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The History of Hip-Hop Music
Transcript of The History of Hip-Hop Music
The 1970s proved to be a rough decade for Americans, and especially so for those who lived in the major cities throughout the country. Crime rates were staggering, unemployment rates were the same.
The History of Hip-Hop Music
Block Parties during this decade became increasingly popular among African-American communities in New York City. They gave African-Americans a place to socially congregate and became a hub for the spread of urban music and dance. Hip-Hop started at these block parties in the 1970s and would go on to become a multi-cultural international phenomenon.
NEW YORK CITY 1970s
The 1970s marked the lowest economic down point in the entire history of New York City. Life for African-Americans in the inner city was just as depressing. There were barely any opportunities for blacks economically or socially, and artistic expression would become their only way for them to voice their struggles. Graffiti, literature, poetry, and music would become some of the major outlets.
1520 Sedwick Avenue, in Bronx, New York is considered to be the birth place of Hip-Hop. This location was a popular party spot and home to the very first Hip-Hop DJ's who created the Hip-Hop mold.
Crime rates increased in the 1970s and frightened the middle and upper classes away from cities. Statistics from 1974 showed that since 1960, overall crime rates soared higher than ever before—robberies increased 255%, forcible rape 143%, aggravated assault 153%, and murder 106%.
An Ebony Magazine article, “Black on Black Crime” describes how crime in the Black community also reached shocking proportions as blacks in northern cities suffered unemployment, overcrowding, family breakdown, and racism.
Cities no longer represented desirable neighborhoods in which families would want to live, in which businessmen would want to invest, or in which politicians would strive to fix.
Americans fled cities in the 1970s in favor of the “Sunbelt” South, and the suburbs. Jobs and unionized labor left Northeast cities and productivity, amenities, and housing opportunities increased in the South. Suburbanization was an even bigger trend; though it actually began in the 1940s, it continued and increased in the 1970s . Factors such as race riots and racial turmoil, on top of high crime and congestion, drove many whites out of the city. A good example is the race riots of Camden, New Jersey, August 1971.
Political leaders across the country wrote off cities as irreversibly damaged, and President Gerald Ford was one of these pessimistic leaders. President Ford lead a "Drop Dead" policy towards New York City (and other cities) and stated how he would veto any bill calling for a federal bail-out from cities.
Ground Breaking Innovation
One of the most distinctive element of Hip-Hop is its beats.
At these block parties and house parties that were increasing in popularity DJ's would scratch and loop the short percussion breaks in popular songs to create what was known as a mix. These mixes were used primarily for dance-breaks.
DJ Kool Herc also known as The Father of Hip-Hop, became a game changer when he started twin-table mixing at his venues to create a continual loop, prolonging the percussion breaks for as long as he wished.
Rap and Hip-Hop
Contrary to popular belief, Hip-Hop music once existed without rapping, and at the time, the two were not synonymous.
Rapping is a kind of vocal delivery performed in rhythmic cadence through a chanting-style that emphasizes end-rhyme among other elements.
MC's and DJ's began "rapping" over their hip-hop beats to further engage with the crowd. Early raps were fairly simple and short and didn't compromise much of the mixes.
Disco and Hip-Hop
Disco and Hip-Hop emerged out of New York City together around the same time and had profound influences on each other. DJ's started to use disco songs to make their mixes because many of them contained prolonged percussion-breaks and their beats were groove and dance-oriented.
A rapping MC or DJ over a Hip-Hop became a staple and this lead to what was known as Disco Rap. Popular Disco Rappers were DJ Pete Jones, Eddie Cheeba, DJ Hollywood, Love Bug Starski, Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Winley, Grandmaster Flash, and Bobby Robinson.
1979 is one of the most important years for Hip-Hop. During this year DJ's and MC's began recording their work which previously was only performed live.
In this year Sugar Hill Gang released their groundbreaking single 'Rapper's Delight' which is regarded as the first rap single.
Hip-Hop in the 1980s is the era known as "Old School Hip-Hop". This era of Hip-Hop diversified the music genre.
Rapping became more complex than the short-lined "Party Raps" of the 70s and MC's/Rappers became the center focal point of the music.
Out of this era Hip-Hop emerged into mainstream America (before it was considered to be a Disco-fad), it help promote the B-Boy culture, and many different subgenres started to form within it.
B-Boy/B-Girl culture is one of the most vividly recognized elements of Hip-Hop.
The term B-Boy was coined by DJ Kool Herc, to describe individuals who would wait for the break of the mix to get on the stage to dance.
With Hip-Hop's newly found diversification many subgenre formed within the broader spectrum.
Gangsta rap is a subgenre of hip hop music that reflects urban crime and the violent lifestyles of inner-city youths. Ice-T, Schoolly D, N.W.A. helped form this subgenre.
Explicitly political hip hop refers to artists who have strong and overt political affiliations and agendas, and share these political messages or commentaries through music. Gil Scott-Heron, Public Enemy, Grandmaster, and Flash and the Furious Five pioneered this genre.
Is a rap style that promotes African belief and ideas and seeks for its listeners to find pride in African-ancestral traditions, customs, and ideology and reject those of Western society. The Jungle Brothers, Afrika Bambaataa, and Native Tongue are among some of the most popular.
The Golden Age of Hip-Hop
Ushering a New Sound
This brought forth Hip-Hop's Golden age, which is a name given to a period in mainstream hip hop, 1985-1994 characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation and influence on black culture, music, and future artists.
This arch of Hip-Hop put a big focus on complex lyrical wordplay, less-sampled instrumentals, and put forth some of the greatest and most revered Hip-Hop albums in the entire history of the genre.
Hip-Hop's Golden Age solidified the genre as a respectable art and placed the groundwork for Hip-Hop's 90's takeover.
Hip-Hop started as a sample and interpolation heavy genre. Previously most Hip-Hop instrumental were sampled from more popular song and then remixed on drum machines and scratch tables.
So as Hip-Hop grew and became more mainstream, artists who weren't fond of the genre and labels and artists who wanted their due royalties started to take legal action against DJ's and beat-makers.
Two popular cases of this was The Turtles vs. De La Soul and Grand Upright Music vs. Warner Bros. Music
This changed the whole face of the genre because artists would now have to get clearance beforehand when sampling beats.
This gave rise to producers like Dr. Dre who responded quickly and efficiently. Dr. Dre started to rework the melodies of beats on drum machines rather than sampling or interpolating actual tracks.
Hip-Hop exponentially blew up in the Nineties!
For the first times rap-acts were becoming major household names, records were selling faster than they could keep them on the shelves, and Hip-Hop found various homes on television with MTV Yo! Raps and BET respectively.
This time period also produced many subgenres, launched some of the greatest acts, and formed one of the biggest rivalries in the entire music industry.
East Coast vs. West Coast
The East Coast vs. West Coast feud is one of the biggest rivalries that ever entrenched the music industry. It was covered and edged on by the media more than any other musical rivalry because Hip-Hop was lucrative business at the time.
In the late 80's the West Coast dominated the Hip-Hop industry thanks to artists such as Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Warren G, The Lady of Rage, Nate Dogg, Daz Dillinger, and Kurupt.
Soon enough, the East Coast started what was known as the East Coast Renaissance with young MC Nas who released The Illmatic in 1994. Soon following The Notorious B.I.G. released his Ready to Die album helping to launch Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records and solidifying the East as the hub-spot for Hip-Hop.
Soon following East Coast rappers like Jay-Z, the Wu Tang Clan, and Craig Mack helped push the East Coast.
Bad Boy Records vs. Death Row Records
The main focal point for East Coast rap became The Notorious B.I.G. also known as Biggie and for the West Coast, Tupac Shakur.
The two, once friends, had a very public feud due to a shooting/robbery incident which took placed in New York City in 1994 where Tupac accused Biggie and P. Diddy of plotting the shooting.
Coincidentally Biggie released a song shortly after the feud started titled Who Shot Ya? and rapped the famous line "Who Shot Ya? Ain't nobody know but they gotcha!" he stated that the song however was written and recorded months before the feud. Tupac released a dissed song as well named "Hit 'em Up" which was aimed at any and all East Coast rapper where he dissed Bad Boy Records and Biggie himself, and claimed to be having an affair with Biggie's wife Faith Evans.
The feud ultimately ended with both of the rappers being assassinated. Tupac in 1996 and Biggie in 1997
Females Got the Mic
The Nineties was also the biggest decade for female rappers!
Female rappers were never non-existent in Hip-Hop. The first female rap presence was a group that came from Columbia, SC in 1979 called The Sequence.
During the late 80's and early 90's female rappers like Salt N' Pepa, Queen Latifah, and Roxanne Shante, became very popular.
But it wouldn't be until the mid and late Nineties where Hip-Hop females would diversify and differentiate themselves from each other and the traditional female rapper mold, and reach success that matched their fellow male rappers and female counterparts in other genres of music.
Sexuality, Fashion, and Pop-Edge
Rappers like Lil' Kim (known at the time as The Madonna of Rap) and Foxy Brown brought fashion and sexuality to rap music.
The two were known for their sexually explicit lyrics but also for their hardcore subject matter that included gun violence, gangs, and drugs.
The two were seen as Hip-Hop feminists proving that females can rap just as hard as males and also showcase their femininity at the same time
Creativity and Musicianship
Other Females like Left Eye of TLC and Missy Elliott became very hands-on artistically.
Before this era women had little say when it came to their music.
However, both Left Eye and Missy Elliott were known for writing and producing their own material, directing videos, and their ahead-of-the-time stage presence.
Singer/Rapper Lauryn Hill is one of the most respected MC's in Hip-Hop for her body of conscious rap music.
She started her music career in 1994 with a group named The Fugees and went on a solo career in 1997.
Her lyrics were renowned for its universalism and its themes of Afrocentricity, Socio-Political Commentary, and depiction of female life.
In 1998 she released her critically acclaimed album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill which earned 5 Grammys setting the record for women in the music industry and it marked the first time that a Hip-Hop album won the Album of the Year Award at the ceremony.
End of the Decade
At the End of the Nineties Hip-Hop became a hyper-commercialized due to the abundant monetary success of the rappers and producers.
Critics say the subject matter of Hip-Hop has decreased since then but record sales are still very high.
Mainstream rap music after the Nineties is usually criticized for its sexual, violent, and misogynistic lyrics and the other subgenres of Hip-Hop has faded from the limelight.
Hip-Hop had a profound influence on all black music around this time.
Subgenres that formed thanks to 90's Hip-Hop are:
East Coast Hip-Hop