History & Elements
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Hip hop is both a culture and a lifestyle. As a musical genre it is characterized by its hard hitting beats and rhythms and expressive spoken word lyrics that address topics ranging from economic disparity and inequality, to gun violence and gang affiliated activity. Though the genre emerged with greater popularity in the 1970’s, the musical elements involved and utilized have been around for many years. In this paper, we will cover the history and origin of hip hop music, identify the musical components that are commonly used in the genre, as well as major artists that contributed to both shaping and evolving the industry.
In the impoverished areas of the South Bronx, hip hop was born, birthed in house parties and other social gatherings by young African Americans and Hispanics. The South Bronx was very detached from the rest of New York in the 1970’s. As a result of being isolated, and at the mercy of poor conditions, the young people of the city used the streets and community gatherings to express themselves artistically.
One of the founding fathers of hip hop was DJ and turntablist Kool Herc, a Jamaica native who immigrated to the US in 1967. His most notable contribution, among many, is breakbeat1 DJing. He would use tracks from jazz-funk artists like James Brown and Mandrill. This was to extend the length of the part in the music that was most suited for dancing. Other DJ’s, like DJ Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa, moved for...
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...feuded, ultimately resulting in the death of big name artists Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG.
Today, hip hop music is more than a musical genre. It is a lifestyle, a culture, a multi-billion dollar industry, and more importantly, an art form. Despite its meager and controversial beginnings, the genre has evolved into music that is not just for a single group of people, but for anyone who can appreciate its sound and message. Hip hop is an ever-evolving, ever-changing genre that addresses heavy issues and struggles. Though the element of violence and vulgarity is associated with hip hop music, there is still positivity that comes from hip hop as well. It served as a way out for talented youths. It created hope and gave people with poor environmental conditions a voice. Hip hop is one of the most prominent and well-known contributions of the African American people.
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