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Some info about music genres: Rap and Hip Hop


     Urban is in or having to do with cities, as distinct from rural areas.

Urban Music

     In terms of music, urban music and urban radio are synonymous with the terms rap or hip hop, because that type of music typically originates in urban areas. (In these contexts the term "black music" has sometimes been used, and urban serves as a race-neutral replacement.) Current examples of popular urban musicians are Missy Elliott, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Nelly, and Ludacris. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban



Urban Radio

     Anything that is currently street, or hip is likely to find its way onto the urban charts. Rap, hip hop, and also club, rhythm 'n' blues as well as jazz, gospel/inspirational and ballads.

     Urban announcers tend to be the hippest announcers on the air and are often the conduit whereby street slang finds its way into mainstream usage. Urban AC stations (Urban AC stations often will not play rap or hip-hop. They build their playlists in much the same manner as other adult contemporary stations. These stations rely heavily on rhythm and blues oldies and recurrents) use a more relaxed announcing style than their counterparts at stations programmed for younger audiences. Urban stations, targeting younger audiences, develop their playlists around whatever is popular with urban audiences. These stations take a CHR-like approach to rap, hip-hop, rhythm 'n' blues, and ballads.

Rap music


     Rap music [origin: mid-1970s, New York City] is one of the elements of hip hop; it is a form of rhyming lyrics spoken rhythmically over musical instruments, with a musical backdrop of sampling, scratching and mixing by DJs. Originally rapping was called MCing and was seen as supporting the DJ.

     Rapping began as a variation on the elements found in reggae, funk and dub music, mixed with influences from radio DJs. Also of influence were the works of The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron and Bob Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues (1965). The original rappers, or MCs (from "Master of Ceremonies") would improvise rhymes over the beats created by the DJs. Early raps were frequently merely a sequence of boasts, or attempts to upstage the other MCs.
    The first rap record was 1979's King Tim III by the
Fatback Band (featuring the rapper King Tim III). The Sugarhill Gang followed the same year with Rappers Delight, that became a major hit and is based on Chic's oft-sampled disco track "Good Times". The first rap hit by a non-black artist was Blondie's "Rapture" in 1981.

Politics and rap

     In the mid-1980s, rap became increasingly politicized, through the works of Public Enemy, KRS One, and others, and tended to chronicle the black urban experience. Gangsta rap may be seen in this context of subversion, but is also seen by some as the abandonment of a constructive message. The early 90's saw artists such as NWA and Ice-T facing massive controversy for their explosive tales of murder, rebellion, and sex. This style of rap quickly became the most popular, as rappers like Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre became mainstream celebrities.

Tupac Shakur 

Tupac Shakur

Descendents and influence

     Rapping can be seen as one of the four elements of hip hop: MCing (rapping), DJing (mixing, cutting and scratching), graffiti, and breakdancing. However, in the course of rap's history, new musical styles developed that use rapping - especially rapcore, also known as rap/rock or rap/metal, first introduced by crossover pioneer Run-DMC's collaboration with Aerosmith in 1986. Some alternative rap has musically very little to do with hip hop and rap music. Often consisting of bizarre soundscapes and vivid lyrics, abstract hip-hop has developed, largely in the underground.

     Music outside of the United States has taken the rap style and blended it with completely different elements. Japanese dance music, for example, often uses rapping to complement or break up the singing parts, with lyrics containing upbeat themes set to energetic rhythms and clean, warm synths. A new offshoot of garage techno, dubbed Grime, has emerged in Britain, featuring acts like Dizzee Rascal and Wiley.

The importance of rhyme

     Undoubtedly, the most important element of rap lyrics is rhyme. In other forms of poetry, rhymes that span many syllables are often considered whimsical but in hip hop, the ability to construct raps with large sets of rhyming syllables is considered a sign of intelligence and achievement. To accomplish rhymes of this sophistication, rappers can use single rhyming words (intellectual/ineffectual) or they can use multiple words whose constituent syllables rhyme (octoroon/Doctor Dooom). Rap lyrics often contain long series of lines each of which rhyme with each other. Occasionally, entire songs are composed in this fashion where all lines rhyme with each other. Of course, the more intricate the rhymes are, the more abstract the song becomes. This is because the more focus given to impressive rhyming, the harder it becomes to write coherently.

Traditional Forms

     In many traditional cultures there exist lyrical forms that could loosely be described as rapping. Examples of these include:

  • Chastushka in Russia
  • Tsiattista in Cyprus
  • Enka Slamta in Ethiopia
  • Tassou in Senegal

-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapping

Parallels with Rock

     Rap originated in the mid-1970s in the South Bronx area of New York City. The rise of rap in many ways parallels the birth of rock'n roll in the 1950s. Both originated within the African American community and both were initially recorded by small, independent record labels and marketed almost exclusively to a black audience. In both cases, the new style gradually attracted white musicans, a few of whom began performing it. For rock'n roll it was a white American from Mississippi, Elvis Presley, who broke into the billboard magazine popular music charts.

The Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys

     For rap it was a white group from New York, the Beastie Boys. The release of their albums was one of the first two rap records to reach the billboard top-ten list of popular hits. The other significant early rap recording to reach the top-ten, "Walk This Way" (1986), was a collaboration of the black rap group Run-DMC and the white hard-rock band Aerosmith.

Soon after 1986, the use of the samples and declaimed vocal styles became widespread in popular music of both black and white performers, significantly altering previous notions of what constitutes a legitimate song, composition or musical instrument.

Hip Hop (Cultural Movement)

     Hip hop is a cultural movement that began amongst urban (primarily, but not entirely, African American) youth in New York and has since spread around the world. The four main elements of hip-hop are MCing, DJing, graffiti art, and breakdancing. The term has since come to be a synonym for rap music tоo.

Hip Hop (Music)

     Although hip-hop includes graffiti art, break dancing, and rap music, the name connotes more than the sum of these parts. Hip-Hop is a means of creative expression that gives voice to young, ethnic, urban populations.

     Hip hop music is related to the griots (pronounced "greeohs"), of West Africa, traveling singers and poets whose musical style is reminiscent of hip hop. True hip hop arose during the 1970s when block parties became common in new York City, espescially the Bronx. Block parties were usually accompanied by music, especially funk and soul music. The early DJs at block parties began isolating the percussion breaks to hit songs, realizing that these were the most dance-able and entertaining parts; this technique was then common in Jamaica and had spread via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community in New York City, especially the godfather of hip hop DJ Kool Herc.


U-Roy - one of the earliest Jamaican dub musicians

     Dub had arisen in Jamaica in 1960s due to the influence of American sailors and radio stations playing R&B. Large sound systems were set up to accommodate poor Jamaicans, who couldn't afford to buy records, and dub developed at the sound systems (refers to both the system and the parties that evolved around them). In Jamaica, dub music has diversified into genres like ragga and dancehall.

DJ Kool Herc

DJ Kool Herc

     Herc was one of the most popular DJs in early 70s New York, playing at neighborhood parties (his first gig was on Sedgewick Avenue, Bronx), and he quickly switched from using reggae records to funk, rock and disco, since the New York audience did not particularly like reggae. Performers spoke while the music played; these were originally called MCs (Master of Ceremonies or Mic Controller) and, later, rappers. These early rappers focused on introducing themselves and others in the audience, with some improvisation and a simple four-count beat, along with a simple chorus. Later MCs added more complex lyrics, often humorous, and incorporated sexual themes.

     By the end of the 1970s, hip hop music was beginning to become a major commercial and artistic force and had spread throughout the United States. During the 1980s and 1990s, hip hop gradually became mainstream (a transition usually considered to have been completed in 1992) in the US and, to a lesser degree, worldwide. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hip_hop_music

Notable Hip Hop artists

     In November of 1996, the world was introduced to Lil' Kim (real name is Kimberley Denise Jones). Lil Kim realeased her solo album "Hard Core", but still had some help from her pals Lil Cease, Biggie, and Puffy. And then relatively unknown Jay-Z made a guest appearence on "Big Momma Thang", just months after his own debut album. Commercially successful tracks like "No Time" and "Crush On You" propelled the album's success...  

Lil' Kim 

Lil' Kim

     Unlike other female MCs who drop PC verses, Kim crashes through the rap-scapes with a rawness that is rare. She's honest in her explorations of sexual freedom, and - although she's been attacked by hip-hop conservatives for being too nasty - she flexes the female liberation that a generation of women fought for not so long ago. "I'm a very sexual person," insists Kim, "and what I'm revealing on my album is my personality and experiences."          

Lil' Kim is called the Madonna of hip hop.

     Eminem himself remains the Great White Mystery of hip-hop, undeniably vastly skilled, hugely successful, amusing and perceptive, acerbic and personal, totally unique. He takes his own flaws and those of the white America whose hypocrisy he loathes and uses them to spark a self-immolating rage. His ascension as an talented MC leaving burning footprints in the cultural heritage of nowdays. Eminem embodies the similarities between punk and hip-hop; the need to find your own voice and speak out against the smothering uniformity that angers you.



Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes

     Others: Jay-Z, Mos Def, Missy Elliot, Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes...

Read more about Hip-Hop!

Trip Hop

     Trip hop (also known as the Bristol sound) is a term coined by United Kingdom dance magazine Mixmag, to describe a musical trend in the mid-1990s; trip hop is downtempo electronic music that grew out of England's hip hop and house scenes. Characterized by a reliance on breakbeats and a sample-heavy sound pioneered by Coldcut's remix of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full", trip hop gained notice via popular artists such as Portishead, Massive Attack, Tricky, and rock-influenced sound groups such as Ruby, California's DJ Shadow, and the UK's Howie B. Londoners Morcheeba and Glideascope are also often associated with this sound.

The Bristol Sound

     The Bristol sound was the name given to a number of bands from Bristol, England, in the 1990s.

     These bands spawned the musican genre trip-hop, though many of the bands shunned this name when other British and international bands imitated the style and preferred not to distinguish it from hip-hop.

     It is characterised by a slow, spaced-out hip-hop sound that a number of artists in the early and mid 1990s made synonymous with the city.

Beth Gibbons, Portishead

Beth Gibbons, Portishead

     These artists can include the aforementioned original Bristolians Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky and others such as Way Out West, Smith and Mighty and The Wild Bunch.


     Trip-hop is known for its moody, dark, yet lyrical sound. The trip-hop sound is deeply reliant upon jazz samples, usually taken from old vinyl jazz records. This kind of reliance on sampling has changed the way record labels deal with clearing samples for use in other people's tracks. Trip-hop tracks often sample Rhodes pianos, saxophones, trumpets, and flutes, and develops in parallel to hip hop, each inspiring the other.

     Trip-hop production is historically lo-fi, relying on analog recording equipment and instrumentation for an ambience. Portishead, for example, record their material to old tape from real instruments, and then sample their recordings rather than recording their instruments directly to a track. They also tend to put their drums through considerable compression.

     Later, artists such as Glideascope have taken inspiration from many additional sources including world and orchestral influences.-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trip_hop

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