Rap has taken on so many forms of the years. It hasn’t all been beatboxing and scratching records and thug life. Rap began in New York in the 1970s. In between DJ’s at parties MC’s would isolate the drum beats from disco, funk, and soul. What started as rhyming and joking over the flow of the beats to introduce the next DJ spawned a new style of music. As a result dancing and partying were associated with it from the beginning. Rap has always been about the flow, sick rhymes and the beats! SugarHill Gang dropped the first Rap Song to break the Top 40 charts in 1979, ‘Rappers Delight.’
THE EARLY DAYS
Early Hip Hop and Rap were intertwined and the music and beats were lively and fun. The early ’80s Featured Kurtis Blow and Run DMC of which Russel Simmons became famous as the founder of Def Jam Records. LL Cool J, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) would follow and become household names. This was the era of beatboxing, record scratching, and sound machines. The style became synonymous with Rap artists. Run DMC sported black fedoras and thick gold chains. DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince flashed bright colors and sports jerseys. LL Cool J was famous for his tracksuits and Kangol Bucket Hat. The Beastie Boys popped on the scene in the late ’80s as a rap-rock hybrid with gritty lyrics, witty rhymes and some hard rock guitar notes. Women Entered the scene with Salt n Pepa. Rap Music, born in NYC had been dominated by East Coast Rappers, but West Coast was starting to break out with Ice T in 1987 and N.W.O. which started giving some street cred to West Coast Rap. LL Cool J, Will Smith and Ice T have had long-acting careers. Ice T was the first rapper featured in a movie. He debuted in Breakin’ and later in Breakin’2 Electric Boogaloo as a breakdancer and rapper.
‘Thug life’ really takes center stage in the late 1980s and early ’90s as Rap switched tones. As reported by RapTv the lyrics coming from the west coast spoke of people’s lives growing up in hard neighborhoods. Crime, sex, drugs, bad language and the attitude from the streets began taking over the music. The fun lively tones drifted away as tones of anger and politically charged rhymes would prevail. At this point, Rap shifted its center. Ice T and N.W.O. (Ice Cube would emerge as a solo act from the group) started making waves followed by Dr. Dre in 1992. Tupac signed on the same label and the G-funk signature of west coast rap had arrived. In New York Puff Daddy, Public Enemy and The Notorious Biggie Smalls were bringing their own brand of deep bass bumping Rap. LA’s Tupac and NY’s Biggie Smalls were both victims of gang-related shootings and actual peace summits were held between the coasts.
Glitz, style and money have become the focus of the new generation. Jeans and long shirts made way for Suits, fashion and private jets. Puff Daddy, Will Smith and Queen Latifah remerge and set the stage as Eminem bursts onto the scene with enough attitude to carry the whole genre! NAS, 50 Cent, Kanye West, JAY Z and Nicki Minaj join the party. Rap music sees the entry of new influences as rappers refused to be pigeon-holed. Funk, pop, soul, electronica and reggae influences show up while lyrical verses sometimes take a softer emotional side. Rivalries and smack talk is alive and well! Women in Rap have taken a bigger stage too including Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill and Cardi B. These mainstream superstars release albums with sharp-witted jabs provoking the other. Many of these stars have persevered as the flavor of the moment, Mumble Rap as it has been called is often criticized for not being able to hear the lyrics
Rap has come from underground parties to an ever-growing force in the music world. The sound is constantly changing and the stars are savvy and sharp with their words. Many of the stars have pushed their creativity beyond music as actors, Clothing Designer and more.