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How Hip Hop Conquered the World – Part 1
“Hip-hop was set out in the dark
They used to do it out in the park”
- MC Shan
What started out in the park evolved into a massive money-making business, pulling in billions of dollars every year. From Jay-Z and billionaire Warren Buffent posing on the cover of Forbes magazine to Nicki Minaj’s endorsement deal with Pepsi, hip-hop has showed its reach and marketing power over the world.
Former drug dealers turned rappers are now CEOs and record label executives. Retired pimps turned rappers are on prime time television. Hip-hop has infiltrated just about every aspect of today’s society. Turn on the television and hear your favorite rap song during a Ford commercial. Go to the theater to see a gangsta rapper who originally said “f*ck the police” star in a family movie. Buy an HP laptop with Dr. Dre’s Beats Sound System. There’s no escaping hip-hop. But it wasn’t always this way.
Hip-hop literally started out in the dark in the early 1970s. DJ Kool Herc, a Jamaican implant living in the Bronx, NY, came up with a new and innovative way to spin disco records at block parties. Always one to please his audience, Herc extended the breaks on song by using two turntables and mixing in both records before the break ended. Soon, word of DJ Herc’s infamous parties in the south Bronx got out and more djs adopted this new technique, taking it back to the parties in their
As this new form of djing started to evolve, shout outs over the song became more elaborate and went from a few words to a few bars. The art of emceeing or rap isn’t as nearly as young as hip-hop; African poets used to recite their poems and folktales in a rhythmic tone usually to the beat of drums before slavery. Rapping became a part of hip-hop. Artists extended the few bars into whole songs, often rapping about what they saw which was the social injustices and everyday struggles of life in the ghetto.
Hip-hop artists and groups started to form. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Sugarhill Gang. Afrika Bambaataa. Kurtis Blow. The Cold Crush Four. Their fame and celebrity status grew as they continued to tour throughout the late 70s.
In its infancy, hip-hop took baby steps, first slowly then gaining momentum and popularity, scoring one milestone after another. Towards the end of the 70s, this new form of music started making its shift into mainstream. Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” became the first hip-hop song to break the top 40 of the Billboard charts. Kurtis Blow was the first rapper to score a record deal with a major label. Hip-hop was finally becoming lucrative and people were paying attention.
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