The “Cool” Culture
The “cool” culture which has spread across the entire globe has its roots in black culture. Modern historians have traced its origin to Igbo and Yoruba cultures where it was considered noble for one to maintain his “cool” in the face of unwarranted and unjustified provocations. This has been their way of cultivating the virtue of self control. That “cool” attitude to life was no doubt transported across the Atlantic Ocean to America during the slavery days. In the face of unspeakable dehumanization meted out by whites on African American slaves, any attempt on the part of those slaves to openly express disapproval would have meant instant death by lynching. Intelligent and strong willed slaves then internalized their disapproval of the white man’s cruel ways. Those feelings were however expressed in songs in the form of Negro spirituals which later evolved into the Blues and Jazz. Whites who had leftist ideological leanings owing to their interactions with black blues and Jazz musicians picked up that “cool” culture and used it as the basis of their anti-establishment philosophy.
That anti-establishment sentiment later found expression in the hippie culture through the rock music of the late nineteen sixties and early seventies. Men like Bob Marley, Miles Davis, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry David Thoreau, Nelson Mandela, etc. who have won the struggle between what their feelings are and what their feelings are expected to be are said to be “cool”. Today, self-willed youths in whom that innate rebel instinct has started to seek expression, wish to break away from the strait jacket ways of organized and established society. This existential feeling is often expressed in modern hip hop and rap music that have moved from the streets of African American ghettos to the mainstream of the universal culture.