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HIP HOP, RACISM AND RESISTANCE

Although the Hip Hop scene emerged in the 70s in the Bronx in New York City, it got mainstreamed during the late 80s and early 90s.

Hip hop's vocal origins lie in the Jamaican ‘toasting’ tradition. Toasting is a cross between talking and rhythmic chanting which was originally practised by Jamaican MCs.

African-American DJs such as Grandmaster Flash and the Jamaican-born ‘father of hip- hop’ Kool Herc extended the instrumental sections (or ‘breaks’) from records by mixing between two identical copies of the same record.

Some of the DJs (or MCs) rapped over the top of the breaks.

Political hip-hop, or conscious rap, became a subgenre where rap was turned into a call for political and social activism.

Conscious rap gave credit to the poetry and inspiration of the jazz and funk scene, taking inspiration from artists such as Gil Scott-Heron. Grandmaster Flash’s 1982 song ‘The Message’ was one of the first that depicted these issues, pioneering the type of hip-hop that is popular today.

Herc on the Wheels of Steel
  

The emergence of ‘Gangsta Rap’ in the 1990s blended both aggressive imagery with radical socio-political commentary of police violence, poverty and black culture – especially during the L.A. riots.

In 1988, N.W.A. released their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, bringing gangsta rap into the mainstream.

A more conscious style of rap music evolved during the 1990s, blending African American culture, lives and experiences with a socio-political stance.

Although hip-hop has often been criticised for glamourising violence and sexism, it has definitely been a platform where African Americans have been able to influence the whole world.