Hip Hop is a way for artist to creatively express themselves> Originating in Bronx and spreading to other boroughs in the 1970’s a new genre emerged that allowed for African Americans, Afro-Carribeans, and latinos to share new forms of art including dance moves, competitions between disc jockeys, graffiti and lastly rap, the verbal expression of hip hop.
The mid 1980s began the “Golden Age” due to the many different forms of hip hop that emerged during this time. The first type being “Classic rap” where artist were known for having catchy hooks, compelling lyrics, and street style storytelling. Because of it cloud appealing characteristics it sold heavy in hip hop and mainstream. This subgenre included artist like Slick Rick, Naughty by Nature, and Nas. This music was edgy enough to be realistic or “Keeping it 100” but it was not edgy enough to pick the brains of the society and question societal issues which may have it banned from being played on the radio.
The more edgy rap would be apart of the hardcore movement. This movement as built on authenticity where rappers discussed their street life or true societal issues with profanity and hard details. Theres three types of hard core rap: gangsta, conscious and sexually explicit. Conscious had a message and did not always include profanity, this music had a word to uplift the community and speak on the positive instead of focusing on the negative. Artist like KRS1 was known for this style of hip hop. Next was Gangsta and sexually exploitative music which degraded women, gays. “Punks” and police and had much profanity and cold lyrics. This music did not send a positive message to the community and lead to many rappers demise due to incarceration or death. This rap promoted gang wars and even coastal wars between the different styles of rap from the east coast to the west coast. During this time women had to step up to the plate with the equal “hardness” of men to state a message of unity in the black community. From this time came many hip hop female artist such as Missy Elliot and Queen Latifah with her hit “U.N.I.T.Y.”.
Lastly there was pop rap which grew popular in the late 1980s, similar to hardcore or classic it still looked to prove realness to its audience. The main artist were surprisingly not from New York but from Philadelphia, this group was a duo that included the Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince as the first recipient of a grammy from the new rap genre. This music did not necessarily rap about street life but rapped about humorous or more relatable things for mainstream media. For this reason, core rappers labeled any artist who entered this genre as “inauthentic sellouts”. Trying to mend the lines between hardcore rap and pop artist such as Heavy D and the Boys created R&B rap which included rapped versus, nasal vocals, and harmonized chorus, this way not made popular until P. Diddy and the Notorious BIG used this style. From this subgenre also came New Jack Swing where artist adopted a more street look but rapped to more syncopated and distinctive rhythms. Artist included Bell Biv Devoe, Johnny Kemp and paved the way for new female artist like Mary J Blige, TLC, and Total.
Today’s rap is considered “Trap” music where artist discuss street life in terms of drug , cars money, and sex. Similar to other subgenera they look to prove authenticity but also try to appeal to mainstream media with catchy hooks and lyrics. Their beats are electronically produced and they may include singing in the hooks which falls under the R&B rap. Although this music stems from the root of hardcore rap it is not at all the same and core rappers do not consider most of today’s rap as a form a rap.
In conclusion, hip hop –rap more specifically is a form of musical expression and expression changes with time. While everyone is try to keep it real some of these lifestyles rappers discuss is not their reality. The lyrics should not be followed or looked up to but should just be an outlet for those truly living a hard knock life. Instead of comparing the different ways rap has involved we should embrace that times have changed and allow music to follow the societal changes of today.