Hip-Hop is primarily a culture that was predominantly African American during its emergence. It was made up of four elements, namely DJing, this involved the use of music disc to mix songs. Breakdance and graffiti are also other prominent elements of hip hop. Finally, rap is a type of music characterized by its uniquely rhythmic and poetic language discourse and unique beats. Rap emerged from the hip-hop movement in the 1970s in South Bronx streets in New York (Times, 2013). Here in our essay about rap music we will highlight main information in this period and evolution.
Rap music later spread throughout New York’s urban communities, thus becoming a standard tool of expression that provided young people unlimited boundaries to talk of any matter pertaining there, daily life. However, it’s considered a type of music that lacks set guidelines. Rap music has undergone some tremendous changes that have also altered the music style over time. Hip-Hop’s early years were characterized by the African American popular street activities such as graffiti, unique African Americans talking style, break dancing style, unique colorful fashion, and a language most understood by those who identified themselves with the group (Times).
How emceeing influenced the emergence of rap music
DJ Kool Herc is considered the father of rap, and according to Mize (2015), DJ Kool realized that talking through the mic during parting helps keep the party lit during his DJing gigs. Therefore, he invited his friend Coke La Rock to be his MC whenever he was DJing at a party. During his first MC gig at a party with DJ Kool, he spits some lines which eventually, made him the first Hip-Hop rapper, thus leading to the creation of a new music genre which came to be known as rap music (Mize, 2015). A few years later, many people had emerged as Rappers and D.J.s. However, most music labels were not willing to invest in rap music until 1979, when the first rap song by Fatback band, known as King Tim III., was released, thus making rap get mainstream recognition, and the emergence of rap groups such as Sugar Hill Gang (Mize, 2015).
Furthermore, there are some noticeable changes in rap fashion, from the original urban style where young people wear oversized clothes. The popularity of Hip Hop or rap can be attributed to the Sugar Hill Gang hit song of 1979, Rappers Delight. The song is believed to have pioneered the emergence of rap music. They eventually inspired other hip-hop artists such as Run D.M.C., who released the rock-tinged music that later gave birth to gangster-rap, which became a prominent music genre among African Americans in the 80s and 90s (Lal, 2020). For example, in the mid-80s, Schoolly D and Ice-T pioneered the growth of gangsta-rap music, thus making it a commercially lucrative hip-hop music subgenre in the United States (Lal, 2020).
Nonetheless, it also became the most controversial type of music in the country since it encouraged drug use, violence involving shootouts, promoted hate against law enforcers, promiscuity, and led to the emergence of rebellious young people, who felt that made them gangsters. For instance, to showcase their hate on law enforcers for continuous police profiling of black people in the United States, the song Fuck the Police by N.W.It became one of the most influential songs in gangster-rap history (Lal, 20202). The music emerged as a national anthem during African Americans, protest against police brutalities and racial profiling. The song was later denied airplay in the United States due to government pressure that it misrepresented the American police (Lal, 2020).
During early rap music, rappers distinguished themselves from other artists by their rebellious nature and total disregard of the action’s outcomes, such as Notorious B.I.G and Tupac. Their authenticity differentiated them from other musicians (Lal, 2020). Although their music often talked of black Americans’ daily struggles due to racism and personal struggles, they often praised masculinity and violence. However, male rappers are not only those who glorify violence and criminal activities in their rap music. For instance, in the mid-1990s, Lil Kim emerged as one of the prominent female rappers. Lil Kim was recorded bragging of criminal activities and her involvement with Biggie; for instance, she talked of guns and bank robberies (Lal, 2020). Such utterances by rappers led to critics from religious leaders and others who felt this music genre promotes and praises criminal behaviors among young people.
Changes in the rap music style
The most noticeable change in 1990s rap music and modern rap are the lyrics. Rap being a subculture of Hip Hop means that it can be directly impacted by changes faced by Hip Hop culture (Lal, 2020). Therefore, most features that characterize rap and hip-hop music have also changed with time, for instance, dancing styles, talking styles, and urban graffiti, which have disappeared completely (Lal, 2020). In the early years of Hip Hop and Rap music, most rappers’ lyrics talked of their struggles in the ghetto, unlike modern rap, where rappers talk of their wealth, clothes, and women. Early rappers often about their crime life, violence, and life while living in poverty, regardless of their financial status in the industry (McNulty-Finn, 2014). According to Billboard’s manager, in the 1990’s rappers often used lyrics on violence, drugs, and crimes to create a particular character that would portray them as gangsters or thugs, since to them, this meant being successful (McNulty-Finn, 20214). Therefore, in the attempt to create their gangster persona, most of their song ended up having the same theme (McNulty-Finn, 2014). However, most of the 90s lyrics talked of these artists’ real-life stories since most of these rappers emerged from ghettos where life was a struggle and drugs, crime and violence were everyday problems people had to fight through.
However, in the late 1990s to early 2000s, there was a slight change in rap as many rappers started shifting from gangster rap to procreational rap and pop-rap. Rap music was mainly composed of lyrics that provoked clubbing spirit and celebrated self-love among African Americans. Artists such as Jay-Z, Nelly, Kanye West, and Miss Elliott are prominent Hip-Hop artists in the 90s and early 2000s (Lawton, n.d.). Nonetheless, Hip-Hop or rap style completely changed from 2010 due to the introduction of the Mumble rapping style. Mumble rapping is an entirely different style from the traditional rap music styles since the style lacks the incomprehensibility of vocals and lyricism (Lawton, n.d.). Furthermore, mumble rap has become a typical style among modern rappers such as Fetty Wap Future and Lil Uzi Vert (Lawton, n.d.).
Unlike early rap, in modern rap, rappers tend to have different stories to tell, differentiating rappers’ themes. Although they also talk of their life stories, they tend to differ from one rapper to another (McNulty-Finn, 2014). They no longer base their songs on ghetto life or crime to get airplay like before. Furthermore, modern rap has changed to speaking about positive things in society. FOr example, Kanye West’s debut album in 2004,” The College Dropout,” can have changed the face of rap music from traditional gangster rap, which was more of negativity to a new style that talks of positive issues in life (McNulty-Finn, 2014).
According to McNulty-Finn, modern rappers tend to portray their soft side, for instance, rapping about sexuality, shopping, and their expensive lifestyle, uncommon among 1990s rappers (McNulty-Finn. 2014). Furthermore, rap music is believed to have been impacted by the emergence of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr. Unlike in the 90s where rappers had to use record labels to capture their fans’ attention, rappers have become more active on social media, where they interact with their fans by posting their content such as photos and songs for their fans (McNulty-Finn. 2014). According to J Will, a WAJZ-FM program director, social media platforms have influenced stylistic growths in the hip hop culture (McNulty-Finn, 2014). These platforms have also changed the role played by agents during the 90s, where rappers’ messages got influenced by these agents. Nowadays, rappers don’t require agents have the freedom to decide what they want to talk about.
Changes in the mainstream and underground
There has been tremendous in the mainstream and underground rap in recent years; previous mainstream rap was at an advantage over the underground rap, which was opposed to the gangster theme favored mainly by many radios station (McNulty-Finn. 2014). Therefore, in our original essay and research on music we can find lot of information on specific lifestyle and many underground rappers, such as Public Enemy, who were socially and politically conscious in their message, lacked airplay for their songs. Compared to many mainstream rappers whose lyrics praised violence, drugs, and spread hate against the police and each other (McNulty-Finn. 2014). However, some politically and socially conscious rap artists, such as the Public Enemy, still managed to become prominent in the rap industry at the time. Nonetheless, the creation of social media platforms such as YouTube has wholly changed rappers’ relationships with radios station, which many 90s artists would have required for effective airplay platforms such as radios for their songs (McNulty-Finn. 2014). Unlike before, mainstream rappers no longer have to maintain a common theme in the songs due to social media platforms.
Furthermore, to become a mainstream rapper, one’s song has to have an appealing message to the particular group of listeners (Times, 2013). However, some people suggest that some mainstream rap songs lack characteristics that would make them competitive to some late raps songs that emerged the best during the early emergence of rap. Furthermore, some people think that some mainstream raps are overrated and are not entertaining or educative. Most mainstream rappers tend to over rap about irrelevant topics such as drugs, women, and money (Times, 2013). However, one of the most impressive aspects of modern rap music is the captivating heavy bass and over-dramatized beats, which often distract individuals from realizing that the song might not be having strong lyrics (Times, 2013). Social media sites have also been significant for underground rappers, especially those that produce a universal song since it often reaches a large audience (McNulty-Finn, 2014).
During the 90s rap era, artists without extensive records deals often tended to achieve minimal success compared to those represents by prominent music labels such as Deaf Jam. However, social media-independent underground rappers can still be more financially successful (McNulty-Finn, 2014). For example, according to billboard records from the 75 top rap albums, in 2015, approximately 15 percent were from non-mainstream rappers (McNulty-Finn, 2014). The modern rap music playing on most radio stations is utterly different from the original rap music; the new hip-hop combines other genres such as pop. According to McNulty-Finn, the latest rap songs consist of captivating pop hooks (McNulty-Finn, 2014).
This essay examines the evolution of rap music. Several changes in rap music have resulted in changes in the rap music content, lyrics, and rapping styles over time. In the early 1990s, raps were characterized by solid messages of criminal behaviors and hate. While in the mid-1990s, and 2000s the style slightly shifted to procreational rap with some aspects of pop-rate, whose songs mostly talked of women and rappers’ life struggles. However, the style completely changed in 2010 to a new style known as mumble rapping.