History of Hip Hop
Hip hop music, also referred to as rap music, is a music genre typically consisting of a rhythmic vocal style called rap which is accompanied with backing beats. Hip hop music is part of culture, which began in the Bronx, New York City in the 1970s, predominantly among African Americans and Latinos. The term rap is often used synonymously with hip hop music.
Rapping, also referred to as MC-ing or emceeing, is a vocal style in which the performer speaks rhythmically and in rhyme, generally to a beat, recently, however, a difference has developed between "rapping" and "MC-ing". "MC-ing" has been used to describe those artists who possess and exercise superior lyrical ability and prowess. "Rapping" in recent years has become a pejorative term used to describe those artists who focus less on lyrical talent and ability, and has been used to characterize many of the mainstream artists of today. Beats are traditionally generated from portions of other songs by a DJ, or sampled from portions of other songs by a producer, though synthesizers, drum machines, and live bands are also used, especially in newer music. Rappers may perform poetry which they have written ahead of time, or improvise rhymes on the spot with or without a beat. Though rap is usually an integral component of hip hop music, DJs sometimes perform and record alone, and many instrumental acts are also defined as hip hop.
Hip hop arose in New York City when DJs began isolating the percussion break from funk, or rock songs for audiences to dance to. The role of the MC was originally to introduce the DJ and the music, and to keep the audience excited. The MC would speak between songs, giving exhortations to dance, greetings to audience members, jokes and anecdotes. Eventually, this practice became more stylized, and came to be known as rapping. By 1979, hip hop had become a commercially recorded music genre, and began to enter the American mainstream. It also began its spread across the world. In the 1990s, a form called gangsta rap became a major part of American music, causing significant controversy over lyrics which were perceived by some as promoting violence, promiscuity, drug use and misogyny. Nevertheless, hip hop continued to increase in popularity, and by the year 2000, it was a staple of popular music charts.
The roots of hip hop are found in African American and West African music. The griots of West Africa are a group of traveling singers and poets, whose musical style is reminiscent of hip-hop and who are part of an oral tradition dating back hundreds of years. Within New York City, griot-like performances of poetry and music by artists such as The Last Poets and Jalal Mansur Nuriddin had a great impact on the post-civil rights era culture of the 1960s and 1970s. 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 and had spread via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community in New York City, especially the "godfather" of hip hop, DJ Kool Herc.
Dub music had arisen 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. (The same techniques contributed to the popularization of remixes.) Such looping, sampling and remixing of another's music, sometimes without the original artist's knowledge or consent, can be seen as an evolution of Jamaican dub music, and would become a hallmark of the hip hop style.
Later, the MCs grew more varied in their vocal and rhythmic approach, incorporating brief rhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort at differentiating themselves and entertaining the audience. These early raps incorporated similar rhyming lyrics from African American culture, such as the dozens. While Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hoppers to gain major fame in New York, more MC teams quickly sprouted up. Frequently, these were collaborations between former gang members, such as Afrika Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation (now a large, international organization). Melle Mel, a rapper/lyricist with The Furious Five is often credited with being the first rap lyricist to call himself an "MC." During the early 1970s, break dancing arose during block parties, as b-boys and b-girls, (break dancers), got in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive styles. This style was documented for release to a world wide audience for the first time in documentaries and movies such as Style Wars, Wild Style, and Beat Street.
Although there were many early MCs that recorded solo projects of note, such as DJ Hollywood, Kurtis Blow and Spoonie Gee, real notoriety didn't appear until later with the rise of soloists with big stage presence and drama, such as LL Cool J or MC Hammer . Most early hip hop was dominated by groups where collaboration among the members was integral to the show.
Coinage of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Though Lovebug Starski, Keith Cowboy, and DJ Hollywood used the term when the music was still known as disco rap, it is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers. Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly copied by other artists; for example the opening of the song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang. Former Black Spades gang member Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term to describe the subculture that hip hop music belongs to, although it is also suggested that the term was originally derisively used against the new type of music.
The reasons for the rise of hip hop are found in the changing urban culture within the United States during the 1970s. Perhaps most important was the low cost involved in getting started: the equipment was relatively inexpensive, and virtually anyone could MC along with the popular beats of the day. MCs could be creative, pairing nonsense rhymes and teasing friends and enemies alike in the style of Jamaican toasting at blues parties or playing the dozens in an exchange of wit. MCs would play at block parties, with no expectation of recording, in the way of folk music. The skills necessary to create hip hop music were passed informally from musician to musician, rather than being taught in expensive music lessons.
Another reason for hip hop's rise was the decline of disco, funk and rock in the mid- to late 70s. Disco became popular among black and gay male clubs in America, and quickly spread to Europe, where it grew increasingly sunny, bright and poppy. Once disco broke into the mainstream in the United States, and was thus appropriated, its original fans and many other listeners rejected it as pre-packaged and soul-less. While many remember the white teens shouting "disco sucks" at every available opportunity, inner-city blacks were similarly rejecting disco and disco-fied rock, soul and funk (which was virtually everything on the radio at the time).
If disco had anything redeemable for urban audiences, however, it was the strong, eminently danceable beats, and hip hop rose to take advantage of the beats while providing a musical outlet for the masses that hated disco. Disco-inflected music (though comparatively little actual disco) was one of the most popular sources of beats in the first ten or twelve years of hip hop's existence. In Washington DC, go go also emerged as a reaction against disco, and eventually mixed with hip hop during the early 1980s, while electronic music did the same, developing as house music in Chicago and techno music in Detroit.
Along with the low expense and the demise of other forms of popular music, social and political events further accelerated the rise of hip hop. In 1959, the Cross-Bronx Expressway was built through the heart of the Bronx, displacing many of the middle-class white communities and causing widespread unemployment among the remaining blacks as stores and factories fled the area. By the 1970s, poverty was rampant. When a 15,000+ apartment Co-op City was built at the northern edge of the Bronx in 1968, the last of the middle-class fled the area and the area's black and Latino gangs began to grow in power.
Pete DJ Jones, Eddie Cheeba, DJ Hollywood and Love Bug Starski were disco-flavored early hip hop DJs. Others hip hop musicians focused on rapid-fire rhymes and more complex rhythmic schemes. Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Winley, Grandmaster Flash and Bobby Robinson were members of this group. During the transition into the early 1980s, many felt that hip hop was a novelty fad that would soon die out. This was to become a constant accusation for at least the next fifteen years.
The first hip hop recording was probably the New Jersey-based Sugar Hill Gang's Rapper's Delight in 1979. By the 1980s, all the major elements and techniques of the genre were in place. Though not yet mainstream, hip hop was by now well known among African Americans, even outside of New York City; it could be found in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, San Antonio, TX, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Houston.
Despite the genre's spreading popularity, Philadelphia was, for many years, the only city whose contributions to hip hop were valued as greatly as New York City's by fans and critics. Hip hop music was popular there at least as far back as the late 1970s (the first Philadelphia hip hop record was "Rhythm Talk", by Jocko Henderson in 1979), and the New York Times dubbed Philadelphia the "Graffiti Capital of the World" in 1971. A Philadelphia-area radio DJ, Lady B, was the first female solo hip hop artist to record music ("To the Beat Y'All", 1980). Later Schoolly D, another Philadelphia-based artist, helped invent what became known as gangsta rap.
The 1980s saw intense diversification of hip hop which developed into a more complex form. As technology evolved so did the practice of looping break into breakbeats; the emergence of samplers and sequencers allowed the beats to be manipulated with greater precision and granularity and recombined in more complex new ways than was possible with vinyl alone. In 1984, Marley Marl accidentally caught a drum machine snare hit in the sampler; this innovation was vital in the development of electro and other later types of hip hop. In 1989, DJ Mark James under the moniker "45 King", released "The 900 Number", a breakbeat track created by synchronizing samplers and vinyl.
The content evolved as well. The simple tales of 1970s MCs were replaced by highly metaphoric lyrics rapping over complex, multi-layered beats. Some rappers even became mainstream pop performers, including Kurtis Blow, whose appearance in a Sprite commercial made him the first hip hop musician to be considered mainstream enough to represent a major product, but also the first to be accused by the hip hop audience of selling out. Another popular performer among mainstream audiences was LL Cool J, who was a success from the release of his first LP, Radio.
Hip hop was almost entirely unknown outside of the United States prior to the 1980s. During that decade, it began its spread to every inhabited continent and became a part of the music scene in dozens of countries. In the early part of the decade, break dancing became the first aspect of hip hop culture to reach Germany, Japan and South Africa, where the crew Black Noise established the practice before beginning to rap later in the decade. Meanwhile, recorded hip hop was released in France (Dee Nasty's 1984 Paname City Rappin') and the Philippines (Dyords Javier's "Na Onseng Delight" and Vincent Dafalong's "Nunal"). In Puerto Rico, Vico C became the first Spanish rapper, and his recorded work was the beginning of what became known as reggaeton.
The late 1980s were also regarded by many as Hip Hop's golden age. Notable artists of the time included Rakim from the hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. Rakim is highly regarded as Hip Hop's greatest emcee with his fast lyrical flow. Big Daddy Kane was also highly regarded by many later rappers, he was also part of the indomitable Juice Crew which featured many of the not-yet discovered Hip Hop talent brought together by Marley Marl. The Juice Crew also featured rappers Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, Biz Markie and Roxanne Shante among others. The forming of the Juice Crew lead to Big Daddy Kane's stardom with his high acclaimed debut Long Live The Kane At the time the Juice Crew were not the only group that featured several rappers who had banded together to make music. There was also Boogie Down Productions, which featured the legendary KRS-ONE, D Nice as well as the late DJ Scott La Rock. Descriptions of their violent, hedonistic lifestyle which would later pave the way for Gangsta Rap. In the later years of Boogie Down Productions, they would turn to more socially consciousness and political lyrics. In spite of all that, many believed they were still under the shadow of Public Enemy. Led by lyricists Chuck D and Flava Flav and producer Terminator X their debut album "Yo! Bum Rush The Show" turned heads with its socially aware lyrics. In addition to a sensational debut, their sophomore release "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" turned even more heads and raised eyebrows with its thought provoking and at times controversial lyrics. While Public Enemy raised awareness from a more socially proactive point of view, West Coast hip hop group N.W.A shocked nations with its explicit lyrics describing the violent lives of the members based in Compton, California. Members of the group Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella would later go on to become platinum-selling artists. At the time Run-D.M.C. the Hip Hop trio consisting of Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, the late Jason "Jam-Master Jay" Mizell and Darryl "D.M.C" McDaniels. With their no nonsense style and trendy Adidas sneakers, they dominated not only Hip Hop but also pop and rock among other genres. American emcees were not the only emcees getting it on during the Golden Age, English emcee Slick Rick also burst upon the scene with his debut The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. Slick Rick's music, mainly appealed to the younger kids on the street, with songs like "Hey Young World", "Teenage Love" and "Children's Story", that encompassed vivid storytelling infused with messages of hope and civic responsibility directed towards the younger generation. Other experts regard the early 1990's, around 1992-1994, as the later part of the Golden Age.
The first rap records (Fatback Band's King Tim III, Grandmaster Flash's Super Rappin and The Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight) were actually recorded by live musicians in the studio, with the rappers adding their vocals later. This changed with DJ records such as Grandmaster Flash's Adventures on the Wheels of Steel (known for pioneering use of scratching, which was invented by Grandwizard Theodore in 1977) as well as electronic recordings such as Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa and Run DMC's very basic, all electronic Sucker MC's and Peter Piper which contains genuine cutting by Run DMC member Jam Master Jay. These early innovators were based out of New York City, which remained the capital of hip hop during the 1980s. This style became known as East Coast hip hop.
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five released a "message rap", called The Message, in 1982; this was one of the earliest examples of recorded hip hop with a socially aware tone.
In 1987, Public Enemy brought out their debut album (Yo! Bum Rush the Show) on Def Jam, and Boogie Down Productions followed up in 1988 with By All Means Necessary; both records pioneered a wave of hard-edged politicized performers. The late 1980s saw a flourishing of like-minded rappers on both coasts, and Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back became surprisingly successful, despite its militant and confrontational tone, appearing on both the club and rap charts, and peaking at #17 and #11, respectively. Aside from the lyrical innovations, Public Enemy's Terminator X (along with Eric B., of Eric B. & Rakim) pioneered new techniques in sampling that resulted in dense, multi-layered sonic collages.
The mid-1980s saw a flourishing of the first hip hop artists to achieve mainstream success, such as Kurtis Blow (Kurtis Blow), LL Cool J (Radio) and especially Run-D.M.C. (Raising Hell), as well as influences in mainstream music, such as Blondie's Debbie Harry rapping in the first non-black hit to feature rapping, "Rapture". LL Cool J's Radio spawned a number of singles that entered the dance charts, peaking with "I Can Give You More" (#21). 1986 saw two hip hop acts in the Billboard Top Ten; Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" collaboration with Aerosmith, and the Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)". The pop success of both singles was unheard of for the time; "Walk This Way" has proved especially memorable for its early mixture of hip hop and rock (though it was not the first such mixture), and it peaked at an unheard of #4 on the pop charts. Also, the mid-1980s saw the rise of the first major black female group, Salt-N-Pepa, who hit the charts with singles like "The Show Stoppa" in 1985. Ice-T's seminal "6n' Da Mornin'" (1986) is one of the first nationally successful West Coast hip hop singles, and is often said to be the beginning of gangsta rap (along with Schoolly D, LL Cool J and N.W.A.).
While early hip hop arose through the decline of funk and disco while still employing their musicianship, there was the rise of artists who employed the use of the turntable as an instrument in itself. Hip hop turntablist DJs use turntable techniques such as beat mixing/matching, scratching, and beat juggling to create a base that can be rapped over. Turntablism is generally focused more on turntable technique and less on mixing. Each scratch of the turntable is considered unique due to the complex waveforms produced and employing digital sampling is considered an affront to a true Turntablist. Prominent artists included the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, X-men, and the Beat Junkies.
The first gangsta rap album to gain a big audience, selling more than 2.5 million copies, was N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton (1988). N.W.A.'s controversial subject matter, including drugs, violence and sex, helped popularize what became known as gangsta rap (said to have begun with Ice-T's "6N' Da Morning"). Specifically, the song "Fuck tha Police" earned the foursome the enmity of law enforcement, resulting in a strongly-worded letter of discontent from the FBI. N.W.A.'s most lasting impact, however, was placing the West Coast on the hip hop map.
Though women, whites and Latinos had long been a part of the hip hop scene, it was not until the 1980s that groups other than young African American males began creating popular, innovative and distinctive styles of hip hop music.
The first rap recording by a solo female was Philadelphia-based Lady B.'s "To the Beat, Y'All" (1980), while The Sequence became the first female group to record. It was, not, however, until Salt-N-Pepa in the middle of the decade that female performers gained mainstream success.
The first groups to mix hip hop and heavy metal included 1984's "Rock Box" (Run-D.M.C.) and "Rock Hard" (Beastie Boys). Later in the decade, Ice-T and Anthrax were among the most innovative mixers of thrash metal and hip hop. These fusions helped move hip hop into new audiences, and introduced it to legions of new fans in the States and abroad.
In Puerto Rico, Vico C became the first mainstream Spanish language rapper, and his recorded work was the beginning of what became known as reggaeton. Hip hop had always had a significant connection to the Latino community in New York City including the first Latin DJ DJ Disco Wiz, and hip hop soon spread amongst Latinos. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, most Latin rap came from the West Coast of the United States. In 1989, Cuban-American Mellow Man Ace became the first Latino artist to have a major bilingual single. Mellow Man, referred to as the "Godfather of Latin rap", brought mainstream attention to Spanglish rhyming with his 1989 platinum single "Mentirosa". In 1990, fellow West Coast artist Kid Frost further brought Latinos to the rap forefront with his single "La Raza." Cypress Hill, of which Mellow Man Ace was a member before going solo, would become the first Latino rap group to reach platinum status in 1991. Ecuadorian born rapper Gerardo received heavy rotation on video and radio for his single "Rico, Suave." As a result of the success of these artists, countries throughout Latin America such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Mexico created their own hip hop scenes.
While Run DMC laid the groundwork for East Coast rap, "Planet Rock" (Afrika Bambaataa) was one of the first electro tracks. Based on a sample from German rock group Kraftwerk (Trans-Europe Express), "Planet Rock" inspired countless groups, based in New Jersey, New York City and Detroit, among other places, to make electronic dance music (called electro) that strongly influenced techno and house music, and especially the burgeoning electro music scene in northern England, the Midlands and London.
"Planet Rock" influenced hip hop outside of New York as well, such as Latin hip hop (also Latin freestyle or freestyle) such as Expose and The Cover Girls, as well as Los Angeles-based electro hop performers like the World Class Wreckin' Cru and Egyptian Lover.
By the end of the 1980s, hip hop was known in almost every major city in the US, and had developed into numerous regional styles and variations. Outside of New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia, where hip hop had long been well-established, the 1980s saw intense regional diversification.
The first Chicago hip hop record was the Groovy Ghost Show by Casper, released in 1980 and a distinctively Chicago sound began by 1982, with Caution and Plee Fresh. Chicago also saw the development of house music (a form of electronic dance music) in the early 1980s and this soon mixed with hip hop and began featuring rappers; this is called hip house, and gained some national popularity in the late 1980s and early 90s, though similar fusions from South Africa, Belgium and elsewhere became just as well-known into the 90s.
Los Angeles hardcore rappers (Ice-T) and electro hop artists (Egyptian Lover) began recording by 1983, though the first recorded West Coast rap is possibly Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp's "Gigolo Rapp" in 1981. In Miami, audiences listened to Miami bass, a form of sultry and sexually explicit dance music with a heavy bass sound, which arose from Los Angeles electro; it frequently included rapping. In Washington D.C. a hip hop-influenced form of dance music called go go emerged and incorporated rapping and
Beginning in the early 1980s, hip hop culture began its spread across the world. By the end of the 1990s, popular hip hop was sold almost everywhere, and native performers were recording in most every country with a popular music industry. Elements of hip hop became fused with numerous styles of music, including ragga, cumbia and samba, for example. The Senegalese mbalax rhythm became a component of hip hop, while the United Kingdom and Belgium produced a variety of electronic music fusions of hip hop, most famously including British trip hop.
Hip hop also spread to countries like Greece, Spain and Cuba in the 1980s, led in Cuba by the self-exiled African American activist Nehanda Abiodun and aided by Fidel Castro's government. In Japan, graffiti art and break dancing had been popular since the early part of the decade, but many of those active in the scene felt that the Japanese language was unsuited for rapping; nevertheless, by the beginning of the 1990s, a wave of rappers emerged, including Ito Seiko, Chikado Haruo, Tinnie Punx and Takagi Kan. The New Zealand hip hop scene began in earnest in the late 1980s, when Maori performers like Upper Hutt Posse and Dalvanius Prime began recording, gaining notoriety for lyrics that espoused tino rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty).
Hip-hop has globalized into many cultures worldwide. We now find hip-hop in every corner of the globe, and like the South Bronx, each locale embodies a kind of globalism. Hip hop has emerged globally as an arts movement with the imperative to create something fresh by using technology, speech, and the body in new ways. The music and the art continue to embrace, even celebrate, its transnational dimensions while staying true to the local cultures to which it is rooted. Hip-hop's inspiration differs depending on each culture. Still, the one thing virtually all hip hop artists worldwide have in common is that they acknowledge their debt to those Black and Latino kids in New York who launched this global movement in the first place. As hip-hop is sometimes taken for granted by Americans, it is not so elsewhere, especially in the developing world, where it has come to represent the empowerment of the dis-enfranchised and a slice of the American dream. American hip-hop music has reached the cultural corridors of the globe and has been absorbed and reinvented around the world.
In the 1990s, gangsta rap became mainstream, beginning in 1992, with the release of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. This album established a style called G Funk, which soon came to dominate West Coast hiphop. Other artists such as Tupac Shakur (a.k.a. 2Pac), who would start his rapping career in 1991, would dominate in the 90s (before being shot and killed in a drive-by in 1996) becoming the highest selling rapper ever with over 75,000,000 albums sold world wide and played a major role in the East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry having beefs with East Coast rappers The Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Biggie) and Sean "Puffy" Combs (now known as Diddy) and Bad Boy Records. Also The Notorious B.I.G. would rise to fame around the same time. Being from New York, Biggie brought the East Coast back into the mainstream at a time when the West Coast mainly dominated rap. He also played a major role in the East Coast-West Coast feud during the 90s and had beefs with Death Row Records artists. Record labels based out of Atlanta, St. Louis, and New Orleans also gained fame for their local scenes. By the end of the decade, especially with the success of Eminem, known for his controversial lyrics beginning in 1999 with his second studio album The Slim Shady LP, hip hop was an integral part of popular music, and many American pop songs had a major hip hop component. The midwest rap scene also had good achievements with unique fast rapping styles from artists such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Twista.
In the 90s and into the following decade, elements of hip hop continued to be assimilated into other genres of popular music; nu soul, for example, combined hip hop and soul music and produced some major stars in the middle of the decade, while in the Dominican Republic, a recording by Santi Y Sus Duendes and Lisa M became the first single of merenrap, a fusion of hip hop and merengue.
New York City experienced a heavy Jamaican hip hop influence during the 90s. This influence was brought on by cultural shifts particularly due to the heightened immigration of Jamaicans to New York City, and the American-born Jamaican youth who were coming of age during the 90s. Hip hop artists such as De La Soul and Black Star have both produced albums influenced by Jamaican roots.
In Europe, Africa and Asia, hip hop began to move from an underground phenomenon to reach mainstream audiences. In South Africa, Poland, Germany, France, Italy and many other countries, hip hop stars rose to prominence and gradually began to incorporate influences from their own country, resulting in fusions like Tanzanian Bongo Flava and Kenyan Genge.
By the end of the 90s Hip Hop was one of the most popular types of music in the world.
After N.W.A. broke up, Dr. Dre (a former member) released The Chronic (1992), which peaked at #1 on the R&B/hip hop chart, #3 on the pop chart and spawned a #2 pop single with Nuthin' but a "G" Thang. The Chronic took West Coast rap in a new direction, influenced strongly by P funk artists, melding the psychedelic funky beats with slowly drawled lyrics—this came to be known as G funk, and dominated mainstream hip hop for several years through a roster of artists on Death Row Records, including most popularly Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose Doggystyle included the songs What's My Name and Gin and Juice, both Top Ten pop hits.
Though West Coast artists eclipsed those from New York, some East Coast rappers achieved success. New York became dominated in terms of sales by Puff Daddy (No Way Out), Mase (Harlem World) and other Bad Boy Records artists, in spite of some criticism for a perceived over-reliance on sampling and a general watered-down sound, aimed directly at pop markets. Other New York based artists continued with a harder edged sound, achieving only limited popular success. Nas (Illmatic), and The Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)), for example, received excellent reviews but generally mediocre or sporadic sales.
The sales rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coast eventually turned into a personal rivalry, aided in part by the music media. Many reporters were not aware that MC battles were an integral part of hip hop since its inception, and that, generally, little was meant by open taunts on albums and in performances.
In the wake of declining sales following the deaths of both superstar artists, the sounds of hip hop were greatly diversified. Most important was the rise of Southern rap, starting with OutKast (ATLiens) and Goodie Mob (Soul Food), based out of Atlanta. Later, Master P (Ghetto D) built up an impressive roster of popular artists (the No Limit posse) based out of New Orleans and incorporating G funk and Miami bass influences, and distinctive regional sounds from St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C., Detroit and others began to gain some popularity. Also in the 1990s, rapcore (a fusion of hip hop and heavy metal) became popular among mainstream audiences. Rage Against the Machine, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit were among the most popular rapcore bands.
Though Caucasian rappers like the Beastie Boys (Paul's Boutique), Vanilla Ice (To the Extreme) and 3rd Bass (The Cactus Album) had had some popular success and/or critical acceptance from the hip hop community, Eminem's success, beginning in 1999 with the triple platinum The Slim Shady LP, came as a surprise to many. Like most successful hip hop artists of the time, Eminem came to be criticized for alleged glorification of violence, misogyny, and drug abuse, as well as homophobia and albums laced with constant profanity. According to Kanye West, "Everybody in hip-hop discriminates against gay people."
In South Africa, pioneering crew Black Noise began rapping in 1989, provoking a ban by the apartheid-era government, which lasted until 1993. Later, the country produced its own distinctive style in the house fusion kwaito. Elsewhere in Africa, Senegalese mbalax fusions continued to grow in popularity, while Tanzanian Bongo Flava crews like X-Plastaz combined hiphop with taarab, filmi and other styles.
In Europe, hip hop was the domain of both ethnic nationals and immigrants. Germany, for example, produced the well-known Die Fantastischen Vier as well as several Turkish performers like the controversial Cartel, Kool Savaş, and Eko Fresh. Similarly, France has produced a number of native-born stars, such as IAM and the Breton crew Manau, though the most famous French rapper is probably the Senegalese-born MC Solaar. The Netherlands' most famous rappers are The Osdorp Posse, an all-white crew from Amsterdam, and The Postmen, from Cape Verde and Suriname. Italy found its own rappers, including Jovanotti and Articolo 31, grow nationally renowned, while the Polish scene began in earnest early in the decade with the rise of PM Cool Lee. In Romania, B.U.G. Mafia came out of Bucharest's Pantelimon neighborhood, and their brand of gangsta rap underlines the parallels between life in Romania's Communist-era apartment blocks and in the housing projects of America's ghettos. Israel's hip hop grew greatly in popularity at the end of the decade, with several stars emerging from both sides of the Palestinian (Tamer Nafer) and Jewish (Subliminal) divide; though some, like Mook E., preached peace and tolerance, others expressed nationalist and violent sentiments.
In Asia, mainstream stars rose to prominence in the Philippines, led by Michael V., Rap Asia, MC Lara and Lady Diane, and in Japan, where underground rappers had previously found a limited audience, and popular teen idols brought a style called J-rap to the top of the charts in the middle of the 90s.
Latinos had played an integral role in the early development of hip hop, and the style had spread to parts of Latin America, such as Cuba, early in its history. In Mexico, popular hip hop began with the success of Calo in the early '90s. Later in the decade, with Latin rap groups like Cypress Hill on the American charts, Mexican rap rock groups, such as Control Machete, rose to prominence in their native land. An annual Cuban hip hop concert held at Alamar in Havana helped to popularize Cuban hip hop, beginning in 1995. Hip hop grew steadily more popular in Cuba, due to official governmental support for musicians.
Though mainstream acceptance has become fairly limited to so-called commercial acts, some alternative hip hop musicians, with a socially aware or positive or optimistic tone, have achieved moderate mainstream success. De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising, Gang Starr's No More Mr. Nice Guy and the Jungle Brothers' Straight Out the Jungle are usually considered the first albums in this genre, with jazz-based samples and lyrics (see jazz rap) purportedly influenced by the Afrocentric messages of Bambaataa's Zulu Nation collective. Later alternative artists like A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, and The Roots, also achieved some mainstream success, though the influence of jazz had grown less pronounced (with some exceptions, such as Guru's Jazzmatazz project).
Jazz rap went on to influence the development of trip hop in the United Kingdom, which fuses hip hop, jazz and electronic music; believed to have been started by Massive Attack's Blue Lines (1991). Arrested Development also released their album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... in 1992, which included the hit single, "Tennessee." At the time, it was one of the best selling and most popular alternative rap albums. The success of Dr. Dre's The Chronic later that year, however, showed gangsta rap to be a more commercially viable form of hip hop.
In the year 2000, The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem sold over ten million copies in the United States, and Nelly's debut LP, Country Grammar, sold over six million copies. The United States also saw the success of alternative hip hop in the form of moderately popular performers like The Roots, Dilated Peoples and Mos Def, who achieved unheard-of success for their field.
As the decade progressed, hip hop has transformed from the more or less "old school" rhythmic rap to a more melodic hip hop that has the elements of jazz, classical, pop, reggae, and many other genres. Hip hop also gave birth to sub-genres such as snap music and crunk. Hip hop influences also found their way into mainstream pop during this period as well.
Some countries, like Tanzania, maintained popular acts of their own in the early 2000s, though many others produced few homegrown stars, instead following American trends. Scandinavian, especially Danish and Swedish, performers became well known outside of their country, while hip hop continued its spread into new regions, including Russia Hip-Hop, Japan Hip Hop, Philippines Hip Hop, Canada Hip Hop, China Hip Hop, Korea Hip Hop and India Hip Hop.
In Germany and France, gangsta rap has become popular among youths who like the violent and aggressive lyrics. Some German rappers openly or comically flirt with Nazism, Bushido (born Anis Mohamed Youssef Ferchichi) raps "Salutiert, steht stramm, Ich bin der Leader wie A" (Salute, stand to attention, I am the leader like 'A') and Fler had a hit with the record Neue Deutsche Welle (New German Wave) complete with the title written in Third Reich style gothic print and advertised with an Adolf Hitler quote. These references also spawned great controversy in Germany.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century, sales of hip-hop music in the United States began to severely wane, leading Time magazine to question if mainstream hip-hop was "dying." Billboard Magazine found that, since 2000, rap sales dropped 44%,and declined to 10% of all music sales, which, while still a commanding figure when compared to other genres, is a significant drop from the 13% of all music sales where rap music regularly placed. NPR culture critic Elizabeth Blair noted that, "some industry experts say young people are fed up with the violence, degrading imagery and lyrics. Others say the music is just as popular as it ever was, but that fans have found other means to consume the music."
Hip Hop Performers - Coming Soon
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