While often used to refer 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 and scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.
Origin of the term
Creation of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, rapper with 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 in "Rapper's Delight".
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.
1520 Sedgwick Avenue, the Bronx, a venue used by Kool Herc that is often considered the birthplace of hip hop in 1973
DJ Kool Herc, recognized as one of the earliest hip hop artists Hip hop as music and culture formed during the 1970s when block parties became increasingly popular in New York City, particularly among African American 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 then common in Jamaican dub music, and was largely introduced into New York by immigrants from Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean, including DJ Kool Herc, who is generally considered the father of hip hop.[by whom?] 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.
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 scratching (attributed to Grand Wizzard Theodore), beat mixing and/or matching, and beat juggling – eventually developed along with the breaks, creating a base that could be rapped over, in a manner similar to signifying, as well as the art of toasting, another influence found in Jamaican dub music.
Hip hop music in its infancy has been described as an outlet and a "voice" for the disenfranchised youth of low-economic areas, as the 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, 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, including female rappers. Bronx artist MC Sha Rock, member of the Funky Four Plus One is credited with performing the first female hip hop rap. The Sequence, a hip hop trio signed to Sugar Hill Records in the early '80's, were 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 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 and 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 African American culture. Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hop group to gain recognition in New York, but the number of MC teams increased over time.
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 1970s 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 world wide 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 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 style.
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
Hip hop music was both influenced by disco music and a backlash against it. 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", and the earliest hip hop was mainly based on hard funk loops. However, by 1979, disco instrumental loops/tracks had become the basis of much hip hop music. This genre got the name of "disco rap". Ironically, hip hop music was also a proponent in the eventual decline in disco popularity.
DJ Pete Jones, Eddie Cheeba, DJ Hollywood, and 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 this 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 genre of electronic music behaved similarly, eventually evolving into what is known as house music in Chicago and techno in Detroit.
Transition to recording
Prior to 1979, recorded hip hop music consisted mainly of PA system recordings of parties 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. Though not yet mainstream, hip hop had permeated outside of New York City; it could be found in cities as diverse as Atlanta, Los Angeles, 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 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.
The 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 gangsta rap.