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Hip Hop of the 1980s

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Hip Hop of the 1980s


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The 80s is the decade in which hip hop evolved and was popularized. This new genre born in the 70s in the district of South Bronx in New York City consists of four basic elements rapping, DJing/scratching, sampling, and beatboxing.

The Hip hop musical genre had a strong influence on pop music in the late 1980s which still continues to the present day.

In the eighties hip hop was diversified, adding the use of sampling and a fusion of hip hop music with electro. The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel (1981) by Grandmaster Flash, was highly influential on many DJ's and an early example of Turntablism (the art of manipulating sounds and creating music using phonograph turntables or digital turntable), so this is the first record to only showcase turntablism.

Rammellzee and K-Rob's Beat Bop (1983) was a 'slow jam' which had a dub influence with its use of reverb and echo as texture and playful sound effects. Also the heavy usage of the new generation of drum machines such as the Oberheim DMX and Roland 808 models was a characteristic of many 1980 songs. Even nowadays the 808 is traditionally used by hip hop producers. Over time sampling technology became more advanced.

Some rappers eventually became mainstream pop performers. Kurtis Blow's appearance in a Sprite commercial marking the first hip hop musician to represent a major product. The 1981 song Christmas Wrapping by the new-wave band The Waitresses was one of the first pop songs to use some rapping in the delivery.

Hip Hop genre started embracing the creation of rhythm by using the human body, addin the vocal percussion technique of beatboxing. Pioneers such as Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie and Buffy from the Fat Boys made beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using their mouth, lips, tongue, voice, and other body parts. Human Beatbox artists would also sing or imitate turntablism scratching or other instrument sounds.

During the second half of the decade a "new school" of hip hop emerged with the early records of Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J. It was originated also in New York City. It was notable for taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political themes, both delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. It projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude.

New school songs were shorter than the one of the old school and could more easily gain radio play, and more cohesive LPs. By 1986 their releases began to establish the hip hop album as a fixture of the mainstream. Hip hop music became commercially successful, as exemplified by The Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill (1986), which was the first rap album to hit  the first place on the billboard charts.

Popular Hip hop artists of the 1980s include Run D.M.C., Beastie Boys, NWA, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Boogie Down Productions, Ice T, among others.

The late 80s and early 90s are considered Hip hop's golden age, a period of big diversity, quality, innovation and influence, it had also some jazz influence. Some of the most prominent artists of the time include Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B. & Rakim, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, GangStarr and Big Daddy Kane among others.

During this period also a new subgenre of hip hop evolved, the Gangsta Rap that reflects the violent lifestyles of inner-city American youths. Some of the artists a groups that popularized the Gangsta Rap subgenre include Schooly D, Ice T and N.W.A.

Finally in the 90s the Hip Hop genre was consolidated as a mainstream one.

In 1990, MC Hammer hit top levels of succeswith the multi platinum album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. The record reached #1 and the first single, Can't Touch This was on the top-10 of the billboard hot 100. Thus becoming MC Hammer one of the most successful rappers of the early 90s; and raising rap music to a new level of popularity. This album still remains one of the genre's all-time best-selling albums with over 18 million units so far.

In 1992, Dr. Dre released The Chronic, establishing the so called West Coast gangsta rap as more commercially viable than East Coast hip hop; and founding a style called "G Funk", which soon dominated West Coast hip hop. The style was popularized by Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle (1993). Another great artist of the West Coast was Tupac Shakur, whose single To Live and Die in L.A. was a big hit.

Meanwhile artists that helped boost the East Coast hip hop included The Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, among others. In the Midwest the genre also was developed with the fast vocal styles from artists such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Tech N9ne, and Twista.

By the end of the 90s, hip hop was an integral part of popular music in the United States.

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