The Evolution of Hip Hop Music

The Evolution of Hip Hop Music

What began as rap music developed into the cultural phenomenon now known as hip hop. The evolution of hip hop music spans almost 40 years, with funk and disco helping to lay its foundation.

Beginning in the early 1970s, DJs would sometimes utilize two turntables while performing at block parties, allowing a song's breakdown section to be expanded for dancers.

A spoken-word style called "toasting", seen in reggae music, would soon influence early rap artists, known as MCs; these early forms of rap involved shouting out phrases during breakdowns.

In 1979, the first rap records were released, and were musically simplistic, often with little more than bass and drums; lyrical content usually centered around good times and dancing.

By the early 1980s, rap was becoming more competitive; DJ contests and duels between MCs were common, and break-dancing would become mainstream. The evolution of hip hop music was notable during this time; West Coast rap arrived through artists such as Ice-T, digital sampling and beatboxing came into use, and after several major rap tours and films, hip hop soon became a worldwide phenomenon.

Hip hop during the 1980s also featured increasingly dark subject matter, reflecting inner-city life, and with improving production values gangster rap was soon born. Despite some banned albums, protests, lawsuits, and obscenity trials, gangster rap would heavily influence the 1990s. Synthesizer sounds, along with funky, heavily sampled rhythms, would evolve into the G-funk sound, notably through artists such as Dr. Dre.

The 1990s also saw a return to more live music on hip hop albums, as exemplified by groups such as The Roots, and this led to more rap artists using live bands on stage as well. Demographically, hip hop was now appealing to a wider audience in middle- and upper-class areas far from its birthplace.

The term itself would adopt a more cultural meaning by the end of the decade. Historically an African-American art form, many more hip hop artists of different ethnic groups and nationalities were now noticeable.

By the 21st century, elements of reggae, classic soul, R&B, and jazz--some of hip hop's original influences--were creeping back into its formula; a worldly influence of African, Asian, and Caribbean elements has also penetrated its sound. Political and social commentary are now more prevalent than ever, and as the dominant language of change and rebellion among youth, the evolution of hip hop will likely never cease.

Let the music of hip hop influence you to get on your feet and dance to lose weight and get in shape.

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