disco balls and polyester suits, another cultural phenomenon was quietly emerging: graffiti art and DJ music.

The birth of graffiti art

Graffiti art, with its vibrant colors and bold, spray-painted designs, started to appear on New York City’s subway trains and walls in the late 70s. What was once considered vandalism quickly became a form of artistic expression for the city’s marginalised communities.

The rise of DJ music

Meanwhile, DJ music was taking the world by storm. DJs, armed with turntables and a keen ear for beats, were transforming vinyl records into electrifying mixes that had people flocking to dance floors. DJ culture was born, and it would forever change the music scene.

2. Exploring the significance of graffiti as a form of artistic expression

The roots of graffiti as a visual art form

Graffiti art has roots dating back to ancient civilisations, where people would leave their mark on walls and structures as a way to communicate and express themselves. In the late 70s, graffiti artists took this age-old practice and turned it into a modern art form, using spray paint to create intricate designs and messages.

The use of graffiti for social and political commentary

Graffiti art became a platform for social and political commentary, as artists used their work to criticise government policies, inequality, and other pressing issues. It was a powerful way for marginalised communities to make their voices heard and challenge the status quo.

The influence of graffiti on contemporary art

The impact of graffiti on contemporary art cannot be overstated. What started as an underground movement in the late 70s has now become a recognized art form, with renowned graffiti artists exhibiting their work in galleries and museums worldwide. Graffiti art has pushed the boundaries of traditional art and continues to inspire new generations of artists.

Singularity, Patrick Amadon, 2024, via https://exchange.art/series/Sequence, License CC0

3. Examining the rise of DJ culture and its impact on the music scene

The evolution of DJ techniques and equipment

In the late 70s, DJs were pioneers in their craft. They experimented with new techniques like scratching and beat matching, pushing the boundaries of what was possible with vinyl records and turntables. The emergence of portable equipment also allowed DJs to take their music anywhere, from clubs to street parties.

The development of DJ communities and clubs

As DJ music gained popularity, communities of DJs and music enthusiasts formed around the world. Clubs dedicated to showcasing DJ talent became hotspots for music lovers, providing a platform for DJs to showcase their skills and connect with audiences. These communities fostered creativity and paved the way for the global DJ scene we know today.

The influence of DJ music on mainstream culture

DJ music started in the underground but soon made its way into the mainstream. The infectious beats and energetic mixes captivated audiences, leading to the integration of DJ performances into popular culture. From radio shows to music festivals, DJs became an essential part of the music industry, shaping trends and influencing other genres.

Zeroed, Patrick Amadon, 2024, via https://exchange.art/series/Sequence, License CC0

4. The growing popularity of graffiti art and DJ music and its influence on youth culture

Graffiti art as a form of self-expression for marginalised communities

Graffiti art offered a voice to marginalised communities, allowing them to claim their space and express their creativity. It became a way for young people to resist societal norms and assert their identity in an urban landscape that often ignored their experiences. Graffiti art became a powerful tool for self-expression and community-building.

The role of DJ music in shaping youth culture and subcultures

DJ music played a crucial role in shaping youth culture and giving rise to various subcultures. From the punk rock scene to the hip-hop movement, DJs provided the beats that fuelled rebellion, unity, and self-discovery among young people. DJ mixes became the soundtrack of youth, setting the mood for parties, protests, and everything in between.

The connection between graffiti art, DJ music, and hip-hop culture

Graffiti art and DJ music found a natural home in the hip-hop culture that emerged in the late 70s. They became interconnected, with graffiti artists often collaborating with DJs and MCs to create a vibrant and immersive hip-hop experience. The visual artistry of graffiti complemented the rhythmic beats of DJ music, creating a cultural movement that continues to shape music, fashion, and artistic expression today.

Infected, Patrick Amadon, 2024, via https://exchange.art/series/Sequence, License CC0

5. The emergence of censorship measures and restrictions on graffiti art and DJ music

Public perception of graffiti as vandalism
In the late 70s, graffiti art began to gain notoriety in urban areas, especially in neighborhoods known for their vibrant street culture. However, the public perception of graffiti was predominantly negative, with many viewing it solely as an act of vandalism. People saw it as defacing public property and a sign of lawlessness. This perception laid the groundwork for the emergence of censorship measures.

Government and law enforcement response to graffiti and DJ music
Fueled by public pressure, governments and law enforcement agencies started cracking down on graffiti artists and DJs. Their response was rooted in the belief that these forms of artistic expression were disruptive to public order and decency. Authorities began implementing strict regulations and restrictions to curb the perceived rise in graffiti art and DJ music.

Imposing regulations and limitations on graffiti and DJ performances
To suppress the burgeoning graffiti movement and DJ music scene, authorities imposed various regulations and limitations. Graffiti artists faced laws prohibiting the creation of art on public and private property without permission. DJ music events encountered limitations in terms of venue permits and noise regulations. These measures aimed to control both the physical presence of graffiti and the auditory landscape of DJ music.

Attack Vector, Patrick Amadon, 2024, via https://exchange.art/series/Sequence, License CC0

6. Effects of censorship on the development and evolution of graffiti art and DJ music

Underground movements and resistance against censorship

The censorship of graffiti art and DJ music fueled a strong underground movement. Artists and DJs found ways to operate outside the confines of regulations, creating spaces and events that celebrated their art forms. This resistance against censorship became an integral part of the development and evolution of both graffiti art and DJ music.

The impact of censorship on artistic freedom and creative expression

Censorship had a profound impact on the artistic freedom and creative expression of graffiti artists and DJs in the late 70s. While some artists adapted their styles to meet the regulations and limitations, others rebelled against the constraints, pushing boundaries and experimenting with new techniques. The constant battle with censorship fostered a sense of defiance and innovation within these art forms.

The transformation of graffiti and DJ music under censorship

Under censorship, graffiti art and DJ music underwent a transformation. The limitations imposed by regulations forced artists and DJs to find new ways of expressing themselves. This led to the emergence of different styles and sub-genres within both art forms. The adversity of censorship inadvertently fuelled a creative revolution, pushing artists and DJs to explore uncharted territories.

Expansion, Patrick Amadon, 2024, via https://exchange.art/series/Sequence, License CC0

7. Opposition and resistance against censorship in the late 70s

The role of artists, musicians, and activists in defending artistic expression

Artists, musicians, and activists played a pivotal role in defending artistic expression during the late 70s. They fought against the censorship of graffiti art and DJ music by organizing protests, advocating for the recognition of these art forms, and promoting the positive aspects they brought to communities. Their efforts helped raise awareness and change public perception.

Legal challenges and court cases related to graffiti art and DJ music

Legal challenges and court cases became a common battleground for defending the rights of graffiti artists and DJs. Through these legal battles, artists and DJs sought to challenge the constitutionality of censorship measures and highlight the artistic value and cultural significance of their work. These cases brought attention to the often subjective nature of defining art and the importance of preserving artistic freedom.

The use of alternative platforms and spaces for graffiti and DJ performances

As a response to censorship, graffiti artists and DJs began seeking alternative platforms and spaces to showcase their art. Abandoned buildings, warehouses, and underground clubs became the venues for their performances and exhibitions. These alternative spaces allowed artists and DJs to circumvent regulatory restrictions and continue sharing their work with audiences who appreciated their creativity.

Void, Patrick Amadon, 2024, via https://exchange.art/series/Sequence, License CC0

8. Legacy and lasting impact of censorship on graffiti art and DJ music

The legacy of censorship on graffiti art and DJ music is a complex one. While it initially posed challenges and limitations, it also sparked a spirit of rebellion and innovation within these art forms. The struggle against censorship became an integral part of their identities and ultimately contributed to their growth and evolution. Today, graffiti art and DJ music continue to flourish, embracing their roots of resistance and artistic expression.As we reflect on the censorship of graffiti art and DJ music in the late 70s, it becomes evident that these art forms were not only expressions of creativity but also catalysts for social change.

Despite the challenges faced and the restrictions imposed, graffiti art and DJ music persevered, leaving a lasting impact on contemporary culture. The legacy of this era continues to inspire artists, musicians, and activists to push boundaries, defend artistic expression, and embrace the power of unconventional art forms as a means of personal and collective empowerment. Through the lens of history, we recognize the significance of the late 70s as a pivotal moment in the evolution of art and music, where the struggle against censorship became a symbol of resilience and artistic freedom.

Urban Public Wall Vandalism | AI OUTPUT & Edits

AUrban Public Wall Vandalism | AI OUTPUT | via https://cdn.leonardo.ai/users/db8342af-8c0f-4145-943a-cd408b4017ae/generations/6e0e22de-2376-471e-a50d-50a0190b874e/variations/Default_Urban_Public_Wall_Vandalism_2_6e0e22de-2376-471e-a50d-50a0190b874e_1.jpg
Urban Public Wall Vandalism, KUNTA’s Edits, Author Created Art, License CC0

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KUNTA THE BLeU PEPE

Self-Taught Artist | Freedom Activist | Human-Centered Designer and Researcher