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A Short History of Hip-Hop: The 1970s

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The Four Elements of HiphopThere are four elements to hip-hop: DJing, the art of scratching, mixing, and remixing music; Breaking, an art of dancing; Graffiti, an art of expressing ones self on public walls; and the MC, the art of expressing ones feelings through music and lyrics. Each one provides and appeals to the culture and is seen as the foundations of modernized hip-hop. What began as a subculture in South Bronx became a culture respected by many across the greater United States and even the world.

Hip-hop’s origins began in the early 1970s in the New York Borough Bronx. Youth, particularly youth of color, would throw block parties incorporating all types of music, notably funk and soul. Due to the massive popularity, DJs would isolate the percussive breaks of the most popular songs. This technique was done mainly in Jamaican dub music around this time; this is because many immigrants were coming from Jamaica and the Caribbean. Of the many immigrants was DJ Kool Herc whom is considered by many to be the father of modern hip-hop.


The first evolution of hip-hop occurred during the time musical equipment, namely drum-machines and sampling machines, became widely available to the average consumer. These two machines would be combined into MPCs or Music Production Centers. Hip-hop earned its name from Keith Cowboy, a frequenter of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. He would scat the words hip and hop in the same cadence as military marches. This cadence was quickly used in early forms of the music.


However, many of the early hip-hop songs didn’t even contain any words. Hip Hop Be Bop (Don’t Stop) and Chinese Arithmetic by Eric B and Rakim are notable for being lyrics-less. The use of lyrics in hip-hop can be traced back to the griots of West African culture. The poetry used in hip-hop, often called call and response patterns were from black religious ceremonies.


Throughout the 1970s, rappers, or MCs as they were known at the time, began to develop and hone their lyrical ability. It was until the 1980s where hip-hop began to grow into something more prominent in mainstream culture.


Jonathan Silva is a graduate and current student at Full Sail University going for his Master's Degree in Journalism. When he isn't writing for film blogs like Get The Big Picture or listening to music, he's either watching movies or playing video games. His love for all things entertainment shine through in his writing.