Rap Music A Soundtrack Of Revolution Essay

Length: 17 pages Sources: 17 Subject: Music Type: Essay Paper: #73006008 Related Topics: A Bronx Tale, Peace Like A River, A River Runs Through It, Rock N Roll
Excerpt from Essay :

Rap Music - a Soundtrack of Revolution

Soundtrack of Revolution for the Generations of Rap Artists Since 1980s

Hip hop is a culture that encompasses a vast corporation of artistic forms, which originated from marginalized subcultures within the South Bronx in New York City during the 1970s. This culture encloses four distinct elements, representing diverse manifestations of its founding reasons: the rap music (oral), disc jockey (turntablism), graffiti art (visual), and break-dancing (physical). Regardless of their controversial forms of execution, these artists find a general unity within their association's manifestations of poverty, violence, and racism underlying the historical context of their cultural origin. This association served to provide reactionary outlets from the urbanization hardships which it underwent.

The cultural origin of hip hop stems from a chunk of parties of the Ghetto Brothers who would plug amps for their musical instruments and speakers into lampposts at Prospect Avenue and 163rd Street. Similarly, DJ Kool Herc performed the same at Sedgwick Avenue. These artists would mix several samples of existing musical records accompanied by their own musical shouts to the crowd and/or a group of dancers. Another tremendous force in the premature rap movement was Afrika Bambaataa with his group of the Zulu Nation. He could spin records and incorporate an element of cultural awareness in his spinning, and this was newly interesting his party crowds. History thereby coins these artists as the founding fathers of rap. Rap music has become the cornerstone of the hip hop culture. Since its inception, hip hop cultures spread like a bush-fire into both urban and sub-cultural communities throughout the world. Today, rap music that is a sub-element of hip hop culture has been the fastest evolving music genre within the U.S. And the rest of the world. This paper thereby intends to discuss endless efforts of rap artists to create a soundtrack of revolution for their generations, and to explain the evolution of rap music from its inception to the colossal industry it is today.

Background of the Hip Hop Culture and Rap Music

The origin of hip hop culture traces its roots back from 1970s within the South Bronx and streets of New York City. This culture is deeply rooted into the pain and experiences of Black-Americans during the era of slavery

. While in the working fields, slaves could often sing the songs of "call and answer." Moreover, when the slaves attended their religious services, this trendy singing culture could continue regularly. This culture thereby prevailed in the Black-American churches even after the end of slavery. During 1970s, the duration within which the American music did not appear to be undergoing evolution, in the New York City, two deejays emerged: DJ Kool Herc and DJ Hollywood. These deejays had sufficient experience with the aging disco scenes that they got musical inspirations. They could pull records from their parents' homes, and later begun to spin short sections on turntables at local parties after which they begun to use two turntables simultaneously. Thereafter, the cultures underwent tremendous changes following the efforts of rap artists and incorporations of other sub-elements. Afrika Bambaataa with his Zulu Nation group was another tremendous force during the early rap movements. Afrika was a deejay who could spin records at parties and parks. In his spinning, he incorporated some elements of cultural awareness hence creating a new and interesting sound to his crowd.

Notwithstanding its establishment by black youths from the streets, the influence of hip hop culture and rap music has become worldwide

. Research statistics reveals that approximately 70% of the rap audience are non-blacks.Hip hop encloses four elements: graffiti, break-dancing, disc jockey, and rap.

However, this paper will major on the rap music.

One is capable to differentiate a Filipino or Chinese rapper using similar slang, as well as the original Black American rapper. This it because the foundation of the hip hop language took place along the streets where street language was transmitted into the hip hop culture via the rap music

.For instance, the hip hop rappers may use adjectives such as da bomb, legit, hittin, dope, to describe any excellent activity or


One of the most commonly used and popular word within hip hop culture and rap music is the term "nigga." Therefore, the street language has become the dialect language of all sorts. Despite having a different first language, rap music artist can still understand the hip hop slang. As a result, it is possible to hear an Asian, white, or Latino rap artist saying "TJ is my nigga," meaning "TJ is my good friend." Vocabularies of this culture thereby transforms constantly with time. Today, whatever a person can term as a "cool statement" can turn out to be a rap lyric tomorrow, but become out of date just in a year or less.

Despite its controversial methods of execution, the hip hop culture finds its common ground of association to racial discrimination, poverty, violence, and oppression. All these underlie a historical context of its cultural foundation, which provides for a reactionary input from the above hardships. This was through a form of self-expression that could act to proclaim alternatives to life situations reflect upon the pros and cons of life, and challenge or evoke the circumstantial moods within an environment. One of the diversely positive effects of the hip hop culture is on its efforts of encouraging corporation among individuals.

DJ Hollywood, DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Busy Starski Bee are the widely popular artists credited for further devising the term "hip hop." One can trace the commercial history of the rap music back in 1980 when the Sugar Hill Gang performed a successful song titled, Rapper's Delight. As the message in rap music grew more cohesive and relevant, so did its interest from the people. Collective and continuous messages from the rap music told unspoken stories of the urban streets; violence, crime, and drug abuse. Regardless of how debauched the message was, the black urban youths established a platform for outward expression of their rage towards the entire American society.

DJ Kool Herc was a disc jockey who endeavored to incorporate the Jamaican style of disc jockeying via recitation of improvised reggae records. Inopportunely, the New York City's interest was greater towards reggae music than the rap music during this period. In response, DJ Kool adapted a new rap style with an appealing sound that could please his audience. He thereby involved himself into the rap music by chanting over persecution or instrumental sections of any prevalent music of the day. With the emergence of disc jockeys, hip hop culture and rap music begun to spread through urban areas and streets of New York.

This marked the commencement of a new music genre by early 1980s. Following the evolution of this phenomena, party shouts became more intricate, and deejays begun to incorporate several rhymes into their rap music. As the rap music got its way through the urban communities of the New York City, lots of people begun using it as a mode of self-expression with unlimited boundaries. It had no set of formal rules, except being original and rhyming with the musical beats. Anybody could rap about an issue pertaining to his/her personal life, life at school or anything relating to American life.

A perfect example illustrating how the rap music and hip hop culture cuts across all ethnic boundaries is evident within the Asian communities. After the inception and successful development of hip hop culture, its influence extends further and beyond the limits of the New York City. In North Africa and the Middle East, rap has been a well-established and accessible platform for artistic expression and political protests. It is quite sensible to say that hip hop culture would take trace a root and flourish within the Arabian music scenes

. With its rhyme-based loud politics and lyrical styles, the genre can perfectly fit into the legacy of protest, political, and poetic consciousness that exists across North Africa and the Middle East. As a matter of fact, Nouri Gana wrote in a revolt and raps within the Arabian world "it is never farfetched to envisage that rap music originated from Arabic culture."

Rap music emerged as one of the most controversial and distinctive music genres over the past few decades. A fundamental element of hip hop culture outlines the conditions and experiences of African-Americans who lived in the spectrum of marginalized circumstances, such as the racial stereotyping and stigmatization in order to struggle for survival within the violent conditions of Ghetto. In this context, the rap provided a kind of protest to the oppressed, a voice to the voiceless, and alternatives to cultural styles and identities for the marginalized communities. Thus, rap is not only music to dance or party to, but also a potent mode of cultural identity. It has been a powerful engine for cultural and socio-political expression, providing an informational platform and medium that describes…

Sources Used in Documents:


Brewster, Bill and Frank, Broughton. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc

Jockey. New York, NY: Grove Press, August 2000.

Chris, Dickinson. 3-CD Set Chronicles History of Rap. Everyday Magazine, January 4, 1998, 3.

Fernando, Shem. The New Beats. New York, NY: Anchor Books Doubleday, 1994.

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