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Elements of the Neighborhood

As you might expect, my interests stem beyond Mister Rogers' Neighborhood to include many aspects of popular culture. One such aspect that I have always appreciated is the hip-hop culture. Not the mess you hear on the radio today -- but real hip-hop.

For anyone familiar with the foundations of hip-hop, you may recall the essential elements as laid down by the founding fathers of the old school.

The four basic elements include MCs, DJs, graffiti art, and B-boys. Some argue that a fifth element exists in beatboxing but I lean more towards the other common fifth element of knowledge.

As I recently began looking at a new series of episodes to detail for this site, I realized that I was coming up on the episode responsible for one of the more viral videos of Mister Rogers that circulates online -- Episode 1543 where a young breakdancer visits the Neighborhood. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to merge these two -- Mister Rogers and hip-hop -- and take a tongue-in-cheek look at signs of the five elements within the Neighborhood program.

1. Mister Rogers the MC

What better lyricist is out there than the man who penned dozens upon dozens of children's songs spanning the course of half a century? The greatest MCs you'll hear are the ones whose lyrics are real -- a product of unique experience and raw emotion. I don't know that Fred Rogers ever wrote a song that wasn't inspired by emotion.


Although he was not your traditional MC, I do not hesitate to recognize Mister Rogers as one of the all-time lyrical greats.

2. Mister Rogers the DJ

A true hip-hop DJ spins vinyl. Plain and simple. Not to take anything away from the new school DJs using methods of modern technology, but there's something more to be said about the talent of creating with nothing more than a turntable and a mixer that paved the way for today's musicians.


Mister Rogers himself was known to spin a record now and then. More of a traditionalist, he was not one to perfect a transformer scratch or juggle more than one beat at a time, but by dropping the needle on the record, Mister Rogers brought the element of the DJ to the Neighborhood.

3. Mister Rogers the Graffiti Artist

Now I'm fairly certain that Mister Rogers was never one to hit the streets with a can of Krylon, but that's not to say that others have not done so in his honor.

From nitrodog's Flickr page

From jackszwergold's Flickr page

4. Mister Rogers the B-Boy/Breakdancer

Back in 1985, a young guest named Jermaine visited Mister Rogers with a radio and a broken down appliance box. Those two things together can only mean that Mister Rogers was about to get a lesson in breakdance. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Mister Rogers didn't hesitate to channel his inner b-boy.


Video of Jermaine's visit to the Neighborhood can be found in many places online.

5. Mister Rogers and Knowledge

KRS-One may be the "Teacher" when it comes to hip-hop, but no one can hold a candle to the life lessons taught by Mister Rogers.

“Where would any of us be without teachers; without people who had passion for their art or their science or their craft and they loved it right in front of us? What would any of us have done without teachers passing on to us what they knew was essential about life?” -- Fred Rogers

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