Rap music as a musical form began among the youth of South Bronx,
New York in the mid 1970s. Individuals such Kool Herc and
Grandmaster Flash were some of the early pioneers of this art form.
Through their performances at clubs and promotion of the music, rap
consistently gained in popularity throughout the rest of the 1970s.
The first commercial success of the rap song Rapper's Delight by the
Sugar Hill Gang in 1979 helped bring rap music into the national
spotlight. The 1980s saw the continued success of rap music with many
artists such as Run DMC (who had the first rap album to go gold in
1984), L.L. Cool J, Fat Boys, and west coast rappers Ice-T and N.W.A
...view middle of the document...
These are serious problems that many within the rap
subculture believe are being ignored by mainstream America. Those
within the rap subculture recognize and acknowledge that these
problems exist. Those within this subculture consider "the other
group" to be those people who do not understand rap music and the
message rap artists are trying to send. The suppresser, or opposition,
is the dominant culture, because it ignores these problems and perhaps
even acts as a catalyst for some of them.
The beats of rap music has people bopping and the words have
them thinking, from the tenement-lined streets of Harlem, New York, to
the mansion parties of Beverly Hills, California (Shomari, 1995, 45).
Rap music, once only popular with blacks in New York City,
Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, has grown to become America's
freshest form of music, giving off energy found nowhere else. While
the vocalist(s) tell a story, the sic jockey provides the rhythm,
operating the drum machine and "scratching". Scratching is defined as
rapidly moving the record back and forth under the needle to create
rap's famous swishing sound (Small, 1992, 12). The beat can be
traditional funk or heavy metal, anything goes. The most important
part of rap is "rapping," fans want to hear the lyrics.
During every generation, some old-fashioned, ill-humored people
have become frightened by the sight of kids having a good time and
have attacked the source of their pleasure. In the 1950s, the target
was rock 'n' roll. Some claimed that the new type of music encouraged
wild behavior and evil thoughts. Today, rap faces the same charges.
Those who condemn this exciting entertainment have never closely
examined it. If they had, they would have discovered that rap permits
kids to appreciate the English language by producing comical and
meaningful poems set to music. Rappers don't just walk on stage and
talk off the top of their heads. They write their songs, and they put
a lot of though into them. Part of rapping is quick wit. Rappers
like L.L. Cool J grew up rapping in their neighborhood, and they
learned to throw down a quick rhyme when they were challenged
(Nelson,Gonzales, 1991, 135). But part of it is thoughtful work over
many hours, getting the words to sound just right so that the ideas
come across with style. As L.L. Cool J describes it, "I write all my
songs down by hand. Each song starts with a word, like any other
sentence, and becomes a manuscript." (Nelson, Gonzales, 1991, 137).
Many performers set a positive example for their followers.
Kurtis Blow rapped in a video for the March of Dimes' fundraising
drive to battle birth defects and he has campaigned against teenage
drinking as a spokesperson for the National Council on Alcoholism. On
the television show "Reading Rainbow," Run-D.M.C. told viewers how
books enabled them to become "kings of rock." On another occasion,...