History of Rap

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History of Rap The most popular and influential form of African-American pop music of the 1980's and 1990's, rap is also one of the most controversial styles of the rock era. And not just among the guardians of cultural taste and purity that have always been counted among rock 'n' roll's chief enemies--Black, White, rock and soul audiences continue to fiercely debate the musical and social merits of rap, whose most radical innovations subverted many of the musical and cultural tenets upon which rock was built. Antecedents of rap are easy to find in rock with other kinds of music. Music is often used to tell a story, often with spoken rhymes over instruments and rhythms. Talking blues, spoken passages of sanctified prose in gospel, and numerous hits that call out slogans and rhymes, from Bo Diddley's "Say Man" and Shirley Ellis' "The Name Game" to Jerry Reed's "When You're Hot, You're Hot." More direct paths leading to rap, though can be found in a few of the trends of the late '60s and '70s. In R&B music, funk and disco-stripped soul down to its most basic rhythms, forgoing much of the instrumentation and vocals habitually used as embellishments. James Brown in particular is often cited as a forefather in his use of stream-of-consciousness over elemental funk backup, and he (as well as other funk giants) has been sampled by modern-day rappers on innumerable occasions. Two much more overlooked influences originated from outside of the R&B and rock mainstream. The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, and Jayne Cortez set highly politicized tales of African American and urban life against percussive jazz tracks in the early'70s. In reggae, the use of DJs or "toasters," to rap over basic instrumental backing tracks when they took the... ... middle of paper ... ...hock value. Rap music has lost none of its momentum--or it's compacity to inspire outrage in society as a whole--as we head into the last half of the 1990's. Scenes continue to proliferate, not just on the coasts, but in Atlanta, Houston, and such unlikely locales as Paris (home of the leading French rapper MC Solaar). It may appeal more to inner-city adolescents than anyone else, but gangsta rap may be bigger than anything else in R&B music commercially, and there are more multiplatinum rap/hip-hip acts than you can count. Shinehead, Shabba Ranks, and less heralded performers like Sister Carol have fused reggae and rap. And the jazz and rap worlds are being brought closer together than ever through the efforts of Gang Starr and their lead Guru, US3, and the landmark Stolen Moments: Red, Hot + Cool compilation, which united many of the top names of hip-hop and jazz.

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