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Old School Hip Hop

Early hip hop grew out of the culturally diverse and less wealthy communities in New York in the early 1970s. It provided an outlet reflecting the social and economic hardships of these struggling communities. A catalyst for the development of early hip hop was the increasing popularity of street parties, especially among African American communities in the Bronx, where DJs would play popular music styles. One of the earliest pioneers, DJ Kool Herc, massively influenced the sound of hip hop by extending the percussive breaks in popular funk and soul songs to create breakbeats. This was combined with MCing (otherwise known as rapping), and this fusion meant hip hop quickly rose to popularity. Early hip hop was also very influential through its development of DJing techniques. 

Grandmaster Flash was arguably the biggest pioneer, developing techniques that allowed for the creation of new music such as backspin (beat juggling), punch phrasing, scratching, and needle dropping. Previously, hip hop was a style that was only performed live at parties, however, in 1979 Sugarhill Gang released what is commonly regarded as the first hip hop record, Rapper’s Delight. It was immediately popular and propelled hip hop into the mainstream. By the early 80s, hip hop was reaching clubs in cities all around the US and new styles were beginning to be developed. Old school hip hop is characterised by the now commonplace hip hop sounds of DJ techniques and breakbeats. The rapping style is relatively simple, relying on basic rhythms at a moderate tempo, and usually covers themes of partying.

Notable artists:

DJ Kool Herc

Grandmaster Flash

Sugarhill Gang

Kurtis Blow

Afrika Bambaataa

Funky Four Plus One

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