Influence of Hip Hop

Coinage of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Though 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 marching soldiers. Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly copied by other artists; for example the opening of the song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang. Former Black Spades gang member Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term to describe the subculture that hip hop music belongs to, although it is also suggested that the term was originally derisively used against the new type of music.


The reasons for the rise of hip hop are found in the changing urban culture within the United States during the 1970s. Perhaps most important was the low cost involved in getting started: the equipment was relatively inexpensive, and virtually anyone could MC along with the popular beats of the day. MCs could be creative, pairing nonsense rhymes and teasing friends and enemies alike in the style of Jamaican toasting at blues parties or playing the dozens in an exchange of wit. MCs would play at block parties, with no expectation of recording, in the way of folk music. The skills necessary to create hip hop music were passed informally from musician to musician, rather than being taught in expensive music lessons.


Another reason for hip hop's rise was the decline of disco, funk and rock in the mid- to late 70s. Disco became popular among black and gay male clubs in America, and quickly spread to Europe, where it grew increasingly sunny, bright and poppy. Once disco broke into the mainstream in the United States, and was thus appropriated, its original fans and many other listeners rejected it as pre-packaged and soul-less. While many remember the white teens shouting "disco sucks" at every available opportunity, inner-city blacks were similarly rejecting disco and disco-fied rock, soul and funk (which was virtually everything on the radio at the time).

If disco had anything redeemable for urban audiences, however, it was the strong, eminently danceable beats, and hip hop rose to take advantage of the beats while providing a musical outlet for the masses that hated disco. Disco-inflected music (though comparatively little actual disco) was one of the most popular sources of beats in the first ten or twelve years of hip hop's existence. In Washington DC, go go also emerged as a reaction against disco, and eventually mixed with hip hop during the early 1980s, while electronic music did the same, developing as house music in Chicago and techno music in Detroit.


Along with the low expense and the demise of other forms of popular music, social and political events further accelerated the rise of hip hop. In 1959, the Cross-Bronx Expressway was built through the heart of the Bronx, displacing many of the middle-class white communities and causing widespread unemployment among the remaining blacks as stores and factories fled the area. By the 1970s, poverty was rampant. When a 15,000+ apartment Co-op City was built at the northern edge of the Bronx in 1968, the last of the middle-class fled the area and the area's black and Latino gangs began to grow in power.

Pete DJ Jones, Eddie Cheeba, DJ Hollywood and Love Bug Starski were disco-flavored early hip hop DJs. Others hip hop musicians focused on rapid-fire rhymes and more complex rhythmic schemes. Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Winley, Grandmaster Flash and Bobby Robinson were members of this group. During the transition into the early 1980s, many felt that hip hop was a novelty fad that would soon die out. This was to become a constant accusation for at least the next fifteen years.



The first hip hop recording was probably the New Jersey-based Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight in 1979. By the 1980s, all the major elements and techniques of the genre were in place. Though not yet mainstream, hip hop was by now well known among African Americans, even outside of New York City; it could be found in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, San Antonio, TX, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Houston.

Despite the genre's spreading popularity, Philadelphia was, for many years, the only city whose contributions to hip hop were valued as greatly as New York City's by fans and critics. Hip hop music was popular there at least as far back as the late 1970s (the first Philadelphia hip hop record was "Rhythm Talk", by Jocko Henderson in 1979), and the New York Times dubbed Philadelphia the "Graffiti Capital of the World" in 1971. A Philadelphia-area radio DJ, Lady B, was the first female solo hip hop artist to record music ("To the Beat Y'All", 1980). Later Schoolly D, another Philadelphia-based artist, helped invent what became known as gangsta rap.


The 1980s saw intense diversification of hip hop which developed into a more complex form. As technology evolved so did the practice of looping break into breakbeats; the emergence of samplers and sequencers allowed the beats to be manipulated with greater precision and granularity and recombined in more complex new ways than was possible with vinyl alone. In 1984, Marley Marl accidentally caught a drum machine snare hit in the sampler; this innovation was vital in the development of electro and other later types of hip hop. In 1989, DJ Mark James under the moniker "45 King", released "The 900 Number", a break beat track created by synchronizing samplers and vinyl.

The content evolved as well. The simple tales of 1970s MCs were replaced by highly metaphoric lyrics rapping over complex, multi-layered beats. Some rappers even became mainstream pop performers, including Kurtis Blow, whose appearance in a Sprite commercial made him the first hip hop musician to be considered mainstream enough to represent a major product, but also the first to be accused by the hip hop audience of selling out. Another popular performer among mainstream audiences was LL Cool J, who was a success from the release of his first LP, Radio.

Hip hop was almost entirely unknown outside of the United States prior to the 1980s. During that decade, it began its spread to every inhabited continent and became a part of the music scene in dozens of countries. In the early part of the decade, break dancing became the first aspect of hip hop culture to reach Germany, Japan and South Africa, where the crew Black Noise established the practice before beginning to rap later in the decade. Meanwhile, recorded hip hop was released in France (Dee Nasty's 1984 Paname City Rappin') and the Philippines (Dyords Javier's "Na Onseng Delight" and Vincent Dafalong's "Nunal"). In Puerto Rico, Vico C became the first Spanish rapper, and his recorded work was the beginning of what became known as reggaeton.

The late 1980s were also regarded by many as Hip Hop's golden age. Notable artists of the time included Rakim from the hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Rakim is highly regarded as Hip Hop's greatest emcee with his fast lyrical flow. Big Daddy Kane was also highly regarded by many later rappers, he was also part of the indomitable Juice Crew which featured many of the not-yet discovered Hip Hop talent brought together by Marley Marl. The Juice Crew also featured rappers Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, Biz Markie and Roxann Shante among others. The forming of the Juice Crew lead to Big Daddy Kane's stardom with his high acclaimed debut Long Live The Kane At the time the Juice Crew were not the only group that featured several rappers who had banded together to make music. There was also Boogie Down Productions, which featured the legendary KRS-ONE, D Nice as well as the late DJ Scott La Rock. Descriptions of their violent, hedonistic lifestyle which would later pave the way for Gangsta Rap. In the later years of Boogie Down Productions, they would turn to more socially consciousness and political lyrics. In spite of all that, many believed they were still under the shadow of Public Enemy. Led by lyricists Chuck D and Flava Flav and producer Terminator X their debut album "Yo! Bum Rush The Show" turned heads with its socially aware lyrics. In addition to a sensational debut, their sophomore release "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" turned even more heads and raised eyebrows with its thought provoking and at times controversial lyrics. While Public Enemy raised awareness from a more socially proactive point of view, West Coast hip hop group N.W.A shocked nations with its explicit lyrics describing the violent lives of the members based in Compton, California. Members of the group Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella would later go on to become platinum-selling artists. At the time Run-D.M.C. the Hip Hop trio consisting of Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, the late Jason "Jam-Master Jay" Mizell and Darryl "D.M.C" McDaniels. With their no nonsense style and trendy Adidas sneakers, they dominated not only Hip Hop but also pop and rock among other genres. American emcees were not the only emcees getting it on during the Golden Age, English emcee Slick Rick also burst upon the scene with his debut The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. Slick Rick's music, mainly appealed to the younger kids on the street, with songs like "Hey Young World", "Teenage Love" and "Children's Story", that encompassed vivid storytelling infused with messages of hope and civic responsibility directed towards the younger generation. Other experts regard the early 1990's, around 1992-1994, as the later part of the Golden Age.

The first rap records (Fatback Band's King Tim III, Grandmaster Flash's Super Rappin and The Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight) were actually recorded by live musicians in the studio, with the rappers adding their vocals later. This changed with DJ records such as Grandmaster Flash's Adventures on the Wheels of Steel (known for pioneering use of scratching, which was invented by Grandwizard Theodore in 1977) as well as electronic recordings such as Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa and Run DMC's very basic, all electronic Sucker MC's and Peter Piper which contains genuine cutting by Run DMC member Jam Master Jay. These early innovators were based out of New York City, which remained the capital of hip hop during the 1980s. This style became known as East Coast hip hop.


Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five released a "message rap", called The Message, in 1982; this was one of the earliest examples of recorded hip hop with a socially aware tone.

In 1987, Public Enemy brought out their debut album (Yo! Bum Rush the Show) on Def Jam, and Boogie Down Productions followed up in 1988 with By All Means Necessary; both records pioneered a wave of hard-edged politicized performers. The late 1980s saw a flourishing of like-minded rappers on both coasts, and Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back became surprisingly successful, despite its militant and confrontational tone, appearing on both the club and rap charts, and peaking at #17 and #11, respectively. Aside from the lyrical innovations, Public Enemy's Terminator X (along with Eric B., of Eric B. & Rakim) pioneered new techniques in sampling that resulted in dense, multi-layered sonic collages.

The mid-1980s saw a flourishing of the first hip hop artists to achieve mainstream success, such as Kurtis Blow (Kurtis Blow), LL Cool J (Radio) and especially Run-D.M.C. (Raising Hell), as well as influences in mainstream music, such as Blondie's Debbie Harry rapping in the first non-black hit to feature rapping, "Rapture". LL Cool J's Radio spawned a number of singles that entered the dance charts, peaking with "I Can Give You More" (#21). 1986 saw two hip hop acts in the Billboard Top Ten; Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" collaboration with Aerosmith, and the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)". The pop success of both singles was unheard of for the time; "Walk This Way" has proved especially memorable for its early mixture of hip hop and rock (though it was not the first such mixture), and it peaked at an unheard of #4 on the pop charts. Also, the mid-1980s saw the rise of the first major black female group, Salt-N-Pepa, who hit the charts with singles like "The Show Stoppa" in 1985. Ice-T's seminal "6n' Da Mornin'" (1986) is one of the first nationally successful West Coast hip hop singles, and is often said to be the beginning of gangsta rap (along with Schoolly D, LL Cool J and N.W.A.).

While early hip hop arose through the decline of funk and disco while still employing their musicianship, there was the rise of artists who employed the use of the turntable as an instrument in itself. Hip hop turntablist DJs use turntable techniques such as beat mixing/matching, scratching, and beat juggling to create a base that can be rapped over. Turntablism is generally focused more on turntable technique and less on mixing. Each scratch of the turntable is considered unique due to the complex waveforms produced and employing digital sampling is considered an affront to a true Turntablist. Prominent artists included the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, X-men, and the Beat Junkies.

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