Music Theory/Hip Hop

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Early Origins Of Hip Hop[edit]

The roots of hip hop are in West African and African-American music. The griots of West Africa are a group of traveling singers and poets, whose musical style is reminiscent of hip hop. True hip hop arose during the 1970s when block parties became common in New York City, especially the Bronx. Block parties were usually accompanied by music, especially funk and soul music. The early DJs at block parties began isolating the percussion breaks to hit songs, realizing that these were the most dance-able and entertaining parts; this technique was then common in Jamaica (see dub music) and had spread via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community in New York City, especially the godfather of hip hop, DJ Kool Herc. Dub had arose in Jamaica due to the influence of American sailors and radio stations playing R&B.


Large sound systems were set up to accommodate poor Jamaicans, who couldn't afford to buy records, and dub developed at the sound systems (refers to both the system and the parties that evolved around them). Herc was one of the most popular DJs in early 70s New York, and he quickly switched from using reggae records to funk, rock and, later, disco, since the New York audience did not particularly like reggae. Because the percussive breaks were generally short, Herc and other DJs began extending them using an audio mixer and two records. Mixing and scratching techniques eventually developed along with the breaks. As in dub, performers began speaking while the music played; these were originally called MCs; Herc focused primarily on DJing, and began working with two MCs, Coke La Rock and Clark Kent -- this was the first emcee crew, Kool Herc & the Herculoids.

Identifying Rap Music[edit]

Rap music can be identified as the music through which one can express one's own views with absolute freedom and demonstrate his/her identity within the hip-hop world by speaking over the rhythm of beats. This can be done with only full concentration of one's views related to his/her life, destiny, integrity, problems, love, sexual life, etc.


What Is Rap?[edit]

Hip hop and Rap are often used as a general name for the whole genre. However, whilst they are inextricably linked, it is important to distinguish between the two and acknowledge the differences.

Historically, rap music comes from hip-hop culture. The roots of rap music trace back to the Jamaican ska era of the mid-60s. MCs rapping over party music made its way to New York a decade later, thanks to DJ Kool Herc, a man many crown the "Father of Hip Hop." Kool Herc migrated from Jamaica to New York in 1967 and helped give birth to the hip-hop culture that would continue to thrive and spread.

The Hip Hop Network notes that while the Sugar Hill Gang's 1979 "Rapper's Delight" was the first breakthrough rap hit, it emerged from a "an inner-city phenomenon centering on DJs and including equal proportions of break dancing, MCing, and graffiti art."

More recently, "rap" has been used to describe the aggressive, mass-market produced music of Nas, Eminem or commercial artists alike. But, as one online encyclopedia points out, "Not all music that has rapping in it, however, is actually rap music, and not all hip-hop music has rapping in it." Artists like Jurassic 5 and De La Soul typify hip-hop music, which is generally more multi-instrumented and less in-your-face.

Rap and hip-hop music is now a huge industry and it has the diversity of a huge industry. Now respected as an established form of music, many see it as one of the most versatile and original. From Producers/DJs/MCs such as Madlib who brings elements of jazz, blues and other musical styles to influence his work, to Dr. Dre who produces such commercial names as Eminem and 50 Cent, representing the more 'Rap' commercial style.

Catagorizing Hip Hop/Rap[edit]

Types Of Rap Music[edit]

  • Old Skool or old school
  • Gangster rap
  • Mainstream
  • Underground
  • Alternative
  • Freestyle
  • Conscious
  • Crunk
  • Grime
  • Political rap

+++much more

Regional Categories[edit]

West Coast Hip Hop

West Coast hip hop, also known as California hip hop or West Coast rap, is a style of hip hop music that originated in California in the 1980s. It has since grown into a subgenre of hip hop and has developed several creative centers, most of which are in California.

These centers are: The greater Los Angeles area, Long Beach, the greater San Francisco area (also known as the "Bay" Area ), Oakland/Berkeley, Vallejo, Sacramento/Davis, and Seattle.

Artists Include: N.W.A. Dr. Dre Snoop Dogg 2Pac Souls of Mischief Hieroglyphics Andre Nickitina Mac Dre Blu Kendrick Lamar Too Short E-40 Dj Quik Warren G Vince Stapes

East Coast hip hop

East Coast hip hop (sometimes also referred to as New York hip hop) is a style of hip hop music that originated in New York City during the late-1970s. East Coast hip hop emerged as a definitive subgenre after artists from other regions of the United States, chiefly the West Coast and the South, emerged with different styles of hip hop. It has since grown into a major sub-genre of hip hop, and has played an instrumental role in hip hop history. East Coast hip hop has developed several creative epicenters and local scenes within the Northeastern United States, most of which are primarily located within African-American and Hispanic urban centers.

Artists Include: Notorious B.I.G. A Tribe Called Quest Rakim Wu-Tang Clan Nas Mobb Deep Royal Flush Roc Marciano EPMD KRS-One Big L Big Pun


South hip hop

Hip hop in the South (sometimes referred to as the dirty South) is a style of hip hop music that has multiple origins in Houston, Miami, Atlanta and Memphis. Hip hop in the South emerged during the late 1980's and early 1990's. This regional hip hop has developed into multiple musical sounds like crunk, bounce, snap, chopped & screwed and booty-bass. Even though initially thought of as unsophisticated and simple, recent success in this region has seen a domination in 2005 of the weekly Top 10 songs in the country and an 2005 Academy award for Three 6 Mafia [1], a Tennessee-based rap group.

Artists Include: Scarface Outkast Ludacris Yung Thug Yung Dro Lil Jon Waka Flocka Flame