More than a century before rap exploded
o nto the American music scene, West African
musicians were telling stories rhythmically,
with just the beat of a drum for accompaniment.
Meanwhile, folk artists from the Caribbean Islands
were also telling stories in rhyme. Indeed, these
singing poets from Africa and the Caribbean lay
the foundation for modern-day American rap
Rapping essentially involves the speaking or
chanting of rhyming lyrics, often set to a beat.
The rhyming created by rappers is considered by
many to be o ne of the most sophisticated styles of
poetry. What’s more, these rhymes often address
provocative subjects such as sex, violence and
Rapping first gained popularity in the U.S. in
the 1970s as a kind of street art, especially among
African-American teenagers. But it wasn’t until
1979 […] that record producers took notice of
this emerging musical genre. O nce they did,
numerous rap acts surfaced, and rap’s audience
began to swell. It wasn’t just African-American
male rappers getting in o n the act, either: by the
1980s, white rap bands […] and female rap […]
bands were reaching the top of the charts.
By the 1990s, rap matured from an old-schoolstyle
– which was based o n relatively simple lyrics –
to a new-school-style, which was louder and
included more complex lyrics. Artists such as The
Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg and Tupac ruled
the charts during this time, as did Eminem – o ne
of the most popular white rappers of all time.
Rap has stood the test of time and its popularity
rages o n with today’s artists such as 50 Cent,
Ludacris and Jay-Z churning out hit after thoughtprovoking
hit. The beat truly does go on.