Did the 1977 blackout propel hip-hop culture, putting sonic tools in the hands of kids who would not otherwise have been able to afford them? It’s hard to quantify a spark or a revolution, but Wiz and Casanova’s story leap-frogs the question of fact and heads straight to myth. I believe it did.
Before 1977, hip hop did not even really have a name. Right before the blackout there were teens in the Bronx playing this type of music and then once the blackout occurred and all the looting and disasters really began, people who did not have access to musical equipment before now were able to get it and then utilize them to help start the rise of hip hop.
Hip hop enthusiasts know the blackout in 1977 allowed producers to acquire expensive equipment they otherwise would have had a difficult time getting their hands on. So, technically, the blackout helped, however, powerful forces such as poverty, creativity and an urban environment played a much more significant role in the rise of hip hop.
I was in New York during the blackout and got to see the birth of the hip hop explosion long after. The blackout had nothing to do with hip hop at all. We were just sitting out on our stoops talking with scared neighbors and waiting for the lights to come back on. There was no rapping or singing in the streets, so I don't see any correlation at all.