The Origins of Hip Hop and Rap
The Origins of Hip-Hop and Rap
In the late 1970’s a new, popular form of urban youth culture emerged in the Bronx, New York that changed the face of popular music and American culture. Throughout its development, hip-hop has become a vastly commercialized, inextricable component of popular American culture; however, it took the efforts of many pioneers and innovators to shape modern hip-hop culture and music. By exploring hip-hop’s origins, one can better understand its evolution and its influence on different social groups throughout the United States.
There are many misconceptions about what the term hip-hop entails. Many believe hip-hop is synonymous for rap music; however, hip-hop encompasses all the cultural elements of surrounding rap. In its beginning, the hip-hop subculture included deejaying, emceeing, graffiti, and break dancing. These elements contributed greatly to hip-hop, and therefore must be considered when examining the evolution of hip-hop into the major cultural force it has become.
Hip hop’s origins begin much farther back than the 1970’s. According to Black Arts literary critic Addison Gayle, Jr., Black Art has always been based on the anger felt by African Americans. Thus, he draws a connection between the Black Arts Movement of the ‘60s and hip hop culture. Hip-hop culture absorbed many of the convictions and aesthetic criteria that evolved out of the Black Arts Movement, including calls for social relevance, originality, and an effort to challenge American mainstream artistic culture (Gladney 291). Graffiti, rap music, and break dancing were all forms of artistic expression within the hip-hop culture. As writer Marvin J. Gladney asserts, “Those who pioneered hip-hop were offering artistic expression designed to cope with urban frustrations and conditions” (Gladney 292). Scholar Cornell West believes that hip-hop is more than just feelings of frustration, but also an outward protest of the poor living conditions in the black ghetto which is intended to reach its listener on a personal level. He explained:
lack rap music is primarily the musical expression of the paradoxical cry of desperation and celebration of the black underclass and poor working class, a cry that openly acknowledges and confronts the wave of personal coldheartedness, criminal cruelty, and existential hopelessness in the black ghettos of AfroAmerican. (West 26)
Thus, rap developed as a form of artistic expression articulating the urban impoverished experience.
As New York City expanded due to the influx of immigrants new forms...