The Beat Goes On: The Rise and Reign of Hip Hop
“Rap is something you do; hip-hop is something you live.”
With its humble beginnings on the streets, hip-hop has become one of the most influential musical styles and cultural forces throughout the globe.
It has captured the hearts and minds of people worldwide, transcending cultural boundaries and language barriers. From the gritty underground clubs of the Bronx in the 1970s to the glittering stages of arenas worldwide, hip-hop has become one of the most influential and iconic genres in the history of modern music. So, put on your headphones, turn up the volume, and join me on a journey through the history of hip-hop as we explore the roots, the legends, and the evolution of this revolutionary and enduring art form.
What is Hip-Hop?
Hip-hop is a style of music that originated in America’s urban centers. New York City’s African-Americans, Jamaicans, and Hispanics in the 1970s created a new musical genre by fusing drumming, Ding, and rapping.
Hip-hop music often fuses elements of various musical styles, including R&B, funk, disco, dub, and even spoken word.
Hip-hop is a cultural phenomenon that includes other creative forms in addition to music. Hip-hop may be defined by its four pillars. Hip-hop may be broken down into four primary elements: disc jockeying (turntablism), rapping (MCing), breakdancing (B-boying), and graffiti art (visual expression). These ways of expressing oneself have also given rise to new subcultures that will last for a long time.
These four factors came together to spark a cultural revolution that swept the world in a short amount of time. Hip-hop culture has had an outsized impact on many other fields, including but not limited to music, fashion, technology, art, entertainment, language, dance, education, politics, the media, and more. Hip-hop has become an international phenomenon that influences people of all ages through its evolving artistic styles.
Definition of Hip-Hop Music Elements
There are distinct features of hip-hop music that set it apart from other musical genres such as pop, R&B, and rock.
While many hip-hop tracks also feature singing and background vocals, the MC is always the song’s primary vocalist.
With the first explosion of hip-hop, rap eventually fragmented into several subgenres and styles.
- DJing and Turntablism
When it comes to hip-hop, the DJ is equally as crucial as the MC. To loop records and lengthen the gap inside a track, DJs historically utilized two vinyl turntables and a mixer.
As a result, a new musical movement called turntablism emerged, and DJs rapidly mastered the turntable. DJs scratching records to make new sounds was a game-changer for popular music.
Several current pop and hip-hop compositions rely heavily on looping key samples of music, a technique pioneered by the original DJs.
- Drum Machines
In the early days of hip-hop, drum machines were a more affordable option than a traditional drum set. Hence, they were a great option for youngsters living in the city who wanted to compose music. As a result of the early 1980s rap scene, the Roland TR-808’s distinctive sound has become instantly recognizable.
There were other drum machines, including the Roland TR-909, E-MU SP-1200, and Akai MPC, that had an effect on hip-hop production.
- Samples and Looping
Early hip-hop performers were not hindered by a lack of instruments. A turntable, an old record, and a sampler were all required to create hip-hop music. By using the greatest tracks from their parent’s record collections as samples, these youthful innovators shook up the music industry.
Aspiring DJs discovered rhythms in everything from funk and soul to rock and jazz on ancient albums. James Brown, The Winstons, and Lyn Collins are among the most sampled musicians of all time.
The purchase of a drum machine or DJ equipment was out of reach for many aspiring hip-hop artists. In order to sound more like today’s most ubiquitous drum machines, musicians figured out how to do it vocally. Several beatboxers employed different methods to make their voices sound like drums.
The origins of hip-hop culture
When did it first start? Compared to rock, pop, country, and disco, hip-hop is an up-and-coming style.
Hip-hop emerged as a cultural and artistic movement in the early 1970s Bronx, a neighborhood experiencing tremendous demographic change at the time.
Many white middle-class families fled cities for the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s. Black Americans and Latinos who remained in cities (or who migrated there in the ensuing years) faced severe difficulties in their communities as government spending was cut. Funds were redirected to whiter, richer areas.
In response to increased crime and poverty, as well as a lack of employment opportunities, young people in the Bronx and surrounding areas began developing their own forms of artistic expression. This is how hip-hop was born.
Hip-most hop’s distinctive features drew heavily from earlier forms of black musical expression, especially the tradition of sound system music. Reggae and dancehall’s emphasis on boasting, talking, and primitive rapping dates back to the middle of the twentieth century, and its roots go much farther back to the griot artists of West Africa.
These time-honored customs and methods took on new vitality in 1970s New York. A small but influential group of disc jockeys and early rap artists soon emerged in New York City’s nightclub scene, with much of their influence concentrated in the Bronx.
Rap pioneers like Grandmaster Flash hosted massively attended park parties, and by the decade’s close, hip-hop had completely taken over New York City’s young culture. It’s impossible to put into words the intensity of rap music and hip-hop from January 1978, when it initially emerged, through October 1979, when the first rap album was released.
Of course, the Sugarhill Gang’s hit Rapper’s Delight from 1979 was the first rap record. Rapper’s Delight was the first single to introduce hip-hop to a wide audience, while several records had included rapping before. Using songs by Chic and Love De-Luxe as inspiration, the song turned disco on its head. The single’s debut marked a turning point for hip-hop, as it pushed the genre into the mainstream in the United States.
Hip hop’s heyday was the early 1980s when it was at its peak popularity. The music was a hit in clubs all around North America, not just in New York. In studios, however, technology was a big part of how hip-hop changed over the decade. When Roland debuted the TR-808 in 1980, it was a programmed drum machine that would go on to become an integral part of the genre’s defining sound.
The development of sampling, the hallmark of hip-hop production, was similarly crucial. Using the sampling method, hip-hop producers would take fragments or entire songs from outside sources and manipulate them to fit a new musical framework. The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash And The Wheels Of Steel, released in 1981, was the first record to consist completely of sampled instrumentals.
The Golden Age
Hip-meteoric hop’s rise to national prominence began in the mid-1980s and continued into the early 1990s. It ushered in a period that profoundly altered hip-hop as a cultural movement. The term “golden age of hip-hop” was used to describe this new time period. A lot of people say that variety, impact, artistic innovation, and commercial success all skyrocketed at this juncture.
The record industry saw the genre as a rising trend and poured resources into it. The independent music industry flourished, giving rise to labels like Tommy Boy, Prism Records, and Def Jam. Rapid album releases were made in response to requests from regional radio stations and party DJs.
As hip-hop gained in popularity, it spread to other cities, and with that came new scenes and new styles. Yet at the time, hip-hop was largely an experimental genre. Modern drum machines and samplers allowed a new generation of hip-hop producers to push the genre forward.
No copyright rules. The extensive usage of samples was a hallmark of classic hip-hop. Artists were free to sample from a wide range of sources without worrying about violating any copyright rules. Many musical styles, from jazz to rock, were recorded as samples. But it wasn’t just the music industry that sampled. Wu-Tang Clan member R.Z.A. used samples from Kung Fu movies he had collected from the ’70s.
The lyrical content. Hip-hop evolved in other ways as well, particularly in its lyrical content. The repetitive chants of the 1970s gave way to more metaphorical lyrics about a variety of topics towards the end of the decade. Lyrics were also sung by artists over a more intricate and multi-layered musical arrangement. Rappers and lyricists, including Melle Mel, KRS-One, Rakim, Chuck D, and Warp 9, were crucial in the development of hip-hop and rap.
Culture beyond music. What really drove hip-hop culture, though, wasn’t the music alone. It’s no secret that the hip-hop style has made its way into the mainstream. To express themselves, people started dressing and accessorizing differently and trying out new hairdos. Moreover, Ebonics, a form of street language, became widely used in the United States. The Oxford English Dictionary now includes “bling” and “fo’ shizzle,” for instance.
Hip-Hop Became Globally Pervasive
Late in the 20th century, hip-hop artists had unprecedented levels of mainstream popularity. It was mostly thanks to artists like Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, Timbaland, and Lil Wayne that rap and hip-hop were finally accepted by the mainstream. By the year 2000, hip-hop had become the most-played genre on mainstream radio.
Nowadays, hip-hop performers such as Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and Jay-Z sell millions of albums and rule the charts. In order to broaden their fan bases, popular musicians began incorporating hip-hop styles and rapping into their music.
A Mix of Trap and Mumble Rap
In recent years, trap and mumble rap have become the most popular styles of hip-hop. Lil Nas X, Future, and Juice Wrld are popular among a new generation of hip-hop listeners.
Some veteran MCs may have issues with the sound, but it’s helping to advance the hip-hop and music scenes in exciting new ways. Several of today’s most successful pop musicians, like Katy Perry, The Weeknd, and Beyoncé, have not hesitated to include trap and mumble into their albums.
As a genre, where does hip-hop stand today?
What had been a small, underground music scene in one city exploded into a global phenomenon by the turn of the millennium. After this, where will the noise go?
While classic styles like gangsta and old-school rap will always have their place in the genre, modern hip-hop artists are exploring new styles and techniques.
Today’s hip-hop artists are also exploring and incorporating elements of electronic dance music (EDM), vaporwave, lo-fi, and country. Using elements of vaporwave, synth-wave, and new wave, The Weeknd’s album, Dawn FM, is a sonic journey.
Artists in the alternative hip-hop scene, such as Atmosphere, Aesop Rock, and Run the Jewels, are also expanding the genre and reshaping lyrical norms.
On a global scale, the UK is experiencing a rise in the popularity of grime music, while Asia has experienced a proliferation of hip-hop musicians.
It’s clear that hip-hop musicians have no plans to stop pushing the genre forward sonically. Present-day hip-hop artists aren’t limited to any one genre in their creativity.
The development of hip-hop is a fascinating topic that deserves greater research. Since it first emerged in the seventies, this cultural phenomenon has seen significant development and transformation. What started as a grassroots effort in New York City to protect the city’s African-American and Puerto Rican youngsters has grown into a worldwide phenomenon. Hip-hop has been a major cultural influence for decades, and it shows no signs of slowing down.