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Rap

Sugarhill Gang, graffiti art, break dancing, Beastie Boys, white group

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Rap or Rap Music, genre of rhythm-and-blues music (R&B) that consists of rhythmic vocals declaimed over musical accompaniment. The accompaniment generally consists of electronic drum beats combined with samples (digitally isolated sound bites) from other musical recordings. The first rap recording was made in 1979 and the genre rose to prominence in the United States in the mid-1980s. Although the term rap is often used interchangeably with hip-hop, the latter term encompasses the subculture that rap music is simply one part of. The term hip-hop derives from one of the earliest phrases used in rap, and can be found on the seminal recording “Rapper’s Delight” (1979) by the Sugarhill Gang. In addition to rap music, the hip-hop subculture also comprises other forms of expression, including break dancing and graffiti art as well as a unique slang vocabulary and fashion sense.

Rap originated in the mid-1970s in the South Bronx area of New York City. The rise of rap in many ways parallels the birth of rock and roll in the 1950s: Both originated within the African American community and both were initially recorded by small, independent record labels and marketed almost exclusively to a black audience. In both cases, the new style gradually attracted white musicians, a few of whom began performing it. For rock and roll it was a white singer from Mississippi, Elvis Presley, who broke into the Billboard magazine popular music charts. For rap it was a white group from New York, the Beastie Boys, and the hit song “Walk This Way” (1986), a collaboration of the black rap group Run-DMC and the white hard-rock band Aerosmith. Soon after 1986, the use of samples and declaimed vocal styles became widespread in the popular music of both black and white performers, significantly altering previous notions of what constitutes a legitimate song, composition, or musical instrument.

Contributors

Bowman, Rob, B.A., M.F.A., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Music, York University. Author of "Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Recors (1997)" and winner of a 1995 Grammy Award for Best Album Notes, "The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Volume 3: 1972-1975".



Article key phrases:

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