Hip hop is a term used to define an urban culture which developed amongst poor black and latino youths in
early 1970's America, particularly New York and Philadelphia. The culture includes rap, which grew
out of the "toasting" element of Jamaica dub music, the distant origins of which lie in the musical style of
West African griots
Modern hip hop grew out of so-called "block parties" ( neighbourhood celebrations ) - in which MC's would isolate
the percussion track of funk and soul
records to excite the revellers and induce a dance frenzy.
This trend grew in popularity as funk and disco declined in the late 1970's, and by the 1980's artists like Kurtis Blow,
LL Cool J.
entered the mainstream, the latter's collaboration with Aerosmith
" WALK THIS WAY "
in 1986 representing a major breakthrough for the style.
The 1980's also saw hip hop diversify. Afrika Bambaataa
's 1982 single "Planet Rock"
, which sampled a Kraftwerk
and elements from Ennio Morricone
, led to the development of "electro-funk" dance music, most notably "house" in Chicago and "techno" in Detroit.
New Jack Swing - a fusion of soul and hip hop - also began to emerge, eventually leading by 2000 to the so-called "nu soul" of Mary J.Blighe
In the 1990's the often violent and misogynistic lyrics of West Coast Gangsta Rap featuring artists like Ice-T, Dr.Dre
and Snoop Dogg
broke through to dominated the charts, although the commercial high point of the whole genre came in 2000, when Eminem
" THE MARSHALL MATHERS LP "
sold 9 million copies.
Strictly in terms of traditional songwriting hip hop could be considered as barren ground, with it's tendency to lift directly
from other musical styles and it's concentration on percussion at the expense of melody. On the other hand, lyrics are
a major part of songwriting, and in this department rap in particular can be highly inventive, often providing
much needed insight into young people's experience of modern life.
Today the style has penetrated so deep into the mainstream it is clearly evident even in the teen pop of Britney Spears
and The Backstreet Boys