Hip Hop History

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Hip-Hop History: It’s More than Just Rap Music.

“Hip Hop is not music, it is not dance, it is not art … it’s culture. Hip Hop is a culture based on music. Not that the music is the nucleus, but it is the pulse. You take the music out of Hip Hop and you lose such an importance piece, the driving force.” – Mysnikol, Comedian

Hip-hop originated in the 1970s in the crime-ridden neighborhoods of the South Bronx by Kool Herc who was a Jamaican DJ. Prior to its name now it, hip hop as we know it was started with no vocals and was purely of an electronic nature. A product of a cross-cultural mixtures, rap is deeply rooted within an ancient African culture and oral tradition. Performances of (spoken-word) poetry and music by artists like The Last Poets and Jalal Mansur Nuriddin had epoch-making impact on the post civil rights era culture, with this influence came the birth of hip-hop. Hip-hop, as it was then known, was a product of pure streetwise adroitness; extracting rhythms and melodies from existing records and mixing them up with searing poetry narrating life in the ‘hood’, hip-hop spilled out of the ghetto. The hip hop period is divided into two eras - the old school hip hop (1970-1985) and the golden age hip hop (1985-1993).

Old school hip hop is noted for its rather simple rapping techniques compared to later hip-hop music. Much of the attention and feeling of old school hip hop focuses on partying and having a good time, that was the feel of the 70s and 80s. One notable exception is the song, “Play that Beat Mr DJ” which was written by Mc Globe and Wiz kid. Immortal Technique explains how party content played a big part in old school hip hop, in the book How to Rap “hip-hop was born in an era of social turmoil... in the same way that slaves used to sing songs on a plantation... that's the party songs that we used to have.” Along with this quote from one of the most known hip hop groups KRS One, “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live.”

There are four main aspects of the hip-hop music genre such as DJing (disk jockey), beatboxing, sampling and rapping. This mixing technique allowed songs to be played in length, keeping the beat going for quite some time – the partiers could keep dancing to no end. The history of DJing continued to transpire rapidly during the 70s. Soon after DJ Kool Herc’s mixing technique also came the art of scratching. Discovered accidentally by Grand Wizard Theodore in 1975, scratching involved rocking the record back and forth to create a ‘scratching’ sound. It took the work of Grand Mixer DXT to show the world scratching on Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit.”

With this DJing technique came the fall of the disco era and the rise of faster and harder music, DJs knew this and had to accommodate their party goer needs. With DJing being over 100 years old now, it’s seen a continuous rise in techniques and style. From the simple use of a vinyl record to play singles, to mixing and beat matching, scratching and turntabalism, DJing continues to mature to this day. Massive parties are held around the world devoted to every single genre of music. DJs are well known and respected throughout the world and many hold high status within their devoted followers.

On the hip-hop scene, beatboxing -- the term for the art of creating rhythms and sound effects with the human voice has taken a back seat to rapping, DJing, emceeing, break dancing and graffiti art since it surfaced in the '80s. Beatboxing has gained an world wide following and an online audience, with artists uploading their beats to bulletin boards, fans mixing beats and some people even using them for their own person gain of becoming an aspiring artist. In the late 1880s, black groups (usually quartets) would sing acapella, using only their harmonized voices to make music. They would hold long, low notes that resemble what we hear as bass sounds in modern beatboxing. Vocal percussion was used by these quartets to help...
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