Hip Hop Music Hits for the Cycle

You like hip hop music, whether you know it or not. You might even think you don't, but you do.

You may not like it if you feel it lifting the foundation of your house when a low-rider jerks past. You might not like the radio stations you pass on the dial, looking for something you probably won't find. You may not like the words, which can be coarse, vulgar, violent, and misogynistic. All that may be true, but you still like the music.

That's because hip hop music is a more than music. It's a dynamic nexus of poetry and melody, equal parts beat and bite. It's the expression of the street that mainstreamed across the world, drawing the attention and creativity of modern musicians and producers, eager to try something new.

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Late night MC's and DJ's rapped, scratched, and clawed their way onto prime time and then to their own radio stations and recording labels. Jamaican dub became the pattern for much early hip hop (also called rap), as the sparse arrangements lent themselves to personal interpretations world-wide. Lurching, probing bass lines kicked across low-down beats, that were looped, synced, and sampled for their ultimate breakdown, reconstruction, and build-up.

Now that the people had the vehicle, they drove it hard. Geographic, regional variations took hold. Sub-species mutated and evolved, summoning a burst of variety and flat-out funky cuts. With variety came competition and rivalry, which led to murder. The lyrics darkened from silly sexual braggadocio to physically threatening.

The fragmentation led to wild commercial success and mainstream acceptance. From an art form using cheap, borrowed technology like inexpensive drum machines and human beat boxes, it was now a viable market for genre specific products like vocoders, drum machines, specialized turntables and DJ set-ups. Hip hop music became an industry fueled by the acceptance and expansion of the art.

As with any accepted art form, rebellious alternative hip hop music arose, twisting the form further as it drove deeper into the mainstream. General dissatisfaction with the state of the art led to renewed creativity on the part of producers and artists. Commercialism was abandoned in favor of experimentation. New dissonant forms perverted the renegade late-night radio waves, needing to fight their own way through the established artists onto the charts. The cycle had looped and would stand forevermore.

That's why you like hip hop music. It kicked hard and stung the world as it grew. It stayed true and after the dust settled, it emerged time-tested, deep with variation and personal interpretation. Hip hop music is the American dream, a success story. It's a beautiful witches' brew of distorted guitars, in-the-face bass, keyboard crunch, and stylized drum loops that bring the message without regard. So, check here for the next page: the early greats of hip hop.

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