Staring Into The Soul Of American Hip-Hop: History, Evolution & The Future
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Let’s start out by making an important clarification, American Hip-Hop is virtually unlike any other modern genre of music in the world. In fact, reducing Hip Hop to a mere form of music is an injustice of the highest proportions.

A better way to look at Hip Hop would be to analyze it as a social and cultural movement birthed in response to historical grievances and ongoing oppression. Hip Hop origins are firmly rooted in lived experiences and real passions. As a result, this form of music has a soul unlike any other.


As a movement, Hip Hop originated in the so-called ghettos of the big apple’s Bronx area during the early 1970s. This was an extremely tumultuous period in America’s history both politically and economically.

The country was reeling from an economic depression caused by the oil shock and at the same time American industrialists were shifting most of their production overseas to benefit from the cheap labor offered by the third world leading to de-industrialization.

Both of these factors caused rampant job losses and employment in industrial and urban centers across the country.

Moreover, socially the country was dealing with the divisions caused by the Vietnam War. And racial prejudices ran amok, causing a reversal of many great things achieved during the civil rights movement.

It was during this period of great turmoil that Hip Hop was born. The music gave expression to the disenfranchised and marginalized youth of the country. Through Hip Hop the forgotten masses of the country were finally able to cry out.


Enough with the history lesson, now let’s take a look at some of Hip Hop’s greatest artists who defined and re-defined the music movement online. And we are sure that after reading this piece you are going to want to listen to all of them, so let’s take a brief break to talk about something important.

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Now, let’s take a look at the greats.


Hip Hop music was popularized by informal block parties organized by artists. One such block party, organized by the legendary artist Kool Herc and his sister is said to have laid the very foundation of the genre. The Jamaican Immigrant borrowed heavily from the music played in his home country and fused it with American music technology to give birth to the art of DJing.

Kool Herc’s greatest achievement was being successfully able to mix two renditions of the same track together to create something new. And once DJing was invented by Kool Herc it went viral beyond measure.

Artists like the Grandmaster Flash introduced techniques like mixing, backing, phasing, and doubling to take DJing to another level. Grandmaster Flash along with four other rappers, who rapped in conjunction, was able to perfect the art introduced by Herc.

Parties organized by these two maestros featured break dancing and street art, both of which became essential parts of the Hip Hop culture.  


Merely a decade after it came into existence Hip Hop took on a new face. A face that many critics have bashed as being overtly violent, rude, and aggressive. But supporters claim that the artists of the time were merely reflecting the realities of the society they lived in, and since they experienced rampant street violence, they articulated it through their lyrics.

Yes, this was the N.W.A. The band was uncontrollable, both in popularity and in the type of music they put out. The Hip Hop was not just about the music it was about social and political activism. And despite the severe criticism they faced, N.W.An ended up inspiring generations of Hip Hoppers.

Another great name that played during this golden age of Hip Hop is Wu-Tang Chan. And while the N.W.A used Hip Hop to fight social oppression, Wu-Tang Chan used their music to push back against the economic exploitation of artists.


Fast-forward to the modern era and you cannot even begin to count the number of Hip Hoppers to have graced the big screen. Ranging from softer-toned singers like Kanye West and Drake to hard-hitters like Jay-Z and Eminem and to even surreal ones like Snoop Dogg, the Hip Hop genre has diversified beyond imagination.

But despite all their obvious differences, one singular theme ties together all these modern greats. Their songs and lyrics focus on personal experiences and not societal ones. So, unlike the greats of the past, the Hip Hoppers of our times do not talk about social battles but about personal wars.

But maybe that is what the youth of our times needs so much. No wonder each of these singers has gotten an amazing amount of traction with younger audiences.


Hip Hop has been around for over half a century now. And though many believe that it has passed its golden era, the flexibility, versatility, and most importantly the deep soul of the music genre will ensure that Hip Hop will survive for generations to come.

Though no one knows what new shape this genre will take.

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