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From Bronx "Breaks" to L.A. Rap: The History of Hip-Hop

Hip-hop was created nearly fifty years ago. Many of us listen to hip-hop every day, yet many people don’t know its history.

It all started back in 1973 when, “DJ Kool Herc” threw a party for his sister in their apartment building on Sedgwick Ave in the Bronx, New York. He played a type of music called “breaks'', which included some drums, funky percussion, and bass put together. This was where hip-hop was born.

Being a DJ in hip-hop was all about moving your finger back and forth on the vinyl and being creative with it. Later it evolved. People started putting rhyming couplets, which are two-lined poems, in front of the music, then to triplets, three-lined poems, and then to multiple rhyming lines. However, people in Harlem and the Bronx did not believe that rap would ever be a real genre. That changed in 1979 when producer Sylvia Robinson gathered three kids and recorded rhymes over a beat that turned into the famous hit ”Rapper's Delight'' by Sugarhill Gang, which sold millions of copies. The lyrics in that song were stolen from lyrics they heard at parties. This angered many in the community because Sugarhill became known for something the community was already doing.

The 1980s are known as the “Golden Age” of hip-hop. Run DMC was considered the Beatles of hip-hop. They were known as the first hip-hop stars because of the big records that they produced and their street-style music. They carried that whole aesthetic and influenced many other groups to bring new sounds and styles to hip-hop.

While the Bronx was the birthplace of hip-hop, the west coast, mainly Los Angeles was creating its own identity with hardcore, “Gangsta Rap”. In Miami, the music adopted a bass-heavy dance club style. Meanwhile, in Oakland, it turned into more of a digital underground vibe.

There have been many great artists in different decades. In the 1990s, when rap really exploded, Biggie Smalls and Tupac were two of the most famous rappers in the world. In the 2000s, Kanye West, Eminem, and Jay Z were just a few of the names that were taking the spotlight. In the 2010s, a lot of rappers shined, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, and Drake drawing the spotlight. Women also have a place in the history of hip-hop; these names include Salt-N-Peppa, Queen Latifah, and MC Lyte.

Having started in the Bronx, hip-hop has gone through the world and is now one of the most popular genres. If you compare current rap to the 70s or 80s the sound quality would not be the same. With improved technology, music and rap will always continue to grow and implement new variations and improvements.


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