|Royalty Free Music > Music News > RoyaltyFreeMusic.com News: A Brief History of Hip Hop and Urban Music
September 21st, 2007
Hip Hop Music and RoyaltyFreeMusic.com
What's the story with hip hop music and urban music?
Hip hop music is now very mainstream, used as production music in a variety of films and television programs and played on popular radio stations throughout the world. Now companies such as RoyaltyFreeMusic.com also offer it as part of their vast royalty free music libraries to increase the options for professionals in film and television and other industries that use production music and other types of background music in their projects. But urban music wasn't always mainstream.
Hip hop music and urban music started in The United States - in New York City - in the 1970's when DJs started to take beats from funk and disco songs and spin them out into new songs of their own. When this practice became widely used, many clubs scheduled events showcasing this type of music. These events featured an emcee (MC) that introduced both the DJ and the music and kept the audience's energy up. Many would tell stories, talk between songs, encourage dancing and tell jokes.
Initially, the process of playing urban music and emceeing was fairly basic and impromptu but started to become more stylized by the end of the 1970's. Eventually emcees broke away into their own performances to begin the rap movement. By 1979, the hip hop music genre was widespread and was starting to be commercially recorded.
Hip hop music and urban music have roots in West African music and the African American culture. The griots of West Africa - groups of singers and poets that toured the country - create music very similar to hip hop. In New York City, performances of poetry and music in the griot style were a large part of the reaction to the civil rights movement in the 1960's and 1970's. These performances combined with the emergence of block parties in New York City, particularly in the Bronx contributed to the rise of the urban music and hip hop music genre. DJ's at block parties started to create new songs out of just the percussion from popular songs believing these to be the parts that people most enjoyed when looking to dance. Sub-genres of urban music borrowed from Jamaican music ("dub music" made popular in the U.S. because of the large number of Jamaican immigrants in New York City) and other types of world music that focused on percussion.
The genre of hip hop music is often said to have been started officially by Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Initially, urban music and hip hop music were termed "disco rap." According to lore, the term "hip hop" came about when Cowboy was poking fun at a friend that joined the army; he scatted the terms "hip/hop/hip/hop" to re-create a sound like soldiers marching. One of the most notable early hip hop music pieces "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang first incorporated the term into the lyrics.
Hip hop music rose to popularity for several reasons. First of all, urban culture was changing in the U.S. in the 1970's and music and art were developing differently as an outgrowth of this. Getting started in hip hop music was low cost. Anyone could MC along with beats being played, and rap was a free form that could be improvised on the spot. Urban music and hip hop music skills required little if no musical training. Musicians and artists passed them along to each other. The music industry was changing vastly during the 1970's as well, as disco, funk and rock started to decline in popularity and the public demanded new and interesting forms of production music and popular music. In Washington, DC, music started to emerge that was a reaction against disco and started to blend into rap, hip hop music and other types of urban music. Eventually, rap became its own separate genre with many sub-genres and hip hop music started to blend with techno, dance, house, rock and every other imaginable genre.
Today's hip hop continues to include influences from many different styles of music. Latin hip hop and electro are two of the more modern styles of hip hop music that have arisen in the past decade, further illustrating that hip hop music and urban music is reflective of the diversity within the American culture from which it originated. Production music in films depicting city life is often hip hop music, which has become a vital part of mainstream music.
RoyaltyFreeMusic.com offers a wide variety of production music tracks that can be used with progressive projects looking to add urban music and production music to royalty free music soundtracks. The Royalty free music composers are well-versed in the hip hop genre and have created tracks within the music library that are experimental and exciting.