Happy birthday to Hip-Hop! Perhaps the most popular genre of music today, Hip-Hop has been through an evolution that created some of the world’s best MCs, songs, sub-genres, clothing, and so much more. From the heart of where it originated, The Bronx, to the “dirty” South, to the West Coast, and even traveling international, Hip-Hop has stood the test of time. In this special article, we’ll be going briefly over the history of Hip-Hop, how it changed, and where it stands now.
From the turntables of DJ Kool Herc scratching records and introducing a new style in the South Bronx, to graffiti art on the subways, to breakdancing and beyond, the late 70s’ and early 80s in New York was the birthplace of Hip-Hop. With artists like Slick Rick, and Dougie. E. Fresh, Grandmaster Flash, KRS-ONE, the genre showcased DJ’s “scratching” records and blending songs, rappers with their rhymes and fashion that still is the backbone for today’s looks.
The late ’80s and '90s brought in more “hardcore” acts, such as N.W.A, Public Enemy, Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Snoop Dogg, and the Wu-Tang Clan. It was also a boom for more female artists. Roxanne Shante, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, and Missy Elliot were paving the way for more to come. Other groups like Gang Starr, Outkast, Del La Soul, and The Roots began to lay their foundations that would last decades. Label studios were also on the rise. Def Jam, Bad Boy, Rukus, and Death Row were churning out hits non-stop. Sadly, it was also bringing gang violence, drugs, and misogyny into the music. Record labels were pressured to either change lyrics or create some sort of warning for young listeners. But that didn’t deter artists from expressing themselves.
The 2000s, to some, was perhaps the peak of the genre. 50 Cent and G-Unit, Eminem, Ja Rule, and Murda Inc, Roc-A-Fela and the Diplomats, D-Block, DMX and Ruff Ryders, Nelly, T.I., Mos Def, Talib Kwali, Kanye West, the introduction of “backpack hip-hop” with acts like Lupe Fiasco, Little Brother, MF Doom, and others. Fast forward to the present, and we have Megan Thee Stallion, Kendrick Lamar, J.Cole, Tobe Nwigwe, Nicki Minaj, and Run The Jewels topping the charts. As of now, Hip-Hop is the number one music genre in the world. Not only a giant in music, but Hip-Hop has also inspired so much. Clothing lines, television, movies, and even video games. (STILL waiting on remastered versions of Def Jam: Fight for NY and NFL Street!)
Question: When did you first fall in love with Hip-Hop? For me, it was when I heard Common’s The Light. While well are that LL Cool J was serenading the ladies with his lyrics (Hey, Lover, I Need Love, Doin It Well…bangers), it was Common that really made me listen and appreciate lyricism. While I got down with Ice Cube, Jadakiss, and Redman who were raw (but also lyrical), artists such as Common, Guru, Black Thought, and GZA made me truly appreciate the craft.
That’s it for me, fam! Now, I know that I left some artists and sub-genres out, but it's literally too many to list! Tell me when you first fell in love with Hip-Hop (special props to the movie, Brown Sugar, for that quote.) and drop your favorite rapper in the comments. Till next time, fellow blerds!