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Hip Hop

Hip-Hop is not only a musical genre, but also an entire cultural movement that originated mainly in Jamaica and was brought to urban New York City in the 1970s. It was in the South Bronx that Hip-Hop pioneers like DJ Kool Herc and Africa Bambaataa would throw parties where they would DJ and play music. DJ Kool Herc, who was Jamaican-American, would isolate instrumentals and speak rhythmically over the beats. This is what is now known as “breaking” or “scratching”. He would do this at parties where hundreds of junior high school kids would gather and go crazy over his music. Hip-Hop culture also included break dancing, graffiti writing, beatboxing, and most importantly rapping. Rap, a form of achieving rhythm through spoken words that rhyme. Rap originated in West African tradition where wandering poets, called griots, would bring their stories from village to village. Hip-Hop culture as a whole became a form of artistic expression – an outlet to deal with the terrible conditions the black and Latino communities were living in at the time.

The first rap song to become a hit was Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. It was the first Hip-Hop track to be in the national Top 20. Then in the ‘80s, Hip-Hop transitioned from being confined to the U.S. and spread across the world. Other hits like Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” (1982) and Run-DMC’s “It’s Like That” (1984) helped the genre gain more popularity.

Hip-Hop found its way into the mainstream in the early 1990s with the release of Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet and MC Hammer’s Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em. MC Hammer’s album became the first Hip-Hop album to be certified diamond. The East coast vs. West coast rivalry emerged around 1991. Prominent West coast rappers included Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur and East coast rappers like Nas, Wu-Tang Clan, and The Notorious B.I.G. The rap feud received national attention when The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur were both shot and killed in drive by shootings that occurred within a year of each other. After 1997 the rivalry seemed to calm down as other rappers entered the Hip-Hop scene.

As the new millennium came, Hip-Hop was not slowing down. Dr. Dre produced Eminem's The Marhshall Mathers LP in 2000 and then 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in 2003. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200. In the mid-2000s alternative Hip-Hop brought a new side to the genre with artists like OutKast and Kanye West. Hip-Hop continued to change and evolve in the 2010’s. Artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, and Lil Wayne took over the charts …and continue to do so today.

The most recent subgenre of Hip-Hop to reach the mainstream is trap music. Trap music is categorized by heavy use of the 808 Roland drum machine, synthesizers, and other specific sound/beat patterns. Many artists have become popular due to this genre including Future, Migos, Young Thug, Travis Scott, and Lil Uzi Vert.

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