For most people around the world, the words ‘hip hop’ would mean the popular musical form. It has been around for the past twenty years and dominates the pop music scene to a certain extent. If you go back further in time, you’ll get to know that it was called ‘rap music’. The genre had attracted the attention of parental groups and censors for all the wrong reasons back then.
Rap is, in reality, the music of the hip-hop culture. This culture includes the dance form called ‘break dancing and graffiti. Here are some of the interesting facts about the culture of hip hop you might’ve never heard before:
1. It started on the 11th of August, 1973
The location was the recreation room of an apartment building in the Bronx. Clive Campbell, a 16-year-old Jamaican boy, threw a party to raise some money. He needed the money for school clothes. The party was named ‘back to school jam’ and had Campbell rocking the breaks all night.
He was nicknamed ‘Hercules’, as he was tall and muscular. Some of his buddies also called him ‘Kool Herc’. At the party, one of his friends acted as MC, prompting the crowd to dance over a mic. This was the beginning of the hip-hop culture.
2. DJs and not rappers were the real stars
Herc, Flash, and a few other DJs were the early stars of the hip-hop culture. This was even before the MCs began rapping. Actually, the MC didn’t get to the centre stage until the late 1970s. It was around this time that the solo MCs began finding some success.
From the early to mid-1970s, the ‘b-boys’ were the secondary attraction at all the major hip-hop events. Many of the crews of b-boys dominated the dance floors of New York with their acrobatic styles.
3. For many years, rap records used live bands and not sampling
Sugarhill, the first rap label, recreated the popular breakbeats by employing a crack house band. This was before the samplers were affordable. They probably didn’t even exist in those times. The team comprised Doug Wimbish the bassist, Skip McDonald the guitarist, and drummer Keith LeBlanc.
They played an important role in the early recordings of rap songs. Samplers only came into play during the 1980s. At the time, Kurtis Blow employed the technology. He had the advantage of being signed to Mercury, a major label.
4. A rock band sang the first hit single featuring rap
None of the rap artists made some serious impact on the pop charts until the mid-1980s. Then came a team-up of Run-DMC and Aerosmith for ‘Walk This Way’. Before this track, elements of rap music had some cameos on the pop charts. In 1986, ‘Walk This Way’ became the first hit single featuring elements of rap. Another surprising fact is that it was sung by Aerosmith, a rock band.
5. Grandmaster Flash invented the DJ Mixer, wrote and performed the first rap
The pioneering DJ, Joseph Saddler became immensely popular as Grandmaster Flash. He was the one who invented the earlier version of the modern DJ mixer. This was actually a switch toggling between two turntables. All of today’s DJ mixers have this switch, also known as the ‘cross fader’.
It allows the DJ to monitor the tracks in a better way. Another great contribution of Grandmaster Flash is that he wrote the first rap. He was quite bored of the usual stage routines. So, he wrote down a rhyme and sang it himself when his MCs refused.