Everyone’s grooving to it. It’s the life of every party, every ipod’s bound to have it and if you haven’t heard it your self, you were born way before the 1970s. That’s when it all began. What we know today as chart-topping hip hop tracks had humble beginnings that lie buried deep in the ancient oral tradition of African culture. No doubt the African-American people had a characteristic style of their own as far as speech and music were concerned.
Add to this a dollop of reggae, a streak of genius and Kool Herc, a Jamaican DJ in New York’s West Bronx who created magic with popular songs during his day. Herc’s style was simple ? reciting improvised rhymes over the instrumental sections of songs that crowds loved. Since these instrumental breaks were relatively short and did not give him too much time to ‘recite’ his party shouts, he learned to extend them for as long as he wanted using an audio mixer and two identical records.
Before he knew it, the party shouts grew longer, the response was unbelievable and Herc, along with Coke La Rock and Clark Kent had sparked off a movement that is still raking in the money. Just like all other forms of music that originate from the African-Americans have a culture that is associated with it, rap music too has an ‘accompanying subculture reflective of the political, social and economic conditions of the time’. Rap music was the name given to the unique style of music and hip-hop was the culture from which it emerged.
It was a cultural movement that saw the rise of a lifestyle of its own ? the language was different, dressing styles was something the world had not seen before, the music was no doubt catching on like wild fire and mind sets had begun to change. In the words of KRS-One, “Hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do. ” The music in its original form, on the other hand, comprised four distinct parts ? graffiti, break dance, dj-ing (cutting and scratching) and emceeing that has come to be known as rapping.
Rap music emerged as the generations answer to values that they considered older. It quenched, even if partly, the desire to be seen and heard. Hip hop radio was a huge hit and national leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. , Minister Farrakhon and author Nelson George were acknowledging its influence. Hip hop’s distinctive slang gained commercial success over the years and its acceptance was largely due to the fact that it was inclusive and yet such a powerful form of expression. The content in the lyrics of rap songs is no doubt questionable ?
talking of women derogatively, of crimes, drugs, wealth and power. Although it originated in the Afro-American world, white audiences are hooked on to this potent style. Hip-hop is going through its best years and is continuously evolving. “Rap plays the same role today as Bob Dylan did in 1960, giving voice to the hopes and angers of a generation, and a lot of rap is powerful writing. ” And who knows, it may just be the beginning to a very long rhythmic journey as it turns into an assortment of the best of jazz, soul, and instruments that the world never knew.