Hip hop music
From Academic Kids
Template:Hiphopgenrebox Hip hop music is a style of popular music. It is composed of two main elements: rapping (also known as MC'ing) and DJing; along with breakdancing and graffiti, these are the four components of hip hop, a cultural movement which began among African Americans and Latinos in New York City in the early 1970s. The term rap is sometimes used synonymously with hip hop music, though it is also used to refer specifically to the practice of rapping, which is just one component of hip hop.
Most typically, hip hop consists of one or more rappers who chant semi-autobiographic tales, often relating to a fictionalized counterpart, in an intensely rhythmic lyrical form, making abundant use of techniques like assonance, alliteration, and rhyme. Along with the rapper a DJ or a live band plays a beat. This beat is often from the percussion of a different song, usually rock, funk, or soul, and is sometimes sampled. In addition to the beat, other sounds are often sampled, synthesized, or performed.
Hip hop arose in New York City when DJs began isolating the percussion break from funk or disco songs. The role of the emcee (MC) arose to introduce the DJ and the music, and to keep the audience excited. The MCs began by speaking between songs, giving exhortations to dance, greetings to audience members, jokes and anecdotes. Eventually, this practice came to be more stylized, and was known as rapping. By 1979, hip hop had become a commercially recorded music genre, and began to enter the American mainstream. It also began its spread across the world. In the 1990s, a form called gangsta rap became a major part of American music, causing significant controversy over lyrics which were perceived as promoting violence, promiscuity, drug use and misogyny. Nevertheless, by the beginning of the 2000s, hip hop was a staple of popular music charts and was being performed in many styles across the world.
Origins of hip hop
Main article: Roots of hip hop
The roots of hip hop are in West African and African American music. The griots of West Africa are a group of traveling singers and poets, whose musical style is reminiscent of hip hop. Discussion of the roots of hip hop (and rap) must mention the contributions of The Last Poets and Jalal Mansur Nuriddin, whose jazzy and poetic "spiels" commented on 1960's culture. True hip hop arose during the 1970s when block parties became common in New York City, especially in the Bronx. Block parties were usually accompanied by music, especially funk and soul music. The early DJs at block parties began isolating the percussion breaks to hit songs, realizing that these were the most danceable and entertaining parts; this technique was then common in Jamaica (see dub music) and had spread via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community in New York City, especially the godfather of hip hop, DJ Kool Herc. Dub had arisen in Jamaica due to the influence of American sailors and radio stations playing R&B. Large sound systems were set up to accommodate poor Jamaicans, who couldn't afford to buy records, and dub developed at the sound systems (refers to both the system and the parties that evolved around them).
Herc was one of the most popular DJs in early 70s New York, and he quickly switched from using reggae records to funk, rock and, later, disco, since the New York audience did not particularly like reggae. Because the percussive breaks were generally short, Herc and other DJs began extending them using an audio mixer and two records. Mixing and scratching techniques eventually developed along with the breaks. (The same techniques contributed to the popularization of remixes.) As in dub, performers began speaking while the music played; these were originally called MCs; Herc focused primarily on DJing, and began working with two MCs, Coke La Rock and Clark Kent—this was the first emcee crew, Kool Herc & the Herculoids. Originally, these early rappers focused on introducing themselves and others in the audience (the origin of the still common practice of "shouting out" on hip hop records). These early performers often emceed for hours at a time, with some improvisation and a simple four-count beat, along with a basic chorus to allow the performer to gather his thoughts (such as "one, two, three, y'all, to the beat, y'all"). Later, the MCs grew more varied in their vocal and rhythmic approach, incorporating brief rhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort at differentiating themselves and entertaining the audience. These early raps incorporated similar rhyming lyrics from African American culture (see roots of hip hop music), such as the dozens. While Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hoppers to gain major fame in New York, more emcee teams quickly sprouted up. Frequently, these were collaborations between former gang members, such as Afrika Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation (now a large, international organization). During the early 1970s, breakdancing arose during block parties, as b-boys and b-girls got in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive, frenetic style. The style was documented for release to a world wide audience for the first time in Beat Street.
The historical conditions contributing to the origin of hip hop
The reasons for the rise of hip hop are complex. Perhaps most important was the low cost involved in getting started: the equipment was relatively inexpensive, and virtually anyone could MC along with the popular beats of the day. MCs could be creative, pairing nonsense rhymes and teasing friends and enemies alike in the style of Jamaican toasting at blues parties or playing the dozens in an exchange of wit. MCs would play at block parties, with no expectation of recording, thus making hip hop a form of folk music (as long as electronic music is not excluded from being folk). The skills necessary to create hip hop music were passed informally from musician to musician, rather than being taught in expensive music lessons.
Another reason for hip hop's rise was the decline of disco, funk and rock in the mid- to late 70s. Disco arose among black and gay male clubs in America, and quickly spread to Europe, where it grew increasingly sunny, bright and pop. Once disco broke into the mainstream in the United States, and was thus appropriated, its original fans and many other listeners rejected it as pre-packaged and soul-less. While many remember the white teens shouting "disco sucks" at every available opportunity, often in racist and homophobic contexts, inner-city blacks were similarly rejecting disco and disco-fied rock, soul and funk (which was virtually everything on the radio at the time). If disco had anything redeemable for urban audiences, however, it was the strong, eminently danceable beats, and hip hop rose to take advantage of the beats while providing a musical outlet for the masses that hated disco. Disco-inflected music (though comparatively little actual disco) was one of the most popular sources of beats in the first ten or twelve years of hip hop's existence. In Washington, D.C., go go also emerged as a reaction against disco, and eventually mixed with hip hop during the early 1980s, while electronic music did the same, developing as house music in Chicago and techno music in Detroit.
Along with the low expense and the demise of other forms of popular music, social and political events further accelerated the rise of hip hop. In 1959, the Cross-Bronx Expressway was built through the heart of the Bronx, displacing many of the middle-class white communities and causing widespread unemployment among the remaining blacks as stores and factories fled the area. By the 1970s, poverty was rampant. When a 15,000+ apartment Co-op City was built at the northern edge of the Bronx in 1968, the last of the middle-class fled the area and the area's black and Latino gangs began to grow in power.
Diversification of styles in the late 1970s
In the mid-1970s, hip hop split into two camps. One sampled disco and focused on getting the crowd dancing and excited, with simple or no rhymes; these DJs included Pete DJ Jones, Eddie Cheeba, DJ Hollywood and Love Bug Starski. On the other hand, another group were focusing on rapid-fire rhymes and a more complex rhythmic scheme. These included Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Winley, Grandmaster Flash and Bobby Robinson.
As the 70s became the 1980s, many felt that hip hop was a novelty fad that would soon die out. This was to become a constant accusation for at least the next fifteen years. Some of the earliest rappers were novelty acts, using the themes to Gilligan's Island and using sweet doo wop-influenced harmonies.
With the advent of recorded hip hop in the late 1970s, all the major elements and techniques of the genre were in place. Though not yet mainstream, it was well-known among African Americans, even outside of New York City; hip hop could be found in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Washington, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Houston.
Philadelphia was, for many years, the only city whose contributions to hip hop were valued as greatly as New York City's by hip hop purists and critics. Hip hop was popular there at least as far back as 1976 (first record: "Rhythm Talk", by Jocko Henderson in 1979), and the New York Times dubbed Philly the "Graffiti Capital of the World" in 1971, due to the influence of such legendary graffiti artists as Cornbread. The first female solo artist to record hip hop was Lady B. ("To the Beat Y'All", 1980), a Philly-area radio DJ. Later Schoolly D helped invent what became known as gangsta rap.
The 1980s saw intense diversification in hip hop, which developed into a more complex form. The simple tales of 1970s emcees were replaced by highly metaphoric lyrics rapping over complex, multi-layered beats. Some rappers even became mainstream pop performers, including Kurtis Blow, whose appearance in a Sprite commercial made him the first hip hop musician to be considered mainstream enough to represent a major product, but also the first to be accused by the hip-hop audience of selling out. Another popular performer among mainstream audiences was LL Cool J, who was a success from the release of his first LP, Radio.
Hip hop was almost entirely unknown outside of the United States prior to the 1980s. During that decade, it began its spread to every inhabited continent and became a part of the music scene in dozens of countries. In the early part of the decade, breakdancing became the first aspect of hip hop culture to reach Germany, Japan and South Africa, where the crew Black Noise established the practice before beginning to rap later in the decade. Meanwhile, recorded hip hop was released in France (Dee Nasty's 1984 Paname City Rappin') and the Philippines (Dyords Javier's "Na Onseng Delight" and Vincent Dafalong's "Nunal"). In Puerto Rico, Vico C became the first Spanish language rapper, and his recorded work was the beginning of what became known as reggaeton.
Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force - Planet Rock
The first rap records (Fatback Band's King Tim III, Grandmaster Flash's "Super Rappin'" and The Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight) were actually recorded by live musicians in the studio, with the rappers adding their vocals later. This changed with DJ records such as Grandmaster Flash's "Adventures on the Wheels of Steel" (known for pioneering use of scratching, which was invented by Grandwizard Theodore in 1977) as well as electronic recordings such as "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa and Run DMC's very basic, all electronic "Sucker MC's" and "Peter Piper" which contains genuine cutting by Run DMC member Jam Master Jay. These early innovators were based out of New York City, which remained the capital of hip hop during the 1980s. This style became known as East Coast hip hop.
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five released a "message rap", called "The Message", in 1982; this was one of the earliest examples of recorded hip hop with a socially aware tone. In 1984, Marley Marl accidentally caught a drum machine snare hit in the sampler; this innovation was vital in the development of electro and other later types of hip hop.
The mid-1980s saw a flourishing of the first hip hop artists to achieve mainstream success, such as Kurtis Blow (Kurtis Blow), LL Cool J (Radio) and especially Run-D.M.C. (Raising Hell), as well as influences in mainstream music, such as Blondie's Debbie Harry rapping in the first non-black hit to feature rapping, "Rapture". LL Cool J's Radio spawned a number of singles that entered the dance charts, peaking with "I Can Give You More" (#21). 1986 saw two hip hop acts in the Billboard Top Ten; Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" collaboration with Aerosmith, and the Beastie Boys "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)". The pop success of both singles was unheard of for the time; "Walk This Way" has proved especially memorable for its early mixture of hip hop and rock (though it was not the first such mixture), and it peaked at an unheard of #4 on the pop charts. Also, the mid-1980s saw the rise of the first major black female group, Salt-N-Pepa, who hit the charts with singles like "The Show Stoppa" in 1985. Ice-T's seminal "6n' Da Mornin'" (1986) is one of the first nationally successful West Coast hip hop singles, and is often said to be the beginning of gangsta hip hop (along with Schoolly D, LL Cool J and N.W.A.).
In 1987, Public Enemy brought out their debut album (Yo! Bum Rush the Show) on Def Jam - one of hip hop's oldest and most important labels, and Boogie Down Productions followed up in 1988 with By All Means Necessary; both records pioneered wave of hard-edged politicized performers. The late 1980s saw a flourishing of like-minded rappers on both coasts, and Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back became surprisingly successful, despite its militant and confrontational tone, appearing on both the club and rap charts, and peaking at #17 and #11, respectively. Aside from the lyrical innovations, Public Enemy's Bomb Squad production team (along with Eric B. & Rakim and Prince Paul among others) pioneered new techniques in sampling that resulted in dense, multi-layered sonic collages.
The rise of gangsta rap
Main article: Gangsta rap
N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton
The first gangsta rap album to become a mainstream pop hit, selling more than 2.5 million copies, was N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton (1988). N.W.A.'s controversial subject matter, including drugs, violence and sex, helped popularize what became known as gangsta rap (said to have begun with Ice-T's "6N' Da Morning"). Specifically, the song "Fuck Tha Police" earned the foursome the enmity of law enforcement, resulting in a strongly-worded letter of discontent from the FBI. N.W.A.'s most lasting impact, however, was placing the West Coast on the hip hop map.
Though women, whites and Latinos had long been a part of the hip hop scene, it was not until the 1980s that groups other than young African American males began creating popular, innovative and distinctive styles of hip hop music.
The first rap recording by a solo female was Philadelphia-based Lady B.'s "To the Beat, Y'All" (1980), while The Sequencers were the first female group to record. It was, not, however, until Salt-N-Pepa in the middle of the decade that female performers gained mainstream success.
The first groups to mix hip hop and heavy metal included 1984's "Rock Box" (Run-D.M.C.) and "Rock Hard" (Beastie Boys). Later in the decade, Ice-T and Anthrax were among the most innovative mixers of thrash metal and hip hop. These fusions helped move hip hop into new audiences, and introduced it to legions of new fans in the States and abroad.
Latin hip hop
Main article: Latin hip hop
Hip hop had always had a significant connection to the Latino community in New York City, and hip hop soon spread among Latinos. The first Latino DJ was DJ Disco Wiz. The Mean Machine's "Disco Dreams", with lyrics in both English and Spanish is widely considered the first Latino hip hop recording, though Los Angeles-based Kid Frost is usually thought of as the first major Latino artist. Performers like Cypress Hill ("Insane in the Membrane"), Gerardo ("Rico Suave") and Mellow Man Ace ("Mentirosa") later popularized Latino hip hop in the United States. In Latin America, countries like Puerto Rico, Cuba, The Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Mexico created their own popular scenes. Beginning in the mid-80s and early 90s, two of the most popular styles of Latin hip hop were reggaeton, a Puerto Rican and Panamanian mixture of ragga, reggae and hip hop, and Dominican merenrap, a fusion of merengue and hip hop.
Main article: Electro (music)
While Run DMC laid the groundwork for East Coast rap, "Planet Rock" (Afrika Bambaataa) was the one of the first electro tracks. Based on a sample from German rock group Kraftwerk (Trans-Europe Express), "Planet Rock" inspired countless groups, based in New Jersey, New York City and Detroit, among other places, to make electronic dance music (called electro) that strongly influenced techno and house music, and especially the burgeoning electro music scene in northern England, the Midlands and London.
"Planet Rock" influenced hip hop outside of New York as well, such as Latin hip hop (also Latin freestyle or freestyle) such as Expose and The Cover Girls, as well as Los Angeles-based electro hop performers like the World Class Wreckin' Cru and Egyptian Lover.
Further spread within the US
By the end of the 1970s, hip hop was known in most every major city in the country, and had developed into numerous regional styles and variations. Outside of New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia, where hip hop had long been well-established, the 1980s saw intense regional diversification.
The first Chicago hip hop record was the "Groovy Ghost Show" by Casper, released in 1980 and a distinctively Chicago sound began by 1982, with Caution and Plee Fresh. Chicago also saw the development of house music (a form of electronic dance music) in the early 1980s and this soon mixed with hip hop and began featuring rappers; this is called hip house, and gained some national popularity in the late 1980s and early 90s, though similar fusions from South Africa, Belgium and elsewhere became just as well-known into the 90s.
Los Angeles hardcore rappers (Ice-T) and electro hop artists (Egyptian Lover) began recording by 1983, though the first recorded West Coast rap was Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp's "Gigolo Rapp" in 1981. In Miami, audiences listened to Miami bass, a form of sultry and sexually explicit dance music which arose from Los Angeles electro; it frequently included rapping. In Washington D.C. a hip hop-influenced form of dance music called go go emerged and incorporated rapping and DJing.
Beginning in the early 1980s, hip hop culture began its spread across the world. By the end of the 1990s, popular hip hop was sold almost everywhere, and native performers were recording in most every country with a popular music industry. Elements of hip hop became fused with numerous styles of music, including ragga, cumbia and samba, for example. The Senegalese mbalax rhythm became a component of hip hop, while the United Kingdom and Belgium produced a variety of electronic music fusions of hip hop, most famously including British trip hop. Hip hop also spread to countries like Greece, Spain and Cuba in the 1980s, led in Cuba by the self-exiled African American activist Nehanda Abiodun and aided by Fidel Castro's government. In Japan, graffiti art and breakdancing had been popular since the early part of the decade, but many of those active in the scene felt that the Japanese language was unsuited for rapping; nevertheless, by the beginning of the 1990s, a wave of rappers emerged, including Ito Seiko, Chikado Haruo, Tinnie Punx and Takagi Kan. The New Zealand hip hop scene began in earnest in the late 1980s, when Maori performers like Upper Hutt Posse and Dalvanius Prime began recording, gaining notoriety for lyrics that espoused tino rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty).
In the 90s, gangsta rap became mainstream, beginning in about 1992, with the release of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. This album established a style called G Funk, which soon came to dominate West Coast hip hop. Later in the decade, record labels based out of Atlanta, St. Louis and New Orleans gained fame for their local scenes. By the end of the decade, especially with the success of Eminem, hip hop was an integral part of popular music, and nearly all American pop songs had a major hip hop component.
In the 90s and into the following decade, elements of hip hop continued to be assimilated into other genres of popular music; neo soul, for example, combined hip hop and soul music and produced some major stars in the middle of the decade, while in the Dominican Republic, a recording by Santi Y Sus Duendes and Lisa M became the first single of merenrap, a fusion of hip hop and merengue.
In Europe, Africa and Asia, hip hop began to move from an underground phenomenon to reach mainstream audiences. In South Africa, Germany, France, Italy and many other countries, hip hop stars rose to prominence and gradually began to incorporate influences from their own country, resulting in fusions like Tanzanian Bongo Flava.
The rise of the West Coast
Main article: West Coast hip hop
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
After N.W.A. broke up, Dr. Dre (a former member) released The Chronic (1992), which peaked at #1 on the R&B/hip hop chart and #3 on the pop chart and spawned a #2 pop single in "Nothin' But a 'G' Thang".. The Chronic took West Coast rap in a new direction, influenced strongly by P funk artists, melding the psychedelic funky beats with slowly drawled lyrics—this came to be known as G funk, and dominated mainstream hip hop for several years through a roster of artists on Death Row Records, including most popularly, Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose Doggystyle included "What's My Name" and "Gin and Juice", both Top Ten pop hits.
Though West Coast artists eclipsed New York, some East Coast rappers achieved success. New York became dominated in terms of sales by Puff Daddy (No Way Out), Mase (Harlem World) and other Bad Boy Records artists, in spite of often scathing criticism for a perceived over-reliance on sampling and a general watered-down sound, aimed directly for pop markets. Other New York based artists continued with a harder edged sound, achieving only limited popular success. Nas (Illmatic), Busta Rhymes (The Coming) and The Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)), for example, received excellent reviews but generally mediocre or sporadic sales.
The sales rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coast eventually turned into a personal rivalry, aided in part by the music media. Many reporters were not aware that MC battles were an integral part of hip hop since its inception, and that, generally, little was meant by open taunts on albums and in performances. Nevertheless, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry grew, eventually resulting in the still unsolved deaths of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G..
Diversification of styles
In the wake of declining sales following the deaths of both superstar artists, the sounds of hip hop were greatly diversified. Most important was the rise of Southern rap, starting with OutKast (ATLiens) and Goodie Mob (Soul Food), based out of Atlanta. Master P built up an impressive roster of popular artists (the No Limit posse) based out of New Orleans incorporating G funk and Miami bass influences, and distinctive regional sounds from St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C., Detroit (ghettotech) and others began to gain some popularity. Also developing in the South was the genre known as crunk, which achieved success in the hands of artists like Lil' Jon & the East Side Boyz & Three 6 Mafia. Also in the 1990s, rapcore (a fusion of hip hop and heavy metal) became popular among mainstream audiences. Rage Against the Machine, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit were among the most popular rapcore bands.
Though white rappers like the Beastie Boys (Paul's Boutique), Vanilla Ice (To the Extreme) and 3rd Bass (The Cactus Album) had had some popular success and/or critical acceptance from the hip hop community, The success of Dr. Dre's newest protégé, a Caucasian rapper from Detroit named Eminem, was a surprise to many; his 1999 The Slim Shady LP went triple platinum. Like most successful hip hop artists of the time, Eminem came to be criticized for alleged glorification of violence, misogyny, and drug abuse, as well as homophobia and albums laced with constant profanity.
In South Africa, pioneering crew Black Noise began rapping in 1989, provoking a ban by the apartheid-era government, which lasted until 1993. Later, the country produced its own distinctive style in the house fusion kwela. Elsewhere in Africa, Senegalese mbalax fusions continued to grow in popularity, while Tanzanian Bongo Flava crews like X-Plastaz combined hip hop with taarab, filmi and other styles.
In Europe, hip hop was the domain of both ethnic nationals and immigrants. Germany, for example, produced the well-known Die Fantastischen Vier as well as several Turkish performers like the controversial Cartel. Similarly, France has produced a number of native-born stars, such as IAM and the Breton crew Manau, though the most famous French rapper is probably the Senegalese-born MC Solaar. The Netherlands' most famous rappers are The Osdorp Posse, an all-white crew from Amsterdam, and The Postmen, from Cape Verde and Suriname. Italy found its own rappers, including Jovanotti and Articolo 31, grow nationally renowned, while the Polish scene began in earnest early in the decade with the rise of PM Cool Lee. In Romania, B.U.G. Mafia came out of Bucharest's Pantelimon neighborhood, and their brand of gangsta rap underlines the parallels between life in Romania's Communist-era apartment blocks and in the housing projects of America's ghettos. Israel's hip hop grew greatly in popularity at the end of the decade, with several stars emerging from both sides of the Palestinian (Tamer Nafer) and Jewish (Subliminal) divide; though some, like Mook E., preached peace and tolerance, others expressed nationalist and violent sentiments.
In Asia, mainstream stars rose to prominence in the Philippines, led by Michael V., Rap Asia, MC Lara and Lady Diane, and in Japan, where underground rappers had previously found a limited audience, and popular teen idols brought a style called J-rap to the top of the charts in the middle of the 90s.
Latinos had played an integral role in the early development of hip hop, and the style had spread to parts of Latin America, such as Cuba, early in its history. In Mexico, popular hip hop began with the success of Calo in the early 90s. Later in the decade, with Latin rap groups like Cypress Hill on the American charts, Mexican rap rock groups, such as Control Machete, rose to prominence in their native land. An annual Cuban hip hop concert held at Alamar in Havana helped to popularize Cuban hip hop, beginning in 1995. Hip hop grew steadily more popular in Cuba, due to official governmental support for musicians.
Alternative hip hop
Main article: Alternative hip hop
Though mainstream and crossover acceptance has been almost entirely limited to gangsta rap or pop rap, isolated artists with a socially aware and positive or optimistic tone or a more avantgarde approach have achieved some success. They are usually referred to in mainstream musical circles as alternative rap, i.e. not gangsta or pop rap; however, this is a somewhat misleading term given that for the first decade of hip hop's existence, before gangsta rap emerged and became the most commercially successful strand of the genre, the vast majority of music produced was generally positive and optimistic. Indeed, many artists often labeled alternative rap such as Common or A Tribe Called Quest are considerably closer in content and ethos to the pre-gangsta rap braggadocio and social commentary of pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash than many artists who are thought to be in the modern hip hop mainstream.
In 1988 and 1989, albums from the Native Tongues collective like De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising, A Tribe Called Quest's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm and the Jungle Brothers' Straight Out the Jungle are usually considered the first alternative rap albums, with jazz-based samples and quirky, insightful lyrics covering a diverse range of topics (see jazz rap) and strongly influenced by the Afrocentric messages of Bambaataa's Zulu Nation. Digable Planets also achieved a phenonemal success in the early nineties with their single Cool Like Dat and the album Reachin' (A New Refutation Of Time & Space), though this alternative rap movement largely fizzled out in the mid nineties, with A Tribe Called Quest splitting up and De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers and Gang Starr retreating to the hip hop underground. However, in the late nineties, just as gangsta rap and pop rap was beginning to achieve incredible mainstream and crossover success, hip hop's alternative side experienced a resurgence. The Afrocentric nu-soul (sometimes known as neo-soul) movement was heavily influenced by the Native Tongues and artists such as Mos Def (Black on Both Sides), Talib Kweli (Train Of Thought), The Roots (Things Fall Apart), Erykah Badu (Baduizm), and Slum Village (Fantastic Vol. 2) achieved great success at the close of the decade. Meanwhile, another more avantgarde strand of hip hop was being popularized by artists such as Kool Keith (Dr. Octagonecologyst) and Company Flow (Funcrusher Plus), who developed a sound based around outlandish instrumental tracks and warped, complex lyrics. The Rawkus record label, home to Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Company Flow as well as Pharoahe Monch is largely credited with aiding the late 90s resurgence of alternative rap. The influence of jazz on alternative hip hop grew less pronounced in the nineties (with some exceptions, most notably Guru's Jazzmatazz project), though jazz rap went on to influence the development of trip hop in the United Kingdom, which fused hip hop, jazz and electronic music; it is said to have been started by Massive Attack's Blue Lines (1991), while Portishead were phenonemonally successful with their blend of Billie Holiday-style jazz vocals with hip hop samples and turntablism, and DJ Shadow's Endtroducing helped repopularize instrumental hip hop recordings as well as having an enormous influence on hip hop production as a whole.
In the year 2000, The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem sold over nine million copies in the United States, and Nelly's debut LP, Country Grammar, sold over six million copies. In the next several years, a wave of increasingly pop-oriented R&B crossover acts, like Ja Rule and Destiny's Child, dominated American popular music. It was not until the sudden breakthrough success of the hard-edged 50 Cent that hardcore hip hop returned to the pop charts. The United States also saw the rise of alternative hip hop in the form of moderately popular performers like The Roots, Dilated Peoples and Mos Def, who achieved unheard-of success for their field.
Some countries, like Tanzania, maintained popular acts of their own in the early 2000s, though many others produced few homegrown stars, instead following American trends. Scandinavian, especially Danish and Swedish, performers became well known outside of their country, while hip hop continued its spread into new lands, including Russia, Egypt and China.
Instrumentation & production
The instrumentation of hip-hop is descended from disco, funk, and R&B, both in the sound systems and records sampled, and session musicians and their instrumentation, used. Disco and club DJs' use of mixing originated from the need to have continuous music and thus smooth transitions between tracks, while in hip hop Kool DJ Herc originated the practice of isolating and extending only the break, basically short percussion solo interludes, by mixing between two copies of the same record, as this was, according to Afrika Bambaataa the "certain part of the record that everybody waits for -- they just let their inner self go and get wild." (Toop, 1991) James Brown, Bob James, and Parliament -- among many others -- have long been popular sources for breaks. Over this one could and did add instrumental parts from other records, frequently as horn punches (ibid). Thus the instrumentation of early sampled or sound system-based hip hop is the same as funk, disco, or rock: vocals, guitar, keyboards, bass, drums and percussion.
Although hip hop's original music consisted solely of the DJ's breakbeats and other vinyl record pieces, the advent of the drum machine allowed hip hop musicians to develop partially original scores. Drum set sounds could be played either over the music from vinyl records or by themselves. The importance of quality drum sequences became the most important focus of hip hop musicians because these rhythms (beats) were the most danceable part. Consequently, drum machines were equipped to produce strong kick sounds with powerful (sine) bass behind them. This helped emulate the very well-engineered drum solos on old funk, soul and rock albums from the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s. Drum machines had a limited array of predetermined sounds, including hi-hats, snares, toms, and kick drums.
The introduction of the digital sampler changed the way hip hop was produced. A sampler can digitally record and save small sound clips from any output device, such as a turntable. Producers were able to sample their own drum sounds from the records they grew up listening to. Perhaps more importantly, they could sample horns, upright basses, guitars and pianos to play along with their drums. Hip hop had finally gathered its complete band.
What many fail to recognize is the distinct importance of the gritty, choppy sound of hip hop. The music seldom sounds like other organic forms. Even hip hop crews that have their own band often use samples and the gritty, choppy texture of machines to create their beats in the studio as featured on their album (when performing live, they usually recreate this sound with a full band). One popular misconception is that samples and drum machines exist in hip hop music as merely a lazy substitute for a real band; in fact, hip hop producers obsess over the timbre, texture and frequency of specific samples and drum machine sounds. A session drummer playing James Brown's Funky Drummer break is no substitute for the sampled break from the original record. However, in recent years there has been a tendency towards original instrumental compositions in hip hop from the likes of Outkast, The Roots and The Neptunes.
Beats (though not necessarily raps) in hip hop are almost always in 4/4 time signature. At its rhythmic core, hip hop swings: instead of a straight 4/4 count (pop music; rock 'n' roll; etc.), hip hop is based on a triplet feel somewhat similar to the "swing" emphasis found in jazz beats. Hip hop takes this concept a step further, however. Whereas jazz swing implies three eighth notes (a triplet) per beat, hip hop implies six sixteenth notes (a "double triplet") per beat. Like the triplet emphasis in swing, hip hop's double triplet "bubble" is subtle, rarely written as it sounds (4/4 basic; the drummer adds the hip hop interpretation) and is often played in an almost "late" or laid back way.
Here's a basic hip hop drum set example --one bar that would be repeated indefinitely. Note that no single instrument plays all of the implied double triplets. This is usually the case. In this example, the bass drum plays part of the double triplet subdivision. The bass drum pattern is most often the part that provides the hip hop feel.
Count 1 2 3 4 Implied *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** Hi Hat x-- x-- x-- x-- x-- x-- x-- x-- Snare --- --- x-- --- --- --- x-- --- Bass Drum x-- --x --- --x x-- x-- --- --x
This style was innovated predominantly in soul and funk music, where beats and thematic music were repeated for the duration of tracks. In the 1960s and 1970s, James Brown (known as The Godfather of Soul) talked, sung, and screamed much as MCs do today. This musical style provides the perfect platform for MCs to rhyme. Hip hop music generally caters to the MC for this reason, amplifying the importance of lyrical and delivering prowess.
Instrumental hip hop is perhaps the lone exception to this rule. In this hip hop subgenre, DJs and producers are free to experiment with creating instrumental tracks. While they may mix in sampled rap vocals, they are not bound by the need to cater to an MC.
Hip hop music is a part of hip hop, a cultural movement that includes the activities of breakdancing and graffiti art, as well as associated slang, fashion and other elements. The popularity of music has helped to popularize hip hop culture, both in the United States and, to a lesser degree, abroad.
Contemporary hip hop fashion includes the wearing of baggy jeans slung low around the waist, gold or platinum chains and boots, and bandanas tied around the head (known as doorags, often worn with a baseball cap on top) ; these elements are more typical of men than women. In addition, there are and have been more transitory fads associated with hip hop, such as rolling up one leg of one's pants, jogging suits and sweatshirts. Other hip hop fashions that have long since died out include the late-1980s trend for African-influenced clothing styles in accordance with the Afrocentric stylings of much hip hop music of the time (from bands such as X-Clan), and the "high top fade" hairstyle popularized by Will Smith (The Fresh Prince) and Christopher "Kid" Reid of Kid 'n Play, among others. Though hip hop fashion was associated almost exclusively with African Americans in urban areas in the 1970s and 80s, it has since spread to mainstream listeners throughout the world.
Since the late nineties and especially since the turn of the century, many hip hop songs - and indeed probably the majority of mainstream hip hop songs - have focused on the "bling bling" lifestyle, which is a focus on expensive jewelry, cars and clothing that symbolize wealth and status. "Bling bling" has its roots in the enormously commercially successful late-to-mid nineties work (specifically, music videos) of Puff Daddy and Bad Boy Records as well as Master P's No Limit Records. However, the term was coined in 1999 (see 1999 in music) by Cash Money Records artist B.G. on his single Bling Bling, and the Cash Money roster were perhaps the epitome of the "bling bling" lifestyle and attitude. Though many rappers, mostly gangsta rappers, unapologetically pursue and celebrate bling bling, others, mostly artists outside of the hip hop mainstream, have expressly criticized the idealized pursuit of bling bling as being materialistic.
The widespread success of hip hop - specifically gangsta rap - has also had a significant social impact on the demeanor of modern youth. The sometimes rebellious, egotistic, and degenerate attitudes often portrayed in the lyrics and videos of certain hip hop artists have shown negative effects on some of their idolizing fans. While the attitudes of specific artists certainly do not represent the rest of the hip hop community, and the effects of lyrical content on youths are debatable, very often are youths adopting the much glamourized "gangsta" persona while not being members of any gang. Often these personas incite anti-social behavior such as peer harrassment, neglect towards education, rejection of authority, and petty crimes such as vandalism. While the majority of listeners are able to distinguish entertainment from lessons in social conduct, an evident pseudo-gangsta counter-culture has risen amongst North American youth.
As with most insular musical-cultural movements such as jazz and the hippie counterculture of the 60s, hip hop has a distinctive slang, that includes words like yo, flow and phat. Due to hip hop's extraordinary commercial success in the late nineties and early 21st century, many of these words have been assimilated into many different dialects across America and the world and even to non-hip hop fans (the word dis for example is remarkably prolific). There are also words like homie which predate hip hop but are often associated with it because of the close connection between recorded hip hop and the dialect used by many performers, African American Vernacular English. Sometimes, terms like what the dilly, yo are popularized by a single song (in this case, "What the Dilly, Yo" by Busta Rhymes) and are only used briefly. Of special importance is the rule-based slang of Snoop Dogg, who adds -izz to the middle of words so that shit becomes shizznit (the addition of the n occurs occasionally as well). This practice, with origins in Frankie Smith's non-sensical language from his 1982 single "Double Dutch Bus," has spread to even non-hip hop fans, who may be unaware of its derivation.
Aside from hip hop's great popularity, the genre has had an impact on most varieties of popular music. There are performers that combine either hip hop beats or rapping with rock and roll, heavy metal, punk rock, merengue, salsa, cumbia, funk, jazz, house, taarab, reggae, highlife, mbalax and soul. Teen pop singers and boy bands like the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Britney Spears utilize hip hop beats in many of their most popular singles.
Hip hop has had an especially close relationship with soul music since the early 1990s. Indeed, today there is little recorded soul that does not feature some element of hip hop. This fusion, called nu soul, can be traced back to the late 1980s New Jack Swing groups, though it did not reach its modern form until the rise of performers like Mary J. Blige. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the hip hop influence grew more prominent in singers like D'Angelo, Lauryn Hill, Jill Scott and Alicia Keys.
Various fusions with rock and derivatives (i.e. heavy metal and punk) have been growing in popularity since the early 80s. At the time, popular acts like Run-D.M.C. used both hard rock and hip hop, especially in their genre-crossing, unprecedented smash hit "Walk This Way", performed with Aerosmith. Other performers, like Ice-T and his band Body Count used hip hop, punk rock and metal, though the first bands to combine metal with rap vocal techniques are said to be Anthrax and Pantera (others early adopters include Faith No More, Rage Against The Machine and Red Hot Chili Peppers). By the end of the 90s, rap-metal grew both more popular and more derided by fans of both genres, with the rise of bands like Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit and Korn, who were called nu metal.
In Latin America, rapping was already known in the 1980s, in the form of toasting, a part of Jamaican ragga music. Rapped lyrics were already a part of soca music, for example. The growth of hip hop in the area, however, led to more pronounced fusions like reggaeton and timba. Similarly, in Africa, rapping-like vocals (such as Senegalese tassou) were already a part of popular music, and hip hop was easily adapted to popular styles like taarab and mbalax.
Hip hop has probably encountered more problems with censorship than any other form of popular music in recent years, due to the use of sexually and violently explicit lyrics. The pervasive use of curse words in many songs has created challenges in the broadcast of such material both on television stations such as MTV, in music video form, and on radio. As a result, many hip hop recordings are broadcast in censored form, with offending language blanked out of the soundtrack (though usually leaving the backing music intact). The result – which quite often renders the remaining lyrics unintelligible – has become almost as widely identified with the genre as any other aspect of the music, and has been parodied in films such as Austin Powers in Goldmember, in which a character – performing in a parody of a hip-hop music video – performs an entire verse that is blanked out.
Main article: Music media
Hip hop has some major American magazines devoted to it, most famously including The Source and Vibe. For a long time, BET was the only television channel likely to play much hip hop, but in recent years, the mainstream channels VH1 and MTV have played hip hop more than any other style. Many individual cities have produced their own local hip hop newsletters, while hip hop magazines with national distribution are found in a few other countries.
- Download sample of Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five's "The Message", the first major hip hop message song.
- Download sample of Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force's "Planet Rock", a major single, using electronic beats and old school rhyme schemes.
- Download sample of Beastie Boys' "Rhymin’ and Stealin’" from Licensed to Ill, one of the first successful albums by a white hip-hop group.
- Download sample of Public Enemy's "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos" from It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, one of the first groups to bring political hip hop to the mainstream.
- Download sample of Eric B. & Rakim's "Follow the Leader" from Follow the Leader, sometimes considered the peak of the golden age of old school hip hop.
- Download sample of Method Man's "Sub Crazy" from Tical; the first solo album by a member of the popular Wu Tang Clan.
- Download sample of GZA's "Shadowboxing" from Liquid Swords, a seminal hardcore East Coast hip hop album.
- Download sample of Busta Rhymes with Rampage's "Abandon Ship" from The Coming, the debut album by Busta, whose distinctive vocal style made him a success.
- Download sample of Jay-Z's "Streets Is Watching" from In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, which established Jay-Z as one of the most respected rappers of the late 90s.
- Download sample of The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Niggas Bleed" from Life After Death, released posthumously, the album sold 5 million copies in the United States alone.
- Download sample of OutKast's "Spottieottiedopaliscious" from Aquemini, a critically-acclaimed Southern hip hop album.
- Download sample of Mos Def's "Mathematics" from Black on Both Sides, one of the most influential late 90s alternative hip hop releases.
- Download sample of DMX's "Dogs for Life" from 1999's Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, an album that helped re-establish hardcore East Coast hip hop.
- Download sample of Eminem's "Kill You" from The Marshall Mathers LP, an extremely controversial and successful album.
- The Vibe History of Hip Hop. 1999. Vibe magazine. ISBN 0609805037
- Hip Hop America. Nelson, George. Penguin Book. 2000. ISBN 0140280227
- David Toop (1984/1991). Rap Attack II: African Rap To Global Hip Hop. New York. New York: Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1852422432.
- McLeod, Kembrew. Interview with Chuck D and Hank Shocklee. 2002. Stay Free Magazine.
- Yes Yes Y'All: Oral History of Hip Hop's First Decade. Fricke, Jim and Charlie Ahearn (eds). Experience Music Project. Perseus Books Group. ISBN 0306811847
- Corvino, Daniel and Shawn Livernoche. A Brief History of Rhyme and Bass: Growing Up With Hip Hop. Lightning Source Inc. ISBN 1401028519
- hiphopmusic.com (http://www.hiphopmusic.com/)
- Rap Incorporated (http://www.rapincorporated.com)
- Hip hop lyrics archive (http://www.ohhla.com/)
- HipHopSite.com - News and reviews (http://www.hiphopsite.com/)
- SOHH - hip hop magazine (http://www.sohh.com/)
- Vibe - hip hop magazine (http://www.vibe.com/)
- The Source - hip hop magazine (http://www.thesource.com/)
- Hip Hop Summit Action Network (http://www.hsan.org/Content/Main.aspx?pageId=1)
- Davey D's hip hop news (http://www.daveyd.com/)de:Hip Hop (Musik)