Hip-hop music is the vehicle of hip-hop culture and contains “rapping” (superimposed with vocals) by emcees. Owing to this, hip-hop music is sometimes referred to as “rap music,” However, those who dismiss hip-hop as rap music do not comprehend its rich history and the influence this genre of music has on youth culture.
Hip-hop music is a vehicle used by the singers to address racism, oppression, and poverty issues. It narrates tales of inner city African-Americans living the American dream (through hard work, courage and determination one can achieve prosperity) from the bottom up, and bitterly touches upon racial discrimination, broken homes, and overcoming adversity.
Invented by Jamaican migrant DJ Kool Herc in the early 70s in New York City, it has since then spread its tentacles across the world. Herc shifted from reggae records to funk, rock and disco. Owing to the short percussive breaks, he began extending them using an audio mixer and two records. As the unique style of music became a hit, performers (emcees) began superimposing the music with vocals; initially, they introduced themselves and others in the audience. Later, the rapping became more diverse, incorporating brief rhymes, often with a sexual or violent theme, in an attempt to entertain the audience.
In the mid-1970s, hip-hop split into two groups. One focused on getting the crowd dancing, another highlighted rapid-fire rhymes. The 1980s witnessed further diversification in hip-hop; highly metaphoric lyrics rapping over multi-layered beats replaced simple vocals. In the 90s, gangsta rap (glorified outlaw lifestyle) became mainstream. Hip-hop was soon an integral part of mainstream music, and nearly all the pop songs featured an underlying element of hip-hop.
In the 90s and into the following decade, elements of hip-hop were integrated into diverse genres of music: hip-hop soul combined hip-hop and soul music; in the Dominican Republic, a recording by Santi Y Sus Duendes and Lisa M was coined “Meren-rap,” a fusion of hip-hop and meringue. In Europe, Africa, and Asia, hip-hop has undergone a transition from an underground occurrence to the mainstream market.