The Birth Of Rap

  • Rap is one of the most popular genres in the U.S., with many subgenres like rap metal, rapcore, and mumble rap.
  • Rapping is a delivery style that has rhyme and rhythm, along with spoken language (called MC) delivered over beat music (DJ), and is part of the hip-hop culture. The elements of rap are content, flow, and delivery.
  • Its origins can be traced back to centuries ago when rhythmic stories were narrated by Griots (historians) of West Africa.
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The Loop

Modern Rap came from the place Hip-Hop originated: The Bronx.

DJ Kool Herc, a New York DJ kicked off this genre in his back-to-school parties in the 1970s. He used the repetitive beat samples to form a loop, combined with percussive elements from disco, soul, and funk. The place is a tourist attraction even now at 1520, Sedgwick Avenue.

Golden Era of Rap

In the mid-80s, certain innovative rappers like Eric B. & Rakim, Run-DMC, and Public Enemy pushed rap music towards the Golden Era. 

They became key players along with Melle Mel and Duke Bootee to provide a polished yet rebellious sound to rap.

  • Artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, and Kurtis Blow were the DJs that flourished in the 70s and were signed by mainstream record labels.
  • DJ Grand Wizard Theodore accidentally popularized the ‘record scratching’ and needle drop effect of DJing. The 80s saw raps creativity soar with duets and records that challenged mainstream music.

As rap got popular, certain ‘West Coast’ rappers emerged from economically depressed areas including Too Short, N.W.A, Ice-T. These controversial rappers sang about their troubles, pimping, drugs, and other grey aspects of their lives.

The N.W.A. (which had Dr. Dre among others) song F... Tha Police instantly made them ‘Public Enemy Number One’ and in effect, popular.

  • Female rap stars like Salt-N-Pepa, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, and Yo-Yo came in the spotlight in the 90s, and many like Lauryn Hill went on to record platinum albums and win Grammy Awards.
  • Young rappers too joined the bandwagon as new technologies like streaming of music made it more accessible. Rap is now an inescapable mainstream genre, full of energy and attitude.
East Vs. West Coast

The 90s saw a personal and musical rivalry between two hotbeds of rap, East Coast and West Coast, causing a national rift. 

Two famous artists, Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. were murdered in the violent clashes that frequently erupted in the inner-city neighborhoods.

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