HiStory of HIP-HOP
written by Davey D
Modern day rap music finds its immediate roots in the toasting and dub talk over elements of reggae music. In the early 70's, a Jamaican dj known as Kool Herc moved from Kingston to NY's West Bronx. Here, he attempted to incorporate his Jamaican style of dj which involved reciting improvised rhymes over the dub versions of his reggae records. Unfortunately, New Yorkers weren't into reggae at the time. Thus Kool Herc adapted his style by chanting over the instrumental or percussion sections of the day's popular songs. Because these breaks were relatively short, he learned to extend them indefinitely by using an audio mixer and two identical records in which he continuously replaced the desired segment.In those early days, young party goers initially recited popular phrases and used the slang of the day. For example, it was fashionable for dj to acknowledge people who were in attendance at a party. These early raps featured someone such as Herc shouting over the instrumental break; 'Yo this is Kool Herc in the joint-ski saying my mellow-ski Marky D is in the house'. This would usually evoke a response from the crowd, who began to call out their own names and slogans.
phenomenon evolved, the party shouts became more elaborate as dj in
an effort to be different, began to incorporate little rhymes-'Davey
D is in the house/An he'll turn it out without a doubt.' It wasn't long
before people began drawing upon outdated dozens and school yard rhymes.
Many would add a little twist and customize these rhymes to make them
suitable for the party environment. At that time rap was not yet known
as 'rap' but called 'emceeing'. With regards to Kool Herc, as he progressed,
he eventually turned his attention to the complexities of djaying and
let two friends Coke La Rock and Clark Kent (not Dana Dane's dj) handle
the microphone duties. This was rap music first emcee team. They became
known as Kool Herc and the Herculoids.
rap, because of its inclusive aspects, allowed one to accurately and
efficiently inject their personality. If you were laid back, you could
rap at a slow pace. If you were hyperactive or a type-A, you could rap
at a fast pace. No two people rapped the same, even when reciting the
same rhyme. There were many people who would try and emulate someone's
style, but even that was indicative of a particular personality. Rap
continues to be popular among today's urban youth for the same reasons
it was a draw in the early days: it is still an accessible form of self
expression capable of eliciting positive affirmation from one's peers.
Because rap has evolved to become such a big business, it has given
many the false illusion of being a quick escape from the harshness of
inner city life. There are many kids out there under the belief that
all they need to do is write a few 'fresh' (good) rhymes and they're
off to the good life.
For example in August of '67, Martin Luther King Jr addressed the Association of Television and Radio Broadcasters. Here he delivered an eloquent speech in which he let it be known that Black radio djs played an intricate part in helping keep the Civil Rights Movement alive. He noted that while television and newspapers were popular and often times more effective mediums, they rarely languaged themselves so that Black folks could relate to them. He basically said Black folks were checking for the radio as their primary source of information. In August, 1980 Minister Farrakhon echoed those thoughts when he addressed a body of Black radio djs and programmers at the Jack The Rapper Convention. He warned them to be careful about what they let on the airwaves because of its impact. He got deep and spoke about the radio stations being instruments of mind control and how big companies were going out of their way to hire 'undignified' 'foul' and 'dirty' djs who were no longer being conveyers of good information to the community. To paraphrase him, Farrakhon noted that there was a fear of a dignified djs coming on the airwaves and spreading that dignity to the people he reached. Hence the role radio was playing was beginning to shift...Black radio djs were moving away from being the griots.. Black radio was no longer languaging itself so that both a young and older generation could define and hear themselves reflected in this medium.
Author Nelson George talks extensively about this in his book 'The Death Of Rhythm And Blues'. He documented how NY's Black radio station began to position themselves so they would appeal to a more affluent, older & to a large degree, whiter audience. He pointed out how young people found themselves being excluded especially when bubble gum and Europeanized versions of disco music began to hit the air waves. To many, this style of music lacked soul and to a large degree sounded too formulated and mechanical. In a recent interview hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa spoke at length how NY began to lose its connection with funk music during this that time. He noted that established rock acts doing generic sounding disco tunes found a home on black radio. Acts like Rod Stewart and the Rolling Stones were cited as examples. Meanwhile Black artists like James Brown and George Clinton were for the most part unheard on the airwaves. Even the gospel-like soulful disco as defined by the 'Philly sound' found itself losing ground. While the stereotype depicted a lot of long haired suburban white kids yelling the infamous slogan 'disco sucks', there were large number of young inner city brothers and sisters who were in perfect agreement. With all this happening a void was created and hip hop filled it... Point blank, hip hop was a direct response to the watered down, Europeanized, disco music that permeated the airwaves.. FYI around the same time hip hop was birthed, House music was evolving among the brothers in Chicago, GoGo music was emerging among the brothers in Washington DC and Black folks in California were getting deep into the funk. If you ask me, it was all a repsonse to disco.
early days of hip hop, there were break dance crews who went around
challenging each other. Many of these participants were former gang
members who found a new activity. Bambataa's Universal Zulu Nation was
one such group. As the scene grew, block parties became popular. It
was interesting to note that the music being played during these gigs
was stuff not being played on radio. Here James Brown, Sly & Family
Stone, Gil Scott Heron and even the Last Poets found a home. Hence a
younger generation began building off a musical tradition abandoned
by its elders. Break beats picked up in popularity as emcees sought
to rap longer at these parties. It wasn't long before rappers became
the ONLY vocal feature at these parties. A microphone and two turntables
was all one used in the beginning. With the exception of some break
dancers the overwhelming majority of attendees stood around the roped
off area and listened carefully to the emcee. A rapper sought to express
himself while executing keen lyrical agility. This was defined by one's
rhyme style, one's ability to rhyme on beat and the use of clever word
play and metaphors.
The introduction of rap records in the early 80s put a new meaning on hip hop. It also provided participants a new incentive for folks to get busy. Rap records inspired hip hoppers to take it to another level because they now had the opportunity to let the whole world hear their tales. It also offered a possible escape from the ghetto.... But that's another story..we'll tell it next time.
© 2004-2017 www.jazzyconcepts.com