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Rivers of spoken word, modern poets of the poor accompanied by a DJ take a rip around the block, the neighborhood, the city and ultimately the world. It’s a part of the hip-hop subculture, generally consisting of the MC, DJ, breakdancing, graffiti, beatbox and streetball.


Rap scene, features and brief history

Towards the end of the ‘70s, musicians like DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataastarted started to entertain street parties with their sampling of funk, reggae, jazz, R&B and disco music songs. As the popularity of this genre grew, the MCs started to sing over the sampled music with their skillfully crafted rhymes to attract people to the party. They usually invited people to dance, or told short anecdotes, an art soon to be known as rapping.

The discographic boost first came with the Sugarhill Gang’s first album in 1979, an event that contributed to the diffusion of this relatively new genre throughout NY’s cultural scene during the next ten years. Then, in 1985, the Golden Age of rap began. Run-DMC became the first mainstream band with their essential style, added with powerful guitar riffs. The genre rapidly developed, drawing on its roots, singing explicit lyrics of violence and social denounce.

In 1986, the first white rap group reached the top: the Beastie Boys. Coming from a hardcore punk background, the band published Licensed to ill, demonstrating that rap music had become a universal language. At the beginning of the ‘90s, the rap scene was all gold chains and showing off. The Public Enemy gave a healthy shock to the genre wearing alarm clocks around the neck and writing about Malcom X, Islam and politics. The violent social reaction brought by this period’s lyrics was followed by a quieter moment when old gangsters became peace supporters. The teachings of these rappers were not fully understood, at least among the artists. In the ‘90s the famous West Coast - East Coast rivalry brought to the death of Tupac Shakur e The Notorious B.I.G., respectively in 1996 and 1997.

In recent years rap has been represented by important artists as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes and many others, who sold million copies worldwide. Many of them are major label superstars, but still many minor recording studios are thriving in the genre’s underground, proving how this music is deeply rooted in US’s soul.

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