Hip Hop Music in the 1970s

Rappers who rapped over beats created by DJs became increasingly popular. While early hip hop music focused on dance floor beats, rappers such as Paulette and Tanya Winley used rhymes to express themselves deeply through lyrics.

Joe Bataan created one of the earliest socially conscious songs during this era with “Rap-O Clap-O.” This tune combined Latin boogaloo with African American doo-wop.

The Roots

The 1970s witnessed the birth of hip hop as both a musical and cultural movement. Its early years were characterized by creative expression, defiance against oppressive systems, and social upheaval – such as break beats, MCs with lyrical coordination, DJs using turntables for playback purposes and sampling being its four pillars.

In the late ’60s, black families started migrating out of inner-city neighborhoods into more affluent suburban ones, leaving behind impoverished inner-city neighborhoods which suffered from limited economic opportunity and high crime rates. Young people in these communities sought an outlet through music: hip hop can trace its roots back to The Last Poets who released their debut album The Last Poets’ lyrical coordination and call-and-response style laid the groundwork for modern rap.

Soon thereafter, DJ Kool Herc started using his sound system ideas at street parties in New York City. Known as a looper and innovator of “Merry-Go-Round”, his style served to extend breaks between popular songs, which would later influence hip hop music.

As hip hop gained more traction, artists such as Grandmaster Flash and Public Enemy pushed for more socially aware lyrics in their music. Their songs highlighted urban residents’ hardships while their slow funk grooves with melodic synthesizer riffs proved immensely popular among listeners.

At this point, the new school movement made its mark: Run DMC, LL Cool J, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys were instrumental in popularizing hip hop; their rock-inspired instrumentals allowed these artists to spit rhymes over catchy hooks that made hip hop an international phenomenon by the 1980s.

Kool Herc & the Herculoids

DJ Kool Herc made history when, in 1974, he discovered an innovative form of hip hop music called breakbeat. Noticing dancers tending to get most excited during short percussive parts — or breaks — of records, Herc began isolating these parts and switching records frequently during parties, so that when a track came to its end another would take its place and continue the beat uninterrupted – turning a five-minute loop out of small segments from songs into something much greater than its initial purpose!

Kool Herc quickly amassed an avid following of dancers who attended his block parties, performing what became known as break dancing acrobatically with competitive dance circles. To encourage his dancers in continuing competing, Herc enlisted the aid of Coke La Rock – often considered to be the pioneering MC – who encouraged them to keep competing and provide assistance as needed.

At that time, DJs would typically announce names of guests over instrumental breaks and early MCs used a form of toasting to convey their messages; these early MCs typically recited simple phrases with rhymed endings before eventually adding small rhymes into their speeches.

Rappers were heavily influenced by ska and rock music, with rock providing its lyrical structure for this genre. Rhymic chanting eventually transformed into metaphorical lyrics addressing both personal and political topics.

As hip hop became more and more popular, other DJs began imitating Herc’s style. But he established a guiding code which still applies: use whatever skills you have to build something cool – which explains why DJs such as Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaata remain influential long after his passing in 1984.

Public Enemy

By the 1970s, MCing over beats had become a cultural phenomenon, with kids purchasing turntables and old records to start scratchin’. But in 1979, Sugar Hill Gang made waves when their song, “Rapper’s Delight”, cracked the Top 40 charts – unleashing creative energy that broke down racial barriers while inspiring inner city youth with raw fury.

Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaata had set an exemplary standard with their rhythmic chanting over beat, but Public Enemy took this practice a step further with their aggressive sound of their rhymes and political lyrics. Their crew included Flavor Flav as the leader; Professor Griff as Minister of Information; Terminator X as surgical DJ and The Bomb Squad’s production artists creating complex, clanging soundscapes to match urban angst; all in all an impressive feat!

They challenged hip hop music with their hard-edged style that featured samples of gunshots, sirens, street cries and real spoken-word recordings from inner city life, in addition to using an A-A-B-B rhyme scheme. Their powerful yet confrontational sound sent a strong message to young people that violence doesn’t need to be their destiny.

Now that hip hop music was no longer controlled by white labels, rappers had more freedom. Kurtis Blow was among the first rappers to take advantage of this change and his track “To the Beat Y’All” serves as an embodiment of 1970s hip hop with references to John Travolta from Grease and Charlie Fawcett from Charlie’s Angel. Indeed, its success inspired other rappers to draw upon pop culture for inspiration when writing their rhymes.

Sugar Hill Gang

The 1970s witnessed hip hop’s rapid evolution from subculture to mainstream phenomenon. This phenomenon reached a pinnacle with Sugar Hill Gang’s 1979 hit song, “Rapper’s Delight”. While not explicitly speaking to black America’s harsh realities, the song helped introduce white audiences to rap. Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank and Master Gee were three freestyle MCs from Englewood New Jersey who signed with music industry entrepreneur Sylvia Robinson; together they recorded this track live one take. It became an international sensation.

This was the first rap song to reach the top 40 charts and gave hope to young children that they could rise from poverty and make their mark in America. Additionally, this marked a new generation of rappers that sought more than being just street thug-types; rather they wanted to become artists, producers, and entrepreneurs.

Sugar Hill Gang’s combination of disco samples with DJ turntablism and call-and-response lyrics set a precedent for later MCs. Their success inspired other groups such as Zulu Nation to form. Furthermore, Sugar Hill Gang helped pioneer what came to be known as funk rock music.

Contrasting with later groups’ hard-edged gangsta rap music, this early form was more relaxed. It featured messages about family and community life as well as criticizing institutions that discriminated against black people such as police forces and music labels; encouraging young people to pursue their goals instead of drugs; eventually this movement blossomed into full-fledged bands like Public Enemy and Run DMC as well as giving rise to a whole new generation of rappers with unique personas and styles.

Dr. Love & Sister Love

Paulette and Tanya Winley may not have been as widely recognized during the ’70s, but their raw talent provided the groundwork for groups like Salt-N-Peppa. Although only teenagers when they began writing their own rhymes and battling adult MCs twice their age, their unapologetic confidence and powerful delivery became an inspiration to young female rappers everywhere.

The 1970s witnessed hip hop’s gradual spread through music world. Its origins can be found in street culture rooted in inner city neighborhoods that had limited opportunities and services available, leading to the creation of gang culture, graffiti art and break dancing scenes – graffiti writing becoming especially noticeable – artists using streets as canvasses with wild and colorful designs; many times these artists would jump fences or enter nighttime yards where subway cars rested before drawing inspiration for their works from nature itself.

As soon as Sugar Hill Gang released their debut album, rap music became more recognizable as an art form. Rappers began exploring more aggressive and political themes within their lyrical content – this new form was known as Gangsta Rap and soon artists such as Ice-T from LA Compton and NWA (Negroes Of America) began popularizing it.

At the close of the decade, hip hop had established itself as an internationally recognized musical movement. Beats and rhythms became more complex while artists integrated sounds from street life such as sirens and gunshots into their recordings. The 1980s witnessed its diversification with Run-DMC, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy expanding hip hop’s reach through complex sampling techniques, deeper understanding of metaphorical rap lyrics and wider collaboration with other genres of music.