In the late ’70s, a group of Bronx DJs developed new techniques that allowed them to use two turntables to expand the popular instrumental break sections of funk and disco records to get crowds dancing at their evenings. The techniques of these DJs became so captivating to the public that people started watching them and forgot to dance. So DJs, and then separate emcees, would take the mic at these parties and use rhymes and catchphrases to get the crowd excited.
These rhymes quickly evolved into full-fledged rap verses, and records into original samples and tracks, giving rise to a new genre of music dubbed hip-hop. Over the past 45 years or so, hip-hop has taken on various regional flavors and subgenres – west coast, south, gangsta, backpack, trap music – and spread to all parts of the world. Musical influences from hip-hop beats have been incorporated into other genres such as R&B and rock. And as the most lyrical of all genres, rap has been used to tackle every topic imaginable.
Together, these genres of music, born out of the creativity, pain, and yearnings of the black American experience, have been definitive hallmarks of this country and huge influences on cultures around the world. With black artists and historically African-American genres more entrenched in popular culture than ever, Black Music Appreciation Month is a great time to recognize the breadth and depth of black music in American history. and in today’s world.