The Origins of Hip-Hop
Born in the Bronx, hip-hop started in the African American and Latino communities during the 1970's. Hip-hop had been confined to New York as African Americans and Latinos engaged this cultural phenomenon, championing sociopolitical progress.
Public Enemy started their career in 1982 and consisted of Chuck D, DJ Lord, Flavor Flav, Khari Wynn, Professor Griff and the S1W Group. Hailing from Long Island, NY, Public Enemy entered the landscape with their debut album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, in 1987. Former members included Sister Souljah and Terminator X.
Hailing from Queens, NY, LL Cool J started his hip-hop career in 1985 and garnered recognition through two albums: Radio (1985) and Bigger and Deffer (1987).
Run-DMC represented Hollis, Queens, NY and gained attention through their 1984 album, RUN-D.M.C., and 1986 album, Raising Hell. Members included Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell.
Salt-N-Pepa are seen as one of hip-hop's first female groups and attained recognition through their 1986 album, Hot, Cool & Vicious. The group hails from Queens, NY and uses sexuality and feminism as their edge. Members include Cheryl "Salt" James, Sandra "Pepa" Denton and Deidra "Spinderella" Roper.
Beastie Boys ushered in a unique form of hip-hop - rap rock - and entered the hip-hop scene with Licensed to Ill in 1986. The members included Michael "Mike D" Diamond, Adam "MCA" Yauch, Adam "Ad-Rock" Horovitz, John Berry and Kate Schellenbach.
The 1990s are often labelled the "Golden Age of Hip-Hop" since artists and groups promoted sociopolitical issues in their music. In addition, these artists and groups blended other genres and Afrocentrism into their music, creating subgenres such as jazz rap and alternative hip-hop. The list goes on and on as numerous artists and group dominated this period: Big Daddy Kane, Boogie Down Productions, Black Sheep, Brand Nubian, Cypress Hill, De La Soul, Digable Planets, Eric B. & Rakim, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Kool Moe Dee, KRS-One, MC Lyte, Naughty By Nature, A Tribe Called Quest, Queen Latifah, Common, J Dilla, Fugees, Busta Rhymes, The Roots, X Clan, En Vogue, Souls of Mischief and The Pharcyde.
This resulted in four collectives remaining true to hip-hop's core principles: Juice Crew, Native Tongues, Hieroglyphics and Universal Zulu Nation. These coalitions promoted peace, prosperity and progress. Thus, positivity and racial harmony seemed to dominate this period.
In addition to the 1990's icons, hip-hop inducted new artists and groups during the 2000's. Drug abuse, political corruption, racism, sociopolitical crises and other issues continued to inspire artists and groups to create their music. Humor and personal anecdotes also influenced 2000's hip-hop, resulting in considerable success as the music became mainstream. Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Andre 3000, T.I., 50 Cent, The Game, Young Jeezy, Action Bronson, Lil Wayne and others dominated the early 2000's and maintained relevance to this day.
Corporate America infiltrated hip-hop during the 1990's as "the Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated media conglomerates, permitting companies like Viacom and Clear Channel to purchase huge shares of media markets" (Hip-Hop's Profane Victory: How Corporations Co-Opted Black Cool, 2014). Thus, certain corporations used hip-hop to promote products in their commercials.
Understanding its influence and significance, large corporations capitalized and transformed hip-hop into a profitable business. This caused Corporate America to produce manufactured soundbites that frequented the radio. Brittney Cooper of Salon insisted that this stratagem "killed local radio by folding stations into larger corporate entities, with regional and remote deejays and a top 40 playlist. This is the reason why if you listen to urban radio, you hear seemingly the same 10 songs on a monotonous loop..." (Hip-Hop's Profane Victory: How Corporations Co-Opted Black Cool, 2014).
Therefore, Corporate America prefers artists and groups capable of acquiring global recognition, generating popular songs and albums, and becoming top performers on Billboard and other publications. This resulted in the creation of hip-pop instead of hip-hop.
"This corporate structure has meant that artists and innovators who could build a name for themselves locally and regionally had very few avenues in the late 1990's and early 2000's to bring their musical products to market. We lament the bastion of misogyny, gratuitous capital and emotional vacuity that represents much of mainstream hip-hop today," according to Cooper.
Hip-pop relies on materialism and superficial themes rather than the deeper messages prominent during the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. In addition, today's hip-hop fills the younger generation's mindset with images of power, wealth, sex and adulation.
Mainstream hip-hop's success caused a number of artists and groups to go underground and promote hip-hop's original messages. There are current artists and groups that admire Golden Age Hip-Hop, incorporating the original messages into their music. Furthermore, incidents such as hate crimes, police brutality and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign caused an uproar in the hip-hop community, encouraging current and Golden Age Hip-Hop artists to cover these issues.