All About Hip Hop

23 May

Kurtis Blow, The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Whodini and others are considered to be the pioneers of rap and hip hop music.

1520 Sedgwick Avenue, the Bronx — the avenue used by Kool Herc is often considered the birthplace of hip hop.  DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock provided an influence on the vocal style of rapping by delivering simple poetry verses over funk music breaks, after party-goers showed little interest in their previous attempts to integrate reggae-infused toasting into musical sets.  DJs and MCs would often add call and response chants, often consisting of a basic chorus, to allow the performer to gather his thoughts (e.g. “one, two, three, y’all, to the beat”).

Rap group Run DMC had a huge impact on hip hop

Rapping, also referred to as MCing or emceeing, is a vocal style in which the artist speaks lyrically, in rhyme and verse, generally to an instrumental or synthesized beat. Beats, almost always in 4/4 time signature, can be created by sampling and/or sequencing portions of other songs by a producer.   They also incorporate synthesizers, drum machines, and live bands. Rappers may write, memorize, or improvise their lyrics and perform their works a cappella or to a beat.

The roots of spoken hip hop music are found in African-American music and ultimately African music, particularly that of the griots of West African culture.  The African-American traditions of signifyin’, the dozens, and jazz poetry all influence hip hop music, as well as the call and response patterns of African and African-American religious ceremonies.

Emerging out of Rap, Hip hop music came about as party DJs made improvisations to existing music.   Turntable techniques, such as scratching, beat mixing/matching, and beat juggling eventually developed along with the breaks, creating a base that could be rapped over, in a manner similar to signifying, as well as the art of toasting, which is prevalent in Jamaican dub music.  Although hip hop music predates the introduction of rapping into hip hop culture, the majority of the genre is accompanied by rap vocals.

DJs Mixing

Later, the MCs grew more varied in their vocal and rhythmic delivery, incorporating brief rhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort to differentiate themselves and to entertain the audience. These early raps incorporated the dozens, a product of African American culture. Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hop group to gain recognition in New York, but the number of MC teams increased over time.

Rhythm and Blues (R&B) singer and ”Godfather of Soul”,  James Brown, and musical ‘comedy’ acts such as Rudy Ray Moore and Blowfly are often considered “godfathers” of hip hop music.


3 Responses to “All About Hip Hop”

  1. Makayla June 14, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Young MC and LL Cool J era is as far as I go back, I really didn’t know much about Whodini, Kurtis Blow, or the Furious Five, although I do know Grandmaster Flash. The only song that I do know of Whodini is ‘Freaks come out at night’, but that’s about it. If the rappers mentioned here are the forefathers of rap, then I should definitely check out their music. Live and learn they say.

  2. Chris June 14, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    I didn’t know that party DJs had so much influence in the emergence of hip hop. In fact, I only knew very few things mentioned here and it’s really cool that hip hop has such rich history.


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