Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a music genre developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records (or synthesized beats and sounds), and rhythmic beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, “hip hop” more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.
Origin of the term
The creation of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. However, Lovebug Starski, Keith Cowboy, and DJ Hollywood used the term when the music was still known as disco rap. It is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words “hip/hop/hip/hop” in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of soldiers marching. Cowboy later worked the “hip hop” cadence into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly used by other artists such as The Sugarhill Gang in “Rapper’s Delight”. Universal Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term to describe the subculture in which the music belonged; although it is also suggested that it was a derogatory term to describe the type of music. The first use of the term in print was in The Village Voice, by Steven Hager, later author of a 1984 history of hip hop.
Hip hop as music and culture formed during the late 1970s in New York City from the multicultural exchange between African-American youth from the United States and young immigrants and children of immigrants from countries in the Caribbean. Hip hop music in its infancy has been described as an outlet and a voice for the disenfranchised youth of marginalized backgrounds and low-income areas, as the hip hop culture reflected the social, economic and political realities of their lives. Many of the people who helped establish hip hop culture, including DJ Kool Herc, DJ Disco Wiz, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa were of Latin American or Caribbean origin. It is hard to pinpoint the exact musical influences that most affected the sound and culture of early hip hop because of the multicultural nature of New York City. Hip hop’s early pioneers were influenced by a mix of music from their cultures and the cultures they were exposed to as a result of the diversity of U.S. cities. New York City experienced a heavy Jamaican hip hop influence during the 1990s. This influence was brought on by cultural shifts particularly because of the heightened immigration of Jamaicans to New York City and the American-born Jamaican youth who were coming of age during the 1990s.
Introduction of rapping
Rapping, also referred to as MCing or emceeing, is a vocal style in which the artist speaks lyrically and rhythmically, in rhyme and verse, generally to an instrumental or synthesized beat. Beats, almost always in 4/4 time signature, can be created by sampling and/or sequencing portions of other songs by a producer. They also incorporate synthesizers, drum machines, and live bands. Rappers may write, memorize, or improvise their lyrics and perform their works a cappella or to a beat. Hip hop music predates the introduction of rapping into hip hop culture, and rap vocals are absent from many hip hop tracks, such as “Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don’t Stop)” by Man Parrish; “Chinese Arithmetic” by Eric B. & Rakim; “Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)” and “We’re Rocking the Planet” by Hashim; and “Destination Earth” by Newcleus. However, the majority of the genre has been accompanied by rap vocals, such as the Sci-fi influenced electro hip hop group Warp 9. Female rappers appeared on the scene in the late 1970s and early 80s, including Bronx artist MC Sha-Rock, member of the Funky Four Plus One, credited with being the first female MC and The Sequence, a hip hop trio signed to Sugar Hill Records, the first all female group to release a rap record, Funk You Up.
The 1980s marked the diversification of hip hop as the genre developed more complex styles. New York City became a veritable laboratory for the creation of new hip hop sounds. Early examples of the diversification process can be heard in tracks such as Grandmaster Flash’s “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (1981), a single consisting entirely of sampled tracks as well as Afrika Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” (1982), and Warp 9’s “Nunk,” (1982) which signified the fusion of hip hop music with electro. In addition, Rammellzee & K-Rob’s “Beat Bop” (1983) was a ‘slow jam’ which had a dub influence with its use of reverb and echo as texture and playful sound effects. “Light Years Away,” by Warp 9 (1983), (produced and written by Lotti Golden and Richard Scher) described as a “cornerstone of early 80’s beatbox afrofuturism,” by the UK paper, The Guardian, introduced social commentary from a sci-fi perspective. In the 1970s, hip hop music typically used samples from funk and later, from disco. The mid-1980s marked a paradigm shift in the development of hip hop, with the introduction of samples from rock music, as demonstrated in the albums King of Rock and Licensed to Ill. Hip hop prior to this shift is characterized as old-school hip hop.
New school hip hop
The new school of hip hop was the second wave of hip hop music, originating in 1983–84 with the early records of Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J. As with the hip hop preceding it (which subsequently became known as old school hip hop), the new school came predominantly from New York City. The new school was initially characterized in form by drum machine-led minimalism, with influences from rock music, a hip hop “metal music for the 80’s-a hard-edge ugly/beauty trance as desperate and stimulating as New York itself.” It was notable for taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political commentary, both delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song its artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the funk and disco-influenced hip hop groups, whose pre-1984 music was characterized by novelty hits, live bands, synthesizers and “party rhymes” (not all artists prior to 1984 had these styles). New school artists made shorter songs that could more easily gain radio play, and they produced more cohesive LP albums than their old school counterparts. By 1986, their releases began to establish the hip-hop album as a fixture of mainstream music. Hip hop music became commercially successful, as exemplified by the Beastie Boys’ 1986 album Licensed to Ill, which was the first rap album to hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
The popularity of hip hop music continued through the 2000s. Dr. Dre remained an important figure, and in the year 2000, he produced The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem. Dre also produced 50 Cent’s 2003 album Get Rich or Die Tryin’, which debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts. Hip hop influences also found their way increasingly into mainstream pop during this period, mainly during the mid-2000s, as the Los Angeles style of the 1990s lost power. Nelly’s debut LP, Country Grammar, sold over nine million copies. In the 2000s, crunk music, a derivative of Southern hip hop, gained considerable popularity via Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins. Jay-Z represented the cultural triumph of hip hop. As his career progressed, he went from performing artist to entrepreneur, label president, head of a clothing line, club owner, and market consultant—along the way breaking Elvis Presley’s record for most number one albums on the Billboard magazine charts by a solo artist.
Alternative hip hop, which was introduced in the 1980s and then declined, resurged in the early 2000s with the rejuvenated interest in indie music by the general public. In the 2000s alternative hip hop reattained its place within the mainstream, due in part to the declining commercial viability of gangsta rap as well as the crossover success of artists such as OutKast and Kanye West. The alternative hip hop movement expanded beyond the US to include the Somali-Canadian poet K’naan, Japanese rapper Shing02, and British artist MIA. Alternative hip hop acts have attained much critical acclaim, but receive relatively little exposure through radio and other media outlets. In the mid-to late-2000s (decade), alternative hip hop artists such as The Roots, Dilated Peoples, Gnarls Barkley and Mos Def achieved significant recognition. Gnarls Barkley’s album St. Elsewhere, which contained a fusion of funk, neo soul and hip hop, debuted at number 20 on the Billboard 200 charts. In addition, Aesop Rock’s 2007 album None Shall Pass was well received, and reached #50 on the Billboard charts.
Latest posts by Hipmusic (see all)
- Swae Lee Replies To Joe Budden Following Critique Of Drake “Won’t Be Late” Collab - August 25, 2019
- Future – 600 Days No Sleep Ft. Young Thug - August 25, 2019
- Bibi Bourelly – Wet - August 25, 2019