Rap music worked its way to mainstream music around the late 70s to the early 80s. Those who study history would trace rap musics roots way back in American history when Griots or West African folk poets used to deliver their stories in a rhythmic tone accompanied by drums and other sparse instrumentation. Today, the art of rapping has evolved into something that spans cultural and lifestyle dimensions.
Folk roots meet Jamaican-style
Rap music combines the poetry of the Griots with Jamaican-style toasting. Toasting is used by Jamaican disc jockeys or DJs in dance parties to coax people to dance to their music. DJs are the first rappers or MCs (short for master of ceremonies). They would speak over their music to shout out slogans like Work it, work it and Move it to keep encourage continuous dancing on the dance floor. Soon, toasting became longer and became less about dancing and more about life and having fun. Contextually, these raps can be insult raps, news raps, message raps, nonsense raps, and party raps.
This early way of rapping was soon enhanced to include manual manipulation of the sound system to heighten the dance experience. It has been said that people dance because of the beat and not of the lyrics. And so, DJs soon incorporated other techniques like dubbing and scratching to the rap music appeal. Dubbing enhanced Jamaican toasting by cutting back and forth between vocal and instrumental tracks and isolating the beat for danceability. Scratching, on the other hand, is done by moving the record in the turntable from one direction to another and back again while the needle is still in the groove.
Rap historians cite young Jamaican Clive Campbell as one of the proponents of rap music when he migrated to the Bronx and brought with him the art of Jamaican toasting. In the Brox, Campbell was known by his monicker, Kool Herc (short for Hercules). Other early rappers rappers were Jamaican toasters such as U Roy, Duke Reid, Sir Coxsone, and Prince Buster. They were followed by the next decade of rappers like MelleMel, Fatback Band, Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, and Run-D.M.C.
The early nineties saw the entry of white American rappers like Ice Cube to the African-American-dominated world of rap music. Even women rappers surfaced in the mainstream rap music scene. Women rappers like Salt N Pepper, Monie Love, and Queen Latifah rapped over R&B melodies and expressed lyrics that touched on women-related issues.
The look of rap
From its origins in the gang dominion of Bronx and the dancehalls of downtown ghettos, rap music soon found its way into the mainstream music scene. Soon, not only African-Americans were dancing to rap music. Rap music evolved into lyrical reflection of urban life. Rastafari-clad youth wore oversized shirts and jackets paired with low-riding oversized jeans that exposed their underwear. Heavy chain accessories also became part of the rapper look.
Rap music, while considered by some to be a fad that would eventually lose its appeal, is really a form of musical art that has become a way of expression. Modern mouth percussion, vocal improvisation and stripped down melody, these elements of rap music make it a unique musical experience.
Sayid Aksa is the author of http://musicmars.com
You can watch best rap music videos and other cool music videos from various genres on his site.
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