Hip Hop: An Evolution

by | Aug 21, 2023 | Uncategorized


Hip Hop

an Evolution


The Birth of Hip Hop

Beyond just being a genre of music, Hip Hop is a way of life.

The original founding elements of Hip Hop are considered to be made of a 5 pillar foundation. The Hip Hop lifestyle includes MCing, DJing, Breakdancing, Graffiti and—arguably the most often forgotten of the five elements—Knowledge.

But Hip Hop is so much more than just these elements alone.

Born in the South Bronx—a Burrough of New York City—Hip Hop emerged from the bleak surroundings and frustrated hopes of the inhabitants of New York’s inner city in the early 1970s. Social inequality, racism, the Vietnam War, a depressed economy, and a dearth of abandoned properties were factors that contributed to its birth. The founders of Hip Hop were Black, Latin, and Caribbean Artists who created a lifestyle, a community, and indeed a global cultural phenomenon out of sheer grit, determination, and talent in the very scrap heap of modern civilization.

During this time of extreme social upheaval, block parties, and community events became important platforms for DJs and MCs to showcase their skills. It was at one such legendary event on August 11, 1973 when DJ Kool Herc hosted a historic party at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the South Bronx where the world is said to have been first introduced to Hip Hop.

Taking over abandoned neighborhood blocks with turn tables, a new era began amongst East Coast Artists.

Afrika Bambaataa was a DJ and community leader who is often regarded as one of the founding figures of Hip Hop with his emphasis on building community through music and the positive aspects of the genre.

Grandmaster Flash-an influential DJ and one of the pioneers of turntablism-is also credited with perfecting the technique of “backspinning” to extend the breakbeats of a sample, a technique which became a crucial element in the development of early Hip Hop music.

Grand Wizzard Theodore is credited with inventing the technique of scratching, a fundamental DJing skill in Hip Hop.

Early MC Busy Bee Starski who gained fame for his energetic performances at block parties helped popularize the role of the MC (Master of Ceremonies) in Hip Hop.

Lovebug Starski was a Rapper, DJ, and influential figure in the early days of Hip Hop. He is often credited with coining the term Hip Hop and played an essential role in shaping the culture through his music and performances.

These Artists, along with many others, played a vital role in the early development of Hip Hop by performing at block parties, community events, and local clubs. They laid the groundwork for the genre’s growth and transformation into a global cultural movement over the next decade.

Hip Hop Hits the Mainstream

Hip Hop is said to have been solidly launched into the music mainstream with “Rapper’s Delight” by the trio the Sugarhill Gang in 1979.

Evolving from turn-tabling with rapped lyrics to the use of drum kits with emphasis on 808s, Hip Hop continued to reach a broader and even more diverse audience worldwide throughout the 1980s. Electronic collaborations, crossover acts, and more socio-polical messages were introduced to the genre in contrast to its more carefree and fun earlier roots. Shorter, more radio format friendly songs also became the dominant strain enjoyed by Hip Hop lovers around the world.

This is the first of several times that a demarcation between “Old School” and “New School” Hip Hop was made, a process of evolution definition that continues to this day. Fans of OG Hip Hop might say that the music of today has lost its soul. New fans might say that older Fans sound just like their parents. And they might both be right!

How does an Artist honor a music tradition, a culture, a lifestyle in a way that feeds its roots yet evolves the trunk for an ever-evolving, technologically advanced world media?

Is Hip Hop a victim of its own success?

Despite the monstrous cultural and commercial success of Hip Hop as a modern day genre, it is not immune to the pressures that have brought it such success. As Hip Hop gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, major record labels recognized and pounced on the commercial potential of sensationalized material. This in large part is why Hip Hop began to shift from a happier, more conscious Funk influenced style of music to what is essentially a more violent, explicit, controversial approach. Industry heads at the time-the majority of which were rich, white, and well-connected men-chose to promote and invest in Artists who produced music with mass appeal, focusing on music celebrating materialistic and violent themes. This targeted approach by record heads paired for consumer demand for salacious material helped pave the way for the popularity of Gangsta Rap, and cemented Hip Hop and Rap into the pantheon of modern mega genres.

The mainstream media of today continues to highlight and capitalize upon the sensationalized and controversial aspects of Hip Hop and Rap, further perpetuating negative stereotypes in both the genre and in society at large.

Sex sells. Drugs sell. Violence sells. Controversy makes for good currency. And yet despite flaunting a culture of wealth, its often not the Artists that make the most profit from the house that Jack built…its the studio execs and streaming companies that are making the true killing.

With the high profile murders and early deaths of so many Hip Hop Artists and Rappers, I have to wonder if the success is worth it sometimes. Would Tupac Shakur still be with us? Or The Notorious B.I.G. (ne Christopher Wallace)? Or Jam Master Jay (ne Jason Mizell)?

Would XXXTentacion, the young rapper known for his emotional and introspective music have been shot and killed during a robbery in Deerfield Beach, Florida, in 2018 if the industry that he built his career in didn’t also push an extremely unhealthy materialistic viewpoint of the world?

Would Juice WRLD or literally thousands of other music artists still be alive if the industry didn’t constantly push a dangerous relationship with drugs, both in the music and in the pressures of the lifestyle?

I can’t say, I can only wonder.

It’s important to remember the everyday pressures and challenges faced by those who work in every nook and cranny of the music industry. Mental health issues, substance abuse, and the extreme pressures of being in the public eye are just some of the factors that can contribute to these tragedies. With many Artists in the Hip Hop community coming from difficult backgrounds, the pressure to succeed yet to also not sell out can be intense.

Within the context of the modern Hip Hop industry, there is an almost perfect storm of pressures from every direction. But there is something else happening to. Community is beginning to return to Hip Hop and embrace it away from the commercial approval of the music industry overlords. Knowledge-and hope-is reborn through next level lyricism. Soul is given life by the Artists who dare to explore this brave new world.

So much of the music that becomes popular in music today is still selected by a small group of people in power. This is true across all genres. The advantages of easier access to self-publication have been both a blessing and a curse for the Artist as well as the fan, a double edged sword dividing the distance between the Artist and its audience just as it divides the audience’s attention.

It’s a loud, loud world out there. And yet, it’s all the Artists that go undiscovered that keep me up at night. I’ve seen some incredibly talented Artists with 4 listeners on Spotify and some incredibly mediocre (and occasionally downright terrible) Artists with thousands upon thousands of streams.

Some may say that musical taste is subjective, but I say objectively the only music that is good music is good music. I love listening to music across countries, genres, and eras, and I promise to only bring you the best of the best and none of the rest.

For the People, Of the People

Ultimately, that’s why I created Mythic Rhythmic…as an antidote to the everyday, overly commercialized music that dominates our modern airwaves. With this Blog and now the Mythic Rhythmic Presents radio show, my goal is to bring you the best undiscovered and hidden gem Artists from around the world in a way that makes you feel like you have a chance to sit down with the Artist and get to know what makes them tick. What challenges do they face in this industry? What keeps them going when the going gets tough? What is their favorite piece of gear? Who are their favorite Artists?

Hip Hop has always been close to my heart and a part of my life in one way or another. That’s why I am so excited to bring you this special Issue as we return to our regular monthly Blog publication schedule.