The Evolution of Hip-Hop Messages

Hip-hop has changed.  McShan talked about how it started back in the day in his 1987 cut, “The Bridge” when he said, “Hip hop was set out in the dark.  They used to do it out in the park.”  Hip hop origins were exactly that – a bunch of guys rapping on their block in New York (West Bronx, Queensbridge, etc. – the exact location has been the subject of much debate back in the 80s.  There are more than enough dis songs out there to prove it!).  They would get the attention of people in the area and soon one rapper would call out an other rapper to battle.  They battled in the park on the benches and just freestyled.  That’s what rap was.  Freestyling.  Rhyming.  Spitting (but they didn’t call it them yet).  And getting props.

In the 70s, rap was about, well, nothing really.  Listen to the lyrics on the Sugar Hill Gang’s Rapper’s Delight and you’ll see what I mean.  “Have you ever went over a friend’s house to eat and the food just ain’t no good?  The macaroni’s soggy, the peas are mushed, and the chicken tastes like wood.”  Really?  Yes!  Everyone had been in a situation like that and rapped that part of the song like it was testimony.  Or Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks”, with his ‘ you win some, you lose some’ message.  These songs were casual, cavalier, and about life’s ups and downs without negativity or judgment.

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