Hip hop music, or as it is also called, loop, rapping, freestyle, DJing, scratching, sampling and beatboxing, stemmed from the Bronx during the 1970s. Professionals say that even though the term rap is used synonymously with hip hop, it denotes its own practices of an entire subculture.
To differentiate the terms, rapping, also called MCing, is a vocal style in which the artist speaks lyrically, in rhyme and verse, generally to an instrumental or synthesized beat. Beats are almost always in 4/4 time signatures and can be created by looping portions of other songs, usually by a DJ. Modern beats incorporate synthesizers, drum machines, and live bands. A rapper may write, memorize or improvise their lyrics.
The father of the term hip hop is Keith Cowboy, a rapper from the 70s who performed with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Cowboy came up with the word when teasing a friend who was in the U.S. Army, mimicking the cadence of marching soldiers he sang hip/hop/hip/hop. The term was quickly picked up by others during the time and it stuck.
Hip hop grew in popularity in the 70s with the increase in block parties, especially in New York City’s Bronx. At these block parties, a DJ was used, spinning popular genres of music. Getting creative, the DJ began isolating the percussion breaks of popular songs. This style was drawn out to include funk, soul and disco, drawing out the then short percussion breaks with an audio mixer and two records.
This in turn created various turntable techniques such as beat mixing and matching, scratching, beat juggling and remixing. DJ’s and MCs would then often add call and response chants, often comprised of a basic chorus, which allowed the performer to gather his thoughts. This evolved into the MC getting more varied in their vocal and rhythmic approach, incorporating brief rhymes with a sexual or scatological theme.
By the 80s, the usage of drum machines influenced the sound of hip hop. What was called over time sampling technology became more advanced. Lyrics began to change as well with words that were more metaphorical and complex. Some rappers brought the sound to mainstream audiences with appearances in commercials. Artists like LL Cool J also became a household name due to his success.
Hip hop was primarily an American sound and was almost completely unknown outside of the United States during the early 80s. When breakdancing became popular in places like Germany, Japan, Australia and South Africa, rapping and hip hop followed.
In the late 90s, hip hop started to diversify. The 90s is primarily known though for its hip hop rap artist Eminem. Eminem brought hip hop even further into main stream culture with his successful platinum album The Slim Shady. In the year 2000, Eminem sold over ten million copies of The Marshall Mathers album. Alternative hip hop became popular as well with artists such as The Roots, Gnarls Barkley and Mos Def.
By 2005, sales of hip hop music in the United States took a dive. Many questioned whether mainstream hip hop was dying. Speculation of the decline was that people were tired of the violence, degrading and negative lyrics.
Will hip hop continue to survive or will it evolve into another form and style of music as most music already has?
Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit http://www.977music.com.