Hip Hop: An Introduction
The terms Hip hop and Rap are generally interchangeable. It
is a genre of music that begun in the early 1970's among
predominently African-Americans in New York. By the late 70's
hip hop was seen as a viable alterative to disco which by then
had became over-commercialised with everyone from the Rolling
Stones to even Frank Sinatra jumping on the disco band wagon.
Disco was starting to fall out of favour with its original
listeners who tend to shun mainstream trends.
Ironically a parallel can be drawn between the demise of
disco in the late 70's and what is currently happening in Hip
hop today in the 2000's with much of the same comercialism
killing it for traditional listeners culminating in 2006 with
many releases by rap heavyweights being shunned by their usual
fans who automatically dismiss the album as the same comercial
rubbish that has been flooding hip hop for most of the
Not only does hip hop encompass rapping, it decribes a
movement that also includes its own dance style with break
dancing and even its very own visual art form with grafitti.
Hip hop also has its own unique DJ methods.
The vocal style of hip hop is talking rythmically to the
music (or beat). The term rap itself stems from the 1960's use
of the term to describe conversing with aquaintances.
Rapping is very different to singing with vocal range taking a
definite back seat to innovative rhyming. Vocal range is
infact, so unimportant to rap that, generally, rappers are not
expected to be able to hit ANY note whatsoever. The vocal of a
hip hop record is usually in tune with the music only by
accident - the rapper adjusts his/her style to what sounds best
for the recording. It's just by conincidence that the best
style is usually in tune.
The rapper is also refered to as the MC or even emcee. This
name derives from the "Master of the Ceremonies" which is an
alternative to the term Compere.
Many rappers use MC as a title in much the same was a knight
uses sir and a doctor uses Dr as a title. A few examples
include: Lorenzo Patterson who goes my the name MC Ren; Daryl
McDaniels with DMC; ......
The use of pseudonyms among MC's is very common. Not for
anonimity but because most of the names simply sound cool. For
example, James Todd Smith goes by the name LL Cool J - J
obviously stands for James but, amusingly, LL stands for
Mashall Mathers III (Eminem) not only used the pseudonym, but
also created an alterative persona with his character "Slim
Shady". Mathers' Slim Shady character was quite politically
incorrect and usually rapped about socially sensitive topics in
a very derogitory way.
As the use of alter-egos in any for of
music is rare Mathers had to battle hard with detractors who
wanted boycotts on his music. He tried, usually unsucessfully,
to explain that Slim Shady was only a character who doesn't
neccesarily reflect his own views. This situation seems stupid
when one considers that Arnold Schwarzenegger never needed to
convince anyone that he wasn't a cyborg sent from the future to
"terminate" the establishments enemies' parents before they are
concieved like his character in the movie "The Terminator"
This battle was also fought by Ice-T in the early 90's when
the then President Gearge H.W. Bush cited his music as the
blame for the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Ice-T stated that anyone
believing that he infact engaged in behaviour outlined in his
music, such as murdering police officers, was as rediculous as
people believing that David Bowie was an astronaut......
Nevertheless, Ice-T caved into the pressure and withdrew his
album and reissued it in slightly watered down form. The song
in question, "Cop Killer" was never again made avaliable to his