Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a
music genre developed in the
United States by inner-city African
Americans in the 1970s which consists of a stylized rhythmic music
that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that
is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture
defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping,
DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti
writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines
from records (or synthesized beats and sounds), and rhythmic
beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, "hip hop"
more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture.
The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term
rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip
hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop
culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and
Hip hop as both a musical genre and a culture was formed during the
1970s when block parties became increasingly popular in New York City,
African-American youth residing in the Bronx.
However hip-hop music did not get officially recorded for the radio or
television to play until 1979, largely due to poverty during hip-hop's
birth and lack of acceptance outside ghetto neighborhoods. At
block parties DJs played percussive breaks of popular songs using two
turntables and a
DJ mixer to be able to play breaks from two copies of
the same record, alternating from one to the other and extending the
"break". Hip hop's early evolution occurred as sampling technology
and drum machines became widely available and affordable. Turntablist
techniques such as scratching and beatmatching developed along with
the breaks and Jamaican toasting, a chanting vocal style, was used
over the beats.
Rapping developed as a vocal style in which the artist
speaks or chants along rhythmically with an instrumental or
synthesized beat. Notable artists at this time include DJ Kool Herc,
Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, Fab Five Freddy, Marley Marl,
Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Moe Dee, Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh, Whodini,
Warp 9, The Fat Boys, and Spoonie Gee. The Sugarhill Gang's 1979 song
"Rapper's Delight" is widely regarded to be the first hip hop record
to gain widespread popularity in the mainstream. The 1980s marked
the diversification of hip hop as the genre developed more complex
styles. Prior to the 1980s, hip hop music was largely confined
within the United States. However, during the 1980s, it began to
spread to music scenes in dozens of countries, many of which mixed hip
hop with local styles to create new subgenres.
New school hip hop
New school hip hop was the second wave of hip hop music, originating
in 1983–84 with the early records of
Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J. The
Golden age hip hop
Golden age hip hop period was an innovative period between the
mid-1980s and the early 1990s. Notable artists from this era include
the Juice Crew, Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, Boogie Down
Productions and KRS-One, EPMD, Slick Rick, Beastie Boys, Kool G Rap,
Big Daddy Kane, Ultramagnetic MCs, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called
Gangsta rap is a subgenre of hip hop that often focuses on the
violent lifestyles and impoverished conditions of inner-city
African-American youth. Schoolly D, N.W.A, Ice-T, Ice Cube, and the
Geto Boys are key founding artists, known for mixing the political and
social commentary of political rap with the criminal elements and
crime stories found in gangsta rap. In the West Coast hip hop
G-funk dominated mainstream hip hop for several years during
the 1990s with artists such as
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. East Coast hip
hop in the early to mid 1990s was dominated by the Afrocentric jazz
rap and alternative hip hop of the
Native Tongues posse as well as the
hardcore rap of artists such as Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang Clan, and Onyx.
East Coast hip hop
East Coast hip hop also had gangsta rap musicians such as the
Notorious B.I.G. and Lil' Kim.
In the 1990s, hip hop began to diversify with other regional styles
emerging, such as
Southern rap and
Atlanta hip hop. At the same time,
hip hop continued to be assimilated into other genres of popular
music, examples being neo soul (e.g.: Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu) and nu
metal (e.g.: Korn, Limp Bizkit).
Hip hop became a best-selling genre
in the mid-1990s and the top selling music genre by 1999. The
popularity of hip hop music continued through the 2000s, with hip hop
influences also increasingly finding their way into mainstream pop.
United States also saw the success of regional styles such as
Lil Jon & the East Side Boys, the Ying Yang Twins), a
Southern genre that emphasized the beats and music more than the
lyrics. Starting in 2005, sales of hip hop music in the United States
began to severely wane. During the mid-2000s, alternative hip hop
secured a place in the mainstream, due in part to the crossover
success of artists such as
OutKast and Kanye West. During the late
2000s and early 2010s, rappers such as Lil Wayne, Soulja Boy, and
B.o.B were the most popular rappers. During the 2010s, rappers such as
Drake, Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, and
Kendrick Lamar all have been
extremely popular. Trap, a subgenre of hip hop, also has been popular
during the 2010s with hip hop artists and hip hop music groups such as
Migos, Travis Scott, and Kodak Black.
1 Origin of the term
2.2 Introduction of rapping
2.3 Influence of disco
2.4 Transition to recording
3.1 New school hip hop
3.2 Golden age hip hop
Gangsta rap and West Coast hip hop
4.1 Mainstream breakthrough
4.2 East vs. West rivalry
4.2.1 East Coast hip hop
4.2.2 West Coast hip hop
4.3 Diversification of styles
Crunk and snap music
Glitch hop and wonky music
5.3 Decline in sales
5.4 Musical theatre
5.5 Innovation and revitalization
7 World hip hop music
8 Rap linguistics
9 Return of the Golden-Era
10 See also
13 Further reading
14 External links
Origin of the term
The creation of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy,
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. However,
Lovebug Starski, Keith Cowboy, and
DJ Hollywood used the term when the
music was still known as disco rap. It is believed that Cowboy
created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S.
Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that
mimicked the rhythmic cadence of soldiers marching. Cowboy later
worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his stage performance,
which was quickly used by other artists such as
The Sugarhill Gang
The Sugarhill Gang in
Universal Zulu Nation
Universal Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa
is credited with first using the term to describe the subculture in
which the music belonged; although it is also suggested that it was a
derogatory term to describe the type of music. The first use of
the term in print was in The Village Voice, by Steven Hager, later
author of a 1984 history of hip hop.
Hip hop as music and culture formed during the 1970s in New York City
from the multicultural exchange between
African-American youth from
United States and young immigrants and children of immigrants from
countries in the Caribbean.
Hip hop music in its infancy has been
described as an outlet and a voice for the disenfranchised youth of
marginalized backgrounds and low-income areas, as the hip hop culture
reflected the social, economic and political realities of their
lives. Many of the people who helped establish hip hop
culture, including DJ Kool Herc, DJ
Disco Wiz, Grandmaster Flash, and
Afrika Bambaataa were of Latin American or
Caribbean origin. It is
hard to pinpoint the exact musical influences that most affected the
sound and culture of early hip hop because of the multicultural nature
of New York City. Hip hop's early pioneers were influenced by a mix of
music from their cultures and the cultures they were exposed to as a
result of the diversity of U.S. cities.
New York City
New York City experienced
a heavy Jamaican hip hop influence during the 1990s. This influence
was brought on by cultural shifts particularly because of the
heightened immigration of Jamaicans to
New York City
New York City and the
American-born Jamaican youth who were coming of age during the 1990s.
DJ Kool Herc
DJ Kool Herc is recognized as one of the earliest hip hop DJs and
In the 1970s, block parties were increasingly popular in New York
City, particularly among African-American,
Caribbean and Latino youth
residing in the Bronx.
Block parties incorporated DJs, who played
popular genres of music, especially funk and soul music. Due to the
positive reception, DJs began isolating the percussive breaks of
popular songs. This technique was common in Jamaican dub music,
and was largely introduced into New York by immigrants from the
Caribbean, including DJ Kool Herc, one of the pioneers of hip
Because the percussive breaks in funk, soul and disco records were
generally short, Herc and other DJs began using two turntables to
extend the breaks. Herc created the blueprint for hip hop music and
culture by building upon the Jamaican tradition of impromptu toasting,
a spoken type of boastful poetry and speech over music. On August
DJ Kool Herc
DJ Kool Herc was the DJ at his sister's back-to-school
party. He extended the beat of a record by using two record players,
isolating the percussion "breaks" by using a mixer to switch between
the two records. Herc's experiments with making music with record
players became what we now know as breaking or "scratching".
A second key musical element in hip hop music is emceeing (also called
MCing or rapping). Emceeing is the rhythmic spoken delivery of rhymes
and wordplay, delivered at first without accompaniment and later done
over a beat. This spoken style was influenced by the African American
style of "capping", a performance where men tried to outdo each other
in originality of their language and tried to gain the favor of the
listeners. The basic elements of hip hop—boasting raps, rival
"posses" (groups), uptown "throw-downs", and political and social
commentary—were all long present in African American music. MCing
and rapping performers moved back and forth between the predominance
of "toasting" songs packed with a mix of boasting, 'slackness' and
sexual innuendo and a more topical, political, socially conscious
style. The role of the MC originally was as a
Master of Ceremonies
Master of Ceremonies for
a DJ dance event. The MC would introduce the DJ and try to pump up the
audience. The MC spoke between the DJ's songs, urging everyone to get
up and dance. MCs would also tell jokes and use their energetic
language and enthusiasm to rev up the crowd. Eventually, this
introducing role developed into longer sessions of spoken, rhythmic
wordplay, and rhyming, which became rapping.
By 1979 hip hop music had become a mainstream genre. It spread across
the world in the 1990s with controversial "gangsta" rap. Herc also
developed upon break-beat deejaying, where the breaks of funk
songs—the part most suited to dance, usually percussion-based—were
isolated and repeated for the purpose of all-night dance parties. This
form of music playback, using hard funk and rock, formed the basis of
hip hop music. Campbell's announcements and exhortations to dancers
would lead to the syncopated, rhymed spoken accompaniment now known as
rapping. He dubbed his dancers "break-boys" and "break-girls", or
simply b-boys and b-girls. According to Herc, "breaking" was also
street slang for "getting excited" and "acting energetically".
Afrika Bambaataa with DJ Yutaka of
Universal Zulu Nation
Universal Zulu Nation in 2004
DJs such as Grand Wizzard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash, and Jazzy Jay
refined and developed the use of breakbeats, including cutting and
scratching. The approach used by Herc was soon widely copied, and
by the late 1970s, DJs were releasing 12-inch records where they would
rap to the beat. Popular tunes included Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" and
The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight". Herc and other DJs would
connect their equipment to power lines and perform at venues such as
public basketball courts and at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx, New York,
now officially a historic building. The equipment consisted of
numerous speakers, turntables, and one or more microphones. By
using this technique, DJs could create a variety of music, but
according to Rap Attack by David Toop "At its worst the technique
could turn the night into one endless and inevitably boring song".
KC The Prince of Soul, a rapper-lyricist with Pete DJ Jones, is often
credited with being the first rap lyricist to call himself an
Street gangs were prevalent in the poverty of the South Bronx, and
much of the graffiti, rapping, and b-boying at these parties were all
artistic variations on the competition and one-upmanship of street
gangs. Sensing that gang members' often violent urges could be turned
into creative ones,
Afrika Bambaataa founded the Zulu Nation, a loose
confederation of street-dance crews, graffiti artists, and rap
musicians. By the late 1970s, the culture had gained media attention,
with Billboard magazine printing an article titled "B Beats Bombarding
Bronx", commenting on the local phenomenon and mentioning influential
figures such as Kool Herc. The
New York City
New York City blackout of 1977 saw
widespread looting, arson, and other citywide disorders especially in
the Bronx where a number of looters stole DJ equipment from
electronics stores. As a result, the hip hop genre, barely known
outside of the
Bronx at the time, grew at an astounding rate from 1977
DJ Kool Herc's house parties gained popularity and later moved to
outdoor venues in order to accommodate more people. Hosted in parks,
these outdoor parties became a means of expression and an outlet for
teenagers, where "instead of getting into trouble on the streets,
teens now had a place to expend their pent-up energy." Tony Tone,
a member of the Cold Crush Brothers, stated that "hip hop saved a lot
of lives". For inner-city youth, participating in hip hop culture
became a way of dealing with the hardships of life as minorities
within America, and an outlet to deal with the risk of violence and
the rise of gang culture. MC Kid Lucky mentions that "people used to
break-dance against each other instead of fighting". Inspired
by DJ Kool Herc,
Afrika Bambaataa created a street organization called
Universal Zulu Nation, centered around hip hop, as a means to draw
teenagers out of gang life, drugs and violence.
The lyrical content of many early rap groups focused on social issues,
most notably in the seminal track "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash
and the Furious Five, which discussed the realities of life in the
housing projects. "Young black Americans coming out of the civil
rights movement have used hip hop culture in the 1980s and 1990s to
show the limitations of the hip hop movement."
Hip hop gave young
African Americans a voice to let their issues be heard; "Like
rock-and-roll, hip hop is vigorously opposed by conservatives because
it romanticises violence, law-breaking, and gangs". It also gave
people a chance for financial gain by "reducing the rest of the world
to consumers of its social concerns."
In late 1979,
Debbie Harry of Blondie took
Nile Rodgers of Chic to
such an event, as the main backing track used was the break from
Chic's "Good Times". The new style influenced Harry, and Blondie's
later hit single from 1981 "Rapture" became the first major single
containing hip hop elements by a white group or artist to hit number
one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100—the song itself is usually
considered new wave and fuses heavy pop music elements, but there is
an extended rap by Harry near the end.
1520 Sedgwick Avenue, the Bronx, a venue used by Kool Herc that is
often considered the birthplace of hip hop in 1973
Hip hop's early evolution into a form distinct from R&B also, not
coincidentally, occurred around the time that sampling technology and
drum-machines became widely available to the general public at a cost
that was affordable to the average consumer—not just professional
studios. Drum-machines and samplers were combined in machines that
came to be known as MPC's or 'Music Production Centers', early
examples of which would include the Linn 9000. The first sampler that
was broadly adopted to create this new kind of music was the Mellotron
used in combination with the
TR-808 drum machine. Mellotrons and
Linn's were succeeded by the AKAI, in the late 1980s.
Turntablist techniques – such as rhythmic "scratching" (pushing a
record back and forth while the needle is in the groove to create new
sounds and sound effects, an approach attributed to Grand Wizzard
Theodore), beat mixing and/or beatmatching, and beat juggling
– eventually developed along with the percussion breaks, creating a
musical accompaniment or base that could be rapped over in a manner
similar to signifying. As well, the art of Jamaican toasting, a style
of talking or chanting into a microphone, often in a boastful style,
while beats play over a sound system, was an important influence on
the development of hip hop music. Toasting is another influence found
in Jamaican dub music.
Boxer Muhammad Ali, as an influential
African-American celebrity, was
widely covered in the media. Ali influenced several elements of hip
hop music. Both in the boxing ring and in media interviews, Ali became
known in the 1960s for being "rhyming trickster" in the 1960s. Ali
used a "funky delivery" for his comments, which included "boasts,
comical trash talk, [and] the endless quotabl[e]" lines. According
to Rolling Stone, his "freestyle skills" (a reference to a type of
vocal improvisation in which lyrics are recited with no particular
subject or structure) and his "rhymes, flow, and braggadocio" would
"one day become typical of old school MCs" like
Run–D.M.C. and LL
Cool J, the latter citing Ali as an influence.
Hip hop music
in its infancy has been described as an outlet and a "voice" for the
disenfranchised youth of low-income and marginalized economic
areas, as the hip hop culture reflected the social, economic and
political realities of their lives.
Introduction of rapping
Rapping, also referred to as
MCing or emceeing, is a vocal style in
which the artist speaks lyrically and rhythmically, in rhyme and
verse, generally to an instrumental or synthesized beat. Beats, almost
always in 4/4 time signature, can be created by sampling and/or
sequencing portions of other songs by a producer. They also
incorporate synthesizers, drum machines, and live bands. Rappers may
write, memorize, or improvise their lyrics and perform their works a
cappella or to a beat.
Hip hop music predates the introduction of
rapping into hip hop culture, and rap vocals are absent from many hip
hop tracks, such as "Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don't Stop)" by Man Parrish;
"Chinese Arithmetic" by Eric B. & Rakim; "Al-Naafiysh (The Soul)"
and "We're Rocking the Planet" by Hashim; and "Destination Earth" by
Newcleus. However, the majority of the genre has been accompanied by
rap vocals, such as the
Sci-fi influenced electro hip hop group Warp
9. Female rappers appeared on the scene in the late 1970s and
early 80s, including
Bronx artist MC Sha Rock, member of the Funky
Four Plus One, credited with being the first female MC  and The
Sequence, a hip hop trio signed to Sugar Hill Records, the first all
female group to release a rap record,
Funk You Up.
The roots of rapping are found in
African-American music and
ultimately African music, particularly that of the griots of West
African culture. The
African-American traditions of signifyin',
the dozens, and jazz poetry all influence hip hop music, as well as
the call and response patterns of African and African-American
religious ceremonies. Soul singer James Brown, and musical 'comedy'
acts such as Rudy Ray Moore,
Pigmeat Markham and Blowfly are often
considered "godfathers" of hip hop music. Within New
York City, performances of spoken-word poetry and music by artists
such as The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron and Jalal Mansur Nuriddin
had a significant impact on the post-civil rights era culture of the
1960s and 1970s, and thus the social environment in which hip hop
music was created.
DJ Kool Herc
DJ Kool Herc and
Coke La Rock
Coke La Rock provided an influence on the vocal style
of rapping by delivering simple poetry verses over funk music breaks,
after party-goers showed little interest in their previous attempts to
integrate reggae-infused toasting into musical sets. DJs and
MCs would often add call and response chants, often consisting of a
basic chorus, to allow the performer to gather his thoughts (e.g.
"one, two, three, y'all, to the beat"). Later, the MCs grew more
varied in their vocal and rhythmic delivery, incorporating brief
rhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort to
differentiate themselves and to entertain the audience. These early
raps incorporated the dozens, a product of
Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hop group to gain
recognition in New York, but the number of MC teams increased over
Often these were collaborations between former gangs, such as Afrikaa
Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation—now an international organization.
Melle Mel, a rapper with The
Furious Five is often credited with being
the first rap lyricist to call himself an "MC". During the early
B-boying arose during block parties, as b-boys and b-girls got
in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive and frenetic style.
The style was documented for release to a worldwide audience for the
first time in documentaries and movies such as Style Wars, Wild Style,
and Beat Street. The term "B-boy" was coined by
DJ Kool Herc
DJ Kool Herc to
describe the people who would wait for the break section of the song,
getting in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive, frenetic
Although there were many early MCs that recorded solo projects of
note, such as DJ Hollywood,
Kurtis Blow and Spoonie Gee, the frequency
of solo artists did not increase until later with the rise of soloists
with stage presence and drama, such as LL Cool J. Most early hip hop
was dominated by groups where collaboration between the members was
integral to the show. An example would be the early hip hop group
Funky Four Plus One, who performed in such a manner on Saturday Night
Live in 1981.
Influence of disco
The Sugarhill Gang
The Sugarhill Gang used disco band Chic's "Good Times" as the source
of beats for their 1979 hip hop hit "Rapper's Delight". Pictured is
Chic at a 2012 concert.
Hip hop music was both influenced by disco music, as disco also
emphasized the key role of the DJ in creating tracks and mixes for
dancers. As well, hip hop from the late 1970s used disco tracks as
beats. At the same time, hip hop music was also a backlash against
certain subgenres of late 1970s disco. While the early disco was
African-American and Italian-American-created underground music
developed by DJs and producers for the dance club subculture, by the
late 1970s, disco airwaves were dominated by mainstream, expensively
recorded music industry-produced disco songs. According to Kurtis
Blow, the early days of hip hop were characterized by divisions
between fans and detractors of disco music.
Hip hop had largely
emerged as "a direct response to the watered down, Europeanised, disco
music that permeated the airwaves". The earliest hip hop was
mainly based on hard funk loops sourced from vintage funk records.
However, by 1979, disco instrumental loops/tracks had become the basis
of much hip hop music. This genre was called "disco rap". Ironically,
the rise of hip hop music also played a role in the eventual decline
in disco's popularity.
The disco sound had a strong influence on early hip hop music. Most of
the early rap/hip-hop songs were created by isolating existing disco
bass-guitar bass lines and dubbing over them with MC rhymes. The
Sugarhill Gang used Chic's "Good Times" as the foundation for their
1979 hit "Rapper's Delight", generally considered to be the song that
first popularized rap music in the
United States and around the world.
Afrika Bambaataa released the single "Planet Rock", which
incorporated electronica elements from Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe
Express" and "Numbers" as well as YMO's "Riot in Lagos". The Planet
Rock sound also spawned a hip-hop electronic dance trend, electro
music, which included songs such as Planet Patrol's "Play at Your Own
Risk" (1982), C Bank's "One More Shot" (1982), Cerrone's "Club
Underworld" (1984), Shannon's "Let the Music Play" (1983), Freeez's
"I.O.U." (1983), Midnight Star's "Freak-a-Zoid" (1983), Chaka Khan's
"I Feel For You" (1984).
DJ Pete Jones, Eddie Cheeba, DJ Hollywood, and
Love Bug Starski
Love Bug Starski were
disco-influenced hip hop DJs. Their styles differed from other hip hop
musicians who focused on rapid-fire rhymes and more complex rhythmic
schemes. Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Winley, Grandmaster Flash, and Bobby
Robinson were all members of third s latter group. In Washington, D.C.
go-go emerged as a reaction against disco and eventually incorporated
characteristics of hip hop during the early 1980s. The DJ-based genre
of electronic music behaved similarly, eventually evolving into
underground styles known as house music in
Chicago and techno in
Transition to recording
DJ Marley Marl.
The earliest hip hop music was performed live, at house parties and
block party events, and it was not recorded. Prior to 1979, recorded
hip hop music consisted mainly of
PA system soundboard recordings of
live party shows and early hip hop mixtapes by DJs. Puerto Rican DJ
Disco Wiz is credited as the first hip hop DJ to create a "mixed
plate," or mixed dub recording, when, in 1977, he combined sound
bites, special effects and paused beats to technically produce a sound
recording. The first hip hop record is widely regarded to be The
Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight", from 1979. However, much
controversy surrounds this assertion as some regard "King Tim III
(Personality Jock)" by The Fatback Band, which was released a few
weeks before "Rapper's Delight", as a rap record. There are
various other claimants for the title of first hip hop record.
By the early 1980s, all the major elements and techniques of the hip
hop genre were in place, and by 1982, the electronic (electro) sound
had become the trend on the street and in dance clubs. New York City
radio station WKTU featured Warp 9's "Nunk," in a commercial to
promote the station's signature sound of emerging hip hop  Though
not yet mainstream, hip hop had begun to permeate the music scene
outside of New York City; it could be found in cities as diverse as
Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dallas,
Kansas City, San Antonio, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans,
Houston, and Toronto. Indeed, "
Funk You Up" (1979), the first hip hop
record released by a female group, and the second single released by
Sugar Hill Records, was performed by The Sequence, a group from
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina which featured Angie Stone. Despite the
genre's growing popularity,
Philadelphia was, for many years, the only
city whose contributions could be compared to New York City's. Hip hop
music became popular in
Philadelphia in the late 1970s. The first
released record was titled "Rhythm Talk", by Jocko Henderson.
New York Times
New York Times had dubbed
Philadelphia the "
Graffiti Capital of
the World" in 1971.
Philadelphia native DJ
Lady B recorded "To the
Beat Y'All" in 1979, and became the first female solo hip hop artist
to record music. Schoolly D, starting in 1984 and also from
Philadelphia, began creating a style that would later be known as
DJ Jazzy Jeff, who is also a record producer, manipulating a record
turntable in England in 2005.
The 1980s marked the diversification of hip hop as the genre developed
more complex styles.
New York City
New York City became a veritable laboratory
for the creation of new hip hop sounds. Early examples of the
diversification process can be heard in tracks such as Grandmaster
Flash's "The Adventures of
Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel"
(1981), a single consisting entirely of sampled tracks as well as
Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" (1982), and Warp 9's "Nunk,"
(1982) which signified the fusion of hip hop music with electro.
Rammellzee & K-Rob's "Beat Bop" (1983) was a 'slow
jam' which had a dub influence with its use of reverb and echo as
texture and playful sound effects. "Light Years Away," by Warp 9
(1983), (produced and written by
Lotti Golden and Richard Scher)
described as a "cornerstone of early 80's beatbox afrofuturism," by
the UK paper, The Guardian, introduced social commentary from a
sci-fi perspective. In the 1970s, hip hop music typically used samples
from funk and later, from disco. The mid-1980s marked a paradigm shift
in the development of hip hop, with the introduction of samples from
rock music, as demonstrated in the albums
King of Rock
King of Rock and Licensed to
Hip hop prior to this shift is characterized as old-school hip
TR-808 Rhythm Composer, an influential drum machine in hip
hop music. Often nicknamed the "808", it was produced from 1980 to
1984. Even in the 2010s, hip hop producers still use 808 samples.
The proliferation of electro hip hop and hip hop records in the early
1980s can be attributed to the new beat-making abilities that the
TR-808 drum machine provided to beatmakers and
producers. Hitting the market in 1980, it became the drum machine of
choice because of its affordability and the unique character of its
analog, synthesized drum sounds, especially its bass drum sound, which
had a deep, solid sound in club PA systems. The new generation of
drum machines such as the 808 and
Oberheim DMX were a defining
characteristic of many 1980s songs, allowing record companies to
quickly produce new electro and electro hip hop records to meet the
high demand on the street. Even in the 2010s, the 808 kick drum sound
is used by hip hop producers.
Over time sampling technology became more advanced. However, earlier
producers such as
Marley Marl used drum machines to construct their
beats from small excerpts of other beats in synchronisation, in his
case, triggering three
Korg sampling-delay units through a Roland 808.
Later, samplers such as the
E-mu SP-1200 allowed not only more memory
but more flexibility for creative production. This allowed the
filtration and layering different hits, and with a possibility of
re-sequencing them into a single piece. With the emergence of a new
generation of samplers such as the
AKAI S900 in the late 1980s,
producers did not have to create complex, time-consuming tape loops.
Public Enemy's first album was created with the help of large tape
loops. The process of looping a break into a breakbeat now became more
commonly done with a sampler, now doing the job which so far had been
done manually by the DJs using turntables. In 1989, DJ Mark James,
under the moniker "45 King", released "The 900 Number", a breakbeat
track created by synchronizing samplers and vinyl records.
The lyrical content and other instrumental accompaniment of hip hop
developed as well. The early lyrical styles in the 1970, which tended
to be boasts and clichéd chants, were replaced with metaphorical
lyrics exploring a wider range of subjects. As well, the lyrics were
performed over more complex, multi-layered instrumental accompaniment.
Artists such as Melle Mel, Rakim, Chuck D,
KRS-One and Warp 9
revolutionized hip hop by transforming it into a more mature art form,
with sophisticated arrangements, often featuring "gorgeous textures
and multiple layers" The influential single "The Message" (1982)
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is widely considered to be
the pioneering force for conscious rap.
Independent record labels like Tommy Boy,
Prism Records and Profile
Records became successful in the early 1980s, releasing records at a
furious pace in response to the demand generated by local radio
stations and club DJs. Early 1980s electro music and rap were
catalysts that sparked the hip hop movement, led by artists such as
Cybotron, Hashim, Afrika Bambaataa, Planet Patrol,
Newcleus and Warp
9. In the
New York City
New York City recording scene, artists collaborated with
producer/writers such as Arthur Baker, John Robie,
Lotti Golden and
Richard Scher, exchanging ideas that contributed to the development of
hip hop. Some rappers eventually became mainstream pop performers.
Kurtis Blow's appearance in a Sprite soda pop commercial marked
the first hip hop musician to do a commercial for a major product. The
1981 songs "Rapture" by Blondie and "Christmas Wrapping" by the new
The Waitresses were among the first pop songs to utilize
rap. In 1982,
Afrika Bambaataa introduced hip hop to an international
audience with "Planet Rock."
Prior to the 1980s, hip hop music was largely confined within the
context of the United States. However, during the 1980s, it began its
spread and became a part of the music scene in dozens of countries.
Greg Wilson was the first DJ to introduce electro hip hop to UK club
audiences in the early 1980s, opting for the dub or instrumental
Nunk by Warp 9, Extra T's "ET Boogie," Hip Hop, Be Bop
(Don't Stop) by Man Parrish, Planet Rock and Dirty
Talk (Klein +
Beastie Boys in 1992.
In the early part of the decade,
B-boying became the first aspect of
hip hop culture to reach Japan, Australia and South Africa. In South
Africa, the breakdance crew Black Noise established the practice
before beginning to rap later in the decade. Musician and presenter
Sidney became France's first black TV presenter with his show H.I.P.
H.O.P. which screened on TF1 during 1984, a first for the genre
worldwide. Sidney is considered the father of French hip hop. Radio
Nova helped launch other
French hip hop
French hip hop stars including Dee Nasty,
whose 1984 album Paname City Rappin' along with compilations
Rapattitude 1 and 2 contributed to a general awareness of hip hop in
Hip hop has always kept a very close relationship with the Latino
community in New York. DJ
Disco Wiz and the
Rock Steady Crew were
among early innovators from Puerto Rico, combining English and Spanish
in their lyrics. The Mean Machine recorded their first song under the
Disco Dreams" in 1981, while
Kid Frost from Los Angeles began
his career in 1982.
Cypress Hill was formed in 1988 in the suburb of
South Gate outside Los Angeles when
Senen Reyes (born in Havana) and
his younger brother Ulpiano Sergio (Mellow Man Ace) moved from Cuba to
South Gate with his family in 1971. They teamed up with DVX from
Queens (New York), Lawrence Muggerud (DJ Muggs) and Louis Freese
(B-Real), a Mexican/Cuban-American native of Los Angeles. After the
departure of "Ace" to begin his solo career, the group adopted the
Cypress Hill named after a street running through a
neighborhood nearby in South Los Angeles.
Japanese hip hop
Japanese hip hop is said to have begun when Hiroshi Fujiwara returned
to Japan and started playing hip hop records in the early 1980s.
Japanese hip hop
Japanese hip hop generally tends to be most directly influenced by old
school hip hop, taking the era's catchy beats, dance culture, and
overall fun and carefree nature and incorporating it into their music.
Hip hop became one of the most commercially viable mainstream music
genres in Japan, and the line between it and pop music is frequently
New school hip hop
Main article: New school hip hop
KRS-One was a key performer in new school hip hop.
The new school of hip hop was the second wave of hip hop music,
originating in 1983–84 with the early records of
Run-D.M.C. and LL
Cool J. As with the hip hop preceding it (which subsequently became
known as old school hip hop), the new school came predominately from
New York City. The new school was initially characterized in form by
drum machine-led minimalism, with influences from rock music, a hip
hop "metal music for the 80's-a hard-edge ugly/beauty trance as
desperate and stimulating as New York itself." It was notable for
taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political commentary, both
delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song
its artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These
elements contrasted sharply with the funk and disco-influenced hip hop
groups, whose pre-1984 music was characterized by novelty hits, live
bands, synthesizers and "party rhymes" (not all artists prior to 1984
had these styles). New school artists made shorter songs that could
more easily gain radio play, and they produced more cohesive LP albums
than their old school counterparts. By 1986, their releases began to
establish the hip-hop album as a fixture of mainstream music. Hip hop
music became commercially successful, as exemplified by the Beastie
Boys' 1986 album Licensed to Ill, which was the first rap album to hit
No. 1 on the Billboard charts.
Golden age hip hop
Public Enemy in 2006.
Main article: Golden age hip hop
Hip hop's "golden age" (or "golden era") is a name given to a period
in mainstream hip hop, produced between the mid-1980s and the early
1990s, which is characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation
and influence. There were strong themes of
political militancy in golden age hip hop lyrics. The music was
experimental and the sampling drew on eclectic sources. There was
often a strong jazz influence in the music. The artists and teams most
often associated with this phrase are Public Enemy, Boogie Down
Productions, Eric B. & Rakim, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest,
Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane and the Jungle Brothers.
The golden age is noted for its innovation – a time "when it seemed
that every new single reinvented the genre" according to Rolling
Stone. Referring to "hip-hop in its golden age", Spin's
editor-in-chief Sia Michel says, "there were so many important,
groundbreaking albums coming out right about that time", and MTV's
Sway Calloway adds: "The thing that made that era so great is that
nothing was contrived. Everything was still being discovered and
everything was still innovative and new". Writer William Jelani
Cobb says "what made the era they inaugurated worthy of the term
golden was the sheer number of stylistic innovations that came into
existence... in these golden years, a critical mass of mic prodigies
were literally creating themselves and their art form at the same
time". The specific time period that the golden age covers varies.
MSNBC states, "the 'Golden Age' of hip-hop music: The '80s".
Gangsta rap and West Coast hip hop
Gangsta rap and West Coast hip hop
Many black rappers—including
Ice-T and Sister Souljah—contend that
they are being unfairly singled out because their music reflects deep
changes in society not being addressed anywhere else in the public
forum. The white politicians, the artists complain, neither understand
the music nor desire to hear what's going on in the devastated
communities that gave birth to the art form.
— Chuck Philips, Los Angeles Times, 1992 
Gangsta rap is a subgenre of hip hop that reflects the violent
lifestyles of inner-city American black youths. Gangsta is a
non-rhotic pronunciation of the word gangster. The genre was pioneered
in the mid-1980s by rappers such as
Schoolly D and Ice-T, and was
popularized in the later part of the 1980s by groups like
released "6 in the Mornin'", which is often regarded as the first
gangsta rap song, in 1986. After the national attention and
N.W.A created in the late 1980s and early
1990s, gangsta rap became the most commercially lucrative subgenre of
N.W.A is the group most frequently associated with the founding of
gangsta rap. Their lyrics were more violent, openly confrontational,
and shocking than those of established rap acts, featuring incessant
profanity and, controversially, use of the word "nigga". These lyrics
were placed over rough, rock guitar-driven beats, contributing to the
music's hard-edged feel. The first blockbuster gangsta rap album was
N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988. Straight Outta
Compton would establish
West Coast hip hop
West Coast hip hop as a vital genre, and
establish Los Angeles as a legitimate rival to hip hop's long-time
capital, New York City.
Straight Outta Compton
Straight Outta Compton sparked the first major
controversy regarding hip hop lyrics when their song "Fuck tha Police"
earned a letter from
FBI Assistant Director, Milt Ahlerich, strongly
expressing law enforcement's resentment of the song.
Controversy surrounded Ice-T's album Body Count, in particular over
its song "Cop Killer". The song was intended to speak from the
viewpoint of a criminal getting revenge on racist, brutal cops.
Ice-T's rock song infuriated government officials, the National Rifle
Association and various police advocacy groups. Consequently,
Time Warner Music
Time Warner Music refused to release Ice-T's upcoming album Home
Invasion because of the controversy surrounding "Cop Killer". Ice-T
suggested that the furor over the song was an overreaction, telling
Chuck Philips "...they've done movies about nurse killers
and teacher killers and student killers. [Actor] Arnold Schwarzenegger
blew away dozens of cops as the Terminator. But I don't hear anybody
complaining about that." In the same interview,
Ice-T suggested to
Philips that the misunderstanding of Cop Killer and the attempts to
censor it had racial overtones: "The Supreme Court says it's OK for a
white man to burn a cross in public. But nobody wants a black man to
write a record about a cop killer."
The subject matter inherent in gangsta rap more generally has caused
controversy. The White House administrations of both George Bush
Bill Clinton criticized the genre. "The reason why rap
is under attack is because it exposes all the contradictions of
American culture ...What started out as an underground art form has
become a vehicle to expose a lot of critical issues that are not
usually discussed in American politics. The problem here is that the
White House and wanna-bes like
Bill Clinton represent a political
system that never intends to deal with inner city urban chaos," Sister
Souljah told The Times. Due to the influence of Ice T and N.W.A,
gangsta rap is often viewed as an originally West Coast phenomenon,
despite the contributions of East Coast acts like Boogie Down
Productions in shaping the genre.
Flavor Flav of Public Enemy performing in 1991.
In 1990, Public Enemy's
Fear of a Black Planet
Fear of a Black Planet was a significant
success with music critics and consumers. The album played a key
role in hip hop's mainstream emergence in 1990, dubbed by Billboard
editor Paul Grein as "the year that rap exploded". In a 1990
article on its commercial breakthrough, Janice C. Thompson of Time
wrote that hip hop "has grown into the most exciting development in
American pop music in more than a decade." Thompson noted the
impact of Public Enemy's 1989 single "Fight the Power", rapper Tone
Lōc's single Wild Thing being the best-selling single of 1989, and
that at the time of her article, nearly a third of the songs on the
Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100 were hip hop songs. In a similar 1990 article,
Robert Hilburn of the
Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times put hip hop music's commercial
emergence into perspective: In 1990, also while working with the rap
group Snap!, Ronald "Bee-Stinger" Savage a former member of the Zulu
Nation is credited for carving the term "Six elements of the Hip Hop
Movement" by being inspired by Public Enemy's recordings. The "Six
Elements Of The Hip Hop Movement" are: Consciousness Awareness, Civil
Rights Awareness, Activism Awareness, Justice, Political Awareness,
Community Awareness in music.
Ronald Savage is known as the Son of The
Hip Hop Movement.
It was 10 years ago that the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight"
became the first rap single to enter the national Top 20. Who ever
figured then that the music would even be around in 1990, much less
produce attractions that would command as much pop attention as Public
Enemy and N.W.A? "Rapper's Delight" was a novelty record that was
considered by much of the pop community simply as a lightweight
offshoot of disco—and that image stuck for years. Occasional
records—including Grandmaster Flash's "The Message" in 1982 and
Run-DMC's "It's Like That" in 1984—won critical approval, but rap,
mostly, was dismissed as a passing fancy—too repetitious, too one
dimensional. Yet rap didn't go away, and an explosion of energy and
imagination in the late 1980s leaves rap today as arguably the most
vital new street-oriented sound in pop since the birth of rock in the
Rap is the rock 'n' roll of the day. Rock 'n' roll was about attitude,
rebellion, a big beat, sex and, sometimes, social comment. If that's
what you're looking for now, you're going to find it here.
— Bill Adler, Time, 1990
MC Hammer hit mainstream success with the multi platinum album Please
Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. The record reached #1 and the first single, "U
Can't Touch This" charted on the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100. MC
Hammer became one of the most successful rappers of the early nineties
and one of the first household names in the genre. The album raised
rap music to a new level of popularity. It was the first hip-hop album
certified diamond by the
RIAA for sales of over ten million. It
remains one of the genre's all-time best-selling albums. To date,
the album has sold as many as 18 million units.
Released in 1990, "Ice Ice Baby" by
Vanilla Ice was the first hip hop
single to top the
Billboard charts in the U.S. It also reached number
one in the UK, Australia among others and has been credited for
helping diversify hip hop by introducing it to a mainstream
audience. In 1992,
Dr. Dre released The Chronic. As well as
helping to establish West Coast gangsta rap as more commercially
viable than East Coast hip hop, this album founded a style called
G Funk, which soon came to dominate West Coast hip hop. The style was
further developed and popularized by Snoop Dogg's 1993 album
Doggystyle. However, hip hop was still met with resistance from black
radio, including urban contemporary radio stations. Russell Simmons
said in 1990, "Black radio [stations] hated rap from the start and
there's still a lot of resistance to it".
Despite the lack of support from some black radio stations, hip hop
became a best-selling music genre in the mid-1990s and the top selling
music genre by 1999 with 81 million CDs sold. By the
late 1990s hip hop was artistically dominated by the Wu-Tang Clan,
Diddy and the Fugees. The
Beastie Boys continued their success
throughout the decade crossing color lines and gaining respect from
many different artists. Record labels based out of Atlanta, St. Louis,
New Orleans also gained fame for their local scenes. The midwest
rap scene was also notable, with the fast vocal styles from artists
such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Tech N9ne, and Twista. By the end of the
decade, hip hop was an integral part of popular music, and many
American pop songs had hip hop components.
East vs. West rivalry
Main article: East Coast–
West Coast hip hop
West Coast hip hop rivalry
This graffiti art is a tribute to West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, who
was killed in a drive-by shooting.
The East Coast–
West Coast hip hop
West Coast hip hop rivalry was a feud from 1991 to
1997 between artists and fans of the
East Coast hip hop
East Coast hip hop and West Coast
hip hop scenes in the United States, especially from 1994 to 1997.
Focal points of the feud were East Coast-based rapper The Notorious
B.I.G. (and his New York-based label, Bad Boy Records) and West
Tupac Shakur (and his Los Angeles-based label,
Death Row Records), who were both fatally shot following drive-by
shootings by unknown assailants in 1997 and 1996, respectively.
East Coast hip hop
Main article: East Coast hip hop
In the early 1990s
East Coast hip hop
East Coast hip hop was dominated by the Native
Tongues posse which was loosely composed of
De La Soul
De La Soul with producer
Prince Paul, A Tribe Called Quest, the Jungle Brothers, as well as
their loose affiliates 3rd Bass, Main Source, and the less successful
Black Sheep & KMD. Although originally a "daisy age" conception
stressing the positive aspects of life, darker material (such as De La
Soul's thought-provoking "Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa") soon crept
in. Artists such as
Masta Ace (particularly for SlaughtaHouse) &
Brand Nubian, Public Enemy, Organized Konfusion, Ignacio Bernal, had a
more overtly militant pose, both in sound and manner. In the early
Wu-Tang Clan revitalized the New York hip hop scene by
pioneering an East coast hardcore rap equivalent in intensity to what
was being produced on the West Coast. According to Allmusic, the
production on two
Mobb Deep albums,
The Infamous and Hell on Earth
(1996), are "indebted" to RZA's early production with Wu-Tang
Wu-Tang Clan at the Virgin Festival in 2007.
The success of artists such as
Notorious B.I.G. during
1994–95 cemented the status of the East Coast during a time of West
Coast dominance. In a March 2002 issue of The Source Magazine, Nas
referred to 1994 as "a renaissance of New York [City] Hip-Hop."
The productions of RZA, particularly for Wu-Tang Clan, became
influential with artists such as
Mobb Deep due to the combination of
somewhat detached instrumental loops, highly compressed and processed
drums and gangsta lyrical content. Wu-Tang solo albums such as Raekwon
the Chef's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Ghostface Killah's Ironman, and
Liquid Swords are now viewed as classics along with Wu-Tang
"core" material. The clan's base extended into further groups called
"Wu-affiliates". Producers such as
DJ Premier (primarily for Gang
Starr but also for other affiliated artists, such as Jeru the Damaja),
Pete Rock (with
CL Smooth and supplying beats for many others),
Buckwild, Large Professor,
Diamond D and Q-Tip supplied beats for
numerous MCs at the time, regardless of location. Albums such as Nas's
Reasonable Doubt and O.C.'s
Word...Life are made up
of beats from this pool of producers.
The rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coast rappers
eventually turned personal. Later in the decade the business
acumen of the
Bad Boy Records
Bad Boy Records tested itself against
Jay-Z and his
Roc-A-Fella Records and, on the West Coast, Death Row Records. The mid
to late 1990s saw a generation of rappers such as the members of
D.I.T.C. such as the late
Big L and Big Pun. On the East Coast,
although the "big business" end of the market dominated matters
commercially the late 1990s to early 2000s saw a number of relatively
successful East Coast indie labels such as
Rawkus Records (with whom
Mos Def and Talib Kweli garnered success) and later Def Jux. The
history of the two labels is intertwined, the latter having been
Company Flow in reaction to the former, and offered
an outlet for more underground artists such as Mike Ladd, Aesop Rock,
Mr Lif, RJD2, Cage and Cannibal Ox. Other acts such as the Hispanic
Arsonists and slam poet turned MC
Saul Williams met with differing
degrees of success.
West Coast hip hop
Main article: West Coast hip hop
N.W.A. broke up,
Dr. Dre (a former member) released The Chronic
in 1992, which peaked at #1 on the R&B/hip hop chart, #3 on
the pop chart and spawned a #2 pop single with "Nuthin' but a 'G'
The Chronic took
West Coast rap
West Coast rap in a new direction,
influenced strongly by
P funk artists, melding smooth and easy funk
beats with slowly drawled lyrics. This came to be known as
dominated mainstream hip hop for several years through a roster of
artists on Death Row Records, including Tupac Shakur, whose double
All Eyez on Me
All Eyez on Me was a big hit with hit songs "Ambitionz az a
Ridah" and "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted", and Snoop
Doggystyle included the songs "What's My Name?" and "Gin
and Juice", both top ten hits. As the Los Angeles-based label
Death Row Records
Death Row Records built an empire around Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the
rapper-actor Tupac Shakur. It also entered into a rivalry with New
York City's Bad Boy Records. (See the article on the East Coast-West
Coast hip hop rivalry.)
Detached from this scene were other artists such as Freestyle
The Pharcyde as well as more underground artists such as
Solesides collective (
DJ Shadow and
Blackalicious amongst others)
Jurassic 5, Ugly Duckling, People Under The Stairs, Tha Alkaholiks,
Souls of Mischief represented a return to hip hop roots of
sampling and well planned rhyme schemes.
Diversification of styles
Further information: List of hip hop genres
The rapper Scarface from the southern US group Geto Boys.
In the 1990s, hip hop began to diversify with other regional styles
emerging on the national scene.
Southern rap became popular in the
early 1990s. The first Southern rappers to gain national
attention were the
Geto Boys out of Houston, Texas. Southern
rap's roots can be traced to the success of Geto Boy's Grip It! On
That Other Level in 1989, the
Rick Rubin produced The
Geto Boys in
We Can't Be Stopped
We Can't Be Stopped in 1991. The
Houston area also
produced other artists that pioneered the early southern rap sound
UGK and the solo career of Scarface.
Atlanta hip hop
Atlanta hip hop artists were key in further expanding rap music and
bringing southern hip hop into the mainstream. Releases such as
Arrested Development's 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of...
in 1992, Goodie Mob's Soul Food in 1995 and OutKast's
ATLiens in 1996
were all critically acclaimed. Later,
Master P (Ghetto D) built up a
roster of artists (the No Limit posse) based out of New Orleans.
Master P incorporated
G funk and
Miami bass influences; and
distinctive regional sounds from St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C.,
Detroit and others began to gain popularity.
In the 1990s, elements of hip hop continued to be assimilated into
other genres of popular music. Neo soul, for example, combined hip hop
and soul music. In the 1980s and 1990s, rap rock, rapcore and rap
metal, fusions of hip hop and rock, hardcore punk and heavy metal
became popular among mainstream audiences. Rage Against the Machine
and nu metal band
Limp Bizkit were among the most well-known bands in
these fields. In Hawaii, bands such as
Sudden Rush combined hip hop
elements with the local language and political issues to form a style
called na mele paleoleo.
Digable Planets' 1993 release Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and
Space) was an influential jazz rap record sampling the likes of Don
Cherry, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Herbie Mann, Herbie Hancock, Grant
Green, and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. It spawned the hit single "Rebirth of
Slick (Cool Like Dat)" which reached #16 on the Billboard Hot 100
Although white rappers like the Beastie Boys,
House of Pain
House of Pain and 3rd
Bass had had some popular success or critical acceptance from the hip
hop community, Eminem's success, beginning in 1999 with the platinum
The Slim Shady LP, surprised many.
Eminem performing live at the
DJ Hero Party in Los Angeles.
The popularity of hip hop music continued through the 2000s. Dr. Dre
remained an important figure, and in the year 2000, he produced The
Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem. Dre also produced 50 Cent's 2003 album
Get Rich or Die Tryin', which debuted at number one on the U.S.
Billboard 200 charts.
Hip hop influences also found their way
increasingly into mainstream pop during this period, mainly during the
mid-2000s, as the Los Angeles style of the 1990s lost power. Nelly's
debut LP, Country Grammar, sold over nine million copies. In the
2000s, crunk music, a derivative of Southern hip hop, gained
considerable popularity via
Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins. Jay-Z
represented the cultural triumph of hip hop. As his career progressed,
he went from performing artist to entrepreneur, label president, head
of a clothing line, club owner, and market consultant—along the way
breaking Elvis Presley's record for most number one albums on the
Billboard magazine charts by a solo artist.
50 Cent in 2012.
Alternative hip hop, which was introduced in the 1980s and then
declined, resurged in the early 2000s with the rejuvenated interest in
indie music by the general public. In the 2000s alternative hip hop
reattained its place within the mainstream, due in part to the
declining commercial viability of gangsta rap as well as the crossover
success of artists such as
OutKast and Kanye West. The alternative hip
hop movement expanded beyond the US to include the Somali-Canadian
poet K'naan, Japanese rapper Shing02, and British artist MIA.
Alternative hip hop acts have attained much critical acclaim, but
receive relatively little exposure through radio and other media
outlets. In the mid-to late-2000s (decade), alternative hip hop
artists such as The Roots, Dilated Peoples,
Gnarls Barkley and Mos Def
achieved significant recognition. Gnarls Barkley's album St.
Elsewhere, which contained a fusion of funk, neo soul and hip hop,
debuted at number 20 on the
Billboard 200 charts. In addition, Aesop
Rock's 2007 album
None Shall Pass
None Shall Pass was well received, and reached
#50 on the Billboard charts.
Crunk and snap music
Crunk and Snap music
Lil Jon is one of crunk's most prominent figures.
Crunk is a regional hip hop genre that originated in
Tennessee in the
United States in the 1990s, influenced by
Miami bass. One of
the pioneers of crunk, Lil Jon, said that it was a fusion of hip hop,
electro, and electronic dance music. The style was pioneered and
commercialized by artists from Memphis,
Tennessee and Atlanta,
Georgia. Looped, stripped-down drum machine rhythms are usually used.
TR-808 and 909 are among the most popular. The drum machine
loops are usually accompanied by simple, repeated synthesizer melodies
and heavy bass "stabs". The tempo of the music is somewhat slower than
hip-hop, around the speed of reggaeton. The focal point of crunk is
more often the beats and instrumental music rather than the lyrics.
Crunk rappers, however, often shout and scream their lyrics, creating
an aggressive, almost heavy, style of hip-hop. While other subgenres
of hip-hop address sociopolitical or personal concerns, crunk is
almost exclusively "party music", favoring call and response hip-hop
slogans in lieu of more substantive approaches.
Snap music is a subgenre of crunk that emerged from Atlanta, Georgia
in the late 1990s. The genre gained mainstream popularity and in
mid-2005, artists from other southern states such as
to emerge performing in this style. Tracks commonly consist of an
TR-808 bass drum, hi-hat, bass, finger snapping, a main groove
and a vocal track. Hit snap songs include "Lean wit It, Rock wit It"
by "Dem Franchize Boyz", "Laffy Taffy" by D4L, "It's Goin' Down" by
Yung Joc and "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" by
Soulja Boy Tell 'Em.
Glitch hop and wonky music
Glitch hop and Wonky (music)
The Glitch Mob
Glitch hop and wonky music evolved following the rise of trip hop,
dubstep and intelligent dance music (IDM). Both glitch hop and wonky
music frequently reflect the experimental nature of IDM and the heavy
bass featured in dubstep songs. While trip hop has been described as
being a distinct British upper-middle class take on hip-hop,
glitch-hop and wonky music have much more stylistic diversity. Both
genres are melting pots of influence.
Glitch hop contains echoes of
1980s pop music, Indian ragas, eclectic jazz and West Coast rap. Los
Glasgow and a number of other cities have become hot
spots for these scenes, and underground scenes have developed across
the world in smaller communities. Both genres often pay homage to
older and more well established electronic music artists such as
Aphex Twin and
Boards of Canada
Boards of Canada as well as independent hip
hop producers like
J Dilla and Madlib.
Glitch hop is a fusion genre of hip hop and glitch music that
originated in the early to mid-2000s in the
United States and Europe.
Musically, it is based on irregular, chaotic breakbeats, glitchy
basslines and other typical sound effects used in glitch music, like
Glitch hop artists include Prefuse 73,
Dabrye and Flying Lotus.
Wonky is a subgenre of hip hop that originated around 2008, but most
notably in the
United States and United Kingdom, and among
international artists of the
Hyperdub music label, under the influence
of glitch hop and dubstep. Wonky music is of the same glitchy style as
glitch hop, but it was specifically noted for its melodies, rich with
"mid-range unstable synths". Scotland has become one of the most
prominent wonky scenes, with artists like
Hudson Mohawke and Rustie.
Glitch hop and wonky are popular among a relatively smaller audience
interested in alternative hip hop and electronic music (especially
dubstep); neither glitch hop nor wonky have achieved mainstream
popularity. However, artists like Flying Lotus,
The Glitch Mob
The Glitch Mob and
Hudson Mohawke have seen success in other avenues. Flying Lotus's
music has earned multiple positive reviews on the independent music
Pitchfork.com as well as a prominent (yet uncredited) spot
Adult Swim commercial breaks.
Hudson Mohawke is one of few
glitch hop artists to play at major music festivals such as Sasquatch!
Decline in sales
While hip hop music sales dropped a great deal in the mid-2000s
(decade), rappers like
Flo Rida were successful online and with
singles, despite low album sales.
Starting in 2005, sales of hip hop music in the
United States began to
severely wane, leading Time magazine to question if mainstream hip-hop
was "dying." Billboard Magazine found that, since 2000, rap sales
dropped 44%, and declined to 10% of all music sales, which, while
still a commanding figure when compared to other genres, is a
significant drop from the 13% of all music sales where rap music
regularly placed. According to Courtland Milloy of The
Washington Post, for the first time on five years, no rap albums were
among the top 10 sellers in 2006.
NPR culture critic Elizabeth
Blair noted that, "some industry experts say young people are fed up
with the violence, degrading imagery and lyrics." However, the 2005
report Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8–18 Year-Olds found that
hip hop music is by far the most popular music genre for children and
teenagers with 65 percent of 8- to-18-year-olds listening to it on a
Other journalists say the music is just as popular as it ever was, but
that fans have found other means to consume the music, such as
illegally downloading music through P2P networks, instead of
purchasing albums and singles from legitimate stores. For example, Flo
Rida is known for his low album sales regardless of his singles being
mainstream and having digital success. His second album R.O.O.T.S.
sold only 200,000+ total units in the U.S., which could not line up to
the sales of the album's lead single "Right Round". This also happened
to him in 2008. Some put the blame on the lack of strong lyrical
content that hip hop once had. Another example is
Soulja Boy Tell
'Em's 2007 debut album souljaboytellem.com was met with negative
reviews. Lack of sampling, a key element of early hip hop, has
also been noted for the decrease in quality of modern albums. For
example, there are only four samples used in 2008's
Paper Trail by
T.I., while there are 35 samples in 1998's Moment of Truth by Gang
Starr. The decrease in sampling is in part due to it being too
expensive for producers.
In Byron Hurt's documentary Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, he
claims that hip hop had changed from "clever rhymes and dance beats"
to "advocating personal, social and criminal corruption." Despite
the fall in record sales throughout the music industry, hip-hop
has remained a popular genre, with hip-hop artists still regularly
Billboard 200 Charts. In the first half of 2009 alone
artists such as Eminem, Rick Ross, The Black Eyed Peas,
and Fabolous all had albums that reached the #1 position on the
Billboard 200 charts. Eminem's album Relapse was one of the fastest
selling albums of 2009.
In the 2000s, popular Broadway musicals such as Rent incorporated hip
hop music influences. This picture shows the Broadway cast from 2005.
Hip hop music has influenced musical theater. Rap-style verses were
used in musical theater as early as 1956 in the production My Fair
Lady. Rap is used popular musicals such as Rent and
Dreamgirls While more notable for funk than hip hop, the Broadway
musical Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da
Funk fuses tap dance and hip
hop dance styles, and includes rap.
Hip hop music was used in Off
Broadway shows in the 1990s and early 2000s, with the musicals So!
What Happens Now? and Jam on the Groove.
In the Heights
In the Heights used hip
hop music, rapping and hip hop dancing. With music and lyrics by Lin
Manuel Miranda and book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, it was performed off
Broadway in 2007. The 2008 Broadway production fused salsa and hip hop
styles, and included rap. Miranda brought hip hop to Richard
Rogers Theater a second time in 2015 with his production
Hamilton. The show had box office success. Hamilton and In the
Heights included rap and the cast recording of Hamilton made a number
one album on the Billboard rap charts. The success of Hamilton shows
that hip hop can have a key role in musical theater.
Innovation and revitalization
Kanye West performing in 2008
During the mid-2000s, alternative hip hop secured a place in the
mainstream, due in part to the crossover success of artists such as
OutKast, Kanye West, and Gnarls Barkley. Not only did OutKast's
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Speakerboxxx/The Love Below receive high acclaim from music critics,
manage to appeal to listeners of all ages, and span numerous musical
genres – including rap, rock, R&B, punk, jazz, indie, country,
pop, electronica and gospel – but it also spawned two
number-one hit singles and has been certified diamond by selling 11
times platinum by the
RIAA for shipping more than 11 million
units, becoming one of the best selling hip-hop albums of all
time as well as winning a
Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the
46th Annual Grammy Awards
46th Annual Grammy Awards being only the second rap album to do so.
Industry observers view the sales race between Kanye West's Graduation
and 50 Cent's Curtis as a turning point for hip hop.
West emerged the victor, selling nearly a million copies in the first
week alone, proving that innovative rap music could be just as
commercially viable as gangsta rap, if not more so. Although he
designed it as a melancholic pop rather than rap, Kanye's following
808s & Heartbreak would have a significant effect on hip hop
music. While his decision to sing about love, loneliness, and
heartache for the entirety of the album was at first heavily
criticized by music audiences and the album predicted to be a flop,
its subsequent critical acclaim and commercial success encouraged
other mainstream rappers to take greater creative risks with their
music. During the release of The Blueprint 3, New York rap
Jay-Z revealed that next studio album would be an experimental
effort, stating, "... it's not gonna be a #1 album. That's where I'm
at right now. I wanna make the most experimental album I ever
Jay-Z elaborated that like Kanye, he was unsatisfied with
contemporary hip hop, was being inspired by indie-rockers like Grizzly
Bear and asserted his belief that the indie rock movement would play
an important role in the continued evolution of hip-hop.
In 2009, Time magazine placed M.I.A. in the
Time 100 list of "World's
Most Influential People"
The alternative hip hop movement is not limited only to the United
States, as rappers such as Somali-Canadian poet K'naan, Japanese
rapper Shing02, and
Sri Lankan British
Sri Lankan British artist M.I.A. have achieved
considerable worldwide recognition. In 2009,
TIME magazine placed
M.I.A in the
Time 100 list of "World's Most Influential people" for
having "global influence across many genres." Global themed
movements have also sprung out of the international hip-hop scene with
microgenres like "Islamic Eco-Rap" addressing issues of worldwide
importance through traditionally disenfranchised voices.
Today, due in part to the increasing use of music distribution through
the internet, many alternative rap artists find acceptance by
far-reaching audiences. Several artists, such as
Kid Cudi and Drake,
have managed to attain chart-topping hit songs, "Day 'n' Nite" and
"Best I Ever Had" respectively, by releasing their music on free
online mixtapes without the help of a major record label. New artists
such as Wale, J. Cole, Lupe Fiasco, The Cool Kids, Jay Electronica,
and B.o.B, some of whom mention being directly influenced by their
nineties alt-rap predecessors, in addition to the southern rap sound,
while their music has been noted by critics as expressing eclectic
sounds, life experiences, and emotions rarely seen in mainstream hip
On July 17, 2017,
Forbes reported that hip-hop/R&B (which Nielsen
SoundScan classifies as being the same genre) has recently usurped
rock as the most consumed musical genre, becoming the most popular
genre in music for the first time in U.S. history.
World hip hop music
Pete Rock performing at Razel and Friends – Brooklyn Bowl, 2016
Hip-hop music has reached the cultural corridors of the globe and has
been absorbed and reinvented around the world.
Hip hop music
expanded beyond the US, often blending local styles with hip hop. Hip
hop has globalized into many cultures worldwide, as evident through
the emergence of numerous regional scenes. It has emerged globally as
a movement based upon the main tenets of hip hop culture. The music
and the art continue to embrace, even celebrate, its transnational
dimensions while staying true to the local cultures to which it is
rooted. Hip-hop's impact differs depending on each culture. Still, the
one thing virtually all hip hop artists worldwide have in common is
that they acknowledge their debt to those
African-American people in
New York who launched the global movement.
Latinos and people from the
Caribbean played an integral role in the
early development of hip hop in New York, and the style spread to
almost every country in that region.
Hip hop first developed in the
South Bronx, which had a high Latino, particularly Puerto Rican,
population in the 1970s. Some famous rappers from New York City
of Puerto Rican origin are the late Big Pun, Fat Joe, and Angie
Martinez. With Latino rap groups like
Cypress Hill on the American
charts, Mexican rap rock groups, such as Control Machete, rose to
prominence in their native land.
In many Latin American countries, as in the U.S., hip hop has been a
tool with which marginalized people can articulate their struggle. Hip
hop grew steadily more popular in Cuba in the 1980s and 1990s through
Special Period that came with the fall of the Soviet
Union. During this period of economic crisis, which the country's
poor and black populations especially hard, hip hop became a way for
the country's Afro-descended population to embrace their blackness and
articulate a demand for racial equality for black people in Cuba.
The idea of blackness and black liberation was not always compatible
with the goals of the Cuban government, which was still operating
under the idea that a raceless society was the correct realization of
the Cuban Revolution. When hip-hop emerged, the Cuban government
opposed the vulgar image that rappers portrayed, but later accepted
that it might be better to have hip-hop under the influence of the
Culture as an authentic expression of Cuban Culture.
Rappers who explicitly speak about race or racism in Cuba are still
under scrutiny by the government. An annual Cuban hip hop
concert, beginning in 1995, held at
Havana helped popularize
Cuban hip hop. Famous Cuban rap groups include
Krudas Cubensi and
Black and indigenous people in
Latin America and
have been using hip hop for decades to discuss race and class issues
in their respective countries.
Brazilian hip hop
Brazilian hip hop is heavily associated
with racial and economic issues in the country, where a lot of
Afro-Brazilians live in economically disadvantaged communities, known
Brazil as favelas.
São Paulo is where hip hop began in the
country, but it soon spread all over Brazil, and today, almost every
big Brazilian city, including Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Curitiba,
Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte,
Recife and Brasilia, has a hip hop
scene. Some notable artists include Racionais MC's, Thaide, and
Marcelo D2. One of Brazil's most popular rappers, MV Bill, has spent
his career advocating for black youth in Rio de Janeiro.
Reggaeton, a Puerto Rican style of music, has a lot of similarities
with U.S. based hip hop. Both were influenced by Jamaican music, and
both incorporate rapping and call and response.
and hip from the
United States are both popular music in Puerto Rico,
and reggaeton is the cumulation of different musical traditions
founded by Afro-descended people in the
Caribbean and the United
States. Some of reggaeton's most popular artists include Don
Omar, Tego Calderón, and Daddy Yankee.
In Venezuela, social unrest at the end of the 1980s and beginning of
the 1990s coincided with the rise of gangsta rap in the United States
and led to the rise of that music in Venezuela as well. Venezuelan
rappers in the 1990s generally modeled their music after gangsta rap,
embracing and attempting to redefine negative stereotypes about poor
and black youth as dangerous and materialistic and incorporating
socially conscious critique of Venezuela's criminalization of young,
poor, Afro-descended people into their music.
In Haiti, hip hop developed in the early 1980s. Master Dji and his
songs "Vakans" and "Politik Pa m" are mostly credited with the rise of
Haitian hip hop. What later became known as "Rap Kreyòl" grew in
popularity in the late 1990s with King Posse and Original Rap Stuff.
Due to cheaper recording technology and flows of equipment to Haiti,
more Rap Kreyòl groups are recording songs, even after the January 12
Haitian hip hop has recently become a way for artists of
Haitian backgrounds in the
Haiti and abroad to express their national
identity and political opinions about their country of origin.
Rappers have embraced the red and blue of the Flag of
Haitian Creole to display their national origin. 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.
De La Soul
De La Soul at
Demon Days Live
Demon Days Live in 2005
In Europe, Africa, and Asia, hip hop began to move from the
underground to mainstream audiences. In Europe, hip hop was the domain
of both ethnic nationals and immigrants. British hip hop, for example,
became a genre of its own and spawned artists such as Wiley, Dizzee
The Streets and many more. Germany produced the well-known Die
Fantastischen Vier as well as several Turkish performers like the
controversial Cartel, Kool Savaş, and Azad. Similarly, France has
produced a number of native-born stars, such as IAM and Suprême NTM,
MC Solaar, Rohff,
Rim'K or Booba. In the Netherlands, important
nineties rappers include The Osdorp Posse, a crew from Amsterdam,
Extince, from Oosterhout, and Postmen. Italy found its own rappers,
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.
One of the countries outside the US where hip-hop is most popular is
the United Kingdom. Grime, a genre of music derived from
UK Garage and
drum and bass and influenced by hip hop, emerged in the early 2000s
with artists such as
Dizzee Rascal becoming successful. Although it is
immensely popular, many British politicians criticize the music for
what they see as promoting theft and murder, similar to gangsta rap in
America. These criticisms have been deemed racist by the mostly Black
British grime industry. Despite its controversial nature, grime has
had a major effect on British fashion and pop music, with many young
working-class youth emulating the clothing worn by grime stars like
Dizzee Rascal and Wiley. There are many subgenres of grime, including
"Rhythm and Grime," a mix of R&B and grime, and grindie, a mix of
indie rock and grime popularized by indie rock band Hadouken!
In Germany and France, gangsta rap has become popular among youths who
like the violent and aggressive lyrics. Some German rappers openly or
comically flirt with Nazism; for example, Bushido (born Anis Mohamed
Youssef Ferchichi) raps "Salutiert, steht stramm, Ich bin der Leader
wie A" (Salute, stand to attention, I am the leader like 'A') and Fler
had a hit with the record Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave)
complete with the title written in Third Reich style Gothic print and
advertised with an
Adolf Hitler quote. These references also spawned
great controversy in Germany. Meanwhile, in France, artists like Kery
James' Idéal J maintained a radical, anti-authoritarian attitude and
released songs like Hardcore which attacked the growth of the French
far right. In the Netherlands, MC
Brainpower went from being an
underground battle rapper to mainstream recognition in the Benelux,
thus influencing numerous rap artists in the region. In Israel, rapper
Subliminal reaches out to Israeli youth with political and
religious-themed lyrics, usually with a
The German rapper
Fler caused significant controversy with his music.
In Asia, mainstream stars rose to prominence in the Philippines, led
by Francis Magalona, Rap Asia, MC Lara and Lady Diane. 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 1990s. Of particular importance is the
influence on East Asian nations, where hip hop music has become fused
with local popular music to form different styles such as K-pop, C-pop
Israel's hip hop grew greatly in popularity at the end of the decade,
with several stars both Palestinian (Tamer Nafar) and Israeli
(Subliminal). In Portugal hip hop has his own kind of rapping, which
is more political and underground scene, they are known for Valete,
Dealema and Halloween. Russian hip hopemerged during last years of
Soviet Union and cemented later, with groups like
Malchishnik and Bad
Balance enjoying mainstream popularity in the 1990s, while Ligalize
Kasta were popular in the 2000s. In former
Yugoslavia hip hop
first appeared during the 1980s mostly with
Serbian hip hop
Serbian hip hop with
performers such as B-boy, The Master Scratch Band, Badvajzer, and
others. During the late 1990s hip hop had a boom, with Rambo Amadeus
Beogradski sindikat becoming a major performer. Bosnian and
Herzegovinian hip hop is nowadays dominated by Edo Maajka. In the
region hip hop is often used as a political and social message in song
themes such as war, profiteering, corruption, etc. Frenkie, another
Bosnian rapper, is associated with Edo Maajka, and has collaborated
beyond Bosnian borders.
Tanzania in the early 2000s, local hip hop artists became popular
by infusing local styles of
Afrobeat and arabesque melodies, dancehall
and hip-hop beats with Swahili lyrics.
In September 2014 a course in rap linguistics was offered at the
University of Calgary
University of Calgary in Calgary, Alberta, "examining rap from
cultures as diverse as German, French, Navajo and even the Sami people
of Northern Europe." The course has difficult content as rap is
studied using methodologies applied in linguistics, such as grammar
analysis and measurement of vowel sounds using software.
According to associate professor Darin Flynn, who is teaching this
course, rap heroes, such as
Eminem or Jay-Z, are "true poet
laureate[s] of the working class" and their songs "crisscross
sound, emotion, grammar and multiple metaphors".
Return of the Golden-Era
During the late 2010s, many golden age hip hop artists announced their
return to performing, including Eric B. & Rakim, Pete Rock
& CL Smooth and
A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest with their latest album
titled We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service.
Hip hop portal
African American portal
List of hip hop festivals
List of hip hop genres
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