Hip Hop Music Old School and New School

Hip Hop began as an underground movement centered in the Bronx and has spread globally as both an industry and cultural force. From music videos to movies to fashion lines, its sounds, styles and fashions can be found everywhere from malls to music videos.

Run DMC combined rap with rock on this early track from Run DMC, showing where Hip Hop was heading with harder and sparser beats as well as new styles of rapping.


Hip hop is often mischaracterized as simply a music style; however, it’s much more than that. Hip hop culture first emerged in New York City’s economically depressed South Bronx during the late 70s. Old school hip hop was an expression of African Americans’ lived experiences at that time – its old school form included vocal influences from Protestant church choirs as well as upbeat elements like R&B, funk soul jazz fusion music with some forms of postural semantics body language as Cornel West would later describe.

These cultural expressions began to blend together into a collective energy, giving rise to what became known as hip hop culture. Early b-boys and b(reaker)-girls perfected their skills on concrete surfaces while pioneering MCs like Afrika Bambaataa established his Universal Zulu Nation to offer hip hop values to urban communities.

Early hip hop was inspired by hard funk loops and tracks taken from vintage disco records, such as those found on Sugarhill Gang’s 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight,” which sampled Chic’s record “Good Times”. Coke La Rock is considered by many to be the pioneering rapper behind hip hop; his verse “There’s not a man that can’t be thrown, not a bull that can’t be rode, there’s not a party I can’t throw, not b-boy that I can break” is widely considered to be its core.

Hip hop quickly spread beyond New York City during its initial decade of existence and into other major American cities. Run-D.M.C’s commercial breakthrough and the rise of Def Jam artists such as LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys signalled its mainstream ascendency; by mid-1988 Run-D.M.C was celebrating a commercial breakthrough and album-centric formats were becoming prevalent, further diversifying hip hop into subgroups such as Gangsta Rap, Political Rap, Pop Rap and Alternative Hip Hop by the end of 1990s.


Rappers create personas – larger-than-life characters who might be super smooth or tough – which they then flaunt to promote themselves and honor DJs, who play an essential part of hip hop culture. Their lyrics tell stories of street life or social ills while paying homage to DJs as an integral component. Hip hop has had an incredible impact across multiple genres – R&B (e.g. artists like Beyonce and Usher), Funk (James Brown), Ska and Reggae (The Geto Boys), Gangsta Rap Emo and Punk (MC Hammer Schoolly D and N.W.A), Crunk, bounce Mumble Rap, Trap and Latin hip hop are among many examples.

The late 1980s to early 1990s was considered the golden age of hip hop, when performers enjoyed mainstream success while creating major innovations with each release. This period witnessed RUN DMC, Public Enemy and Tupac Shakur’s debuts, as well as those of MC Hammer, KRS-One, The Geto Boys and A Tribe Called Quest; additionally Gangsta Rap (highlighting inner city youth lifestyles) gained prominence, with artists such as Schoolly D, Ice-T and N.W.A achieving prominence within it during this timeframe.

These artists projected an image and music that projected a cool, street-boy aesthetic that helped hip hop become a cultural movement. Additionally, during this period New York and Los Angeles came into sharp disagreement, most prominently between Notorious B.I.G and Bad Boy Records in New York; later Tupac and Death Row Records from Los Angeles became rivals in a longstanding rivalry that was further defined by feuds such as that between Notorious B.I.G and Bad Boy Records in New York; later it evolved further as artists like Tupac signed both labels to record albums owned by Bad Boy Records or Death Row Records from opposite coasts respectively.


Hip hop music is a unique form of American dance music that blends deejaying or “turntabling”, rapping or “MCing”, graffiti art known as B-boying and postural semantics into one cultural phenomenon. These four components combine to form hip hop’s defining characteristics: beat of music; rhyme/MCing/visual art or graffiti writing; sense of community that these things create; and ultimately its cultural foundation in one local community where all these aspects reside.

Hip hop began as a reaction against Europeanised disco music that dominated airwaves at that time. To differentiate themselves from disco, early hip hop artists used instrumental loops from vintage funk records as a way to distinguish it. By the late 1970s, this had grown into a distinct sound characterized by two turntables to extend breaks or using Roland TR-808 drum machines as hallmarks.

Music itself became more complex, transitioning from rhythmic chants into emotive lyrics discussing various issues. Artists such as Melle Mel, KRS-One and Rakim helped push hip hop mainstream alongside Run DMC and A Tribe Called Quest groups like Run DMC and A Tribe Called Quest.

Hip hop music and dance have become part of many cultures worldwide, including those in Latin America. Hip hop was especially influential during Cuba’s Special Period between 1989 and 1992 as marginalized communities were able to use its music as an avenue for communicating their concerns and advocating for change through its lyrics.

Gangsta rap’s rise during the 1990s brought with it a harder edge to hip hop music, combining an aggressive musical style with street themes and elements such as gunshots, sirens and street cries that represented harsh conditions experienced by black people living in US inner cities and suburbs.


As hip hop evolved, artists such as Melle Mel, Grandmaster Flash and KRS One created new musical and lyrical styles. These included Latin-influenced percussion, scratching and other turntable effects as well as call-and-response chanting between MCs and crowds; their style drew on street culture by projecting an aggressive yet cool B-boy attitude both musically and visually; lyrics evolved beyond rhythmic chants to include metaphorical lyrics which often told autobiographical tales.

The early 1980s was a pivotal time in hip hop history, as sampling technology became more affordable and widespread. Roland TR-808 drum machine allowed producers to program original drum patterns rather than relying solely on DJ breakbeats for drum patterns; this dramatically transformed hip hop’s sound, marking its transition to second-generation classic hip hop music.

By the late 1980s, Run-DMC and Jay-Z had established themselves as leaders of hip hop culture. Blending rock music with rap, Run-DMC’s debut single “It’s Like That” from their groundbreaking style is an early example. Their harder, sparser beats and potency set new standards in their genre.

This period saw the advent of gangsta rap, an artistic genre which used lyrics to depict street gangs and inner city life through lyrics. Artists in this genre used verbal fisticuffs to describe crimes such as robbery, murder, drug dealing, prostitution, etc. Additionally they frequently boast about their money or bragging about cars they owned; often boasting about having more money or possessions.

Hip hop has quickly become a global phenomenon, yet many of its early artists haven’t received the same level of cultural recognition that classic rock artists did, meaning their relevance has diminished among younger fans.


Many of the original hip hop artists who popularized hip hop are still making waves today. These musicians often use their personas to establish themselves as cooler-than-life characters with either smooth or tough personas that captivate an audience, while using voice and word power to convey messages about issues like racism, poverty and drugs that they encountered as teenagers or young adults growing up in poor neighborhoods.

Rappers and MCs who use their art to address social issues in their community can make an enormous difference. They can motivate other youths to overcome difficult circumstances and reach for success; and encourage others to become leaders themselves in their community.

Hip hop’s instrumental beats were initially produced using two turntables to extend breaks within tracks or drum machines such as Roland TR-808 to add drum sounds, before eventually evolving into genres such as G-funk and gangsta rap – now, popular instrumental styles include lo-fi hip hop and boom-bap.

Some of the most renowned old school hip hop artists include The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and LL Cool J. Each used their talents to craft an unique sound that set them apart from other musicians of their era, and used music to spread positive messages about black communities through hits like “Rapper’s Delight”, “Superrappin'” and “That’s the Joint.” Their most memorable tracks often included funky bass lines, simple beats and upbeat jangly guitars alongside vocal talent from Melle Mel or Lady B.