Rap music is undeniably one of the most popular music genres to date but how well do you know the history of rap? Join me as I take a stroll down memory lane and revisit the origins of what we know today as Hip-Hop.
What does rapping mean?
Rap is actually a very old word. You can find the term popping up as early as the 15th and 16th century in Britain. Initially the word rap meant to strike or to hit. A few centuries later a slight variation of this definition appeared which meant to speak or talk. In America around the 1960’s it began to pop up in the black community and was used as a slang word to mean that someone was talking or having a conversation.
The roots of rapping
Thousands of years ago in Africa “griots”, where village story tellers who played basic handmade instruments while they told stories of their family and local current events. This style of talking while music is playing is rap music as we know it at its root form. The griot is still a major form of communication in Africa still to this day.
This griot tradition carried over when Africans were captured against their will, transported to America & forced into slavery. One way they would cope with the tremendous amount of pain & heartbreak of slavery would be to sing. While they were working in the fields they would often sing using “call to answer”. One leader would call out a certain part of a song and the rest of the slaves would answer with the next line. In modern times performing artists call this emceeing or crowd participation.
History is about to be made
On August 11, 1973 in the Bronx, New York history was about to be made. DJ Kool Herc (now known as the first DJ & founding father of hip hop) & his sister Cindy began hosting back to school parties in the recreation room of their building. It was these gatherings that would spark the beginning of a new culture we know today as Hip-Hop. One night during J Kool Herc’s set he tried something new he called “merry go round”. He used two turntables playing the same break beat section of the James Brown record “clap your hands”. When one turntable would finish playing the section he would switch to the other turntable and play the same section. This allowed him to extend that section of the song as long as he wanted. This technique is now referenced to as looping and is used by record producers in almost every beat.
From emcee to rapper
As DJ Kool Herc continued to do more parties he realized that speaking on the mic was just as important to keeping a party live as DJing was. In order to keep up with the demands of the crowd he reached out to his good friend Coke La Rock to be the first dedicated MC of these parties. During one of these parties Coke La Rock spit his very first bar, ” There’s not a man that can’t be thrown, not a horse that can’t be rode, a bull that can’t be stopped, there’s not a disco that I Coke La Rock can’t rock”. This one bar made Coke La Rock the very first rapper in Hip-Hop and birthed a new genre of music we know today as Rap music... https://colemizestudios.c...rap-start/