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Old school hip hop

From Academic Kids

Old school hip hop is the very first hip hop to come out of the block parties of New York City in the 1970s and early 1980s. Compared to more modern, new school rap, old school has relatively simple rhythms and cadences that occur on the beat instead of wrapping around the rhythm, as has become common. Generally, subject matter was simple, good times, parties and friendship, with only a handful discussing political or social themes (Brother D and Grandmaster Flash were notable exceptions; however, rappers like Kurtis Blow also included some social realism). Also compared with later hip hop, old school had a large number of female artists, even though none reached quite the level of fame of their male counterparts. Rappers usually performed over disco, soul, or funk tracks.

The first recordings of old school hip hop were The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" and the Fatback Band's "King Tim III". Sugarhill Records was particularly important in the early hip hop scene. Those tracks were based on funk and disco and their music was performed by real live musicians, using traditional instruments. Later on, electro funk used electronic rhythms, drum machines and portions of records by Kraftwerk and other early electronic artists. Finally, Run-DMC focused on beats and samples - according to the traditional definition of the term old school rap, "Sucker MCs" and "Peter Piper" were the first new school tracks, focusing on beats and later on samples.

However, the definition of all rap music of the eighties as old school rap seems to be more common nowadays, although musically it is not particularly useful.

Sound samples:

  • "Follow the Leader" by Eric B. & Rakim (1988); note the rapid-fire delivery and the strength and clarity of the voice -- this duo, and this song, are often considered the peak of the Golden Age of Old School, which ended in approximately 1989. This is not seen as old school rap according to traditional definition.
  • "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force (1982); the track used portions from Kraftwerk, Captain Skyy and Ennio Morricone. It is the first electro funk track. This is generally seen as a branch of hip hop.
  • "Rhymin' and Stealin' by The Beastie Boys (1986); note the crew's method of delivering rhymes in tandem with each other, where sentences and phrases may be uttered by two or more performers in sequence (as in many earlier rap records), as well as a strong break (characteristic of rock and roll). The Beastie Boys are not seen as old school rappers according to traditional definition.
  • "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five (1982); note the subject matter, which is addressing socio-political and economic issues, -- this was one of the first message raps The first was "How we Gonna Make the Black Nation Rise" by Brother D, which was however musically much more conservative. "The Message" is sometimes seen as an electro funk track.

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