Hip Hop Music 1 Hour

Hip hop music expands our relationship to words. Tracks like “The Bomb” and “Sadat X” inspire activism, social justice and introspection.

Early rap was founded upon hard funk loops from vintage funk records; The Sugarhill Gang used the bass line from Chic’s “Good Times”. Additionally, disco had an immense influence on hip hop.


Hip hop has evolved beyond music into an enduring art form and movement of artists and everyday people who fight for truth, honesty, voice and power. Since its conception as an underground subculture in New York City in 1979, it has expanded globally: DJs spinning in Sao Paulo; MCs rapping Arabic rhymes in Qatar; break dancers popping locking and rocking across cities worldwide – with fashions, graffiti art and poetry that inspire, influence and motivate as well as fuel social change and knowledge questing as its legacy.

Hip hop music traces its roots back to African American experiences and culture, often reflecting urban life within an often violent gangland culture. Hip hop’s development can be traced back to exchange between young African American and Hispanic youth in New York City during the 1970s; as a result, its musical influences interplayed across cultures before spreading globally via local music scenes.

Hip hop music was introduced into mainstream American culture during the early 1980s and artists started to rap professionally, becoming an influential force within urban arts scenes and inspiring many rappers to create personas which ranged from smooth or tough. Additionally, the music inspired break dancers and graffiti artists who developed unique styles. Meanwhile MCs and rappers became stars whose lyrics became an essential component of hip hop’s message.

Rap was initially defined as an offensive term; however, its meaning soon expanded to refer to the vocal style of rappers. Rapping is composed of rhythm and rhyme and became an art form as a direct response to watered down Europeanized disco music that filled airwaves; early hip hop featured hard funk instrumental loops from vintage records sourced for construction; many believe its rise contributed to disco’s decline.

Hip hop’s early MCs and rappers were not only talented singers but also accomplished producers and engineers. They sampled existing tracks while creating original beats with drum machines, keyboards, synthesizers or even the human voice by employing “beatboxing.” Today this practice has become more and more prevalent – giving rise to an entire genre of music led by artists like Doug E. Fresh.


“Hip Hop” has come to symbolize an expansive cultural movement that encompasses music, poetry, dance, art, fashion and style. Its core principle of making do with what one has has spread out into global culture: DJs in Sao Paulo spin turntables while MCs spit verses in Arabic; B-boys break baby freezes in Finland while graffiti artists transform walls into canvases while writers for children and adolescents present stories infused with hip hop culture that expand literacy.

Hip hop’s roots are found in New York’s Bronx during an economically hard period in the early 1970s. A young man named Kool Herc revolutionized urban music through an innovative technique: using two turntables playing simultaneously the same record to isolate and extend danceable percussion breaks; looping them and layering them to form an instantaneous dance mix which quickly became recognizable – creating something fresh, funky, and unique that became known as hip hop music.

Rappers, or MCs, used handheld microphones to recite rapid-fire rhymes with messages about self-esteem issues, gang culture and inner city living; politics; social commentary and the necessity of overcoming obstacles.

Rapping was initially defined as an oral style without melody that involved more like reciting poetry than singing, although over time its definition broadened to encompass hip hop vocal technique. Alongside poetry recitation, rappers of this era also took influence from jazz, soul reggae and rock as their source material, often taking on personal and social issues through lyrics that were both humorous and critical in tone.

In the late ’80s, new hip hop artists emerged across the nation and were able to elevate the genre. Artists like Run-D.M.C and LL Cool J were instrumental in pioneering what is known today as “new school” hip hop; which featured minimal drum machine usage alongside influences from rock music.

Today’s hip hop culture takes many forms and has reached every corner of the globe. At Saint Louis Art Museum’s That’s Art podcast series, they explore hip hop’s impact on contemporary art and society – be it through Apple Podcast, Spotify, iHeart Radio or any other audio platform. That’s Art is made possible thanks to generous funding provided by U.S. Department of Education.


Hip hop was created through a complex cultural convergence. Its music and dance styles are informed by street culture’s “work-with-what-you-have” ethic; its lyrical themes draw upon African American oral tradition; oratorical artists of Black Appeal Radio Period employed oratorical skills in Black Appeal radio period performances and production; its rhythms come from R&B, Funk and Jazz styles as well. DJs who pioneered hip hop also included elements of disco in its creation while Sugarhill Gang used disco instrumental loops when creating “Rapper’s Delight”.

MCs draw their inspiration from various sources, such as rock and roll, R&B and disco rhythms; their rapping style typically incorporates rapid staccato delivery with repeated use of the syllables “ah, oh and yeah.” Ragtime rhythms as well as work songs from African American minstrel shows have also informed this genre; additionally spoken-word poets of spoken-word movement as well as religious ceremonies have contributed significantly.

New York City hip hop culture was formed through an interplay of cultures involving African Americans and children of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean. Artists such as Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash utilized their experiences growing up within multicultural environments to inform their art and message.

Hispanic rappers and musicians played an essential role in shaping early hip hop, shaping its Latin funk sound while inspiring Puerto Rican rap groups like Cypress Hill. Additionally, South Bronx boasted a high Hispanic population; early rap artists like Big Pun and Fat Joe reflected the hardships they encountered living there through their work.

Hip hop originated in New York working-class communities but has since spread worldwide as an influential cultural phenomenon. From its music, dance and lyrics to fashion trends around the world, its influence continues to shape styles and trends across cultures. Regional styles have emerged across America: G-funk from West Coast rap to Gangsta Rap in urban ghettos like Los Angeles and Detroit; in other parts of Asia it melds with local popular music to form J-rap or K-pop depending on its locale of influence.


In the early 1970s, times were hard for impoverished urban areas of America. From these hardships and an abundance of creativity came hip hop culture. DJ Kool Herc is often credited with initiating it at an August 1973 dance bash: at that gathering he played identical records on two turntables at once, using toggling between them to isolate and extend percussion breaks–the most danceable sections in a song–thus filling up the floor with eager breakdancers eagerly waiting their turn to hit it again.

Hip hop had transitioned from underground to mainstream audiences by the mid 1990s. Gangsta rap, which focused on violent lifestyles and poor conditions of inner city African American youth, gained widespread appeal. Other genres developed locally – West Coast G-funk and East Coast jazz rap were just two such examples.

As hip hop became more mainstream, its social and political content increasingly became controversial. One of the most polarizing groups was Public Enemy, who critiqued American society with their lyrics. Their hard-edged music inspired hardcore or “gangsta rap”, pushing boundaries of what was acceptable rap music and giving rise to more controversial rappers like K Dub Shine and Zeebra.

Hip hop music continues to expand and influence all aspects of music today, even non-rappers adopting its sounds and styles; many American pop songs now include rap segments in them; movies and TV shows are adapting classic Greek tragedies into hip hop-infused works such as Will Power’s The Seven (based on Seven Against Thebes).

Hip hop has quickly spread beyond its birthplace of The Bronx since its beginnings, spreading worldwide as an international phenomenon. People around the globe have welcomed its beats, rhymes, styles and energy with DJs spinning records in Sao Paulo while DJs spin beats for Arabic clubs in Qatar; breaking has spread as far away as Japan South Africa Australia; its graffiti art once covering only urban core streets now blankets entire countries worldwide.