Rap music has been widely popular within the music genre of hip hop. Since its beginnings it has evolved into many different styles and flavors, brought on by many unique rap artists. There were occasions where rap music was the height of all music for its clever hooks and beats, to its legendary collaborations with a wide variety of notable rap artists. Other times rap music seemed to be taking a turn for the worse concerning its influence with today’s youth. Though rap music isn’t what it used to be, there are still plenty of artists, well known and up and coming, who are continuing to create music worth listening to. It’s simply a matter of taking the time to pay attention to who’s staying true to this aspect of hip hop and who isn’t.
Through the 70’s and 80’s:
With rap music, it originated in the 70’s in urban areas, around the time many people were participating in block parties. DJ Kool Herc is known as one of the earliest in the rap community, also known as the father of hip hop. It wasn’t until the 80’s did rap music began to evolve, becoming more popularized by those such as Grandmaster Flash, LL Cool J, and Run DMC. Back in those days, rap music had a distinct sound that was made unique by each artist who performed as such. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince were also among those who began to influence those who contributed to today’s sound. Yo! MTV Rap made it easy for people to enjoy seeing the many different rap artists and paved the way for new artists.
When beat boxing began to be incorporated into rap, it began to influence artists into taking rap to a whole other level, and is still popular today. Darren Robinson also known as “buff love” was a member of a rap group called The Fat Boys, and he was often called a human beat box because of his signature style of producing authentic sounding beats from his own mouth that sounded like it came from a machine. Beat boxing and rap music often went hand in hand during those times but wasn’t required in order to produce a popular record. Still, it made it a lot of fun for kids growing up in those times to listen to this style of music while mimicking those same sounds. Those that grew up listening to oldies but goodies music from the 50’s and 60’s weren’t always keen on the direction music was taking. Nonetheless, more and more people began adapting to it and creating their own unique sound at the same time.
For awhile it seemed like men were dominating the rap world. Women began setting their own trend in rap music such as Salt n’ Pepa, MC Lyte, and Yo Yo, who was mostly known in the 90’s.
The 90’s and Gangster Rap:
During the 90’s most music began taking on a different sound. Not just with rap and other elements of hip hop, but other genres as well. With rap music in the early 90’s, it was still fun to listen to with no added confrontation despite new artists coming forth and bringing their own flavor to music. Rap was still fun to listen to at concerts and on the radio, not to mention at parties. Listening to music from that era is still preferable than what is heard today.
When gangster rap began to become popular it started a whole new trend of blending rap music and violence. To some, it didn’t matter because the music was still unique and clever making you want to listen to it. To others, it became a disgrace, especially to artists who didn’t feel the need to use confrontation, violence, and cursing into their music. These confrontations began to escalate into real life situations, causing it to become a bad influence with our youth. When it comes to music, it should be about expression of oneself and honesty, but also a responsibility.
Most real life gangsters turned to rap music as a way of escaping what is known as “the ghetto life” or the “gangster lifestyle” while promoting that kind of lifestyle in their music. For them, music is a way of life, as with most rap artists. It comes down to reaching inside of your soul and becoming honest, drawing from the energy of wanting to change things for the better, and becoming a better person.
Most notable artists of gangster rap consisted of Bone Thugs n’ Harmony, Ice T, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and The Notorious B.I.G. also known as Biggie Smalls. Many more artists became known in this aspect of rap, and most listeners felt it turned their community into a danger zone. After the deaths of Biggie Smalls and Tupac things slowly began to change. Even with the confrontation between them, they are known as two of the best rap artists ever. Despite what they would rap about, they demonstrated truth, and wisdom while using rap in their way of life. This shows that their artistic vision, no matter which rap artists it was during this time, had a sense of purpose, despite the flaws in promoting violence.
Music itself shouldn’t be complicated but when you add the only lifestyle that you knew within this type of artistry, it’s no wonder things began to spiral out of control for some. However, it is still rap music that seemed to bring others together. No matter which rap artists was rapping about what, rap music itself is real, it’s authentic, and with many unique sounds that you can’t help but call art, because of the amount of expression involved. Ultimately, that’s what art is all about.
Rap Music Today and Its Legacy:
Of course not all rap artists shows this talent. Many of them in today’s time haven’t demonstrated the exact truth and drive when it comes to making songs. For a lot of rap artists, it’s about money, and women, which doesn’t show true artistry. It may have something to do with a lot of record companies making deals, rather than making real music. Still, in the midst of all of that, there are plenty you can still see unique artistry within.
The styles have changed drastically, and yet there is still room for evolution. Rap music has inspired a lot of people in a positive way, and it gave them something to turn to when they needed to heal, or to express themselves in a certain way. The times have changed, and the faces are different, but one thing remains the same. True rap music represents realism, and truth, according to that particular rap artist, and sometimes it takes time to fully understand their point of view. Many people believe rap music, or hip hop rather, is dead. With the continued evolution, it’s slowly starting to wake back up.
For more info on rap music in general and its history: