Rap’s Evolution

By B. L. Barbour


Rap has evolved since the days of rap pioneers like Grandmaster Flash, Kid Creole, Melle Mel, Cowboy and Mr. Ness, also known as Scorpio. Since those origins in the 1970’ we have seen a fantastic growth of one of the most dynamic genres in the music industry.  In the 80’s came the rise of the popular group, Run DMC, made up of Joseph Simmons or Run, Darryl McDaniels or D.M.C. and Jason Mizzell otherwise known as Jam Master Jay.  Even after Jam Master Jay’s death in 2002, Run D.M.C. continues to make appearances on the music scene. Then came the late 80’s with the musicians contemporary music lovers would easily recognize, Public Enemy, Chuck D and Flava Flav.


With the forerunners of rap, the music genre also took on the name, “Hip Hop”.  Songs that made it to the top of the charts included, “The Roof is on Fire”, “The Message” and “White Lines” with Rahiem writing inspirational lyrics that were expertly presented by Grand Master Flash.  Run D.M.C. made rap jump the genre line by recording their version of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way”.  Instrumental was Russell Simmons’s, the brother of Run and the founder of Def-Jam Records, the label that helped to push Run D.M.C and other Hip Hop artists during a time of exponential growth of the genre.


Now moving into the 90’s we begin to see artists taking rap or hip hop through the most natural changes. First new artists were bursting onto the scene at an extremely fast pace.  The number of artists multiples at an alarming rate. The scene is filled with talent. Familiar artists that have taken the world by storm entered the music scene at that time including LL Cool Jay, Def Jam, Ludacris, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, OutKast, Common and Notorious B.I.G. just to name a few.  There were dozens that entered the scene in the 90’s.


From the 70’s through to the 80’s hip hop or rap stayed along a certain line, but now in the 1990’s through to the 2000’s they began to incorporate gospel, pop, alternative and several diversions from standard rap, Trap or Southern Hip Hop, Conscious and Gangsta.  The leaders in gospel Hip Hop are Lacrae with eight top ten songs in the gospel category this year and Trip Lee, who also performed on Lacrae’s song, “Jesus Muzik”.  The pop-hip hop leaders are Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne.  Alternative-hip hop leaders are currently N.E.R.D. and Earl Sweatshirt.  These artists’ music is often classified as indie, experimental or underground. Trap is most notably performed by artists like T.I. and Waka Flocka while Conscious artists Common and Most Def continue to deliver a social or political message. Lastly is Gangsta which challenges the less aggressive listener and is performed by cutting edge musicians, Snoop Dogg, Easy E and Dr. Dre.


From the 1970’s Rap or Hip Hop began its subtle beginnings and has continued to evolve to embrace other music genres. Thank goodness music spans such a wide range, giving something significant to every listener.  The old and young now can embrace Rap with eagerness; because it now gives everyone something desired and or needed in the forms of gospel, pop, alternative, Trap, Conscious and Gangsta.

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