The American youth subculture of Hip Hop emerged in the late 1970s out of the African American and Latin American communities of the Bronx in New York, United States of America. It gained exposure in Australia in the early to mid 1980s predominantly through music videos on Australian television, imported music in independent record stores, music programs on community radio stations and through early films such as "Wild Style' (1983) and 'Beat Street' (1984). By the time films such as 'Breakdance: The Movie' (1984) and 'Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo' (1984) were released, Australians were already developing their own local version of Hip Hop. The culture, which encompassed MCing (rapping), DJing (turntablism), breaking (dancing) and graffiti writing had wide appeal amongst Australian youth, particularly those of a non Anglo Saxon background who related to the stories of minorities and disenfranchisement.
The portable stereo cassette player, or Ghetto Blaster, could play mix tapes of Hip Hop music anywhere, at any time and was therefore a key element in enabling groups to gather, play music, dance and MC. This poster 'Sharp Unleashes your Sound!' uses the symbols of this emerging youth subculture as a tool to sell Ghetto Blasters to a young Australian market. However, the version of Hip Hop presented by the dancers in this poster was based upon the dress style in the film 'Breakdance: The Movie', an American style of dress that was not as yet worn by the majority of local Australian youth who embraced the Hip Hop lifestyle. The dancers were specifically requested to wear clothing in the same style as the characters in the film, regardless of that fact that according to Darrio Phillips, "nobody wore that stuff". In the early years of Hip Hop in Australia, the mode of dress was less dependent on the labels of large sports leisure companies, rather being based upon individual style and customisation. As the decade progressed, Hip Hop style became increasingly standardised and commercialised. This poster represents both the pervading influence of American culture in Australia and the early stages of commercialisation of Hip Hop style.
Darrio Phillips, one of the dancers portrayed in this poster, is one of the original exponents of street dancing or break dancing in Sydney, Australia in the 1980s and was influential in the spread of Hip Hop in Australia. The dance group The Double D's were one of the earliest professional street dance groups in Sydney and their early exposure on commercial television did much to spread an Australian form of this new American youth culture.
Rebecca Bower, Assistant Curator, Australian History and Society, 2013
Interviews with Darrio Phillips, May 2009, April 2013.
Interview with Rosano Martinez, June 2009.
Biography of Darrio Phillips, http://darriostreet.com/bio.php retrieved 16/4/2013