born DJ Kool Herc moved to New York in the late 1960's
and brought with him the Jamaican tradition of "toasting",
which involved reciting improvised rhymes over instrumental
sections of reggae records. He used twin turntables and
cut back and forth between two seperate records to create
a new sound. He would chant things like "Throw your
hands in the air/And wave'em like ya just don't care!".
This type of crowd pleaser was known as "rapping"
to the crowd. At that time rap was not yet known as 'rap'
but called 'MCing'. He later turned his attention to DJing
and let two friends Coke La Rock and (the orginial) Clark
Kent handle the mic. This was rap music's first MC team.
They became known as Kool Herc and the Herculoids.
Grand Wizard Theodore was the first DJ to scratch which
he discovered accidently. Playing his music too loud during
a practice session, while his mother was yelling, he held
back the record and it began to move back and forth in
the earphones. He went on to experiment with different
records trying to create a sound where people could understand
it. He has since been awarded by the International Turntable
Foundation for creating the scratch.
Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang was one of the first
rap recordings. It became a huge international hit and
went on to become the best selling 12inch record ever,
selling over 2 million copies world wide. This is where
the term "hip hop" was coined. They used beats
and base lines from the disco track "Good Times".
Utilizing beats from a wide variety of sources such as
old gospel, jazz, James Brown/Motown soul, funk, disco,
drum machines, and remixing them became known as sampling
- the musical core of hip hop.
Master Flash, the founding father of scratching and quick
mixing offered a demo to a group called the Furious Five
which consisted of five mc's - Melle Mel, Cowboy, Rahiem,
Mr Ness and Kid Creole. At the time the furious five weren't
convinced the demo was worth recording but they did and
in just over a month"The Message" sold over
a million copies. The Message was the first rap record
to break away from typical rap lyrics boasting about being
the "biggest" and the "baddest" describing
the hopelessness of the American Black ghetto's.
hard hitting anti-cocaine single "White Lines (don't
do it)" recorded by Grand Master Flash and Melle
Mel became a classic rap anthem and an international hit.
In only a few years hip hop came from the underground
and hit the mainstream.
Afrika Bambaata's style was strongly influenced by a German
band called Kraftwork. Inspired by the single "Trans-Europe
Express" Afrika Bambaata Assim took their electronic
sound and added rap. He joined forces with Soul Sonic
and gave birth to synthesized electro rap sound. "Planet
Rock" was a huge hit selling 620,000 copies in the
US alone. Not only was dance music shifted into another
gear but a whole new dance culture was born. Along came
hip hop crews, graffiti artists and break dancing and
hip hop began to spread into other forms of music.
year old Roxanne Shante released her first single "Roxanne's
Revenge", her reply to U.T.F.O's "Roxanne Roxanne"
which criticised Roxanne for turning down their advances.
With its funky back beat this single was a massive hit
selling over 1/4 million copies in the New York area alone.
It wasn't untill five years later she cut her first album
D.M.C exploded into the rap scene with their new style
of rap, gold chains and sportswear, they created a individual
street style. They even wrote a song dedicated to their
shoes "My Adidas". It was such a huge part of
their image, Adidas paid the band a six figure sum to
wear their clothes making RUN D.M.C the first band to
be sponsored by a clothing company.
based rappers 2 Live Crew portrayed their themselves as
macho and extremely sexist. They hit the headlines when
they released their album "As Nasty As They Wanna
Be" becoming the first album in the US to be deemed
obscene in the Law courts. They appealed on the grounds
of free speech.
Jam released RUN D.M.C's debut album "Raising Hell".
It sold 3 million copies in the US alone and was the first
rap band to cross rap with rock (Aerosmith - "Walk
This Way") and feature on the front cover of Rolling
"Fight for your right to party" by the Beastie
Boys became an anthem for rebellious youth all over the
world. They made Volkswagon pendants their symbol and
soon fans were stealing them from cars across Europe and
America. Ironically the three middle class white boys
who started out supporting Madonna on tours went on to
become one of hip-hop's biggest selling acts. Their debut
album "License to Ill" sold over 4 million copies
and topped the US charts for 7 weeks.
Cool J which stands for Ladies Love Cool James (just in
case you wanted to know!) was discovered by the Beastie
Boys in 1984 when he was just 15 years old. Influenced
by RUN D.M.C, LL created his own identity with the beat
box and street style raps. Adding a sexy element to rap,
"I Need Love" was the first ever rap ballad
and gave LL his first European top 10 hit. LL later earned
his heavyweight title as raps longest lasting superstars,
continuously updating his rap style, he still maintains
his original appeal. Rapper KRS-1 meet DJ Scott La Rock
at a shelter for the homeless in the Bronx. Working under
the name BDP the two recorded the contraversial album
"Criminal Minded" which centred around gun culture.
It sold over 1 million copies and it was instrumental
in starting the gangster rap movement. During a street
dispute which didn't even involve him, DJ Scott La Rock
was shot dead. KRS-1 went solo releasing "My Philosphy"
as a retaliation to end the violence. To this day KRS-1
continues to campaign raising money and creating an awareness
of the plight of America's inner city ghetto's and violence
in the community.
B and Rakim were responsible for a more refined and relaxed
style of rap. "Follow the Leader" at the time
was musically totally orginial. With its grumbling bass,
flutes and strings its influence can still be heard today.
On the opposite end of the scale their debuting single
"Paid in Full" used heavy sampling, infact over
30 remixes, resulting in James Brown and Boby Byrd taking
legal action for using their material without payment
or permission. As a result, organisations have been set
up to pay the orginial musicians for their material. Now,
the average rap album costs an extra $30,000 just to pay
for the samples.
a hardcore controversial stance and sociopolitical edge,
Public Enemy caused a sensation with their revolutionary
and politically charged style of rap. Up until this point
in hip-hop's short life-span, it had been centrally a
party-based style of music, Public Enemy changed that
forever. Taping into the real life hardships and frustrations
of America's black community, their continous themes of
black rage and alienation caused a wave of media criticism.
"Don't Believe the Hype" was Public Enemies
response to the media's negative portrayal of the groups
supposedly violent, anti-semitic and sexist image. Taking
only 30 days to complete, Public Enemy released their
second album "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold
Us Back" which went Platium.
Public Enemy, EPMD never felt the need to provide political
rap and believed music was strictly business. It took
just 6 weeks for their album "Stirctly Business"
to hit number 1 in the US. They built a small rap empire
on the strength of 3 gold albums and a serious approach
comprising of Dr Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren, Eazy E and founding
member Ice Cube based their lyrics on violence, drugs
and guns receiving instant media coverage. They gave voice
to urban alienation and black rage. Giving a grim account
of the rising death toll amoung young blacks as a result
of feuding gangs and crack dealers, NWA bought America's
inner city ghetto's to the attention of the American people.
Singles like "Fuck the Police" aggrivated the
FBI accusing the group of encouraging violence and hatred
towards the police but NWA claimed to be "reporters"
on what was really happening on the streets of Los Angeles.
Radio and television stations kept playing their music
and "Straight Outta Compton" went gold after
just 6 weeks. Their reputation as the worlds best known
gangsta rappers still continues after the group spilt
up to pursue solo projects. Backed by DJ Spinderella rap
duo Salt-N-Pepa, released 'Push It' which started out
on the B-side of the single "Tramp". DJ's started
playing "Push It" instead of "Tramp"
and it had an immediate impact on the New York rap scene.
Their debut album "Hot, Cool and Vicious" stayed
in the American charts for over a year, and the single
sold over 1 million copies confirming Salt-N-Pepa as the
first female rappers to do so. A year later the Grammies
created a new category in their awards - Best Rap Act.
Salt-N-pepa were nominated but refused to attend the ceremony
when they discovered that this particular award would
not be televised. The Ladies took this stance to show
solidarity with hip-hop's growing status. In 1991 Salt-N-Pepa
released 'Lets Talk About Sex' successfully turning around
the tables on men treating them like sex objects. This
single went gold making Salt-N-Pepa the most commerically
successfull rap duo of all time.
since he was twelve years old, Wil Smith met Jeff Townes
at a party. They soon began performing together as DJ
Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. They spun a new brand
of hip-hop, devoid of politics or exclusionary rhetoric.
They provided more playful lyrics and a different form
of scratching called "transforming" on their
debut album "Rock The House". DJ Jazzy Jeff
and the Fresh Prince were awarded the first ever "Best
Rap Performance" Grammy for"Parents Just Don't
Understand". Subsequently in 1989, they where nominated
for "I think I can Beat Mike Tyson", from the
album "And in This Corner". In 1991 they won
yet another Grammy and in 1992, they were honored by the
NAACp Image Awards for Outstanding Rap Artists.
Enemy began to base their style on the Afro-American organisation
- The Black Panthers. Complete with berets, camouflage
fatigues and and on stage military manoeuvres this added
to the negative media hysteria. "Fight the Power"
was one of Public Enemies many rap anthems which lead
to an FBI report examing its effects on national security.
Young, better known as Young MC was born in London, raised
in New York and educated at the University of California.
He became known as the maestro of "articulate"
rap. "Busta Move" was a top ten smash and later
his debut album "Brainstorm" earned him a grammy
for best rap record. He later collaborated with LA based
rapper Ton Loc on "Wild Thing". The video cost
$500 which was a satire of Robert Palmers "Addicted
to Love". It sold over 2 million.
Latifah stands for delicate and sensitive in Arabic which
contradicts her lyrical style. Opening doors for other
female rappers and leading the way for them to respond
to their sexist counterparts she broke through a male
dominated rap scene to become known as "Raps First
Lady". She won a Grammy for Best Solo Rap preformance
in 1994. Tracks like "Dance for me" promote
themes of unity rather than competition amongst black
Cube lauched his solo career and joined forces with Chuck
D of Public Enemy. The result was the album "Amerikkka's
Most Wanted" which went gold in ten days and sold
over 1 million copies. Ice cubes outspoken attacks on
white America upset many extreme right wing organisations
who trageted him on an assassination list which was discovered
by the police in 1993.
took his name from Iceberg Slim, a pimp who wrote novels
and poetry. He would memorize lines and recite them for
friends and classmates. He recorded several undistinguished
12-inch singles and appeared in low-budget hip-hop films
Rappin', Breakin', and Breakin' II: Electric Boogaloo
while he was trying to establish a career. It wasn't until
the release of "O.G. Orginial Gangsta" he achieved
considerable commerical success. Viewed by many as the
orginial gangsta rapper, Ice-T based his lyrics on real
life experiences on the streets of LA. Rapping about prositutes,
drugs and violence angered many offical organisations
in America and as a result records were censored and Parental
Advisory stickers were introduced.
and raised in South Central LA, Yo-Yo was the first female
rapper to break through the west coast. A mutual friend
introduced her to Ice Cube who was about to leave NWA
to go solo and immediatly they developed a business relationship.
Yo-Yo's lyric's were often promoting ideals of independency,
confidence and self-respecting black women, "Making
the way for the Motherload" sold 400,000 copies and
had frequent injections from Ice Cube's Lench Mob Posse.
She went on to set up "Intelligent Black Women's
Coalition" a support group which organises meetings
and benefit concerts.
Amaru Shakur was born and raised in the Bronx, New York
before moving to California where he continued to write
and record. His Debut Album "2Pacalypse Now"
introduced him as a significant explosive new voice on
the scene. The Album went gold and his single "Trapped"
reached number 3 in the US charts. 2 years later he released
his second album "Strictly 4 my N.I.G.G.A.Z"
which took him to the top of the ranks of rap, selling
over a million copies world wide.
Dre's debut album "The Chronic" set the agenda
for today's west coast gangsta rap, like many of his predecessors
Dre's music heavily sampled the 70's sounds of George
Clinton and Funkadelic, but his lyrics bought a new subject
to rap - marijuana. Encouraging the use of marijuana sparred
off a whole new trend in hip-hop.
Hill, like Dr Dre advocated the use of marijuana as a
cultural replacement for alcohol. They even went as far
as campaigning for 'NORMAL' - The National Organisation
For The Reform Of Marijuana Laws. Cypress Hill's music
mixed gangsta lyrics about dope and guns with a blend
of funky R&B samples and mixes. Comprising of DJ Muggs,
B-Real (Mexican descent) and Sen Dogg (Cuban descent),
Cypress Hill reflected the successful integration of Latin
American artists into rap music. The west coast became
a breeding ground of yet another variety of rap - Latino
hip-hop. The integration of Spanish and English style
of rapping gave rise to artists such as Mello Man Ace
(brother of Sen Dogg) and Kid Frost.
Irish American rappers House of Pain from LA scored a
top 10 with "Jump Around" which soon became
a club athem. In 1994, Group member Everlast, was arrest
in an airport for the illegal possession of a hand gun.
As a result he was put under house arrest for 3 months.
The Roots began their musical career jammin' in the streets
of Philladelephia. They paid tribute to old school hip-hop
culture by enlisting well known DJ's, rappers and graffiti
artists to preform with them on stage while preforming
cover versions of RUN D.M.C and Eric B and Rakim's hits.
Roots have a unique and innovative style by recording
live with musicians and real musical instruments. They
avoided sterotypical macho style of rapping describing
their music as "the thinking man's rap music".
Their influence is present among many current hip-hop
alternative to gangsta rap, 4 member LA Crew Pharacyde,
released their debut album "Bizarre Ride II Pharacyde".
One Nut Magazine said "They paved the way for an
LA hip hop renaissance that helped hoist the city out
of its bullets and bitches pigeon hole". Well known
for their fast thinking and witty lyrics, they sampled
Beastie Boys and featured Mike D in their video "Drop",
a single from their second album "Labcabincalifornia"
which took 2 years to produce.
since the young age of 12, MC Lyte released "Ruffneck"
as a response to fellow rapper Apache's "Gangsta
Bitch" which was a chauvanistic attack on women.
She accused male rappers of having out of control ego's
and the single went gold within a few weeks.
Enter the Wu Chambers
an industry that was dominated by gangsta rap came the
Wu-Tang Clan. Wu Tang Clan is a Chinese martial art which
means "sword family" - it is also a team of
nine New York MC's. The group drew heavily on marital
arts for their music and their image often sampling Kung-Fu
movies. Their album "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)"
was a reference to 36 points, 10 degree apart on the human
body according to maritial arts theory are the most vunerable
to attack. With their combat like style of rapping, their
debut album sold over 4 million copies. RZA the groups
mastermind and producer encouraged Wu-Tang members Methodman
and Ghostface Killah to release solo projects. Meanwhile
Wu-Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard worked with other artists
such as Busta Rhymes and Mariah Carey.
began his rap career at a young age collaborating with
Dr Dre. "Snoop Doggy Dogg" debuted in the top
20 on the UK and eventually reached gold status. Produced
by Dr Dre, "DoggyStyle" reached number 1 in
the US album charts and was the first rap album to top
the charts within its first week of release. After presenting
an award to En Vogue at the 1993 MTV music awards, Snoop
voluntarily surrended himself to police custody on murder
charges. He was later acquitted and his alleged involvement
in a drive-by shooting help boost his popularity. Doggystyle
sold over 4 million copies worldwide increasing gangsta
raps appeal into the mainstream.
(aka Nassir Jones) reached gold sales with his first album
"Illmatic" but it was "If I Ruled the World"
with the voice of Lauryn Hill that pushed him into the
world of mainstream hip-hop. Nas showed a skill for rapping
about violence without glorifying it and literally crossed
the divide between fueding east and west coast rivals
by moving from New York to LA where Dr Dre helped produce
his second album "It Was Written".
Griffen half brother of Dr Dre prefected a calmer story
telling style of rap that encouraged younger people to
stay away from drugs and guns. He grew up in Long Beach
listening to his parents' extensive collection of jazz,
soul, and funk records. "Regulate" appeared
on the Above the Rim soundtrack and was released as a
single. It quickly became a massive hit, number 2 on the
charts and pushing the album up to the same position.
"Regulate - G-Funk Era" sold over 4 million
copies world wide and established him as a major figure
in the rap industry. Motivated by black on black violence
Warren G used his status as a respected musician to negotiate
a truce betwen rival groups in an LA neighbourhood.
the Damja asked old school DJ Premier to produce his album
"Wrath of the Math". Much like his contempories,
Jeru's main aim was to bring back the old school style
of rhyming and avoid glamorising guns and drugs. He defends
hip-hop from greedy materialists and attacks artists such
as Junior M.A.F.I.A by praising the virtues of honesty
and clean living. "Ya Playin' Yaself" spoke
out against macho and agressive lyrics. He was also fascinated
by eastern philosophy and was an avid lover of Kung-Fu
movies so Kong Kong became the back drop to many of his
B.I.G first review was a brief mention in THE SOURCE,
a column that highlights MC's, or group's that are yet
to sign a record contract. "... this shit in The
Source called Unsigned Hype. I said, Fuck it, send it
in. And [former Source editor] Matty C loved it. He played
it for Puffy". Like many rappers Christopher Wallace
made a transition from a life of crime to writing rhymes.
His debut album "Ready To Die" was inspired
by his early childhood selling drugs to make a living
hence the title of his second album "Life After Death".
"One More Chance" went straight to number 1
in the US and the album went multi-platinum.
Kim was discovered by Notorious B.I.G doing freestyles.
At just 17 years of age she had a massive hit with "Crush
on You". Her style was deliberately raunchy and lyrics
provocative, so much so she was critised by conservative
memebers of the hip-hop scene for being too dirty. She
refused to be repressed by negative comments and feminists.
"I'm the Big Momma. I represent all the females and
keep all the boys in check! We are all from the street
and have all been through the struggle. I want all the
ladies to relate to what I'm talking about" (hmmm).
Fugees's comprises of University graduate Wyclef, his
cousin, Pras and high school friend, Lauryn Hill. Their
songs often deal with issues such as America's negative
perception of Haitian immigrants and their own experience's
growing up in New York, hence "fugee" which
comes from the term refugee. Being of mixed race, their
lyrics promote positive non violent ideals fusing hip-hop
with soul, raggae and jazz. They developed a clever style
of word play, adding a rap which gave an anti-drugs message
to Roberta Flack's old hit "Killing Me Softly"
was the biggest hit single of the year selling over 9
million copies. The score won a Grammy for Best Rap Album
in 1997 and is the biggest selling rap album of all time.
Rhymes earned his name from his individual and unique
style rapping. He began his career in the group Leaders
of the New School who were noted for their old school
vibe. After the group spilt up he was approached by Chuck
D of Public Enemy who produced his debut album "The
Coming". Noted for his vertigo style clips "Woo-Hah!!"
and "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See"
and his stratchy charcoal voice Busta Rhymes has become
one of the heavy weights in hip-hop. Unlike other rappers
who replicate the same lyrical flow, Busta Rhymes switches
his rhyme style and mimics a transform scratch with his
voice. "That's just growth, the nature of life. Life
never stays at one level. There's no limit to things.
I like to go where I haven't gone before. It's the best
way to manifest my growth, to manifest it through music".
and Notorious B.I.G became embroiled in a feuding war
between east and west coast rappers. While the east was
"keeping it real" and in the west "it's
all good" both their lives ended tragically. 2pac
was shot in a drive-by shooting only to die a week later.
6 months later, leaving the Soul Train Awards, Notorious
B.I.G was shot in a similar drive-by incident. Ironically
both artists records sales have since doubled overnight.
The deaths are unrelated and remain unsolved.
violent feuds esculated between east and west coast rappers
leading to the deaths of Tupac and Biggie, Wu-Tang Clan
acrossed the divide when they played in LA.
Records, parent company of Death Row Records, after months
of rumours confirms severing ties with Death Row. Dr Dre,
founder, president and producer left months before the
announcement. Suge Knight, producer, is in jail for nine
years, which under Californian law prohibits him from
day-to-day company operations. It was the lawsuit of Tupac's
mother, Afeni Shakur, accusing the company for cheating
her son out of millions of dollars which opened the eyes
of other Death Row members. All artists are seeking release
from their contacts and demanding unpaid royalties.
Dillinger (Da Dogg Pound) is the only member who wants
to stay. Danny Boy is rumoured to be back in Chicago,
while Lady of Rage, frustrated because she couldn't get
answers to her questions - or even an appointment to ask
them - has been barred from Death Row headquarters. Kurupt
has filled for bankruptcy and Nate Dogg, who has started
his own label, the Dogg Foundation, is trying to get ownership
of the album he recored for Death Row, which has been
sitting on the shelf for three years. Snoop Doggy Dogg
who is still under legal contract to release six albums,
is renouncing his for-life allegiance to the label with
uncharacteristic public tirades. "I'm going to a
place where it's all business and no violence, where it's
all about creativity instead of head games. To tell you
the truth, I fear for my life on Death Row Records".