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Chapter 1: The Roots of Hip-Hop . ................................... 7 Chapter 2: Growing Strong ............................................ 23 Chapter 3: Going Mainstream ........................................ 37 Chapter 4: Hip-Hop in the New Millennium ................. 53 Chapter 5: Hip-Hop Around the World . ........................ 73 Chapter Notes .................................................................. 85 Series Glossary of Key Terms ......................................... 86 Chronology ....................................................................... 88 Further Reading . ............................................................. 90 Internet Resources .......................................................... 91 Index . ................................................................................ 92 Author’s Biography and Credits .................................... 96 K E Y I C O N S T O L O O K F O R : Words to Understand: These words with their easy-to-understand definitions will increase the reader’s understanding of the text while building vocabulary skills. Sidebars: This boxed material within the main text allows readers to build knowledge, gain insights, explore possibilities, and broaden their perspectives by weaving together additional information to provide realistic and holistic perspectives. Educational Videos: Readers can view videos by scanning our QR codes, providing them with additional educational content to supplement the text. Examples include news coverage, moments in history, speeches, iconic sports moments, and much more! Text-Dependent Questions: These questions send the reader back to the text for more careful attention to the evidence presented there. Research Projects: Readers are pointed toward areas of further inquiry connected to each chapter. Suggestions are provided for projects that encourage deeper research and analysis. Series Glossary of Key Terms: This back-of-the-book glossary contains terminology used throughout this series. Words found here increase the reader’s ability to read and comprehend higher-level books and articles in this field.

Rapper Cardi B performs at the MTV Video Music Awards ceremony. One of the most popular hip-hop artists today, her music is influenced by her Caribbean roots.


break —a time during a song when percussion instruments like drums are the only instruments that are playing. emcee —the host of an event, or “master of ceremonies.” In early hip-hop, the emcee (or MC) was the person who would keep the party crowd moving and entertain the audience with his or her raps. graffiti —spray-painted artwork that is usually created in public spaces. spontaneous —performed on an impulse, without planning ahead. tagging —a symbol or series of symbols that represents a particular graffiti artist.


The Roots of Hip-Hop Life is full of rhythms. The tap-tap-tap of heels on the sidewalk … the drip-drip of rain on the roof … the slap-slap of windshield wipers … the ka-thud, ka-thud of a beating heart … the rise and fall of kids’ voices in school hallways. These rhythms surround us every day. Most of the time, we barely notice. But hip-hop musicians pay attention to these ordinary rhythms. They exaggerate them and weave them through their music in a technique known as rapping. And when we listen to hip-hop, the rhythms get in our muscles, making our legs jump and our toes tap in time. Turn the music up loud enough, and you’ll feel as though even the blood in your veins is pumping to the beat! While some people use the terms “hip-hop” and “rap” interchangeably, they aren’t the same. Rap is a subgenre of hip-hop that includes rhythmic speaking of lyrics by rappers over a beat produced by a DJ. The raps often include rhyme and street vernacular. Hip-hop is a term that includes not just the music, but also the culture associated with it, particularly break dancing and graffiti . Hip-hop is an art form that originated in the Bronx, a neighborhood of New York City. Although no one is certain who coined the term “hip-hop,” it’s often said that Keith Cowboy, a rapper with the group Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five,


A European drew this picture of Afro-Caribbean slaves dancing in 1833. The slaves are accompanied by various percussion instruments, including drums and gourd rattles. The songs of slavery influenced later forms of black American music like blues, jazz, R&B, and hip-hop. popularized the term. During the early days of hip-hop, people referred to the music as “disco rap.” Hip-hop was originally created as fun party music that people could dance to. However, hip-hop artists have also used their songs to convey powerful messages about racial inequalities as well as their political views. Born Out of Oppression Hip-hop is America’s very own music, a unique art form produced by the mixture of cultures within the United States. Hip-hop’s earliest and deepest roots, however, stretch across the Atlantic Ocean and dig into the soil of Africa.



Slavery was a cruel and terrible institution that tried to turn human beings into objects. But the people who were brought to America as slaves refused to give up their humanity. One way they clung to their identity and dignity was through music. While they worked in the fields, while they cooked and cleaned for rich white folks, they recognized the rhythms of their movements—and they sang to the beat of their bodies’ labor. They clapped their hands together, they beat their feet on the ground, and they shouted out the stories of their lives. They sang about freedom, about going home, about sorrows and trials, and their music helped them rise above the pain. While one person sang, those who were working nearby felt free to chime in with their two cents as well. This spontaneous music was an ever- changing, living thing, created by the entire community. As the years went by, the slaves adapted to their new lives, but in their hearts, they never completely lost touch with Africa, the home that had shaped them. Most slaves converted to Christianity, but they made this faith uniquely their own. Rhythm was a part of their worship, and preaching and singing blended together. Even after African Americans gained their freedom, they continued to listen to life’s beat. At black churches, ministers used a preaching form known as “call-and-response.” For example, a minister might shout out, “People, can I hear an amen?” and the congregation shouted back, “Amen!” Martin Luther King, Jr., the great African American minister who led the civil rights movement in the 1960s, spoke of “singing the Word.” Like many other black preachers, King used both melody and rhythm to move his audiences. The voices of black ministers rose and fell, the pitch of their voices creating a beat that could suddenly burst into song. At the same time, black gospel singers might break into a testimony in the middle of singing, or the preacher might weave his preaching through the singers’ music. Within African American churches, music, spoken


Chapter 1: The Roots of Hip-Hop

words, and rhythm flowed together seamlessly. But African American music wasn’t kept inside church walls. It flowed out into the streets and dance halls. Eventually, talented musicians made it so famous that it started entire new forms of American music. Rhythm and Blues The blues is a form of music that came directly from the slaves’ spirituals, work songs, and chants. It was a form of music that gave voice to life’s sorrow. In the 1940s, blues music was combined with jazz, another form of African-American music that was popular in the United States. The result was rhythm and blues (R&B), an uptempo style of music that would eventually evolve into rock and roll. Drummers played an important role in jazz, R&B, and rock music. Drummer Earl Palmer grew up in New Orleans and later moved to Los Angeles, leaving his mark on the music scenes in both cities in the 1950s. He had a powerful backbeat and mastery of “shuffle” rhythms. (A “shuffle” is a pair of repeated notes, where the emphasis on the first beat is exaggerated, while the second is lessened in emphasis.) Palmer’s first love was jazz, but his fast stick work and backbeats made their way into the music of the 1960s. Clyde Stubblefield was another drummer who helped lay the foundation for a new sound in music. Born in 1943, he started his musical career as a child in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he played on tin can lids, cardboard boxes, and anything else that would make a sound. As an adult, he played all over the world—and his rhythm influenced some of the greatest performers, including James Brown. The Godfather of Hip-Hop During the 1960s, soul music became popular, a combination



The drummer was a critical part of any jazz or R&B band, providing a rhythmic foundation for the music.

of gospel and rhythm and blues that merged together religious and secular themes. The word “soul” also became a symbol of pride and identity for African Americans. And singer James Brown became known as “Soul Brother Number One.” His hit recordings—with titles like “Say It Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud” (1968)—marked the beginning of a new movement. For the first time, African Americans held their heads high and asserted, “Black is beautiful!” Across America, Brown was a spokesperson for this movement. The way James Brown blended together blues, gospel, jazz, and country vocal styles made him one of the most influential


Chapter 1: The Roots of Hip-Hop

Soul singer James Brown had a strong influence on many musical genres, including hip-hop.

vocalists of the twentieth century—but James Brown didn’t just sing. He also danced with his microphone, he made acrobatic leaps with full-impact knee landings, and his feet beat out the rhythm of his music. His extraordinary sense of timing was expressed in his skill as both a dancer and singer. As a result, he brought rhythm to the foreground of popular music. His influence inspired yet another new form of American music—funk. Compared to 1960s soul music, funk typically uses more complex rhythms, while the melodies are usually simpler. Often, the structure of a funk song consists of just one or two riffs (short, musical phrases). Where one riff changes to another often becomes the highlight of a song. Funk music was meant for dancing, and its goal was to create as intense a groove as possible. One of its most distinctive features was the role played by bass guitars, which never before had played so loudly. The groundwork was laid for the first beats of hip-hop.



The DJs Who Made It Happen Clive Campbell came from Jamaica to New York City’s South Bronx when he was twelve years old. He was a big kid, and as he grew older, he earned the name Hercules—which eventually, as he became famous for the musical parties where he entertained people as a DJ, turned into “Kool Herc.” Today, Herc and another DJ, known as DJ Hollywood, are credited with being the first to introduce a Jamaican style of music—cutting and mixing—to the South Bronx. Herc is said to be the first person to use two copies of the same record to turn a fifteen-second segment into a piece of music that went on and on. He would set up two turntables so that he could play the same short drum break from a popular funk or disco song for a much longer period. By mixing back and forth between the two records, he used the turntables as musical instruments to create a new sound that changed America’s music scene forever. Music from Jamaica would have an important influence on the development of hip-hop. During the 1950s and 1960s, young American who lived in southern states like Florida could listen to Jamaican stations at night on AM radio stations. The Jamaican music, known as ska, blended elements of American jazz and rhythm and blues with calypso beats and sounds that were popular in the Caribbean. In Jamaica, DJs would set up large sound systems to play the music, and engaged in “toasting,” or shouting rhymes over the ska beats. Jamaicans who moved to the United States, such as Kool Herc, shared this style of music, which quickly became popular in American urban areas. JAMAICAN INFLUENCE


While Herc was performing with turntables, he was also emceeing , using his microphone to mix in jokes, boasts, and other comments. Herc’s musical parties became more famous when they were recorded on cassette tapes that were passed around New York City, allowing other DJs to imitate his style. Throughout the initial stages of hip-hop, rappers performed throw-downs, or battles, where they attacked other rappers by insulting them with their lyrics. They also spoke about political

The South Bronx neighborhood of New York City, where hip-hop culture originated in the 1970s, was an area with high rates of poverty and crime. The community had been upended by the demolition of many homes to make way for a major highway, as well as by a series of fires that destroyed hundreds of other properties in the late 1970s.


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