It’s Wednesday and it’s time for another edition on the evolution of hip hop. We’ve previously covered the core idea and concepts that started rap music, making it a mainstream genre. From this point forward, we will be looking at how hip hop (rap music) has evolved over the decades. There are so many artists that specialize in spitting rhythms that it will take me a millennium to share all of them in this blog, but I’ll do my best, little by little.
Last week we looked at the commercialism of hip hop and reviewed the first-ever mainstream rap song to hit the airwaves, becoming popular amongst DJs and club-goers alike. Now we’ll delve into hip hop leading into the 1980s, and how hip hop takes shape and leads the way for today’s artists. Shall we begin? I love hip hop but Prince will always be my first and forever musical love.
Hip Hop Progression
DJ and emcee duos popularized hip hop more than underground parties in the mainstream. Competition forced these duos to up their game and incorporate better beats, sampling techniques, scratching, and improving their rap spitting game, which enhanced the rhythmic flow and complex rhythms into a smooth style of hip hop. Until the release of the first mainstream rap song in the late 70s, hip hop was only performed live, but great hits like Rapper’s Delight by the Sugar Hill Gang pushed hip hop onto vinyl and opened up a whole new musical genre for the record labels.
Rap music started with the message of having fun and enjoying life despite social circumstances. Rappers like Curtis Blow and Afrika Bambaataa’s hits kept hip hop mainstream, not pushing any social agendas or boundaries. That is until the release of Grandmaster’s Flash and the Furious Five hit The Message, which dealt with the socially-inequable life of young African-American and Latin youth living in the East Coast. It had a slow funk groove with melodic synthesizer riffs and talked about social issues, such as poverty, crime, and the stress of living in a dangerous city.
Hip Hop saw a drastic change in the messages it was putting out to the masses. It was no longer about having fun and partying but waking the masses to their reality. Music has always been an influencer in social change and awareness, and hip hop was perfect for this platform. Rap music was changing the way the world experienced life, no more rose-colored glasses.
By the mid-80s hip hop was splitting into very distinct sub-genres that included social awareness, rap-rock, with Run D.M.C. album Raising Hell becoming hip hop’s first top ten rap album followed by hip hop’s first rap-punk album, the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill becoming hip hop’s first number one rap album. Rappers like L.L. Cool J dropped records with softer melodies and catchy melodic hooks.
By the late 80s, hip hop was a stand-alone musical genre that gained the respect of the music industry by canceling thoughts of a passing phase, forcing record companies to take notice and accept that rap was here to stay, for better or worse.
Artists like Eric B. & Rakim and Public Enemy further pushed the envelope of rap music. The duo Eric B. & Rakim album Paid in Full, was one of hip hop’s finest albums that featured sample-heavy beats. Public Enemy brought social-consciousness to hip hop with their genre of political hip hop that demanded political change and an end to racial injustices and racism as a whole.
Well, this concludes the late 70s and 80s hip hop evolution. Next week we will explore the 90s. Until next time…
To the hip hip a hop, you don’t stop the rockin’ to the bang bang boogie say up jump the boogie to the rhythm of the boogie beat… See you next week.
Author’s note: Thank you for stopping by and giving this a read. Comments are always welcomed.
Please continue to practice social distancing to stay safe and healthy.
Peace and Blessings – CV Davis
© 2020 | A CV Davis & Matt Synder Collaboration, All Rights Reserved
Evolution of Hip Hop article reviewed: englishclub.com and colemizestudios.com
Photo courtesy of Google Free Images