Rap music began among the youth of South Bronx, New York in the mid 1970’s. Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash were some of the early artists of this art form. Through their performances at clubs, rap gained in popularity throughout the rest of the 1970’s. The first commercial success of rap was the song ‘Rapper's Delight’ by the Sugar Hill Gang in 1979. It helped bring rap music into the spotlight. The 1980’s saw the continued success of rap music with many artists such as Run DMC (who had the first rap album to go gold in 1984), L.L. Cool J, Fat Boys, and west coast rappers Ice-T and N.W.A becoming popular. Today, in the late 1990’s rap music continues to be an important aspect of African- American culture. Rap music was a way for youths in inner city neighborhoods to express what they were feeling, seeing, and living and it became a form of entertainment. Hanging out with friends and rapping or listening to others rap kept youths out of trouble in the dangerous neighborhoods in which they lived. The dominant culture did not have a type of music that filled the needs of these youth, so they created their own. So, rap music was originally created as a way "for inner city youth to express their everyday life and struggles" (Shaomari, pp. 17). Now rap includes a large number of middle to upper class youths, who have grown to support and appreciate rap music. Rap lyrics are about the problems rappers have seen, such as poverty, crime, violence, racism, poor living conditions, drugs, alcohol, corruption, and prostitution. These are very serious problems that many rap artists believe are being ignored by America. ‘The beats of rap music have people bopping and the words have them thinking, from the tenement-lined streets of Harlem, New York, to the mansion parties of Beverly Hills, California’ (Shomari, pp. 45). Rap music, once only popular with blacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, has grown to become one of America's most...
Bibliography: BOOKS: Nelson, Havelock and Michael A. Gonzales. Bring the Noise: A Guide to Rap Music and Hip-Hip Culture. New York: Harmony Books, 1991.
Rose, Tricia. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, Wesley University Press,!994
Shomari, Hashim A. (William A. Lee, III). From the Underground: Hip-Hop Culture as an Agent of Social Change. Mt. Vernon, NY: X-Factor Publications, 1995.
Small, Michael. Break It Down: The Inside Story from the New Leaders of Rap. Secaucus,
New Jersey: Carol Publishers, 1992.
WEB SOURCES: History of Rap, http://www.rapworld.com/history/
Rap Music, http://www.jahsonic.com/Rap.html
The History of Hip Hop, http://www.headbob.com/hiphop/hiphop hitory.shtml.
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