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Intro to Fine Arts Music Fall 2012

Rhythm and Blues becomes Soul Funk and the Black Power movement The birth of Hip Hop The evolution of Rap The music industry discovers Hip Hop Public Enemy and the politicization of Hip Hop Hip Hop migrates west and evolves into Gangsta Rap East Coast vs. West Coast: Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. Reaction to the violence: Rap goes back to its roots Backstory: Rodney King, and inner city life in the 1990s


A term originating with some black American gospel groups of the 1940s and 50s (e.g. the Soul Stirrers). In the late 1950s, jazz which was influenced by gospel style was known as soul jazz. The adoption of these styles in the 1960s led to soul becoming an umbrella term for black American popular music, and in 1969 Billboard changed the categorization of its black record chart from rhythm and blues to soul. James Brown, performing Papas Got A Brand New Bag Aretha Franklin performing Chain of Fools

A musical style derived from rhythm and blues and soul, characterized by repeated rhythmic figures and a strong bass line. The term was first used in the 1950s, and in the 1960s became associated with the Black Power movement through James Brown's Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud. It became an identifiable genre only in the 1970s, when it was made popular by such performers as Kool and the Gang, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, and Weather Report

The Birth of Hip Hop

A collective term for black American urban art forms that emerged in the late 1970s; it is also applied specifically to a style of music that uses spoken rhyme (Rap) over a rhythmic background mainly characterized by the manipulation of pre-existing recordings. Reputedly, the term was first used by the Bronx rapper, Lovebug Starski, and came to denote the lifestyle, fashions and cultural expressions of the Bronx, New York City, during the mid-1970s.
Activities covered by the term included graffiti art and breaking, a competitive acrobatic style of dance largely popularized by young Latinos. Music was central to the movement, and was created almost entirely by DJs; the first hip hop DJ was the Jamaican-born Kool Herc, followed by Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandwizard Theodore, Charlie Chase, Baby D, Jazzy Jay, Red Alert and many others.

The Evolution of Rap

Sound systems were set up in parks, schools and abandoned buildings in the Bronx, and, following Jamaican traditions, Kool Herc added MCs* to his DJ sets, playing short sections of percussion from funk records by artists such as James Brown and Rufus Thomas. Following this lead, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash added eclecticism and technical innovation. Through the inventiveness of Cowboy, Grandmaster Caz and Starsky, Herc's addition of MCs progressed into the form of cadenced spoken rhymes now known as rapping. When hip hop was finally recognized by the mainstream record industry in 1979, rappers became predominant. Many rap artists still consider hip hop to be a more authentic description of a way of life that extends beyond professionalism and specialization.
*MC = Master of Ceremonies. It was the MCs job to keep the often volatile audience Interested in the show.

MCs, or rappers as they became known, had been added by DJs in order to present a more exciting and professional show to volatile audiences. Inevitably, as they developed their art, the rappers became a focal point of events held in school gymnasiums, clubs and parks. Although DJs, dancers and graffiti artists were considered as equal participants within hip hop culture, the release of the first rap records in 1979 shifted the balance in favor of vocalists.

N.B. As we explore rap music, you will hear that some of the musical examples contain profanity. Profanity is a part of rap and cannot be ignored; in fact, part of the reason modern rap music is so profane is precisely so that it cannot be ignored. Rap reflects the profanity of everyday life as a part of a poor, urban underclass and it speaks to an audience that understands it and lives with it as their daily reality. The need to censor rap heavily to get airplay on corporate-owned radio stations is part of its anti-establishment appeal.

Examples of early rappers

Hip-hop gets political

Chuck D's writing for Public Enemy was an intense assault upon institutionalized racism, counterbalanced by the court jester of the group, Flavor Flav, who answered Chuck D's polemic with exhortations filled with obscure slang. Regional styles asserted themselves as rap spread from the New York boroughs to other American states. As a means of using language within a popular music form, rap also appealed to disaffected youths in other countries, gaining ground particularly in Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Canada and Japan, though also spreading to China, India, Thailand, Scandinavia and parts of Africa.

The Birth of Gangsta Rap The success of California based rappers such as Ice-T, Too Short, NWA and ex-NWA member Ice Cube challenged New York's pre-eminence in hip hop. As the subject matter of rap grew to be increasingly violent, materialistic and misogynistic, a reaction against this trend surfaced in New York, pioneered by the Jungle Brothers and De La Soul. Later, forming the Native Tongues coalition with Queen Latifah, Monie Love and A Tribe Called Quest, these groups experimented with musical form and rapped in a thoughtful, reflective and humorous style that appealed to college radio listeners as well as the core rap audience.

The Violence Gets Real

Despite considerable global success enjoyed by the Fugees, a group whose positivism seemed to have grown from the Afrocentric, didactic rap of Arrested Development, a more malevolent mood prevailed. Bitter rivalry had flared between the East and West coasts of America, with artists represented by rival entrepreneurs Sean Puffy Combs' and Suge Knight trading vicious threats and insults through the lyrics of their records. This war of words culminated in the fatal shootings of two of rap's biggest stars, Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., plunging hip hop into a mood of crisis.

Notorious B.I.G.

Hip-hop Endures
While artists such as DJ Shadow discarded rapping, returning to the turntable skills of Grandmaster Flash and Grandmixer D.ST to create instrumental music based around arcane samples, others looked back nostalgically to the old school, when hip hop seemed more innocent, less mired in a labyrinth of big business, gang rivalry and actual, as opposed to fantasized, violence. The nostalgia obscured hip hop's surprising longevity, however, along with its phenomenal commercial success, its continuing capacity to reinvent itself during periods of stagnation and its role as the voice of successive generations of young African-Americans.

Backstory: Life in the inner city

After a century of urbanization, by the 1970s industries had begun to move their operations overseas to avoid paying for American taxes, high wages and benefits to American workers, and workplace safety regulations. The inner city, which used to be a place of high employment, began to be hollowed out as employment opportunities evaporated. White flight, a name which actually describes people of wealth leaving the city rather than just whites, began to drain money from the areas, leaving a core of poverty behind. Cities lost vital tax revenue from fleeing industry and wealthy residents, forcing them to make deep cuts to social services, police, fire, and school budgets. Drugs and crime moved into the vacuum left behind, worsening the everyday life of the citys poorest citizens. Many urban police departments developed a siege mentality, withdrawing to heavily fortified police stations and reacting violently to urban crime. Since most police officers were white and most inner city residents were minorities, this led to frequent charges of police racism and brutality.

On March 3, 1991, a black motorist named Rodney King was stopped in Los Angeles San Fernando Valley area by the LAPD. While King had been drinking and had engaged the police in a short chase, when he stopped he was pulled from the car. Though he did not resist arrest, he was beaten for a full two minutes by four white LAPD officers using nightsticks and a TASER. By chance, a man named George Holliday who lived across the street, recorded the entire incident on his home video camera. The incident was broadcast on national news and brought racial tensions in LA to a boil. April 29, 1992: The trial of the four police officers ends with not guilty verdicts, despite the videotaped evidence. The verdict ignites three days of the most intense rioting in the United States since the 1960s. This is the social backdrop against which much of the angry, violent rap of the 1990s played out.

Soul music: David Brackett. "Soul music." Grove Music Online.
Oxford Music Online. <>.

Funk: David Brackett. "Funk." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online.


Hip-hop and Rap: Felicia M. Miyakawa . "Hip hop." Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online.>. Grove articles tend to be a bit dense and scholarly, but if you want a fairly objective look at the music of the era, this is the place to begin.

Rodney King Incident: Brain Rot: A Hip-hop Family Tree:
This is a really excellent look at the history of Hip-hop, in comic book format. Definitely worth a read.

White Flight : - An article that charts possible economic motivators for the
phenomenon known as White Flight.

Global Outsourcing: - More than you ever wanted to know about
when and why jobs moved out of US cities. N.B. All links were live as of 9/21/2012