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From the Margins to the Mainstream

  • Re-Taking it to the Streets :Investigati... (by )
  • Hip Hop and Rap's Influence on Slang (by )
  • In Print Ads for Hip-Hop Clothing1 (by )
  • Introduction Japanese Hip-Hop 
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Over the past decade, hip-hop has become one of the world’s most popular musical genres. It dominates radio and connects listeners worlds apart. During the week of October 13, 2018, hip-hop held nine of the ten most popular songs on the Billboard Hot 100. Some argue that hip-hop, created and performed largely by a marginalized class, is now synonymous with pop music.

Hip-hop, born in the 1970’s in the borough of the Bronx, New York City, married the production talents of disc jockeys (deejays) with the lyrical dexterities of emcees (masters of ceremonies). Deejays would spin two records simultaneously, extending the percussive breaks of popular funk and soul songs, and the emcees would perform, or “rap,” with written or improvised rhyming lyrics. 

Rapper’s Delight,” recorded and released in 1979 by The Sugarhill Gang, garnered a larger, more mainstream audience. The song demonstrated the roles and relationships of and between deejays and emcees. Three years later, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, an early, highly influential group, recorded “The Message,” the first hip-hop song that described the marginalized lives of young people of color in impoverished neighborhoods like the Bronx. 
In “The Mad Science of Hip Hop: History, Technology, and Poetics of Hip-Hop’s Music 1975-1991,” Patrick Rivers traces the cultural significance the genre had on the lives of its creators and fans. 

Decades later, during the Golden Age of Hip-Hop, an era that ushered in new voices and ideas from Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., the Wu Tang Clan, and Queen Latifah, a highly marketable and distinct sound surged to the forefront of music. In “Re-Taking it to the Streets: Investigating Hip Hop’s Emergence into the Spaces of Late Capitalism,” Kevin Kosanovich explains how the deejay, the emcee, and the rap album can be seen as commodities with extraordinary earning power.

Over the past decade, the technological advancement of hip-hop production filled the role deejays once held, resulting in music that blurs the line separating what was once an organic, grass roots sound from polished pop songs. Hip-hop exists in virtually every nation across the globe. As it continues to expand, it will become increasingly influenced by the new regions and peoples it reaches.

By Thad Higa

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