What even is Hip Hop?

SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,128 PostsAlumni
edited May 13 in Strut Central
I've been thinking about this one for a while now actually.. I thought some of you wouldn't just dismiss my naivety, and are mature enough to have a respectful discussion. I've been a hip hop fan for well over 27 years now, and now that all of the illusions in hip hop have been shattered for me. I come to this question:

What even is Hip Hop?

Kool Herc, Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins, and Afrika Bambataa all take claim for creating "Hip Hop."



The earliest forms of Sampling goes well back to the 30's within the genre Musique concrète


Even the term Hip Hop doesn't have a clear origin. 




When the reality is that Kool Herc borrowed the technique from Dub music. 



The technology necessary to make sample based hip hop wasn't even commercially available until the 80's, with the affordability of the Roland Tr-808 & E-mu SP-1200.

Help me figure this out if it is not merely an art form, not a culture, not a movement, not a genre, not a fashion, nor a lifestyle.. 

There's so many sub-genres that have spawned off from Hip Hop now, and are unfairly lumped underneath it, and it encompasses every other genre through sampling. 

Wikipedia says: 
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop[3][4] or rap music,[4][5][6] is a music genre developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans in the 1970s which consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping

Okay so basically "stylized rhythmic music." Every genre of music falls under this category. 

Encyclopedia Brittianica says: 

Hip-hop, cultural movement that attained widespread popularity in the 1980s and ’90s; also, the backing music for rap, the musical style incorporating rhythmic and/or rhyming speech that became the movement’s most lasting and influential art form.

So what is a Cultural movement? 

a group of people working together to advance certain cultural goals

So then, what are the cultural goals of Hip Hop?

Artists of NYC working together to become rich? DJ's and Rappers working together to make slamming parties? Black artists joining forces to rise up from poverty? It doesn't make sense. 



I'm going to argue with this song that the genre of "hip hop" is actually just another sub-genre of funk and disco music that sometimes uses sampling with poetic speaking as opposed to singing.  So the reality is rapping would have been the most innovative aspect of "Hip Hop" even though we all agree that rapping was not a new idea even in 1970. Right?




So, my best guess is that it ultimately comes down to Hip Hop is a STYLE OF PARTYING that evolved from Disco, and borrowed from Jamaica's music culture except the American DJ's incorporated many different genres of music.

It originated with parties thrown in New York around the 1970's where the DJ's combines the two techniques of sampling records and combining them with announcers speaking rhythmically with slang to excite the dancers. Which was fully embraced, and adopted as an important extension of black american culture . 



All credit due to the many originators or innovators of these Parties. This brings to me to my last question: Why is the MUSIC GENRE not just referred to as Remix music, or the Sampling genre. 

bonus question - Shouldn't these songs be more important?




</rant>

- damo
Jimster
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  Comments


  • JimsterJimster Montages of windsurfers and dem 5,984 PostsSuper OG
    For me Hip-Hop is a party music.  Has to be done old-skool, live rhyming, two decks, vinyl and a mic.  It was never made to be recorded and sold.
    The advent of early sampling, to take the pain out of keeping the beat going, made it easier to incorporate a wider spectrum of music but this was still workable live.  This is the kind of stuff I like.  I think this was good to go until the mid-90s?  There are still folk doing it this way.

    But then the genre crossed into everything and the money was in the vocalist. It's more of a personality-driven market now.  The actual songs and even the skills of the lyricist are no longer important.  It's just regular commercial music.  You have the meme-driven internet as your springboard now.  Mumble-rap is a thing.  It's pretty far away from the party-music of old but it's about the money now.



  • SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,128 PostsAlumni
    Jimster said:
     There are still folk doing it this way.

    Edan


    J-Live 


    Off the top of my head..

    - D
    kicks79Jimster

  • Reynaldo82Reynaldo82 47 Posts
    It's every generation of African communicating with each other at the soul level outside of space and time.

  • SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,128 PostsAlumni
    It's every generation of African communicating with each other at the soul level outside of space and time.
    Is this a direct Afrika Baambataa quote?


  • JimsterJimster Montages of windsurfers and dem 5,984 PostsSuper OG
    SPlDEY said:
    It's every generation of African communicating with each other at the soul level outside of space and time.
    Is this a direct Afrika Baambataa quote?

    Didn't we all originate in Africa BITD?

  • DuderonomyDuderonomy Haut de la Garenne 6,706 PostsClassic
    Jimster said:
    SPlDEY said:
    It's every generation of African communicating with each other at the soul level outside of space and time.
    Is this a direct Afrika Baambataa quote?

    Didn't we all originate in Africa BITD?
    Ali bludklart G!
    Jimster

  • RhythmGJRhythmGJ Buffalo, NY 31 Posts
    You're thinking too hard, SPLDY. And yes, music scholarship is important (I'm something of an academic myself), and yes, your analysis and musical examples are spot-on.

    But sometimes, some things just-- Are. If you like it, enjoy it. Once a music genre/culture starts evolving, and that same genre is undergoing critical/historical analysis, things can get confused and murky. But put simply-- Hip-Hop is Hip-Hop. You can ask the same questions of any genre ("What is Jazz, anyway?"), or point to examples of "off the mark" stylistic changes ("That's not real Country music!"), and get 1,000 different answers and opinions, but in the end, it is what it is...

    What I learned, and what I teach in class when/if we study the subject academically, is that Hip-Hop is a culture, of which Rap music is a part. other aspects include DJing, breakdancing, grafitti art, fashion, and slang/language. A culture is something social that is passed on to the next generation-- music, art, language, manners of dress, social norms and expectations. Hip-Hop has (or at least had) all those things, hence, a "culture." You don't need to know more about it if you like it (what I mean is it isn't a requirement). Yes, those elements existed prior to "Hip-Hop" as a culture/genre. But Hip-Hop put them together in a new way, just like Jazz, Blues, Reggae and Latin music all share similar cultural roots, but came out different in each case. "Geography is Destiny," somebody said.

    GJ
    Duderonomy

  • foefoe El Raval 127 Posts
    it's not a man on a hill. it's a collective belief that, as all other collective beliefs, have different meaning for different people. 

  • SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,128 PostsAlumni
    RhythmGJ said:
    You're thinking too hard, SPLDY. And yes, music scholarship is important (I'm something of an academic myself), and yes, your analysis and musical examples are spot-on.

    But sometimes, some things just-- Are. If you like it, enjoy it. Once a music genre/culture starts evolving, and that same genre is undergoing critical/historical analysis, things can get confused and murky. But put simply-- Hip-Hop is Hip-Hop. You can ask the same questions of any genre ("What is Jazz, anyway?"), or point to examples of "off the mark" stylistic changes ("That's not real Country music!"), and get 1,000 different answers and opinions, but in the end, it is what it is...

    What I learned, and what I teach in class when/if we study the subject academically, is that Hip-Hop is a culture, of which Rap music is a part. other aspects include DJing, breakdancing, grafitti art, fashion, and slang/language. A culture is something social that is passed on to the next generation-- music, art, language, manners of dress, social norms and expectations. Hip-Hop has (or at least had) all those things, hence, a "culture." You don't need to know more about it if you like it (what I mean is it isn't a requirement). Yes, those elements existed prior to "Hip-Hop" as a culture/genre. But Hip-Hop put them together in a new way, just like Jazz, Blues, Reggae and Latin music all share similar cultural roots, but came out different in each case. "Geography is Destiny," somebody said.

    GJ
    Thanks for your response GJ, 

    I would like to keep this conversation light.

    I'm inclined to agree with you that Hip Hop could definitely be considered a culture, and also that the art of rapping is one of the most important aspects of the culture as a whole. The reason I created this thread was because instead of getting into our yearly Hip Hop is Dead discussion. I thought it would be more interesting to consider that the inception of Hip Hop was 44 years ago, and yet it is still not clear what the initial innovation actually was. Many people who create Hip Hop now are so far removed from the original concept of what Hip Hop was, however it still doesn't really matter to audiences.

    The reality is if you are black and you make music now it can be considered Hip Hop regardless of the genre.


    Desiigner's Timmy Turner doesn't display any of the original approaches to Hip Hop. 

    Evolution is inevitable, and innovation is inevitable, and it is argued that many of the newer artists should be creating their own genres based on their own cultures and forms of music. Simply borrowing the musical techniques from dub music and playing Jamaican music would not have created a new art form. It was the synthesis of NY disco culture, and Dub culture with the popularization of Rapping that created Hip Hop. 

    If you listen to any 70's "Hip Hop" Dj set you will not hear any so-called "Hip Hop" music. You will mostly hear Funk, and Disco music with a person talking over the beats. The techniques Kool Herc borrowed from innovators like King Tubby was appropriated and never credited. The innovation came from the underground discos utilizing foreign approaches and creating it's own form of party culture. He simply created an alternative way to party, and a different approach to playing music.  The hallmark of innovative ideas extends to today's modern music where innovative techniques are applied to existing forms of party culture, and birth their own distinct sub-genres. 


    T-pain using Auto-tune became a staple in what was coined, "Hard & B." 

    Rap culture is now bigger than Hip Hop ever was, and no longer even needs to exist within the concept of Hip Hop music.  



    Kool Herc's approach to partying is no longer innovative or new and the importance of what Hip Hop was becomes less relevant as time passes. Yet the term still exists for more or less a lack of a better word. 

    - Spidey

  • klezmer electro-thug beatsklezmer electro-thug beats 271 PostsReal Head
    Of course every music genre term loses its direct link to its original. Look at what Rock means to different people. I argue that that's not to do with Indie or Metal or some other thing outgrowing its origin and not needing to exist within the concept. The concepts are broad. You'd have a strong argument that those genres can still fit the format if you break it down to, I dunno, say 4/4 signature, amplified guitar leads, a certain type of lyrics, a certain type of singing, a certain song length etc. And music that fits not all, but most of those, would generally be agreed as Rock.

    Likewise you'd have a strong argument that the things that made Hip-Hop party music of old distinct from its contemporary genres are still present in new rap, just reconfigured. You still haven't got guys rhyming to a live string quartet or something, or bebop. Backing is still electronically generated, if not pre-recorded, sampled, played back in some other way. Hooks and choruses. Stuff people can dance to in clubs. Even tempos haven't changed THAT much.

    Of course in the end like any terminology, as linguists like to say, we're not prescriptive, we're descriptive. If the term communicates its intended meaning, it's a valid term.

  • RhythmGJRhythmGJ Buffalo, NY 31 Posts

    Good points all around in here, but yeah, I still thing the tent(s) is pretty big, and also along the lines of what the Jazz musicians used to say: "You know it when you hear it."

    It does have different meaning to different people, but then again, there are certain basics that are always there. I remember when Rock was synonymous with Popular Music for awhile, and thus, Hip Hop fit under that tent. But I'd say Rock is no longer the dominant force in pop music, with Hip-Hop having taken its place of prominence. Which is maybe why anything relatively urban can be considered "Hip-Hop" now (the tent got bigger).

    GJ


  • dukeofdelridgedukeofdelridge urgent.monkey.mice 2,407 PostsAlumni
    it's rock'n'roll.

  • TheKindCromangTheKindCromang 1,464 PostsAlumni
    it's rock'n'roll.
    THIS

    Went to the first rap show I'd been to in yeeeeeeeears (Esco and Nef)

    shit was great, people were partying, but man oh man, if that didn't feel closer to an arena rock show than anything. From tight leather pants to crowd surfing, kind of blew my mind

  • SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,128 PostsAlumni
    it's rock'n'roll.
    Ah man.. I'm glad you guys bring this up. 

    I fail to understand what this guy has to do with this guy. 


    - spidey


  • RhythmGJRhythmGJ Buffalo, NY 31 Posts
    Awww, c'mon man-- This could go on forever...

    GJ

  • JuniorJunior 4,794 PostsSuper OG
    Hi spidey,

    I'm guessing you're familiar with this old SFJ article...

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/10/22/a-paler-shade-of-white
    Duderonomy

  • RhythmGJRhythmGJ Buffalo, NY 31 Posts

    The best part of that was "...accused of reductionism, essentialism, or worse." This seems to describe "Sasha's" approach to a "T."

    GJ

  • JuniorJunior 4,794 PostsSuper OG
    Ha ha yeah. The thing is though, while I didn't agree with the piece ten years ago and don't now (except for the salient point that most of these bands are boring to watch and depressingly mopey - something that I wouldn't relate to their lack of black influences, just them), it was at least interesting to see a theory laid out about the "current" state of indie music.

    And one that ranked Hall & Oates and MJ at the same level.

    I was never a big fan of SFJ but I miss actual music criticism, even the pieces with flawed central arguments.

  • JimsterJimster Montages of windsurfers and dem 5,984 PostsSuper OG
    My theory on why that kind of bland white boy alt rawk has come to popularity is that it's piss easy to make with a laptop.  Same as the state of Rap.  There are people out there with mad skills on instruments and offering a richer musical experience but they are hard to market to a crowd used to a bar so low that a worm couldn't limbo under it.

  • SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,128 PostsAlumni
    Junior said:
    Hi spidey,

    I'm guessing you're familiar with this old SFJ article...

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/10/22/a-paler-shade-of-white
    Thanks for posting it. This is the first time I've seen it, and I guess in the defense of The Arcade Fire, Pavement, The Shins, and Wilco. I don't think those bands ever claimed to be Rock & Roll. I think that the term "Rock" is just a misnomer given to the artists by labels, and whoever categorizes them in record stores, and long winded critics and reviewers. I feel that race might also have something to do with it. Is it fair to call Rock music "White music" or Hip Hop "Black music."

    It reminds me of a girl I used to work with who told me that she only listens to Rock music, and her favorite rock band was Mumford and Sons. Of course she likes the Beatles, Bon Iver, and Father John Misty. 



    You know, "Rock Music."

    - spidey
    Junior

  • Reynaldo82Reynaldo82 47 Posts

  • RhythmGJRhythmGJ Buffalo, NY 31 Posts
    This stuff (the race debate in music) goes back at least the early 20th Century. When white musicians played Jazz, the debate floor was opened. In my own time, I remember seeing some grafitti scrawled on a desk in high school. Some had written "Jimmy (sic) Hendrix!!" Another desk writer took the time to comment "Jimi Henrix played the white man's music, and so, died the white man's death..."

    Understanding the roots of American music, and that those roots are by-and-large African, is important. Arguing about all of this other stuff becomes tedious...

    GJ

  • foefoe El Raval 127 Posts
    i feel this is relevant.



  • deezleedeezlee 283 PostsReal Head
    Wow Joe Budden sucks. 

  • SPlDEYSPlDEY Vegas 3,128 PostsAlumni
    I feel like Little Yachty doesn't know much about Hip Hop music. Which is fine, because most of his fans know little about Hip Hop music as well. He raps a bit, and sings a bit neither particularly well. He's riding his wave of celebrity and success from what looks much like a 360 deal. Being a celebrity and entertainer is enough for the Millennial audience. So, Joe Budden actually had many valid points, but came across very angry and inarticulate. 

    I think that Little Yachty is making black music, but I don't think it's fair to categorize what he's doing as "Hip Hop" music. Even though I feel his label is selling him as a Rapper/Singer/Character he stays relevant so long as people are buying his music. 



    Lil Yachty could be considered post-Hip Hop or maybe even post-Music. 

    Digest.

    - Damo

  • foefoe El Raval 127 Posts
    listening to all this rap that wasn't east coast and wasn't embraced by east coast hip hop, it makes total sense that hip hop "died". 

  • deezleedeezlee 283 PostsReal Head
    Insisting on an answer to "What do you want from hip hop?"...  Calling dude a lier for saying he's happy...  
    I never heard a lil yachty song and imona guess I wouldn't like em much but this dude Joe buddon is bad comedy. 


  • RhythmGJRhythmGJ Buffalo, NY 31 Posts

    Yeah, watching more of that, it definitely seems like he's a grumpy grandpa "get off my lawn" kind of guy. There's no reason to be so dramatic and "Almost Famous" about it. But JB feels personally affronted by Lil' Yachty's existence (I actually hate what I've heard of his music; Chief Keef in a clown suit), but there's no reason for all of the hostility.


    GJ


  • ketanketan Warmly booming riffs 2,094 PostsSuper OG

    Yeah, but this is Budden's whole steez. One of the saltiest of all time. He basically emotionalizing (??) the hate for hip-hop culture in 2017 that most older heads seem to have.


  • deezleedeezlee 283 PostsReal Head
    This dude JB insists he's a real lyricist or whatever but I have heard a bunch of his music and I can't think of one concept or lyric that stayed with me. 
    Confidently dissing is not automatically lyrical depth. 
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