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Evolution of Rap in Society

Updated on March 21, 2018

Early Beginnings

Rap music is one of the more recently created music genres.Rap technically originated thousands of years ago in Africa, by village storytellers (called "griots"). A style of talking while music is playing is rap music as we know it in its root form.

DJ Kool Herc is best known for inventing hip-hop on a turntable, but he also unknowingly created rap when he realized words needed to be put on music to keep the crowd live. So he invited his friend Coke La Rock to rap a bar: ” There’s not a man that can’t be thrown, not a horse that can’t be rode, a bull that can’t be stopped, there’s not a disco that I Coke La Rock can’t rock”.

For many years, America has inflicted negative stereotypical ideas and images on the Black community based on the content of hip-hop and gangsta rap music. Since the birth of hip-hop, which was discovered in the late 1970s in the South Bronx by DJ Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa, society has had a difficult time accepting the quality of rap. For the Black community, it was a way for each individual to have a voice; a way to express their ideas, struggles, and stories

Hip-Hop started to gain nationwide publicity with artists like Kurtis Blow and group Run D.M.C. Groups like Run DMC marked the crossover between rap and rock. Also helped pioneer and were part of the first money making rap tour.

Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, Darryl "D.M.C" McDaniels, and Joseph "Run" Simmons.
Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, Darryl "D.M.C" McDaniels, and Joseph "Run" Simmons.


One group in particular called N.W.A showed the power that lied in their lyrics. During a time in America where there was a lot of racial tension, this group took the forefront in the battle for equality. The group N.W.A originated out of Compton, California, which was known at the time as the murder capital of the US. Not too far from Compton was Los Angeles which was a hotbed for racial tension. Which eventually boiled over due to the trial of the officers involved in the public beating of Rodney King and resulted in the LA Riots.

Unfortunately during this time gangster rap was getting a bad reputation in the media. Many thought of them as nothing more than drug dealing thugs. Parents at that time also hated the potential "bad" influence that the music had on their children. Stating they encouraged them to do drugs, act violent, and treat women with disrespect.

Tupac and Biggy

Two of the most iconic names in rap are Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. The two are often put in the discussion of the greatest rapper ever. This was very apparent in the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry that occurred from roughly 1991-1997.

The rivalry was lead by the two and was fueled by the robbery and shooting of Tupac in Manhattan. Tupac later accused Biggie and Sean Combs (Founder of Bad Boy's label) of orchestrating the robbery. The rivalry continued after the 1996 murder of Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas where he was shot and killed in a drive-by. Then in about a year the 1997 murder of Biggie Smalls in Los Angles, also by a drive-by. The circumstances of their deaths are still unknown and no killer in both murders has been found. There is much speculation around the murder of the two icons and ones that blame the government for the deaths. With much reason since during that time, many conservatives spoke about their dislike of "ganger rap" and the influence it has on the youth.

Tupac Shakur and Big
Tupac Shakur and Big

1995 Source Awards


As time went on the faces of rap changed, an icon that emerged during that time was Eminem. He is the most prominent and awarded caucasian rapper ever and during that time brought in a new market and appeal to rap music. He also became the face of what "rap music does to white kids" for many who disliked rap.

Marshall "Eminem" Mathers
Marshall "Eminem" Mathers


Fast forward a couple year and we have hip-hop taking the place of rock and roll as the number music genre in the world. The face of modern day hip-hop is no other than the rap group Migos. The group formed out of Atlanta consists of three artist Quavo, Offset, and Takeoff. The Migos started underground in 2009 and gained major fame after song "Versace" ft rapper Drake. The group went up from there and in 2016 released their debut album "Culture". The name of the album was attributed to the growth in popularity of rap music worldwide and them being the face of it. In today's world, it is hard not to hear rap music as it has been integrated into our everyday media. As time goes on rap and hip-hop will continue spread worldwide and remain as the culture for the foreseeable future.

"Culture II" by Group members Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff
"Culture II" by Group members Offset, Quavo, and Takeoff


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