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Graffiti (singular: graffito; the plural is morecommon) is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, orpainted on property that does not belong to the artist. Graffiti isoften regarded by others as unsightly damage or unwanted vandalism.

Examples of graffiti styles
Examples of graffiti styles
Ancient graffiti carved by pilgrims at Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Old City of Jerusalem
Ancient graffiti carved by pilgrims at Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Old City of Jerusalem
Independentist grafitti in Catalonia
Independentist grafitti in Catalonia

Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples going back to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.[1] Graffiti can be anything from simple scratch marks to elaborate wall paintings. In modern times, spray paint and markershave become the most commonly used materials. In most countries,defacing property with graffiti without the property owner's consent isconsidered vandalism,which is punishable by law. Sometimes graffiti is employed tocommunicate social and political messages. To some, it is an art formworthy of display in galleries and exhibitions. However, the publicgenerally frowns upon "tags" that deface bus stops, trains, buildings,playgrounds and other public property.


"Graffiti" is applied in art history to works of art produced by scratching a design into a surface. A related term is "sgraffito,"which involves scratching through one layer of pigment to revealanother beneath it. This technique was primarily used by potters whowould glaze their wares and then scratch a design into it. Graffiti andsgraffito are from the Italian word graffiato ("scratched"). In ancient times, graffiti was carved on walls with a sharp object, although sometimes chalk or coal were used. The Greek word γράφειν - graphein - means "to write."

[edit] History of graffiti

[edit] Ancient graffiti

Historically, the term graffiti referred to the inscriptions, figure drawings, etc., found on the walls of ancient sepulchers or ruins, as in the Catacombs of Rome or at Pompeii. Usage of the word has evolved to include any graphics applied to surfaces in a manner that constitutes vandalism.

The only known source of the Safaiticlanguage, a form of proto-Arabic, is from graffiti: inscriptionsscratched on to the surface of rocks and boulders in the predominantlybasalt desert of southern Syria, eastern Jordan and northern Saudi Arabia. Safaitic dates from the 1st century B.C. to the 4th century A.D..

WikiProject Graffiti
Latin political graffiti at Pompeii.
Latin political graffiti at Pompeii.

The first known example of "modern style" graffiti survives in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus (in modern-day Turkey). Local guides say it is an advertisement for prostitution. Located near a mosaicand stone walkway, the graffiti shows a handprint that vaguelyresembles a heart, along with a footprint and a number. This isbelieved to indicate that a brothel was nearby, with the handprintsymbolizing payment. [2]

Ancient Pompeii graffito caricature of a politician.
Ancient Pompeii graffito caricature of a politician.

The Romans carved graffiti on walls and monuments, with examples surviving in Egypt. The eruption of Vesuvius preserved graffiti in Pompeii, including Latincurses, magic spells, declarations of love, alphabets, politicalslogans and famous literary quotes, providing insight into ancientRoman street life. One inscription gives the address of a woman namedNovellia Primigenia of Nuceria, a prostitute, apparently of greatbeauty, whose services were much in demand. Another shows a phallusaccompanied by the text, mansueta tene: "Handle with care".

Disappointed love also found its way onto walls in antiquity:

Quisquis amat. veniat. Veneri volo frangere costas
fustibus et lumbos debilitare deae.
Si potest illa mihi tenerum pertundere pectus
quit ego non possim caput illae frangere fuste?
Whoever loves, go to hell. I want to break Venus's ribs
with a club and deform her hips.
If she can break my tender heart
why can't I hit her over the head?
-CIL IV, 1284.

Errors in spelling and grammar in this graffiti offer insight intothe degree of literacy in Roman times and provide clues on thepronunciation of spoken Latin. Examples are CIL IV, 7838: Vettium Firmum / aed[ilem] quactiliar[ii] [sic] rog[ant]. Here, "qu" is pronounced "co." The 83 pieces of graffiti found at CILIV, 4706-85 are evidence of the ability to read and write at levels ofsociety where literacy might not be expected. The graffiti appear on a peristylewhich was being remodeled at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius bythe architect Crescens. The graffiti was left by both the foreman andhis workers. The brothel at CIL VII, 12, 18-20 contains over 120 pieces of graffiti, some of which were the work of the prostitutes and their clients. The gladiatorial academy at CIL IV, 4397 was scrawled with graffiti left by the gladiator Celadus Crescens (Suspirium puellarum Celadus thraex: "Celadus the Thracian makes the girls sigh.")

This 2nd-century representation of a crucified donkey is believed by some to be the first representation of Jesus (here, evidently by a non-Christian). Palatine Hill, Rome.
This 2nd-century representation of a crucified donkey is believed by some to be the first representation of Jesus (here, evidently by a non-Christian). Palatine Hill, Rome.

It was not only the Greeks and Romans that produced graffiti: the Mayan site of Tikal in Guatemala also contains ancient examples. Viking graffiti survive in Rome and at Newgrange Mound in Ireland, and a Varangian scratched his name (Halvdan) in runes on a banister in the Hagia Sophia at Constantinople.

Graffiti, known as Tacherons, were frequently scratched on the walls of Romanesque churches.[3]

When Renaissance artists such as Pinturicchio, Raphael, Michelangelo, Ghirlandaio or Filippino Lippi descended into the ruins of Nero's Domus Aurea, they carved or painted their names[4][5] and returned with the grottesche style of decoration. There are also examples of graffiti occurring in American history, such as Signature Rock, a national landmark along the Oregon Trail.

Later, French soldiers carved their names on monuments during the Napoleonic campaign of Egypt in the 1790s.[6] Lord Byron's graffito of his own name survives on one of the columns of the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion in Attica, Greece.[7] There is also evidence of Chinese graffiti on the great wall of China.

Art forms like frescoes and murals involve leaving images and writing on wall surfaces. Like the prehistoric wall paintings created by cavedwellers, they do not comprise graffiti, as the artists generallyproduce them with the explicit permission (and usually support) of theowner or occupier of the walls.

[edit] Modern graffiti

The tool of choice: the Aerosol spraycan
The tool of choice: the Aerosol spraycan

Modern graffiti is often seen as having become intertwined with Hip-Hop culture as one of the four main elements of the culture (along with the Master of ceremony, the disc jockey, and break dancing), through Hollywood movies such as Wild Style.However, modern (twentieth century) graffiti predates hip hop by almosta decade and has its own culture, complete with its own unique styleand slang.

For example, one of the most popular graffitos of the 1970s was the legend "Dick NixonBefore He Dicks You," reflecting the hostility of the youth culture tothat U.S. president. The belief that the two are related arises fromthe fact that some graffiti artists enjoyed the other three aspects ofhip-hop, and that it was mainly practiced in areas where the otherthree elements of hip-hop were evolving as art forms. Graffiti is knownto be the visual expression of the rap music of the decade, where breakdancing is the physical expression. In addition, graffiti has been made synonymous with the anti-establishment punk rock movement of the 1970s, with such bands as Black Flag and Crass stenciling to gain notoriety, thus bringing it into punk culture.

Graffiti artists sometimes choose nicknames for them as an artist.These names are chosen for one of many reasons. Artists want tags to bequick to write so they are often from 3 to 5 characters in length. Thename is chosen to reflect personal qualities and characteristics, orbecause of the way the word sounds, and/or for the way it looks oncewritten. The letters in a word can make doing pieces very difficult ifthe shapes of the letters don't sit next to each other in a visuallypleasing way. Some Graffiti artists select their names that are playson common expressions, such as 2Shae, Page3, 2Cold, In1 and other such names.

Names also can represent a word with an irregular spelling; for example, "Train" could be Trane or Trayne and "Envy" could be Envie or Envee.Names can also contain subtle and often cryptic messages, or, in somecases, the artist's initials or other letters. As well as the graffitiname, some artists include the year that they completed that tag nextto the name. bomber Tox, from London, seldom writes just Tox; it is usually Tox03, Tox04, etc. In some cases, artists dedicate or create tags or graffiti in memory of a deceased friend – for example, "DIVA Peekrevs R.I.P. JTL '99." The Borf Brigade's arrested member, John Tsombikos, claimed the "BORF" tag campaign, which gained recognition for its prevalence in DC, was in memory of his deceased friend.

Initial groundwork for graffiti began around the late 1960s. Around this time, graffiti was mainly a form of expression by political activists. It was considered a cheap and easy way to make a statement, with minimal risk to the artist, often at the time a hippie.As the foundations of graffiti began, gang graffiti also began toarise, used largely by gangs to mark territory. Some gangs that madeuse of graffiti during this era included the Savage Skulls, La Familia,and Savage Nomads.

Towards the end of the 1960s the modern culture began to form in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The two graffiti artists considered to be responsible for the first true bombing are "Cool Earl" and "Cornbread".[8]They gained much attention from the Philadelphia press and thecommunity itself by leaving their tags written everywhere. Around1970-71, the centre of graffiti innovation moved from Philadelphia to New York City.Once the initial foundation was laid (occurred around 1966 - 1971),graffiti "pioneers" began inventing newer and more creative ways towrite.[8]

[edit] Pioneering era (1969-1974)

Taki 183, one of the pioneers of New York graffiti
Taki 183, one of the pioneers of New York graffiti

Between the years of 1969-1974 the "pioneering era" took place.During this time graffiti underwent a change in styles and popularity.Soon after the migration to NYC, the city produced one of the firstgraffiti artists to gain media attention in New York, TAKI 183. TAKI 183 was a youth from Washington Heights, Manhattanwho worked as a foot messenger. His tag is a mixture of his nameDemetrius (Demetraki), TAKI, and his street number, 183rd. Being a footmessenger, he was constantly on the subway and began to put up his tagsalong his travels. This spawned a 1971 article in the New York Times titled "'Taki 183' Spawns Pen Pals".[8][6][9] Julio 204is also credited as the first writer, but didn't get the fame that Takireceived. TAKI 183 was the first artist to be recognised outside of thegraffiti subculture, but wasn't the first artist. Other notable namesfrom that time are: Stay High 149, Hondo 1, Phase 2,Stitch 1, Joe 136, Junior 161 and Cay 161. Barbara 62 and Eva 62 werealso important early graffiti artists in New York, and are the firstknown females to write graffiti.

Also taking place during this era was the movement from outside onthe city streets to the subways. Graffiti also saw its first seeds ofcompetition around this time. The goal of most artists at this pointwas called "getting up" and involved having as many tags and bombs inas many places as possible. Artists began to break into subway yards inorder to hit as many trains as they could with a lower risk, oftencreating larger elaborate pieces of art along the subway car sides.This is when the act of bombing was said to be officially established.

By 1971 tags began to take on their signature calligraphic appearancebecause, due to the huge number of artists, each graffiti artist neededa way to distinguish themselves. Aside from the growing complexity andcreativity, tags also began to grow in size and scale – for example,many artists had begun to increase letter size and line thickness, aswell as outlining their tags. This gave birth to the so-called'masterpiece' or 'piece' in 1972. Super Kool 223 is credited as being the first to do pieces.

The use of designs such as polka dots, crosshatches, and checkersbecame increasingly popular. Spray paint use increased dramaticallyaround this time as artists began to expand their work."Top-to-bottoms", works which span the entire height of a subway car,made their first appearance around this time as well. The overallcreativity and artistic maturation of this time period did not gounnoticed by the mainstream – Hugo Martinez founded the United GraffitiArtists (UGA) in 1972. UGA consisted of many top graffiti artists ofthe time, and aimed to present graffiti in an art gallery setting. By1974, graffiti artists had begun to incorporate the use of scenery andcartoon characters into their work.

[edit] Peak, mid 1970s

After the original pioneering efforts, which culminated in 1974, theart form peaked around 1975 – 1977. By this time, most standards hadbeen set in graffiti writing and culture. The heaviest "bombing" inU.S. history took place in this period, partially because of theeconomic restraints on New York City, which limited its ability tocombat this art form with graffiti removal programs or transitmaintenance. Also during this time, "top-to-bottoms" evolved to take upentire subway cars. Most note-worthy of this era proved to be theforming of the "throw-up", which are more complex than simple"tagging," but not as intricate as a "piece". Not long after theirintroduction, throw-ups lead to races to see who could do the largestamount of throw-ups in the least amount of time.

Graffiti writing was becoming very competitive and artists strove to go "all-city," or to have their names seen in all five boroughsof NYC. Eventually, the standards which had been set in the early 70sbegan to become stagnant. These changes in attitude lead many artistsinto the 1980s with a desire to expand and change.

[edit] Late 1970s and early 1980s

The late 1970s and early 1980s brought a new wave of creativity tothe scene. As the influence of graffiti grew, a graffiti movement beganin Brooklyn as well with prominent artist Friendly Freddie. Fab Five Freddy(Fred Brathwaite) is another popular graffiti figure of this time,often credited with helping to spread the influence of graffiti and rap music beyond its early foundations in the Bronx. It was also, however, the last wave of true bombing before the Transit Authority made graffiti eradication a priority. The MTA (Metro Transit Authority)began to repair yard fences, and remove graffiti consistently, battlingthe surge of graffiti artists. With the MTA combatting the artists byremoving their work it often led many artists to quit in frustration,as their work was constantly being removed. It was also around thistime that the established art world started becoming receptive to thegraffiti culture for the first time since Hugo Martinez’s Razor Galleryin the early 1970s.

In 1979, graffiti artist Lee Quinones,and Fab Five Freddy were given a gallery opening in Rome by art dealerClaudio Bruni. Slowly, European art dealers became more interested inthe new art form. For many outside of New York, it was the first timeever being exposed to the art form. During the 1980s the culturalaspect of graffiti was said to be deteriorating almost to the point ofextinction. The rapid decline in writing was due to several factors.The streets became more dangerous due to the burgeoning crack epidemic,legislation was underway to make penalties for graffiti artists moresevere, and restrictions on paint sale and display made racking(stealing) materials difficult. Above all, the MTA greatly increasedtheir anti-graffiti budget. Many favored painting sites became heavilyguarded, yards were patrolled, newer and better fences were erected,and buffing of pieces was strong, heavy, and consistent.

Many graffiti artists, however, chose to see the new problems as achallenge rather than a reason to quit. A downside to these challengeswas that the artists became very territorial of good writing spots, andstrength and unity in numbers became increasingly important. This wasprobably the most violent era in graffiti history – Artists who choseto go out alone were often beaten and robbed of their supplies. Some ofthe mentionable graffiti artists from this era were Skeme, Spade, BG183, and Flight. This was stated to be the end for the casual NYCsubway graffiti artists, and the years to follow would be populated byonly what some consider the most "die hard" artists. People often foundthat graffiting around their local areas was an easy way to get caughtso they travelled to different areas.

[edit] Die Hard era (1985-1989)

Graffiti artist spray-painting a wall in Bucharest, Romania
Graffiti artist spray-painting a wall in Bucharest, Romania

The years between 1985 and 1989 became known as the "die hard" era.A last shot for the graffiti artists of this time was in the form ofsubway cars destined for the scrap yard.With the increased security, the culture had taken a step back. Theprevious elaborate "burners" on the outside of cars were now marredwith simplistic marker tags which often soaked through the paint.

By mid-1986 the MTA and the CTAwere winning their "war on graffiti," and the population of activegraffiti artists diminished. As the population of artists lowered sodid the violence associated with graffiti crews and "bombing." Rooftops also were being the new billboards for some 80's writers. Somenotable graffiti artists of this era from New York and Chicago wereGhost, Ket, Bruz, Ja, Yes2, Zuer , Sien5, Cope2, West, Zephyr, Dr. Revolt Cavs, Reas, Wane, Wen, Swatch, DG, Spade & Heart Fox, Quest Kds, Fate, Dart, Niro , Sane, Smith, Seen,and T-kid (New York), and Were One, Sivel, Agent aka Ages, Lone,Koname, Temper, Nyke, Erie, Triple, Page, Scarce, Slang, Orko, OXiD(NBSCrew, Romania) and Trixter (Chicago).

[edit] Clean Train Movement era

Graffiti on a train, Greece
Graffiti on a train, Greece

The current era in graffiti is characterized by a majority ofgraffiti artists moving from subway or train cars to "streetgalleries." The Clean Train Movement started in May, 1989, when NewYork attempted to remove all of the subway cars found with graffiti onthem out of the transit system. Because of this, many graffiti artistshad to resort to new ways to express themselves. Much controversy aroseamong the streets debating whether graffiti should be considered anactual form of art.[10]

During this period many graffiti artists had taken to displayingtheir works in galleries and owning their own studios. This practicestarted in the early 1980s with artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, who started out tagging locations with his signature SAMO (Same Old Shit), and Keith Haring, who was also able to take his art into studio spaces.

In some cases, graffiti artists had achieved such elaborate graffiti(especially those done in memory of a deceased person) on storefrontgates that shopkeepers have hesitated to cover them up. In the Bronx after the death of rapper Big Pun, several murals dedicated to his life appeared virtually overnight;[11] similar outpourings occurred after the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, and Mac Dre.[12][13] Princess Diana and Mother Teresa were also memorialised this way in New York City.

With the popularity and legitimization of graffiti has come a level of commercialization. In 2001, computer giant IBM launched an advertising campaign which involved people in various states spray painting on sidewalks a peace symbol, a heart, and a penguin (Linuxmascot), to represent "Peace, Love, and Linux." However due toillegalities some of the "street artists" were arrested and chargedwith vandalism.[14]

Along with the commercial growth has come the rise of video game also depicting graffiti, usually in a positive aspect – for example, the game Jet Grind Radio tells the story of a group of teens fighting the oppression of a totalitarian police force that attempts to limit the graffiti artists' freedom of speech. Following the original roots of modern graffiti as a political force came another game title Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure which features a similar story line of fighting against a corrupt city and its oppression of free speech.

Mark Ecko,an urban clothing designer, has been an advocate of graffiti as an artform during this period, stating that "Graffiti is without question themost powerful art movement in recent history and has been a drivinginspiration throughout my career."[15]

[edit] Modern experimentation

Modern graffiti art often incorporates additional arts and technologies. For example, Graffiti Research Lab has encouraged the use of projected images and magnetic Light-emitting diodes as new mediums for graffiti writers. The Italian artist Kaso is pursuing regenerative graffiti through experimentation with abstract shapes and deliberate modification of previous Graffiti artworks.

[edit] Styles

Some of the most common styles of graffiti have their own names. A"tag" is the most basic writing of an artist's name in either spraypaint or marker. A graffiti writer's tag is his or her personalizedsignature. "Tagging" is often the example given when opponents ofgraffiti refer to vandalism, as they use it to label all acts ofgraffiti writing (it is by far the most common form of graffiti).Another form is the "throw-up," also known as a "fill-in," which isnormally painted very quickly with two or three colors, sacrificingaesthetics for speed. Throw-ups can also be outlined on a surface withone color. A "piece" is a more elaborate representation of the artist'sname, incorporating more stylized "block" or "bubble" letters, usingthree or more colors. This of course is done at the expense oftimeliness and increases the likelihood of the artist getting caught.

A more complex style is "wildstyle", a form of graffiti involvinginterlocking letters, arrows, and connecting points. These pieces areoften harder to read by non-graffiti artists as the letters merge intoone another in an often undecipherable manner. A "Roller" is a"fill-in" that intentionally takes up an entire wall, sometimes withthe whole purpose of blocking other "taggers" from painting on the samewall. Some artists also use stickers as a quick way to "get-up". Whileits critics consider this as lazy and a form of cheating, others findthat 5 to 10 minutes spent on a detailed sticker is in no way lazy,especially when used with other methods.

Sticker tags are commonly done on blank postage stickers, or reallyanything with an adhesive side to it. "Stencils" are made by drawing animage onto a piece of cardboard or tougher versions of paper, then cutwith a razor blade. What is left is then just simply sprayed-over, andif done correctly, a perfect image is left. Many graffiti artistsbelieve that doing blockbusters or even complex wildstyles are a wasteof time. Doing wildstyle can take (depending on experience) 8 hours to2 days. Another graffiti artist can go over that time consuming piecein a matter of minutes with a bubble fill-in that would look just asgood as a wildstyle piece.

[edit] Uses

Theories on the use of graffiti by avant-garde artists have a history dating back at least to the Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism in 1961.

Stencils by John Fekner: Charlotte Street Stencils, South Bronx, New York, 1980.
Stencils by John Fekner: Charlotte Street Stencils, South Bronx, New York, 1980.
Motor Lublin football club graffiti by an unknown supporter. Lublin, Poland
Motor Lublin football club graffiti by an unknown supporter. Lublin, Poland

Many contemporary analysts and even art critics have begun to seeartistic value in some graffiti and to recognize it as a form of public art. According to many art researchers, particularly in the Netherlands and in Los Angeles, that type of public art is, in fact an effective tool of social emancipation or in the achievement of a political goal.[16]

The murals of Belfast and of Los Angeles offer another example of official recognition.[17]In times of conflict, such murals have offered a means of communicationand self-expression for members of these socially, ethnically and/orracially divided communities, and have proven themselves as effectivetools in establishing dialog and thus of addressing cleavages in thelong run. The Berlin Wall was also extensively covered by Graffiti reflecting social pressures relating to the oppressive Soviet rule over the GDR.

Many artists involved with Graffiti also are concerned with the similar activity of Stencilling. Essentially, this entails stencilling a print of one or more colours using spray-paint. Graffiti artist John Fekner, called "caption writer to the urban environment, adman for the opposition" by writer Lucy Lippard[18], was involved in direct art interventions within New York City'sdecaying urban environment in the mid-seventies through the eighties.Fekner is known for his word installations targeting social andpolitical issues, stencilled on buildings throughout New York.

In the UK, Banksyis the most recognisable icon for this cultural artistic movement andkeeps his identity secret to avoid arrest. Much of Banksy's artwork canbe seen around the streets of London and surrounding suburbs, though hehas painted pictures around the world, including the Middle East, where he has painted on Israel's controversial West Bankbarrier with satirical images of life on the other side. One depicted ahole in the wall with an idyllic beach, while another shows a mountain landscape on the other side. A number of exhibitions have also taken place since 2000, and recent works of art have fetched vast sums of money.

[edit] Radical and political

The plaque on Mary Brogger's Haymarket memorial as it has been vandalized with Anarchist symbols.
The plaque on Mary Brogger's Haymarket memorial as it has been vandalized with Anarchist symbols.
The Haymarket memorial in Forest Park, Illinois, vandalised with Anarchist messages.
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One who uses vinyl records to play music with multiple record maneuvering techniques to mix, scratch, blend, chop, juggle and edit sounds of the original recording to make different sounds all part of one song or track. Also known as a Turntablist (TDJ).

Scratching is a DJ or turntablist technique used to produce sounds for some types of music. It was originated by Grand Wizard Theodore, an early hip hop DJ from New York (AMG). Theodore developed scratching from DJ Grandmaster Flash, who describes scratching as, "nothing but the back-cueing that you hear in your ear before you push it [the recorded sound] out to the crowd." (Toop, 1991) Kool Hercwas also an important early figure. The technique is designed toaccentuate the work of the DJ by creating an assortment of soundsthrough the rhythmic manipulation of a vinyl record, and has spreadfrom hip hop music to a number of other musical forms. Within hip hopculture, scratching is still of great importance in determining theskill of a DJ, and a number of competitions are held across the globein which DJs battle one another in displays of great virtuosity. Inrecorded hip-hop songs it is common to have a scratched hook wherelines from different rap songs are scratched in succession.

Since the 1990s, the use of scratching in popular music has seen a substantial increase. Some examples of this would be within Nu-Metal acts (especially Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit) and in some pop music (Nelly Furtado).DJs are also often included as 'stage-props' (especially in the urbangenre) where they stand behind turntables pretending to emulatescratching and mixing. The majority of these DJs are there simply toadd effect to the stage and create more of an atmosphere.

Because of this, many people perceive scratching as an easy andsimple skill to acquire where all one needs to do is move your handback and forth to create the associated "wikki-wikki" sound. Thereality is, scratching is a skill that requires considerable practice.

While scratching is becoming more and more popular within pop music,the art-form itself is still predominantly underground. One of the mostinfluential groups to the world of scratching would be the Invisibl Skratch Piklz hailing from the San Francisco area. Forming in 1994 as DJs Q-Bert, Disk & Shortkut and later Mix Master Mikethe group took scratching to a whole new level. With their focusprimarily on scratching, the group displayed exactly what the turntableis capable of.

"The turntable is the most versatile instrument. You can be adrummer, you can be a guitarist, you can be a lead vocalist —anything." DJ Shortkut

With the departure of DJ Disk, enter two new members, Yogafrog followed by D-Styles. DJ A-Trak from Canada was also a guest member of the group after winning the Technics' DMC World Finals in 1997. After releasing their Shiggar Fraggar CD series and touring various countries around the world the group disbanded in 2001.

Each of its members however have continued to prove they are at the forefront of the scene by pursuing their own projects. In 1998, DJ Qbert made scratch history by composing the first ever album made entirely by scratching [citation needed] - from the beats to the sound effects. The album was entitled 'Wave Twisters' and was later released in 2001 as a feature length movie. DJ D-Styles (now a member of the Beat Junkies crew from Los Angeles),who contributed the 'Razorblade Alcohol Slide' chapter to Wave Twisterswas at the same time working in his own 'scratch music' album entitled'Phantazmagorea' - released in 2001. Both these albums displayed anarray of new scratches & techniques, further proof that these guyswere still out there pushing the boundaries. In 1996, while both stilla part of the ISP group, DJs Qbert & Yogafrog set up their owncompany — Thud Rumble— dedicated to the art of scratching. Their main goal was to spread theart of scratching on a global scale. They released their own videoscalled Turntable TV where DJs from around the world would hang out andscratch.

In July of 2000, San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Artsheld Skratchcon2000, the first DJ Skratch forum that provided “theeducation and development of skratch music literacy”. By bringing theglobe’s important DJs together in one arena, professional and amateurDJs were given the chance to learn and utilize various skills,techniques, and styles. In the past, Thud Rumble was involved in thefacilitation of important historical DJ events like ITF (InternationalTurntablist Federation) and the Vestax World DJ Championships. Afterbeing praised by Source Magazine as the “Greatest DJ event of all time”, Thud Rumble had successfully added Skratchcon2000 to the list.

In 2001, Thud Rumbleopened their office doors to become an independent company that managedand maintained the production and distribution of their own products.By working with various DJ artists to produce and distributed scratchrecords, Thud Rumble was able to provide a wider range of practiceand/or performances tools for DJs. Thud Rumble have close ties withmany of the leading electrical DJ equipment companies and have oftenbeen approached to help design new products for the DJ community. Mostnotable of all these is the Vestax QFO released in 2004.The QFO is a turntable/mixer in one, allowing DJs a portable deviceable to set up literally anywhere. Designed mainly for this reason ithas met mixed reviews however since its release many of Qberts showshave seen him using only the QFO.

In 2004, Scratch Magazine, the first publication about hip-hop DJs and producers, released its debut issue.

[edit] Outside hip hop

Scratching has been incorporated into a number of other musical genres, including Pop, Rock, Jazz, and Classical music performances. Two of the earliest such examples were released in 1983: scratches by Grand Mixer DXT on Herbie Hancock's hit song "Rockit", and, more obscurely, on a few songs the first Golden Palominos record, where Bill Laswell or M.E. Miller scratched. Scratching (and sampling) also gained mainstream popularity in the UK and Europe from the 1987 hit "Pump Up The Volume" by M/A/R/R/S.

For recording use, samplers are often used instead of physically scratching a vinyl record.

The beatmania music video game series simulates scratching with a "turntable" on the side.

In the video game Katamari Damacy, the King of All Cosmos speaks in record scratches.

Scratch is a documentary film about the origin of scratching and its modern practitioners.

Christian Marclay was one of the earliest and one of the most notable musicians to scratch outside hip hop.

In the anime Samurai Champloo, a record scratch is used instead of the common bleep to cover expletives, keeping with the Hip-hop soundtrack.

Audioslave (and former Rage Against the Machine) guitarist Tom Morello is known for his scratching-inspired guitar solos,which he creates by rubbing his fingers on the strings over the pickups with and using the pickup selector switch on the guitar, typicallyrun through a wah or auto-wah, and one or more envelope filters.

In Meteos, the planet Luna=Luna has a hip-hop soundtrack, with dull piano music and record scratching for Meteos launches.

A scratch is also typically used in comedy as an abrupt stopping gesture, as if someone had said or done something unexpected suddenly.

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Breakdance, breaking, b-boying or b-girling is a street dance style that evolved as part of the hip hop movement among African American and Puerto Rican youths in the South Bronx of New York City during the early 1970s. It is normally danced to funk or hip hop music, often remixed to prolong the breaks, and is arguably the best known of all hip hop dance styles.

A breakdancer, breaker, b-boy or b-girl refers to a person who practices breakdancing.

Origins: From street to dance

Breakdancer doing a turtle.
Breakdancer doing a turtle.

Breaking was born when street corner DJ's (in legend it is DJ Kool Herc who was first) would take the breakdown sections (or "breaks")of dance records and string them together without any elements of thesong per se. This provided a raw rhythmic base for improvising andfurther mixing, and it allowed dancers to display their skills duringthe break.

One of the major break dance street culture pushes was Michael Jackson's Robot dance,firstly performed on television in 1974. The performance received bigfollowing in the country with many later break dance pioneers furtherpopularizing break dance in the late 1970s.

Popular speculations of the early 1980s suggest that breakdancing,in its organized fashion seen today, began as a method for rival gangsof the ghetto to mediate and settle territorial disputes.[1]In a turn-based showcase of dance routines, the winning side wasdetermined by the dancer(s) who could outperform the other bydisplaying a set of more complicated and innovative moves.[2]

It later was through the highly energetic performances of the late funk legend James Brown and the rapid growth of dance teams, like the Rock Steady Crew of New York City,that the competitive ritual of gang warfare evolved into a pop-culturephenomenon receiving massive media attention. Parties, disco clubs,talent shows, and other public events became typical locations forbreakdancers, including gang members for whom dancing served as apositive diversion from the threats of city life.

Though its intense popularity eventually faded in the 1980s, it hastoday grown into a well-known and accepted dance style, portrayed incommercials, movies, and the media, and often available at common dance studios. Some large annual breakdance competitions can be seen today, such as Battle of the Year or the heavily sponsored Red Bull BC One.

The dance

For more details on this topic, see List of breakdance moves.
A breakdancer in the middle of a downrock.
A breakdancer in the middle of a downrock.

Breakdancing is generally unstructured and highly improvisational,allowing the incorporation of many different elements. A basic routinemight include toprock, a transition into downrock, a display of power moves, and finally a climactic freeze or suicide.

Toprock refers to any string of steps performed from a standing position, relying upon a mixture of coordination,flexibility, style, and most importantly, rhythm. It is usually thefirst and foremost opening display of style, and it serves as a warm-upfor transitions into more acrobatic maneuvers. In contrast, downrockincludes all footwork performed on the floor as in the 6-step.Downrock is normally performed with the hands and feet on the floor. Indownrock, the breakdancer displays his or her proficiency with footspeed and control by performing footwork combinations. Thesecombinations usually transition into more athletic moves known as powermoves.

The windmill is a popular power move.
The windmill is a popular power move.

Power moves refer to moves that require momentum and physical powerto execute. In power moves, the breakdancer relies more on upper bodystrength to dance, using his or her hands to do moves. Power movesinclude windmill, swipe, and flare.Because power moves are physically demanding, breakdancers use them asa display of upper body strength and stamina. Many moves are borrowedfrom gymnastics, such as the flare, and martial arts, with impressiveacrobatics such as the butterfly kick.

A one-handed handstand, commonly used as a freeze.
A one-handed handstand, commonly used as a freeze.

Freezeshalt all motion in a stylish pose. The more difficult freezes requirethe breakdancer to suspend himself or herself off the ground usingupper body strength, in poses such as the handstand or pike. Whereas freezing refers to a single pose, locking[3] entails sharp transitions between a series of freezes.

Suicidesare another type of end to a routine. Breakers will make it appear thatthey have lost control and fall onto their backs, stomachs, etc. Themore painful the suicide appears, the more impressive it is, butbreakdancers execute them in a way to minimize pain. In contrast tofreezes, suicides draw attention to the motion of falling or losingcontrol, while freezes draw attention to the final position.

"Battles" refer to any level of competition in which breakdancers inan open space (typically a circle or even on stage) participate inquick-paced, turn-based routines, whether improvised or planned.Participants vary in number, ranging from head-to-head duels to battlesof opposing breakdance crews,or teams. Winners are determined by the side exhibiting the mostproficient and varied combinations of moves. "Cyphers," on the otherhand, are open-forum, mock exhibitions where competition is lessemphasized.

In pop culture

Cartoon of a breakdancer displaying a basic freeze, next to a stereotypical boombox.
Cartoon of a breakdancer displaying a basic freeze, next to a stereotypical boombox.

Since its inception, breakdancing has provided a youth cultureconstructive alternative to violent urban street gangs. Today,breakdancing culture is a remarkable discipline somewhere in-betweenthose of dancers and athletes.Since acceptance and involvement centers on dance skills, breakdancingculture is usually free of the common race, gender and age boundariesof a subculture and has been accepted worldwide.

The world scene

Social interaction centers on practices and competitions, which areoccasionally intertwined because of its improvisational style. Whilefeatured at dance schools, breakdancing is very difficult, typicallytaught to newbies, or beginners, by more experiencedbreakdancers and passed on to new generations by informalword-of-mouth. Clubs and hip-hop schools do exist, but are rare innumber and more so in organization.


As the clichéd quote "break to the beat" insists, music is a stapleingredient for breakdancing. The original songs that popularized thedance form borrow significantly from progressive genres of jazz, soul, funk, electro or electro funk, disco, and R&B. The most common feature of breakdance music exists in breaks, or compilations formed from samplestaken from different songs which are then looped and chained togetherby the DJ. The tempo generally ranges between 110 and 135beats-per-minute with shuffled sixteenth and quarter beats in the percussive pattern. History credits Kool Dj Herc for the invention of this concept, later termed breakbeat.

The musical selection is not restricted to hip-hop as long as thetempo and beat pattern conditions are met. It can be readily adapted todifferent music genres (often with the aid of remixing). World competitions have seen the unexpected progressions and applications of heavily European electronica, and even opera. Some b-boys, such as Pierre, even extend it to rock music.


Breakdancer doing a headstand.
Breakdancer doing a headstand.

For most breakdancers, fashion is a defining aspect of identity. The breakdancers of the 1980s typically sported flat-soled Adidas,Puma, or Fila shoes with thick, elaborately patterned laces. Somebreakdancing crews matched their hats, shirts, and shoes to showuniformity, and were perceived as a threat to the competitor by theirapparent strength in numbers. B-boys also wore nylon tracksuitswhich were functional as well as fashionable. The slick, low-frictionmaterial allowed the breakdancer to slide on the floor much morereadily than with cotton or most other materials. Hooded nylon jacketsallowed dancers to perform head spins and windmills with greater ease.Additionally, the popular image of the original breakdancer alwaysinvolved a public performance on the street, accompanied by theessential boombox and oversized sheet of cardboard, which serves as a dance floor.

The b-boys today dress differently from the b-boys in the 80s, but one constant remains: dressing "fresh".[citation needed]Due to the spread of breakdancing from the inner cities into thesuburbs and other social groups, different perceptions of "fresh" havearisen. Generally the rule that one's gear needs to match has remainedfrom the 80s, along with a certain playfulness. Kangols are still worn by some, and track pants and nylon clothes still have their place combined with modern sneakers and hats. Trucker hats were reintroduced to the scene in the late 1990s, well before the mainstream pop culture began wearing them again in numbers.[citation needed]

Function is heavily intertwined with b-boy fashion. Due to thedemands on the feet in b-boying, b-boys look for shoes with low weight,good grip, and durability in the sole as well as elsewhere. Headwearcan facilitate the movement of the head on the ground, especially inheadspins. Bandannas underneath headwear can protect against thediscomfort of fabric pulling on hair. Wristbands placed along the armcan also lower friction in particular places, as well as provide someprotection. Today's breakdancing styles, which emphasize fast-paced,fluid floor moves and freezes, differ from that of two decades ago,requiring more freedom of movement in the upper body. Therefore, lessbaggy upperwear is more common today (though pants remain baggy).[citation needed]

Some dancers and crews have begun to dress in a style similar to "goth" or punk rockers in order to stand out from the more traditional toned-down b-boy appearance.

Certain clothing brands have been associated with breaking, for instance, Tribal. Puma is also well known in the breaking community. Both brands sponsor many b-boy events.

But aside from these generalities, many b-boys choose not to try toohard to dress for breaking, because one would want to be able to breakanytime, anywhere, whatever the circumstances.[citation needed]This is part of the reason why many breakdancers would rather learnheadspins without a helmet even though helmets allow them to learn thetechnique more easily.

Breakdancing as a folk dance

There is some academic interest in whether breaking can be considered a folk dance. In particular, street dances are living and evolving dance forms, while folk dances are to a significant degree bound by tradition. Breakdancing was in the beginning a social dance but in its later years, because of media and television exposure, it has become a more performance oriented dance.

Breakdancing as a stage show

Se7en performs his signature Nike kick.
Se7en performs his signature Nike kick.

In many different countries, most notably South Korea,different stage companies and individual breakdancing crews arecreating musicals and stage shows that are either based on, or focus onbreakdancing. Among the most notable is A Ballerina Who Loved A B-Boy,a musical telling the story of a ballerina who falls in love with thepower of breakdancing. It is played by professional breakdance crews,including Extreme Crew, Maximum Crew, and Able Crew. Anotherbreakdancing musical is Marionette, performed, created and choreographed by Korean breakdancing crew Expression. Many entertainers have incorporated breakdance moves into their stage performance, ranging from professional wrestler Booker T to Korean singer Se7en.

Media exposure

In the 1980s, with the help of pop culture and MTV, breakdancing made its way from America to the rest of the world as a new cultural phenomenon. Musicians such as Michael Jackson popularized some of the breakdancing styles in music videos, and movies such as Flashdance, Wild Style, Beat Street, Breakin', and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogalooalso contributed to the growing appeal of breakdancing. Today, manyb-boys and former breakers are disappointed by the media hype that haschanged the focus of breakdancing to money and overuse of power moves.Breaking was given proper respect in the critically-acclaimed, featuredocumentary film: The Freshest Kids: A History of the B-Boy.The film captured the essence of the culture and accurately traced theorigin, evolution, and position of the dance within the Hip Hopmovement.


Though recreational, the dance is not without its heated debates.


Some practitioners state the original terms b-boying or breaking are better names for the dance as breakdance was supposedly created by the media as a marketing device. As such, the term breakdanceis said to lack the depth and history of the older terms and are todaylooked down by some who consider its use as an evidence of ignoranceand disrespect to the history of the dance style itself.

Style vs. technique

Multiple stereotypes have emerged in the breakdancing community overthe give-and-take relationship between technical footwork and physicalprowess. Those who focus on dance steps and fundamental sharpness—butlack upper-body brawn, form, discipline, etc.—are labeled as "style-heads" and specialists of more gymnastics-oriented technique and form—at the cost of charisma and coordinated footwork—are known as "power-heads."Such terms are used colloquially often to classify one's skill,however, the subject has been known to disrupt competitive events wherejudges tend to favor a certain array of techniques.

Gang association

It has often been stated that breakdancing replaced fighting betweenstreet gangs, though some believe it a misconception that b-boying everplayed a part in mediating gang rivalry. These gang roots madebreakdancing itself seem controversial in its early history.


Uprockingas a dance style of its own never gained the same wide-spreadpopularity as breakdance, except for some very specific moves adoptedby breakers who use it as a variation for their toprock. When used in abreakdance battle, opponents often respond by performing similar uprockmoves, supposedly creating a short uprock battle.

Some state that because uprocking was originally a separate dancestyle it should never be mixed with breaking, and that the uprock movesperformed by breakers today are not the original moves but poorimitations that only shows a small part of the original uprock style.

Injury risks

Often the danger inherent in breakdancing is overemphasized. As withany other strenuous activity, a measured risk of physical injuryexists. Breakdancers should practice using professional supervision todecrease the chances of personal injuries.

Pop-media references to breakdancing

  • Buffalo Gals (Malcolm McLaren music video. 1982): The first breakdancing video on MTV, that brought hip hop to the mainstream, most noticeably in Europe.
  • Wild Style! (Movie. 1982)
  • Flashdance (Movie. 1983): features an appearance by the Rock Steady Crew and a stunt breakdance stand-in for the main character.
  • Style Wars (Movie. 1983): Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant's historicPBS documentary Style Wars tracks the rise and fall of subway graffitiin New York in the late 1970s and early 1980s. At the peak of itspopularity, graffiti was as much a part of B-boy culture as rapping,scratching, and breaking.
  • Breakin' (Movie. 1984): The first movie all about breakdancing
  • Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (Movie. 1984).
  • Delivery Boys (Movie. 1984) Genres Comedy, Plot Synopsis: A gang ofboys under the Brooklyn Bridge are united by their common interest inbreak dancing. Some work as pizza delivery boys, hence they callthemselves the "Delivery Boys". They form a dance team and enter alocal break dance contest, sponsored by a woman's panty manufacturer. Arival gang's sponsor intimidates their employer into thinking she mustkeep the boys working so they won't be harmed. She gives the boys some"specialized" deliveries to make them late for the contest. The anticsand calamities abound as the boys wrestle with her work assignments andgetting to the contest on time.
  • Beat Street (Movie. 1984)
  • It's Like That by Run DMC (Music Video. 1997): Quite possibly thedance video responsible for the return of breakdancing to mainstreamculture. The recording, though seemingly unrelated to the harsh themesof the song, features a comical battle between two talentedrespectively all-female and male crews.
  • Bust A Groove (Video game franchise. 1998): The two games series by 989 Studioswhich spanned comprises a rhythm based gameplay that featuredcharacters with distinctly unique dance styles. The fictional maincharacter, "Heat," former F-1 racer, specializes in breakdancing, whileother selectable characters, punk Gas-O and alien twins Capoeira userespectively house and (obviously) Capoeira martial arts.
  • Zoolander. (Movie. 2001): On a catwalk, model Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson)engage in a "walk-off," or a mock modeling exhibition which sees boththem randomly performing breakdancing moves—notably the Robot, thewallflip, and a few windmills. Later in the film, Hansel uses headspinsto kick his enemy in the face, an absurd attack to which villain Mugatu(Will Ferrell) blurts, "They're breakdance fighting!"
  • Save the Last Dance (Movie. 2001)[citation needed]
  • Days Go By by Dirty Vegas(Music Video. 2002): The music video tells the story of a man whoreturns to the same spot every year to breakdance in the hopes that thegirl who left him will return.
  • Pro-Test by Skinny Puppy (Music Video. 2004): Features B-Boys breakdancing on a sidewalk in Los Angeles, when a group of gothsshow up to the B-Boys ridicule. At this point a battle breaks outbetween the B-Boys and the goths with the goths winning out in the end.The video also features Krumping.
  • You Got Served (Movie. 2004): The film centers on street dancing, where two inner-city dancers (played by Omarion Grandberry and Marques Houston),along with their crew, compete in a tournament to regain pride andmoney lost in a hasty bet. Though marred by mediocre acting and storyplot, the film was praised for high-level choreography, and featuredworld-class breakdancers from California. The movie also popularizedthe slang term "served."
  • South Park - You Got F'd in the A (Television series. 2004): This episode features a parody to the plot seen in You Got Served.
  • Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers(Music Video. 2005): features three young boys who sneak out of theirhomes late at night wearing clown makeup and then sneak into a danceclub for a break dance competition focuses heavily on Krump the song mixes Hip-hop and Electronica elements.
  • B-boy (videogame) (2006): a console game which aims at an unadulterated depiction of breakdancing[4]
  • Break (Mini Series 2006) The Korean mini series featured well known singers and dancers including Poppin' Nam Hyun Joon that brings people of all backgrounds into a breakdancing competition.
  • Over the Rainbow (Drama series 2006) centers on a differentcharacters who are brought together by breakdancing as they all try toaim for fame. This series includes many popular Korean stars includingFany of Fly to the Sky and also guest stars many Korean bboys including the 2005 BOTY champions, Last for One's Zero-nine.
  • Energy Drink Energzen Commercial (2006) A Korean commercial featuring Bboy Bruce Lee from the 2004 BOTY champions Gambler.
  • Canon in D Korean video clip (2006) features a famous DJ (DJ Chang Eue), beatboxer (Eun Jun), and three members of the 2005 BOTY champions, Last for One in two different versions.
  • South Korea vs North KoreaBreakdancing video clip (2005) depicts the separation of these twonations and the will for reunification through bboying. Ths video clipincludes world famous breakdancers Bboy Ducky (Drifterz). Bboy Trickx(Drifterz), Bboy Phyicx (Rivers), and Hong10 (Drifterz).
  • World famous Korean crews including Gambler Crew, Rivers Crew,Extreme (Obowang) Crew, Drifterz Crew and more have participated increating breakdancing tutorial clips shown on television and online tohelp instruct the new generation of aspiring bboys.
  • In addition, members of the boy band Shinhwa including Minwoo and Junjin have participated in teaching their own breakdancing skills to their fans.
  • The 2002 BOTY champions, Expression Crew, the 2004 BOTY champions, Gambler Crew, and the 2005 BOTY champions, Last for Onealong with many other well known crews have created schools foraspiring breakdancers and advertisement in Korea has been profound asthey have recruited hundreds of students from around their country.
  • Koreansingers have been known for incorporating breakdancing moves into theirchoreographies, music videos and performances. The list of such singersinclude:
    • Se7en (singer) in his music videos and performances including "Passion", "Crazy", "I Know", and more.
    • BoA in her 2005 "Girls on Top" performance at the M.Net 2005 Music Awards.
    • Rain in his music videos and performances "It's Raining", "Bad Guy", "I'm Coming", and more.
    • Group Big Bang in their music videos and performances "V.I.P", "We Belong Together", "My Girl", and more.
    • YG Family in their 2003 music video "Get Ready."
    • Group 1TYM in ther music videos and performances including "1TYM", "Ready or Not", "Nasty", "Hot" and more.
    • Group Jinusean in their music videos and performances "Gasoline"m "A-Yo", and more.
    • Boy band Battle in their music video "Crash."
    • Korean popstar, Hyori's music video "Anymotion" featuring Eric of Shinhwa shows scenes of breakdancing
    • Boy Band Shinhwa in their music videos and performances including "Yo!", "Only One", "All Your Dreams", "Wild Eyes", "Brand New", and more.
    • Jang Woo Hyuk in his music videos "Flip Reverse", "The Sun That Never Sets", "Pump Flow" and more.
    • Boy band TVXQ in their music videos and performances including "Rising Sun" and "O."
    • Minwoo in his music videos and performances including "Bump!!" as both a soloist and a member of Shinhwa.
  • Pump It Upis a Korean game that requires physical movement of the feet. The gameis open for breakdancing and many people have accomplished this feat bymemorizing the steps and creating dance moves to hit the arrows ontime. See World Pump Freestyle (WPF) videos.
  • In 2005, the widow of Gene gave permission to Volkswagen as part of their Volkswagen Golf GTipromotion, to use Gene Kelly's likeness. However, despite Mrs. Kelly'surging, the German auto maker refused to show the commercial in the U.S.. The television clip featured a partly CGI version of Kelly breakdancing to a new version of "Singin' in the Rain", remixed by Mint Royale. The tagline was, "The original, updated."
  • 2006, outside of the large shopping mall at Dongdaemun in Seoul,South Korea, a number of bboys gathered to promote a new mp3 productduring the peak of shopping hours successfully gathering lots ofattention.
  • In later installments of the Sonic the Hedgehog video game series, Sonic is known to breakdance as a form of celebration, or even as attack moves in some situations.
  • In the game Super Smash Bros. Melee for Nintendo GameCube, some characters use breakdancing moves for their downward smash attack.
  • In the novel Kid B by Linden Dalecki, published on Houghton Mifflin (2006). The first, and currently only, novel set in the world of b-boying.
  • In the Australian documentary Sprayed Conflict,produced by Robert Moller (1994). Featured the breakdancing ofAustralian graffiti artist and 2000 Melbourne Extreme Games breakdancewinner Duel.
  • The character Mugen on the anime TV series Samurai Champloo uses a fighting style that is based on breakdancing.
  • Code: Lyoko: Odd Della Robbia creates a movie called "Break, Break, Breakdance".
  • Some characters in the Tekken series, notably Eddy Gordo and Christie Monteiro, specialize in capoeira, resulting in a fighting style similar to breakdancing.

Breakdancing in fiction

In 1997, Korea, Kim Soo Yong began serialization of the first breakdancing themed comic, Hip Hop (comic). The comic was immediate success, and sold over 1.5 million books when it was published into books. Hip Hopis credited for introducing the Hiphop and breakdancing culture toKoreans, and inspired many teenagers to begin breakdancing, which wasstill looked down on in Korea those days. Many Korean breakdancers suchas Bruce Lee (dancer) admitted they were first introduced and inspired to breakdance by reading Hip Hop when they were teenagers.

The first breakdancing-themed novel, Kid B,was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006. The author, Linden Dalecki,was an amateur b-boy in high school and directed a short documentaryfilm about Texas b-boy culture before writing the novel. The novelevolved from Dalecki's b-boy themed short story The B-Boys of Beaumont, which won the 2004 Austin Chronicle short story contest.

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Freestyle rap is an improvisational form of rapping, performed with few or no previously composed lyrics,which is said to reflect a direct mapping of the mental state andperforming situation of the artist. It is non-scripted, non-rehearsed,uncut, and the rawest form of hip-hop. Artists will often refer toplaces and objects in their immediate setting. Freestyle rapping forcesan individual to think on the spot, describe his or her surroundings,and, to a certain degree, rap uncensored from what is inside. It issimilar in this sense to improvisational music or acting and draws comparisons to improvisational Jazz in particular.


Freestyle rapping is generally believed to have originated in the East Coast hip hop scene in the late 1970s. The earliest MCs would spit freestyled lyrics at parties to pump up the crowd.

From this the freestyle battles begin to emerge. Perhaps the earliest and most famous freestyle battle was in 1981 when Kool Moe Dee challenged Busy Bee Starski.Busy Bee was known for his chants of "What's your zodiac sign?" andother crowdpleasers that had been originated a few years before byother rappers. Moe Dee came out with lines of hard disrespect for BusyBee:

Every time I hear it I throw a fit / Party after party the same oleshit / Record after record, rhyme after rhyme / Always wanna know yourzodiac sign / He changed the shit to your favorite jeans / Come on BusyBee tell me what that means / Hold on brother man don't you say nothin'/ I'm not finished yet, I gotta tell you somethin'... (Vibe)

Freestyle battles sometimes bring mainstream attention to previouslyunknown rappers. This type of rapping also proves useful when beefarises between two rappers. A diss can include attacks on credibility,threats of violence, or simply bragging that one is better than theother. Disses can also be recorded over the rival rapper's beat to addfurther disrespect. Allegations of sleeping with the another rapper'ssignificant other have become increasingly popular in disses (such as 2Pac claiming to have slept with Biggie's wife, or Jay-Z claiming to have slept with Nas'baby's mother). Many times the audience wants to hear an immediateresponse from the two people involved in the beef(hip hop rivalry orconflict). This makes way for so-called freestyle records. One artisttakes a beat that is already out in the mainstream and spits over it sothat they can quickly put something out to diss the other rapperinvolved. When rappers freestyle most of the time all attention shiftsto them because it is so intense, which is why some artist are believedto start beef to boost sales. Freestyles are the probably the mostexciting aspect of hip hop because they’re on the spot captions of theworld around them.

[edit] Methodology

Due to the improvised nature of freestyle, rules for meter and rhythmare usually more relaxed than in conventional rap. Many artists basetheir set on the situation and mental state, but have a ready supply ofprepared lyrics and rhyme patterns they can use as filler or evenaround which they can build their set. Often, freestyling is done in agroup setting (called a cypher) or as part of a freestyle battle.In these cases, freestyle verses are often prepared in the rapper'shead as the other rappers in the cypher or the opponent in the battletake their turn. Freestyling is also often used by many rappers whenbeginning to write a song, in order to get a feel for the beat and tobrainstorm lyrical ideas.

[edit] Freestyle Rappers

[edit] Battles

A freestyle battle is a contest in which two or more rappers compete or battle each other using freestyle rap. Each competitor's goal is to 'diss'their opponent through clever lyrics. As hip-hop evolved in theearly-80's MCs gained their fame through live battles with other MCs.Freestyle battles can take place anywhere, street corners, on stage ata concert, or even in a school.

A live audience is critical to a freestyle battle. Each MC must use skill and lyrical ability to not only break down his or her opponent, but to convince the audience that they are the better rapper. Appointed judgeshave been used in formal contests, but even when no winner isannounced, the rapper who receives the best audience response is viewedas the victor. In addition, it is considered an act of dishonour to recite written and memorized raps in a battle, because it shows the rapper to be incapable of spitting spur-of-the-moment lyrics.

Freestyle battling is a prominent part of rap or hip hop culture.

[edit] Recent History

Freestyles have been mostly an underground phenomenon since theearly nineties, partly due to rap lyrics becoming considerably morecomplex in terms of rhyme schemeand meter. Furthermore, many rappers often deliver standalone writtenverses on radio shows that are referred to or labelled on records or onfilesharingprograms as freestyles, which has somewhat distorted the meaning of theterm. There is often confusion as to whether or not "freestyle verses"are in fact freestyled, with many rappers' written lyrics being simpleenough to seem freestyled and many of the best freestylers' improvisedlyrics being complex and confident enough to seem written.

In the early 21st century,freestyling (particularly freestyle battling) experienced a resurgencein popularity of sorts as successful freestyle battle competition TVshows were shown by both BET and MTV. In addition, Eminem's movie 8 Milebrought the excitement of the freestyle battle to mainstream movieaudiences. Freestyle Friday is a watered-down battle segment on BET'spopular show 106 & Park.Two rappers compete in a freestyle battle before the studio audienceand three celebrity judges (the DJ sometimes acts as the 3rd judge).Each competitor alternates freestyling for 30 seconds in each of thetwo rounds (originally only 1 round when the segment first began). Therappers are not allowed to use profanities or sexually suggestivelyrics, punishable by disqualification. After the battle, the judgesdecide the winner, per majority vote.

Traditionally, a battle usually takes place before live audiences.Recently, however, the Internet has been used as a forum to hold onlinebattles. Proponents of this developing artform that some call "text"say that the Internet provides a safe environment for artists topractice their skills. Without being hindered by beats, an onlinewriter (or 'netcee') may use the full range of his or her imaginationand vocabulary in a battle. When the online writer is writingeverything that comes into his or her head, this is often called a"keystyle".

"Text heads", the term used for rap battlers on online forums, aresometimes dismissed for their lack of ability to record a song, pump upcrowd, or doing an actual freestyle.

Recently, emcees have been able to record vocals online too, on freestlye community sites like Dopetracks which offer users the ability to rap battles with vocal recording software built in.

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Beatboxing is the art of vocal percussion. Although the term beatboxing derived from hip hop culture, it is not limited to hip hop music.It is primarily concerned with the art of producing drum beats, rhythm,and musical sounds using one's mouth, lips, tongue, voice, and more. Itmay also involve singing, vocal imitation of turntablism, the simulation of horns, strings, and other musical instruments. It is a form of vocal music, etymologically related to scat singing and puirt a beul.

The term beatboxing most likely refers to early drum machines which came with pre-programmed musical patterns.[citation needed]

The simplest and stereotyped beatboxing pattern is as follows:

Image:Beatbox stereotype.PNG

However, this pattern may be unrecognizable in more elaborated and skilled beatboxing.

History of beatboxing

The technique and the art of replicating percussion sounds withone's voice is thought to be conceived in India several thousands yearsago, and the Chinese developed Kouji which was one kind of vocal percussion performing arts. These had little relation with hip hop,however, and are not related to modern Western beatboxing. This kind ofsound-simulating technique is called humming and chanting. Beatboxingis currently experiencing a second wind, thanks in part to the likes ofartists like Rahzel and Kenny Muhammad, who have carried the artform across the world. In 2002, the documentary Breath Control: The History of the Human Beatbox premiered. It is a history of the art form that includes interviews with Doug E. Fresh, Emanon, Biz Markie, Marie Daulne of Zap Mama, Kyle Faustino and others.

Beatboxing's early pioneers include Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, and Buffy from the Fat Boys. Doug E. Fresh is credited for being the first "human beatbox,"[1] and Barry B for coining the term along with Buffy perfecting the art.[2] The term "beatboxing" is derived from the mimicry of the first generation of drum machines, then known as beatboxes.

[edit] Vocal percussionists

Throughout a series of concerts in 1969, most notably at The Fillmore East in NYC, John Mayall (formerly the frontman for "The Bluesbreakers") with a new band introduced an acoustic style of the Blues[citation needed].Without drums and, for the most part electric guitars, Mayall and theband included a tune called "Room to Move" which included a middlesection of pure beatboxing predating and outdoing almost every otherfuture attempt at this style short of Bobby McFerrin's "Don't worry, be happy" almost twenty years later. The Mayall concerts were recorded on an album called "Turning Point".

In 1970, British band Mungo Jerry released In the Summertime,eventually selling 23 million copies worldwide. An interesting quirk ofthe track is that no traditional percussion is used, with all rhythmicand incidental percussion generated by the vocalist(s)[citation needed].

Viv Fisher,a frustrated amateur British musician and sound engineer released a 7"vinyl single of multivocal work in 1978, entitled "Blaze Away,"performing as "Me, Myself and Me Again," on which he performed allparts of a brass band, additionally using multitracking techniques to satisfy his desire for an accurate portrayal of the many instruments and depth of sound in a real brass band.

Mbube is a style of close harmony choral singing, originating in Africa. One of its components is the vocal representation of percussion and bass sounds by one or more members of a choir. Ladysmith Black Mambazo are a well known group performing in this style and have been releasing music in this genre since 1973.

[edit] The early eighties

The art form enjoyed a strong presence in the 1980s. Many people's introduction to the art form came when Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick released "La Di Da Di." However, the Fat Boys"Stick Em" and the album on which it appeared, "The Fat Boys," wasreleased in January 1984, one year before the "La Di Da Di" single,which appeared as a B-side to "The Show" in 1985. (The rap communityand beyond celebrated Buffy's heavy-breathing style on "Stick Em.") TheFat Boys' movies (such as Disorderlies) introduced the art form to a wider audience as well.

[edit] The 90s

In many ways, beatboxing fell off the radar along with breakdancing in the late '80s; it almost slipped even deeper than the underground[citation needed].Though many people kept the art form alive on the streets, in ciphers,within B-boy circles, and in showers, it didn't re-emerge until Rahzel"the Godfather of Noyze" released "Make the Music 2000," which is thefirst album focused primarily on beatboxing. The title is a referenceto "Make the Music With Your Mouth," one of the first recordedbeatboxing tracks by the hip hop sensation Biz Markie. (Markie also achieved moderate success with his single "Just A Friend.")

In the mid-'90s, Rahzel proved a versatile entertainer. He was formerly the vocal DJ for The Roots,a group that contributed to the popularity of live instrumentation inhip hop. Not only did he help put beatboxing back onto the stage, heintroduced its modern form, an impressive if not awe-inspiringcombination of polyrhythms, vocal scratching, and simultaneous lines ofmelody, rhythm, and singing. Rahzel himself acknowledges that hecombined his influences of pioneer Doug E. Fresh, jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin, and sound effect master Michael Winslow (of Police Academy fame) to give rise to his modern format.

On "If Your Mother Only Knew," a beatboxing sample of Rahzel, hewows an audience by singing and beatboxing simultaneously—a feat nowconsidered easy by the growing young beatboxing community. On severaltracks, he introduced the idea of simulating turntable scratches withhis throat, something even underground beatboxers upholding the artform through the lean years hadn't even heard until the album's release[citation needed].

Using his commercial appeal, Rahzel paved the way for beatboxing'smigration to the center of the stage, both literally andmetaphorically. In its beginning, beatboxing was relegated to asupporting role or gimmick, like a side show. With beatboxing'sincreased popularity, Rahzel began touring the country [citation needed] doing solo shows.

Many amateur beatboxers express frustration with Rahzel receivingmost of the attention and being known as the best beatboxer in the world[citation needed].Though many well-practiced amateur and professional beatboxers possessdifferent levels of skill, each one brings something different to theform. As Carlo Aguirre (also known as Infinite), a beatboxer and MCfrom San Francisco's famed Felonious says, "Each person has a different instrument."[citation needed]

Other well-known, seminal beatboxers whose work is well known throughout the international beatboxing community include Queens's Kenny Muhammad (also known as Kenny X, The Human Orchestra); Philadelphia's Scratch, beatboxer for the Roots; Killa Kela, one of Europe's finest; Click Tha Supah Latin, an MC and beatboxer located in Los Angeles; Shlomo, who has collaborated with Björk; MC Squared, an internationally renowned 5-time winner of Showtime at the Apollo; RoxorLoops from Beatoxic Crew; Each who is a key organiser with the Vowel Movement located in California; "mouthdrummer" Wes Carroll of The House Jacks, also located in California; and Canada's own scratch pioneer Poizunus[citation needed].Others have played important roles in bringing the artform to largecommunities outside of hip hop including Radioactive wformerly ofSpearhead and Kid Beyond.

[edit] The four elements

The last track on Rahzel's CD 'Make The Music 2000' is a track withhis "If Your Mother Only Knew" routine. But it contains a hidden bonustrack, which is a 'Man vs. Machine' which he and Kenny Muhammad (HumanOrchestra) vs. turntablists DJ Skribble and DJ Slinky. The song iswidely referred to by most beatboxers as The Four Elements.

  • The first element is Earth (performed by Rahzel), using basic beatboxing techniques with a dry 'taste,' in a fairly simple beat pattern.
  • The second element is Wind (performed by Kenny Muhammad), acomplex and fast beat with words in it said in a very low voice. It hasa stormy character. Wind is probably the most popular beatbox routine.It is a cover of the song "Nummern" ("Numbers") by the German group Kraftwerk.
  • The third element is Fire (performed by Rahzel). It is theonly element containing sounds that were not produced by the humanmouth. Fire is a cover of "Rock The Bells" by LL Cool J.
  • The fourth and last element is Water (performed by KennyMuhammad). It is one of the most popular amongst beatboxers after thewind. The sounds are punchy and fast. Water is a cover of a tune called"Funky Drummer" by James Brown.

Increasingly, The Four Elements is becoming a very popular concept within the beatboxing community.[citation needed]

[edit] Major centers

[edit] New York City

New York City is the birthplace of the art and still home to many ofthe world's most original and impressive beatboxers. These includeBuffy of The Fat Boys, Doug E. Fresh, Rahzel, Kenny Muhammad, MC Squared, Matisyahu, DOA,Masai Electro Baba Israel, Yo-yo Beats, D-Cross and many others. In2002 Kid Lucky created Beatboxer Entertainment, an organization tounite NYC's beatboxers, which has since grown to include beatboxersnationally. New York City is arguably an epicenter for beatboxingculture as the New York scene continues to produce some of the besttalents in the world. Quite notable are Adam Matta, Shockwave (ChrisSullivan) and Chesney Snow. Adam Matta who is currently an "Artist inResidence" at Cornell University, is noted for his vocal instrumentalsincluding brass, beats, vocal scratches/turntablism, and mechanicalsound effects, Matta references blues, rock, rap, heavy metal,drum-and-bass, freestyle jazz, and Middle Eastern styles of music.Chris Sullivan better known as Shockwave attained critical acclaim forhis work in the hit theatrical show "Freestyle Love Supreme" including "Shockwave bowls the audience over with his breakneck beatboxing ability" AOL City Guide just to cite one. Chesney Snow featured on the MTV UnpluggedSeries with Polish superstar Kayah in 2006 which has since become abestseller. His live beatboxing sound is captivating and unique for itsrealism to an actual drum machine.

[edit] The United Kingdom

There is a vast wealth of both up and coming and well establishedbeatboxers in the UK. Beatboxers like Shlomo, Beardyman, Faith SFX,Hobbit, Killa Kela, WanDan and Bellatrix have been pushing the artformforwards, creating new sounds and bringing it to the masses for yearsnow and are all part of the UK Beatbox Agency ALLFROMTHEMOUTH which isthe UK's first specialist artist agency designed specifically forprofessional human beatboxers. A nationwide spread of artists meansthey can find you a beatboxer from almost any UK city, whatever theevent. They hope to create a scenario where every hip hop jam, musicfestival, product launch or educational event in the UK featuresbeatboxing on their line up. Although it is a UK based agency, moreartists from around the world are starting to sign up.

The UK is also the birthplace of HUMANBEATBOX.COM which is thelargest online beatboxing community in the world with over 40,000members and more registering every single day. It's ethos is simple; Toprovide as much free information as possible and to provide as muchsupport to beatboxers as possible. In December 2001, A-Plus registeredwww.beatboxing.co.uk and within days, he had put up a forum - a strokeof genius. On that first day, several beatboxers signed up includingnames such as Banardo, TyTe, Emcee Live and Eliot who are still activemembers of the site today. In 2002, TyTe created the world's firstbeatboxing tutorials using text and some short MP3 recordings. In March2003, the site was redesigned, rebranded and relaunched asHUMANBEATBOX.COM. In 2003, TyTe added 52 video tutorials to the siteand in 2004 released the tutorials on the Learn to Beatbox Vol.1 DVD.All of these video tutorals are available to watch for free on thesite. In April 2003, the first international gathering took place inLondon. In late 2004, TyTe purchased the Web site from A-Plus and stillruns the site today.

[edit] The Human Beatboxing Convention

On 26th April 2003, A-Plus - founder of HUMANBEATBOX.COM - decidedto gather beatboxers from across the world with the first InternationalHuman Beatbox Convention. The convention took place in London andattracted beatboxers from all over Europe, North America and Australia.The idea behind the convention was not simply about having acompetition or a battle, but to network, exhange ideas and educate.Apart from showcases from international artists, there were also talkson technical, performance and business topics. The day was a hugesuccess and a 2003 Beatbox Convention DVD was produced. The secondInternational Beatbox Convention took place in NYC in 2004 and washosted by Beatboxer Entertainment. The third one was hosted in thesouth bank centre in london where hundreds of people attended. For moreinformation go to HUMANBEATBOX.COM

[edit] Other centers

However, even though reading the whole article gives you theimpression that beatboxing is only legal in the united states and thereare no beatboxers from any other country FACT, beatboxing isn't solely based in the US, as a matter of fact its a widespread hobby/profession all over the world.

With the larger communities in Europe, Australasia, the Uk, andAsia, beatboxing is just as popular in the US as it is all over theworld.

[edit] American Idol

In 2003 Joel Turner, an auditionee on the Australian version of American Idol, was selected by judge Mark Holdento make the Beat Box Alliance, a group of the best beatboxers fromacross the country to perform at the Australian Idol grand final.Turner has since made his own mark, with his group the Modern Day Poets.

In 2007, Blake Lewis, the runner-up on the sixth season of American Idol,brought beatboxing into the mainstream spotlight by performing it inseveral of his songs during the competition. Some of the songs that heperformed in which he incorporated beatboxing elements were Jamiroquai's "Virtual Insanity", 311's "All Mixed Up", The Zombies's "Time of the Season" and Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name." In the competition's finale he performed a beatboxing routine with Doug E. Fresh.

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Gangster is the frequently misused term for a career criminalwho is, or at some point almost invariably becomes, a member of apersistent violent crime organization, such as a gang. As an adjective it can be used as an unflattering depiction of the violent and devious methods commonly used by mobsters, and the derived form gangsterism it implies such methods as practice or habit. The term gangster is most commonly used in reference to members of the criminal organizations associated with the American offshoot of the Cosa Nostra and the American prohibition, such as the Chicago Outfit and the Five Families, and individuals such as Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel.

In the WWII era, the word "gangster" became a popular term to describe an individual who was a part of a "mafia"or "organized crime group". In current times, gangsters are mostcommonly viewed as malicious individuals. The media has had asubstantial influence on the modern view of the gangster.

Gangsters are typically organized criminals who are actively engagedin crime as a group activity or enterprise for pleasure and profit. Thevisibility of activities of gangsters can range from the low-level suchas drug-trafficking or protectionism, which are prone to be 'under the radar', to the in-your-face spectacular, such as the UK's multi-million Brinks Mat robbery.Gangsters often run their operations as businesses insofar as theyoffer a "product" or "service", albeit an illegal one, or, as issometimes the case, a legitimate business operating as a front forcriminal activity.

Some gangsters engage in extortion, intimidation, and/or bribery to wield influence over labor unions. They are also known for attempting to manipulate the decisions of civil institutions, such as court cases and political elections.

It is also often used referring to a subgenre of rap music called "gangsta rap".The gangsta rappers often refer to themselves as gangstas. The spelling"gangsta" rather than "gangster" is also what is becoming the mostoften used spelling.

Southside Soldiers - New West Coast (2007) - Do or die

Gangster life in the city

You know it's hard to stay alive

Because we gotta do or die, ooooh

Gangster life in the city

You know it's hard to stay alive

Because we gotta do or die, do or die, do or die

I roll around with big straps, I like to bust caps

Make money, hit the pussy, and bomb ass raps

I be in San Bernardino like a motherfuckin nut

All these fools wanna kill me, and bitches wanna fuck

Damn, but I ain't trippin and shit

I got a fuckin calico with a hundred round clip

And at my pad, I got this fine ass bitch

Long hair, big booty, with some big ol tits

I don't be fuckin around because I ain't no joke

A crazy motherfucker blowin indo smoke

Cuz it's me, Danger, I'm chillin like a vilain

Smokin chronic, fuckin bitches, and I'd like to do a killin

In my crazy ass hood it's an everyday thang

Eastside Trece is my motherfucking gang

Hang, gettin paid, fucking all these hoes

Letting everyone know that we some fuckin criminals


I remember growing up in my crazy ass hood

Now it's time to put it down to make this shit understood

Simon loco, I think it's time to roll

I got my homies down with it, and the rest in control

13 ST, IUC, from the 213 all the way to SB

It's a do or die in the streets where I'm from

Eastside South Central's where the petho pason

24 non-stop, you gotta carry your gun

Black and white, hitting corners but to me that's all fun

Rollin in the truck, got the glock sellin rocks

On the block, and I'm not givin a fuck

Gotta make that green anyway you can

And I'm that Brown motherfucker with the master plan

So you better not slip, cuz I'm lookin for a jack

So if you putos see me coming, loco go for your gat


1-3, here comes even more

My motherfuckin homies breakin down he door

Talkin bout, who we gonna kill, and grab your gun

We gonna kill some fuckin mejos just to have some fun

My homies catch you from the front, I creep and crawl from the back

Punk you for your sack, and peel your fucking cap back

Insane in my brain, cuz I'm straight do or die

Dope money, fucking bitches, and I keep on getting high

Straight gangster flow, now you know, here I go

Creepin, hittin switches, bumpin, riding low

Danger sittin shotgun, Crook's rollin up one

Got the rag-top down in this hot ass sun

Rollin, by the park we go

Hittin corners through the hood puffin on some indo

It's an everyday thing in the city where I'm from

Tryin to do right, but always end up doing wrong

[Chorus til fade]

Gangsta rap is a subgenre of hip hop, which developed during the late 1980s. After the popularity of Dr. Dre's The Chronicin 1992, gangsta rap became the most commercially lucrative subgenre ofhip-hop. Since then some former gangsta rap artists have moved towardsa more pop-friendly mainstream sound.

The subject matter inherent in gangsta rap has caused a great deal of controversy. Criticism has come from both right wing and left wing commentators, and religious leaders, who have accused the genre of homophobia, violence, profanity, promiscuity, misogyny, racism, and materialism.

Gangsta rappers often defend themselves by claiming that they aredescribing the reality of inner-city life, and that they are onlyadopting a character, like an actor playing a role, which behaves inways that they may not necessarily endorse. Some commentators (forexample, Spike Lee in his satirical film Bamboozled) have criticized it as analogous to black minstrel shows and blackfaceperformance, in which performers – both black and white – were made upto look African American, acted in a stereotypically uncultured andignorant manner for the entertainment of white audiences.

Early Gangster themes

The 1973 album Hustler's Convention by Lightnin Rod featured lyrics that deal with street life, including pimping and hustling. The Last Poets member Jalal Mansur Nuriddindelivers rhyming vocals in the urban slang of his time, and togetherwith the other Last Poets members, was quite influential on later hip hop groups, such as Public Enemy. Many rappers, such as Ice T, have credited pimp and writer Iceberg Slim with influencing their rhymes. There has also been a long tradition of gunman-oriented lyrics in some Jamaican music genres, which had a strong influence on South Bronx MC KRS-One.

[edit] 1984-1990

[edit] Schoolly D

Philadelphia MC Schoolly Dcan probably be credited as the first rapper to use the word "gangster"in one of his songs. In his 1984 12" single "Gangster Boogie"[1]he mentions it with "I shot call a with my gangster lean". He releasedthe 12" single "P.S.K." (short for Park Side Killers) in 1985. In thissong, Schoolly D makes direct references to his crew or gang (PSK) aswell as describing putting his pistol against another rapper's head.[2] Schoolly D is often considered a pioneer in hardcore rap as well as gangsta rap.

[edit] Ice-T

In 1987, Los Angeles based rapper Ice-Treleased "6 n the Mornin", which is often regarded as the first gangstarap song. Ice-T had been MCing since the early '80s. In an interviewwith PROPS magazine Ice-T said: "Here's the exact chronological orderof what really went down: The first record that came out along thoselines was Schoolly D's 'P.S.K.' Then the syncopation of that rap wasused by me when I made Six In The Morning. The vocal delivery was thesame: '...P.S.K. is makin' that green', '...six in the morning, policeat my door'. When I heard that record I was like "Oh shit!" and call ita bite or what you will but I dug that record. My record didn't soundlike P.S.K., but I liked the way he was flowing with it. P.S.K. wastalking about Park Side Killers but it was very vague. That was theonly difference, when Schoolly did it, it was "...one by one, I'mknockin' em out". All he did was represent a gang on his record. I tookthat and wrote a record about guns, beating people down, and all thatwith Six In The Morning. At the same time my single came out, BoogieDown Productions hit with Criminal Minded, which was a gangster-basedalbum. It wasn't about messages or "You Must Learn", it was aboutgangsterism."[3]

Ice-T continued to release gangsta albums for the remainder of the decade: Rhyme Pays in 1987, Power in 1988 and The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Sayin 1989. Ice-T's lyrics also contained strong political commentary, andoften played the line between glorifying the gangsta lifestyle andcriticizing it as a no-win situation.

[edit] Boogie Down Productions

Boogie Down Productionsreleased their first single, "Say No Brother (Crack Attack Don't DoIt)", in 1986. It was followed by "South-Bronx/P is Free" and "9mm GoesBang" in the same year. The latter is the most gangsta-themed song ofthe three; in it KRS-1 describes shooting rival weed-dealers after they try to kill him in his home.[4] The album Criminal Minded followed in 1987. Shortly after the release of the album, BDP's DJ Scott LaRock was shot and killed. After this BDP's subsequent records focused on conscious lyrics instead.

[edit] Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys,while never truly credited as gangsta rappers, were actually one of thefirst groups to identify themselves as "gangsters" on their acclaimedand commercially successful 1986 debut album, Licensed to Ill.They were also one of the first popular rap groups to talk aboutviolence, drug and alcohol use, and themes common in gangsta rap today.According to "Rolling Stone" magazine, "Licensed to Ill isfilled with enough references to guns, drugs, and empty sex (includingthe pornographic deployment of a Whiffle-ball bat in "Paul Revere") toqualify as a gangsta-rap cornerstone." In their early underground days,the seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A. rapped over Beastie Boy tracks forsongs such as "My Posse" and "Ill-Legal", and the Beastie Boys'influence can be seen significantly in all of N.W.A's early albums.

The Beastie Boys continued to produce proto-gangsta rap tracks on their 1989 album Paul's Boutique, which included such hardcore tracks as "Car Thief," "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun," and "High-Plains Drifter."

N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton.
N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton.

[edit] N.W.A.

N.W.A.released their first single in 1986. They were crucial to thefoundations of the genre for introducing more violent lyrics over muchrougher beats. The first blockbuster gangsta album was N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton first released in 1988. Straight Outta Compton also established West Coast hip hop as a vital genre, and a rival of hip hop's long-time capital, New York City. Straight Outta Compton sparked the first major controversy regarding hip hop lyrics when their song "Fuck Tha Police" earned a letter from the FBI strongly expressing law enforcement's resentment of the song.[citation needed] Due to the influence of Ice T and N.W.A., gangsta rap is often credited as being an originally West Coast phenomenon. In 1990, former N.W.A. member Ice Cube would further influence gangsta rap with his hardcore, socio-political solo albums.

[edit] Others

The rap group Run DMCare often credited with popularizing hardcore and abrasive attitudesand lyrics in hip hop culture, and were one of the first rap groups todress in gang-like street clothing. Their socially conscious lyrics andthe influence of rappers like Kool G Rap and Rakim would later influence socially conscious gangsta rappers and hardcore rappers such as Ice Cube and Nas. Rappers such as Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, LL Cool J, the group EPMD, and the seminal hardcore group Public Enemywould further popularize hard-hitting, aggressive, oftensocio-political lyrics, sometimes revolving around street violence,poverty, and gunplay. Aside from N.W.A. and Ice T, early West Coastrappers include Too $hort (from Oakland, California), Kid Frost (who was an important Latin MC), and others from Compton, Watts, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco. On the East Coast, New York's Kool G Rap began to use more and more crime-related themes in his lyrics towards the end of the decade, as did female rap stars like Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown.

[edit] 1990-Present

[edit] Ice-T

Ice-T's O.G. Original Gangster.
Ice-T's O.G. Original Gangster.

Ice-T released one of the seminal albums of the genre, OG: Original Gangster in 1991. It also contained a song by his new thrash metal group Body Count, who released a self titled album in 1992. The group attracted a lot of media attention for the Cop Killer controversy.

His next album, Home Invasion,was postponed as a result of the controversy, and was finally releasedin 1993. While it contained gangsta elements, it was his most political album to date. After that, he left Time-Warnerrecords. Ice-T's subsequent releases went back to straight gangsta-ism,but were never as popular as his earlier releases. He had alienated hiscore audience with his involvement in metal, his emphasis on politicsand with his uptempo Bomb-Squad style beats during a time when G-funk was popular. He published a book "The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck?" in 1994.

[edit] G-funk and Death Row Records

Main Article: G-Funk

Tupac's All Eyez on Me.
Tupac's All Eyez on Me.

In 1992, former N.W.A. member Dr. Dre released The Chronic, which further established the dominance of West Coast gangsta rap and Death Row Records,and also began the subgenre of G-funk, a slow, drawled form of hip hopthat dominated the charts for some time. Extensively sampling P-Funk bands, especially Parliament and Funkadelic,G-funk was multi-layered, yet simple and easy to dance to, withanti-authoritarian lyrics that helped endear it to many younglisteners. Another G-Funk success was Ice Cube's Predator album, released at the same time as The Chronicin 1992. It sold over 5 million copies and was #1 in the Charts,despite the fact that Ice Cube wasn't a Death Row artist. One of thegenre's biggest crossover stars was Dre's protégé Snoop Doggy Dogg (Doggystyle, 1993), now known as Snoop Dogg, whose exuberant party-oriented themes made songs such as "Gin and Juice" club anthems and top hits nationwide. Tupac Shakur (Me Against the World,1995) has endured as one of the most successful and influential hip hopartists of all time. Snoop and Tupac were both artists on Death RowRecords, owned by Dre and Marion "Suge" Knight. Many of Tupac's greatest hits sampled or interpolated earlier music by Zapp & Roger.

[edit] Mafioso rap

Main article: Mafioso rap
Cover of Raekwon's mafia-influenced debut solo, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
Cover of Raekwon's mafia-influenced debut solo, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...

Mafioso rap is a hip hop sub-genre which flourished in the mid-1990s. It is the pseudo-Mafiaextension of East Coast hardcore rap, and was the counterpart of WestCoast G-Funk rap during the 1990s. In contrast to West Coast gangstarappers, who tended to depict realistic urban life on the ghettostreets, Mafioso rappers' subject matter included self-indulgent andluxurious fantasies of rappers as Mobsters, or Mafiosi.

[edit] East Coast hardcore and gangsta rap

Meanwhile, rappers from New York City, such as Kool G. Rap & D.J. Polo (Live and Let Die, 1992, Black Moon (Enta Da Stage, 1993), Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), 1993), Onyx (Bacdafucup, 1993), Mobb Deep (The Infamous, 1995), Nas (Illmatic, 1994), the Notorious B.I.G. (Ready to Die, 1994), and Raekwon (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, 1995) pioneered a grittier sound known as East Coast hardcore rap. B.I.G. and the rest of Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Recordsroster paved the way for New York City to take back chart dominancefrom the West Coast as gangsta rap continued to explode into themainstream. It is widely speculated that the "East Coast/West Coast"battle between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records resulted in thedeaths of Death Row's Tupac Shakur and Bad Boy's Notorious B.I.G. Thishad a knock-on effect on Death Row itself, which sank quickly when mostof its big name artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg left and it found itself on the receiving end of multiple lawsuits. Dr. Dre, at the MTV Video Music Awards,claimed that "gangsta rap was dead". Although Puff Daddy's Bad BoyEntertainment fared better than its West Coast rival, it continued tolose popularity and support of the hip hop fan base with a moremainstream sound, and challenges from Atlanta and, especially, Master P's No Limit stable of popular rappers.

[edit] Southern and midwestern gangsta rap

After the deaths of Biggie and Tupac, gangsta rap remained a majorcommercial force. However, most of the industry's major labels were inturmoil, or bankrupt, and new locations sprang up.

Atlanta had been firmly established as a hip hop center by artists such as Goodie Mob and OutKastand many other Southern hip hop artists emerged in their wake, whilstgangsta rap artists achieving the most pop-chart success. Jermaine Dupri, an Atlanta-born record producer and talent scout, had great success after discovering youthful pop stars Kris Kross (Totally Krossed Out,1992) performing at a mall, and later masterminded a large roster ofcommercially successful acts on his So So Def label which althoughmostly weighted towards pop-rap & R&B, also included rapartists such as Da Brat (Funkdafied, 1994), and himself. Perhaps the most famous gangsta rapper from the South is Scarface.

Master P's No Limit Records label, based out of New Orleans, also became quite popular, though critical success was very scarce, with the exceptions of some later additions like Mystikal (Ghetto Fabulous, 1998). No Limit had begun its rise to fame with Master P's The Ghetto Is Trying to Kill Me! (1994, 1994 in music), and subsequent hits by Silkk the Shocker (Charge It 2 Da Game, 1998) and C-Murder (Life or Death, 1998). Cash Money Records,also based out of New Orleans, had enormous commercial success with avery similar musical style and quantity-over-quality business approachto No Limit but were less ridiculed.

Cleveland based rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmonyalso had a monumental impact on the Midwestern gangsta rap scene. Themid-1990s saw Bone metamorphose into an extremely popular commercialrap assemblage with the release of their critically acclaimed album E 1999 Eternal. Their fast, harmonizing vocals (coupled with their fast rap delivery) changed the limitations of gangsta rap.

[edit] Mainstream era

Before the late nineties, gangsta rap and hip hop in general, whilebeing extremely popular, had always been seen as a fringe genre thatremained firmly outside of the pop mainstream. However, the rise of BadBoy Records signalled a major stylistic change in gangsta rap (or as itis referred to on the East Coast, hardcore rap), as it morphed into anew subgenre of hip hop which would become even more commerciallysuccessful. Ice Cubeis seen to have contributed to gangsta rap's move towards conqueringthe pop charts, as he produced albums which included both grittygangsta narratives and polished, catchy, danceable pop productionsentirely aimed at the clubs and at the mainstream pop charts. Betweenthe release of Biggie's debut album Ready to Die in 1994 and his follow-up Life after Deathin 1997, his sound changed from the darker, sample-heavy production toa cleaner, more upbeat sound fashioned for popular consumption (thoughthe references to guns, drug dealing and life as a thug on the streetremained). R&B-styled hooks and instantly recognizable samples of well-known soul and popsongs from the 1970s and 1980s were the staples of this sound, whichwas showcased primarily in his latter-day work for The Notorious B.I.G.("Mo Money, Mo Problems"), Ma$e ("Feels So Good"), and non Bad Boy artists such as Jay-Z ("Can I Get A...") and Nas ("Street Dreams").

Also achieving similar levels of success with a similar sound at thesame time as Bad Boy was Master P and his No Limit label in NewOrleans, as well as the New Orleans upstart Cash Money label. A CashMoney artist, The B.G., popularized a catch phrase in 1999 that sums up what the majority of late-nineties mainstream hip hop focused on subject-wise: "Bling-Bling."Whereas much gangsta rap of the past had portrayed the rapper as beinga victim of urban squalor, the persona of late-nineties mainstreamgangsta rappers was far more weighted towards hedonism and showing offthe best jewelry, clothes, liquor, and women. Many of the artists who achieved such mainstream success, such as G-Unitand Jay-Z, originated from the gritty East Coast rap scene and wereinfluenced by hardcore artists such as the Notorious B.I.G and Nas.Ma$e, Jay-Z and Cam'Ron are also typical of the more relaxed, casualflow that became the pop-gangsta norm. Many of these artists are viewedas being rather illegitimately "gangsta" compared to their West Coastcounterparts.

Pop-inflected gangsta rap continues to be successful into the 21stcentury, with many artists deftly straddling the divide between theirhip hop audience and their pop audience, such as Ja Rule and Jay-Z. The influence of West Coast gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur on the East Coast rap scene has also become increasingly apparent in the new century.

[edit] Chicano gangsta rap

Chicano gangsta rap/Chicano rapis a subgenre of rap music and Latin rap that embodies aspects of WestCoast and Southwest Chicano culture and is typically performed byAmerican rappers of Mexican descent. Although there are some artiststhat aren't even of Mexican descent such as Mr. Capone-E and Knife. Like Knife, most Chicano rappers are gang affiliated. Other notable Chicano gangsta rappers are Psycho Realm, Conejo, Omar Cruz, Thief Sicario, and Krazy Race.

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Reggae is a music genre developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s.

The term reggae is sometimes used in a broad sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, although the word specifically indicates a particular music style that originated after the development of ska and rocksteady. Reggae is based on a rhythm style characterized by regular chops on the off-beat, known as the skank. The tempo is generally slower than that found in ska and rocksteady. Reggae is often associated with the Rastafari movement, which influenced many prominent reggae musicians in the 1970s and 1980s. Reggae song lyrics deal with many subjects, including faith, love, relationships, poverty, injustice and other broad social issues.


Reggae's origins are in traditional African and Caribbean music; American rhythm and blues; and in Jamaican ska and rocksteady.

Music of Jamaica

Kumina - Niyabinghi - Mento - Ska - Rocksteady - Reggae - Sound systems - Lovers Rock - Dub - Dancehall - Dub poetry - Toasting - Raggamuffin - Roots reggae

Anglophone Caribbean music
Anguilla - Antigua and Barbuda - Bahamas - Barbados - Bermuda - Caymans - Grenada - Jamaica - Montserrat - St. Kitts and Nevis - St. Vincent and the Grenadines - Trinidad and Tobago - Turks and Caicos - Virgin Islands
Sound samples
Other Caribbean music
Aruba and te Dutch Antilles - Cuba - Dominica - Dominican Republic - Haiti - Hawaii - Martinique and Guadeloupe - Puerto Rico - St. Lucia - United States - United Kingdom

The word reggae may have been first used by the ska band Toots and the Maytals, in the title of their 1968 rocksteady hit Do the Reggay. The Oxford English Dictionary says the origin of the word is unknown, but may be derived from the Jamaican-English word rege-rege, meaning quarrel. Other theories are that the word means torn clothes, that the term came from the word streggae (a Jamaican slang term for prostitute) or that it originated from the term Regga, which was a Bantu-speaking tribe from Lake Tanganyika.

By the mid 1970s, reggae was getting radio play in the United Kingdom on John Peel'sradio show, and Peel continued to play much reggae during his career.Reggae has always had a fairly large following in the United Kingdom,especially during the 1970s and 1980s. In the second half of the 1970s,the UK punk rock scene was starting to take off, and some punk DJs played reggae records during their DJ sets. Certain punk bands, such as The Clash, The Slits and The Ruts incorporated reggae influences into their music. Reggae includes several subgenres, such as, roots reggae, dub, lovers rock and dancehall.

[edit] Newer styles and spin-offs

The experimental pioneering of reggae producers within often-restrictive technological parameters gave birth to dub music, which has been considered one of the earliest contributions to the developments of techno music.

The toasting style first used by 1960s Jamaican artists such as U-Roy and Dennis Alcapone influenced Jamaican DJ Kool Herc, who used the style to pioneer a new genre that became known as hip hop or rap. In Jamaica, the term Deejay or DJ is equivalent to the rapper or MC in American hip hop culture, while it is the selector who actually mans the turntables. Mixing techniques employed in dub music have influenced hip hop and drum and bass.

The dancehall genre developed around 1980, with exponents such as Yellowman, Super Cat and Shabba Ranks. The style is characterized by a deejay singing and rapping or toasting over raw and fast rhythms. Ragga (also known as raggamuffin), is a subgenre of dancehall, in which the instrumentation primarily consists of electronic music and sampling. Reggaeton is a form of dance music that first became popular with Latino youths in the early 1990s. It blends reggae and dancehall with Latin American genres such as bomba and plena, as well with hip hop. Reggae rock is a fusion genre that combines elements of reggae and rock music. The bands Sublime and 311 are known for this reggae rock fusion, as is singer Matisyahu, a Hasidic Jew, who blends it with traditional Jewish music. Billboard magazine named him "Top Reggae Artist" of 2006.[1]

Lyrical themes

Reggae is noted for its tradition of social criticism, although manyreggae songs discuss lighter, more personal subjects such as love, sexand socializing. Some reggae lyrics attempt to raise the politicalconsciousness of the audience, such as by criticizing materialism or by informing the listener about certain controversial subjects such as Apartheid. Many reggae songs promote the use of cannabis (also known as marijuana or ganja), which is considered a sacrament in the Rastafari movement.There are many artists and songs that utilize religious themes in theirmusic, whether it be discussing a religious topic or simply givingpraise to the Rastafari God Jah. Other socio-political topics in reggae songs include: black nationalism, anti-racism, anti-colonialism, anti-capitalism, criticism of political systems, and criticism of the colonial education system.

[edit] Roots reggae

Main article: Roots reggae

Roots reggae is the name given to a spiritual type of music whose lyrics are predominantly in praise of Jah (God). Recurrent lyrical themes include povertyand resistance to government oppression. Many of Bob Marley's and PeterTosh's songs can be called roots reggae. The creative pinnacle of rootsreggae was in the late 1970s, with singers such as Burning Spear, Gregory Isaacs, Freddie McGregor, Groundation ,Johnny Clarke, Horace Andy, Barrington Levy and Linval Thompson teaming up with studio producers including Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Coxsone Dodd.

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is a type of Jamaican popular music which developed around the late 70's, with exponents such as Yellowman and Shabba Ranks. It is also known as bashment.

The style is characterized by a deejay singing and rapping or toasting over raw and danceable music riddims.The rhythm in dancehall is much faster than in reggae, sometimes withdrum machines replacing acoustic sets. It may be the predecessor of Hip-Hop.In the early years of dancehall, some found its lyrics crude and bawdy("slack"), particularly because of its sexual tones, popular amongyouths in Jamaica. Like its reggae predecessor it eventually made inroads onto the world music scene.

This deejay-led, largely synthesized chanting with musicalaccompaniment departed from traditional conceptions of Jamaican popularmusical entertainment. Dub poet Mutabarukamaintained, "if 1970s reggae was red, green and gold, then in the nextdecade it was gold chains". It was far removed from its gentle rootsand culture, and there was furious debate among purists as to whetherit ought to be considered some sort of extension of reggae music.


Dancehall, the musical genre, is long considered to be the creation of Henry "Junjo" Lawes in 1979 and further refined by King Jammy in the early 80's during their transition from dub to dancehall and original attempts to digitize "hooks" to "toast" over by Jamaican deejays.

King Jammy's 1985 hit, "(Under Me) Sleng Teng" by Wayne Smith,with an entirely-digital rhythm hook took the dancehall reggae world bystorm. Many credit this song as being the first "Digital rhythm" inreggae, leading to the modern dancehall era.[2] [3]However this is not entirely correct since there are earlier examplesof digital productions; Horace Fergusons single "Sensi Addict" (Ujama)produced by Prince Jazzbo in 1984 is one.

[edit] Major artists/milestones

Dancehall emerged in the 1980s, most of the creative output can be credited to studio musicians Steely & Clevie along with the handful of producers they collaborated with. They created the music for many of the riddims that the genre was based on. The decade saw the arrival of a new generation of deejays, most distinct were the harder edged, such as Ninjaman, Flourgon, General Trees, Tiger, Admiral Bailey, Supercat, Yellowman, Tenor Saw, Shelly Thunder, Reggie Stepper, Shabba Ranks, Johnny P, Peter Metro, and Papa Santo name a few. To complement their sound, a "Sweet Sing" vocal styleevolved out of roots reggae and R&B, marked by its falsetto andalmost feminine intonation, with proponents like Pinchers, Cocoa Tea, Sanchez, Conroy Smith, Courtney Melody, Carl Meeks, and Barrington Levy. It is important to note that a lot of established reggae singers like Gregory Isaacs, Militant Barry, Johnny Osbourne and U-Roy transitioned into dancehall.

In the early 90s, songs like Dawn Penn's "No, No, No", Shabba Ranks "Mr. Loverman", and Chaka Demusand Pliers' "Murder She Wrote" became some of the first dancehallmegahits in the U.S. and abroad. Various other varieties of dancehallachieved crossover success outside of Jamaica during the mid-to-late1990s. Tanya Stephens gave a unique female voice to the genre in the 90s.

1990-1994 saw the entry of artists like Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Shaggy, Spragga Benz, Capleton, and Beenie Manand a major shift in the sound of Dancehall, brought on by theintroduction of a new generation of producers and for better or forworse, the end of Steely & Clevie's stranglehold on riddimproduction.

In the late 1990s, many practitioners like Buju Banton and Capleton returned to the Rastafari movement and changed their lyrical focus to "consciousness", a reflection of the spiritual underpinnings of Rastafari.

The early 2000s saw the success of newer charting acts such as Elephant Man and Sean Paul.

Currently, Sean Paul has achieved mainstream success within the United States and has produced several Top 10 Billboard hits, including "We Be Burnin'", "Get Busy", "Temperature" and the 2006 single "Give It Up To Me".

VP Records dominates the dancehall music market with Sean Paul, Elephant Man, and Buju Banton.[4] VP often has partnered with major record labels like Atlantic and Island in an attempt to further expand their distribution potential particularly in the U.S. market.

[edit] The culture of dancehall

Dancehall owes its name to the space in which recorded popularJamaican music was consumed and produced by the DJ. Dancehall is notjust recorded speech with musical accompaniment therefore, but a spaceas well as an institution or culture in which music, dance andcommunity vibes merge.

Dancehall also developed in Jamaica as a result of varying political and socio-economic factors. [citation needed]Reggae as a style of music was heavily influenced by the ideologies ofRastafari and was also spirited by the socialist movements in theisland at the time. Dancehall, the evolution of reggae, was birthed inthe late seventies and early eighties. This is when many had becomedisenchanted with the socialist movement and the harsh economicrealities that it brought to bear on the island. It is during this timethat neo-liberalist ideologies and materialism started to factor intothe lives of many Jamaicans, and into the new entertainment form.

Dancehall lyrics have been criticized by pockets of Jamaican societywith little or no state endorsement. Dancehall has also come to facescathing criticism from the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendercommunity, as they claim that it perpetuates violence against GLBT people in Jamaica.

[edit] Homophobia in dancehall music

Dancehall music has come underincreased criticism from Jamaican and international organizations andJamaican journalists, like Ian Boyne,[5] for homophobiclyrics. Such lyrics have been described by J-FLAG, a Jamaican gayrights organization, as one aspect of "widespread Jamaican culturalbias against homosexuals and bisexuals". A Human Rights Watch report has also outlined the widespread existence of homophobia in Jamaica.[6] Homosexual activity is still illegal in Jamaica, as it is in most former British colonies in the Caribbean (see LGBT rights in Jamaica).

In some cases, dancehall artists whose music features homophobiclyrics have had their concerts cancelled. Various singers have hadinternational travel restrictions placed on them, and have beeninvestigated by international law enforcement agencies such as Scotland Yard on the grounds that the lyrics incite the audience to assault homosexuals. In 2003, the British LGBT rights group OutRage! called for the arrest of Elephant Man for inciting the killing of gay men in his song lyrics. However, he was not arrested.[7]Many of the affected singers believe that such legal or commercialsanctions are essentially an attack against freedom of speech.[8]

 Dancehall dances

Dancehall has energised Jamaican popular music because it hasspawned dance moves that help to make parties and stage performancesmore energetic. Many dance moves seen on hip-hopvideos are actually variations of dancehall moves such as the popularButterfly, The Bogle, The Heel and Toe, The Blazay-Blazay, The Pon theRiver, Pon the Bank, the jook, the spongebob, hot fuk and the dutty wine.

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Reggaeton (also spelled Reggaetón, and known as Reguetón and Reggaetón in Spanish) is a form of urban music which became popular with Latin American (or Latino) youth during the early 1990s and spread over the course of 10 years to North American, European, Asian, and Australian audiences. Reggaeton blends Jamaican music influences of reggae and dancehall with those of Latin America, such as bomba, plena, merengue, and bachata as well as that of hip hop and Electronica. The music is also combined with rapping or singing in Spanish, English or 'Spanglish'. Reggaeton has given the Hispanic youth, starting with those from Puerto Rico, a musical genre that they can consider their own. The influence of this genre has spread to the wider Latino communities in the United States, as well as the Latin American audience.

While it takes influences from hip hop and Jamaican dancehall, itwould be wrong to define reggaeton as the Hispanic or Latino version ofeither of these genres; Reggaeton has its own specific beat and rhythm,whereas Latino hip hopis simply hip hop recorded by artists of Latino descent. The specificrhythm that characterizes reggaeton is referred to as “Dem Bow.”[1][2] The name is a reference to the title of the dancehall song by Shabba Ranks that first popularized the beat in the early 1990s.

Reggaeton's origins represents a hybrid of many different musicalgenres and influences from various countries in the Caribbean, LatinAmerica and the United States. The genre of reggaeton however is mostclosely associated with Puerto Rico, as this is where the musical stylelater popularized and became most famous, and where the vast majorityof its current stars originate from. 

Reggaeton lyrics tend to be more derived from hip hop thandancehall. Like hip hop, reggaeton has caused some controversy, albeitmuch less, due to a few of the songs' explicit lyrics and allegedexploitation of women . Further controversy surrounds perreo, a dance with explicit sexual overtones which is associated with reggaeton music.

Early History and Origins

Reggaeton's roots are from Panama [7] [8][3] with the music evolving and coming to prominence in Puerto Rico. Reggaeton starts as an adaptation of Jamaican reggae (and later Jamaican dancehall) to the Spanish-language culture in Panama [2]. The origins of reggaeton begin with the first reggae recordings being made in Panama during the 1970s.Reportedly, the Jamaican reggae influence on Panamanian music has beenstrong since the early 20th century, when Jamaican laborers were usedto help build the Panama Canal. [2] Artists such as El General, Chicho Man, Nando Boom, Renato, and Black Apache are considered the first raggamuffin DJsfrom Panama. El General has been identified as one of the fathers ofreggaeton, blending Jamaican reggae into a Latin-ised version. It wascommon practice to translate the lyrics of Jamaican reggae song intoSpanish and sing them over the original melodies, a form termed“Spanish reggae” or “Reggae en español.” Meanwhile, during the 1980s the Puerto Rican rapper Vico C released Spanish-language hip hop records in his native island. His production of cassettes throughout the 1980s, mixing reggae and hip hop, also helped spread the early reggaeton sound, and he is widely credited with this achievement [9].The widespread movement of “Spanish reggae” in the Latin-Americancommunities of the Caribbean and the urban centres of the United Stateshelp increase its popularity [2].

During the 1990sreggae production took off seriously in Panama; this also occurredseparately in Puerto Rico due to the increased popularity of Jamaican ragga imports. Towards the middle of the decade, Puerto Ricans were producing their own "riddims"with clear influences from hip hop and other styles. These areconsidered the first proper reggaeton tracks, initially called “under,”a short form of “Underground.” DJ Playerowas one of the most famous producers at the time, releasing severalunderground cassettes that featured early performances of somesoon-to-be-famous artists like Daddy Yankee.The basis for reggaeton was laid in Puerto Rico at this time, with themelding of Panamanian Spanish reggae, with influences from dancehall,hip-hop and various other Latin American musical genres [2].

The genre morphed through the years, at various points being termed“Melaza,” “música underground,” and “Dem Bow.” This last nameoriginated from reggaeton's distinguishing rhythmic feature: the Dem Bow (alternately spelled “Dembow”) beat, relying heavily on the snare drum, which is used in nearly all Reggaeton songs today. [1] [2] This beat was constructed by Jamaican record producer Bobby "Digital" Dixon, and first became popular in the song “Dem Bow” (They Bow) performed by Jamaican dancehall artist Shabba Ranks in 1991.[10] The song and beat achieved greater popularity among Spanish-speaking Latin Americans when Panamanian artist El General released the song “Son Bow” in 1991, a Spanish language cover of “Dem Bow” using the same musical track.[11]It should be pointed out that neither Shabba or El General sangreggaeton as neither the genre nor its title were as yet formed.Additionally “Dem Bow” was just a single song in Shabba's catalog, withRanks not singing another significant song using the “Dem Bow” beat.However the influence of the original Bobby Digital beat is undeniable,and modern Reggaeton often still reflects the original instrumentation,as well as the original rhythmic structure.

Reggaeton's popularity in the U.S. may also owe some credit to popular Latin Rap artists such as Mellow Man Ace (who produced "Mentirosa", the first platinum single by a Latin rapper, in 1989) or even Gerardo, with his Latin hip-hop hit "Rico Suave", a top 40 in the U.S. in 1991.

[edit] Rise to popularity

The name reggaeton only gained prominence in the mid-1990s (from the 1994 to 1995period), with the Dem Bow beat characterizing the genre; this is incontrast to the more reggae, dancehall and hip hop-derived trackspreviously created. The name was created in Puerto Rico to signify thehybrid sound, and distinguish it from the previous Spanish reggae, created from the years of mixing the different genres.[2] Today, the music flourishes throughout Latin America.

Reggaeton soon increased in popularity with Latino youth in the United States when DJ Blass worked with artists such as Plan B and Speedy in albums such as Reggaeton Sex.

Reggaeton expanded and became known when other producers followed the steps of DJ Playero, like DJ Nelson and DJ Eric. In the early 90s albums like Playero 37 (in which Daddy Yankee became known) and The Noise 5 and The Noise 6 were very popular in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Singers like Don Chezina, O.G. Black & Master Joe, MC Ceja, Baby Rasta & Gringo, and Lito Y Polaco among others were very popular.

Many now popular producers, such as the Dominican duo Luny Tunes, Noriega and Eliel, first appeared in the reggaetón scene in 2003. Albums such as Mas Flow, The Last Don, and Las Gargolas 4 expanded reggaeton's popularity among Latinos in the United States.

2004was the year that reggaeton gained widespread popularity in the UnitedStates, eventually gaining attention in many “Western” countries. Thiswas due to N.O.R.E. introducing the genre to mainstream America with the song “Oye Mi Canto,”[citation needed] followed by Daddy Yankee who came out with his album “Barrio Fino” and his mega hit single “Gasolina.” Another important artist who contributed to reggaeton's increasing popularity, especially in Europe, is Don Omar, with singles like “Pobre Diabla” and “Dale Don Dale.”[12] Other very popular reggaetón artists include Alexis Y Fido, Angel & Khriz, Nina Sky, Nicky Jam, Zion y Lennox, Rakim & Ken-Y, Voltio, Calle 13, Héctor El Father, Ivy Queen, Wisin & Yandel, Tito El Bambino and Tego Calderon.

Don Omar’s May 2006 album, King of Kings, became history’shighest ranking reggaeton LP in the top 10 US charts, with its debut at#1 on the Latin sales charts and the #1 spot on the Billboard Latin Rhythm Radio Chart with the single “Angelito.”[13]King of Kings also peaked at #7 in the Billboards top 200 albums. DonOmar was also able to beat the in-store appearance sales record atDowntown Disney's Virgin music store previously set by pop star Britney Spears, further demonstrating reggaeton's massive rise to popularity in the United States.

[edit] Musical Characteristics

[edit] Reggaeton beat

Reggaeton’s most notably unique feature is a driving drum-machinetrack which was derived from a popular Jamaican dancehall rhythm. Asstated previously this beat is called “Dem Bow,” from the BobbyDixon-produced Shabba Ranks song of the same title.

Many of the sounds found in a typical reggaeton beat areelectronically synthesized. Simple melodies may be produced withkeyboards, electric guitars, and other electronic instruments. Otherforms of electronic dance music have significantly influenced reggaetonbeats, such as techno, house, and genres such as the merengue hip hop (also called merenhouse) of groups such as Proyecto Uno and Zona 7.

Reggaeton beats are highly versatile. The great variety and flexibility of reggaeton beats can be illustrated by Luny Tunes' CD The Kings of the Beats, which is a collection of purely instrumental beats. Reggaeton beats can be based on merengue, bachata, bolero, salsa and hip-hop beats. Other subgenres of reggaeton include Romantikeo, Bachateo and Salsaton.

[edit] Reggaeton and hip-hop

ify a cultural blending pot in today’s urban scene.

[edit] Lyrics and themes

Reggaeton lyrical structure resembles hip-hop lyrics. Like hip-hop,most reggaeton artists recite their lyrics rap-fashion rather than singit melodically. Unlike hip-hop music, however, a significant percent ofreggaeton artists are also singers, may blend rapping and singing, andmay also have a "street" image, similar to Akon. Like hip-hop music, reggaeton songs have hooks that are repeated throughout the song.

Reggaeton started as a genre composed of mostly male artists, with aslowly increasing number of female artists debuting over the years.Notable female reggaetón artists include Ivy Queen, Adassa, and Glory.

Reggaeton lyrical themes are versatile. Typical themes may includedancing, love stories, partying, short anecdotes of the rapper's life,and problems in life. Popular reggaeton songs are mainly intended to bedanceable, rhythmic, party-like songs for young people. Reggaeton mayor may not be objectionable depending on the artists, song, and thelistener's interpretation, as one reggaeton song may have manyinterpretations because a song's meaning may not be very clear anddirect; Many of the songs are highly subliminal. For example, the song Gasolina is often considered appropriate for children and has made it into the Reggaeton Niños series.[citation needed] However, because of the various possible connotations and literal interpretations of the song, some people criticize Gasolina as having possibly inappropriate sexual content.

Usually, reggaeton CDs are not labeled “explicit” like many hip-hop CDs are. One exception is that Daddy Yankee’s Barrio Fino en Directo (Barrio Fino Live) was labeled explicit for objectionable content in the live concerts (and for explicit language by Snoop Dogg in the song "Gangsta Zone"), even though the regular studio version of Barrio Finowas not labeled explicit. Some reggaeton artists are able to circumventradio and television censorship by using sexual innuendo and lyricswith double meanings in their music.

[edit] Reggaeton across the world

[edit] Latin America

Reggaeton is very popular in Latin American countries such as Panama, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Mexico as well as in the countries of Central America and South America.Reggaeton has become staple music in many parties and events,complementing the common mix of merengue, salsa and electronic music,and has paved a huge fan base. In some countries such as Venezuela withDoble Impakto, Honduraswith Los Bohemios del Reggaeton, C4, Bullaka Family, Da Play, Syromeand notable hit-makers producers such as M.O.N.O Acido or Acid Munkeyand Salomon & Neptune and El Salvador with Pescozada and Heavy Clan, domestic “reggaetoneros” have arisen, expanding the Pan-Latin feel of the genre.

[edit] Puerto Rico

Reggaeton derives from the post-Salsa music youth generation of the80's and early 90's in Puerto Rico. Before reggaeton exploded in themid-nineties, young street artists, heavily influenced by East Coast hip hop and turntablism, rapped over cassette tracks easily acquired within their Commonwealth (United States insular area)status. Alongside this early hip hop influenced reggae-rap, evolved thePanamanian reggae style which eventually fused into reggaeton.

This new genre was simply called “underground.” It contained veryexplicit lyrics about drugs, violence, poverty, homophobia, friendship,love, and sex. These common themes, which in many cases depict thetroubles of an inner-city life, can still be found in reggaeton today.“Underground” music was recorded in “marquesinas” (or Puerto Rican opengarages) and distributed in the streets via cassettes. The most popularcassettes in the early 1990's were Dj Negro's The Noise I and II, andDj Playero's #37 and #38. These recordings spread out the genre fromthe marginalized residential areas into other sectors of society,particularly into private schools. By the mid 90s “underground”cassettes were being sold in commercial music stores. The genre caughtup with the middle class youth and inevitably found its way to themedia.

By this time Puerto Rico had a few clubs dedicated to theunderground scene. Club Rappers in Carolina, and club PlayMakers inPuerto Nuevo were the most notable. Bobby “Digital” Dixon'sdembow track was exploited in order to appeal in the context of theclub. Underground music wasn't intended originally to be club music.

The Puerto Rican chapter of Morality in Mediaasked the local authorities to intervene and ban selling undergroundmusic, which subsequently required that all local productions beingsold displayed a Parental Advisory label[citation needed].By 1998 DJ Negro released The Noise 3 with a mock up label that readNon-Explicit Lyrics. The album contained no cursing until the lastsong. The album was a hit and underground music further crept into themainstream. Senator Velda González of the Popular Democratic Party and the media continued to view the movement as a social nuisance.[14]

[edit] United States

In the United States,reggaeton is highly popular among Latino/Hispanic youth. Reggaeton isnow popular in cities all over the United States, including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C., Houston, Miami, and almost every city with a large Hispanic population. In 2004, XM Radio launched a channel called Fuego (XM), which played exclusively Reggaeton music.

[edit] Europe

Reggaeton has become popular in Spain because of its appeal to Latin American immigrants[citation needed]. A Spanish concept called “La Canción del Verano” (The Summer Song),under which a particular song or two define the mood for the season andare regarded unofficially as such by Spanish media, served as the basisfor the extreme popularity of reggaeton songs such as Panamanian rapperLorna’s “Papi Chulo (Te traigo el Mmm) ” in 2003, and Daddy Yankee's Gasolinain 2005. Puerto Rican and Panamanian reggaeton artists have toured thecountry, and Spain is developing a cadre of local reggaeton artists ofits own[citation needed].

Reggaeton is also experiencing a boom in Italy[citation needed], thanks in big part to artists like Don Omar who filmed the video for his song Angelito in Rome, featuring many of the city's historic landmarks.

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Rhythm and blues (also known as R&B or RnB) is a popular music genre combining jazz, gospel, and blues influences, first performed by African American artists. The term was coined as a musical marketing term in the United States in 1947 by Jerry Wexler at Billboard magazine.[1] It replaced the term race music(which originally came from within the black community, but was deemedoffensive in the postwar world) and the Billboard category Harlem Hit Parade in June 1949.[2] In 1948, RCA Victor was marketing black music under the name Blues and Rhythm. The words were reversed by Wexler of Atlantic Records, the leading label in the R&B field in the early years.[1]

Writer/producer Robert Palmer defines "rhythm & blues as a catchall term referring to any music that was made by and for black Americans.[3] He has the term R&B as a synonym for jump blues..[4] Lawrence Cohn, author of Nothing but the Blues, writes that rhythm and blues was an umbrella term invented for industry convenience. According to him, the term embraced all black music except classical music and religious music, unless a gospel song sold enough to break into the charts. By the 1970s, rhythm and blues was being used as a blanket term to describe soul and funk. In the 2000s, the acronym R&B is almost always used instead of the full rhythm and blues, and mainstream use of the term refers to a modern version of soul and funk-influenced pop music that originated as disco became less favorable.

[edit] History

In its first manifestation in the late 1940s, rhythm and blues wasplayed by small combos of four or five musicians; usually a bass,drums, one or two saxophones, and possibly a rhythm guitar or piano. In 1951 it was also being called rock and roll. It was strongly influenced by jazz, jump blues and black gospel music. It also influenced jazz in return. Rhythm and blues, blues, and gospel combined with bebop to create hard bop.

Several musicians recorded both jazz and R&B, such as the swing bands of Jay McShann, Tiny Bradshaw and Johnny Otis. Count Basie had a weekly live rhythm and blues broadcast from Harlem. Bebop icon Tadd Dameron arranged music for Bull Moose Jackson and spent two years as Jackson's pianist after establishing himself in bebop. Most of the R&B studio musicians were jazz musicians, and many of the musicians on Charlie Mingus' breakthrough jazz recordings were R&B veterans. Lionel Hampton's big band of the early 1940s — which produced the classic recording Flying Home (tenor sax solo by Illinois Jacquet) — was the breeding ground for many of the bebop legends of the 1950s. Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson was a bebop saxophonist and a blues shouter.

In the 1950s, overlapping with other genres such as jazz and rockand roll, R&B developed regional variations. A strong, distinctstyle straddling the border with blues came out of New Orleans, and was based on a rolling piano style first made famous by Professor Longhair. In the late 1950s, Fats Domino hit the national charts with the songs "Blueberry Hill" and "Ain't That a Shame". Other artists who popularized this Louisiana flavor of R&B included Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Frankie Ford, Irma Thomas, The Neville Brothers and Dr. John. The first rock and roll hits consisted of R&B songs such as "Rocket 88" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll", which appeared on popular music charts as well as R&B charts. The song "Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin On", the first hit by Jerry Lee Lewis, was an R&B cover song that reached number one on the pop, R&B and country and western charts.

By the early 1960s, rhythm and blues had taken on more gospel-influenced elements, as pioneered by artists such as Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, James Brown and Aretha Franklin. This newer style was given the name soul music. A little more than a decade later, however, rhythm and blues made a comeback."[2] The early and mid 1960s saw the rise of young white bands whose music was labelled R&B or blue-eyed soul; such as The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things, The Small Faces, The Animals, Dr. Feelgood, Deep Purple, The Spencer Davis Group and The Who. Those bands all played covers of songs by of established black performers, in addition to their own material. The Who were once considered Maximum R&B by their mod fans. Around the same time in Jamaica, a local variation of R&B was emerging, called ska. Like soul music, it was also popular with mods and their ofshoots: the skinheads, suedeheads, casuals and scooterboys.

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Crunk is a genre of hip-hop music. Unlike the East Coaststyle of hip hop, crunk has a high-energy and club-oriented feel. Whileother hip hop styles might involve a more conversational vocaldelivery, crunk usually involves hoarse chants and repetitive, simplerefrains. Lyrics are based on a rhythmic bounce, which is veryeffective in a club environment.

Looped drum machine rhythms are usually in the forefront of the mix, with the Roland TR-808being especially popular. A typical crunk song uses four bars of musicgenerated by electronic drums and synthesizers that repeat throughoutthe song, but sometimes includes a break towards the end of the song.Many of the drum machines and rhythms they produce were previously wellknown in specialty genres of dance music. Crunk also employsnon-melodic sound effects such as whistles and synth blips.

The crunk genre originated in the early 1990s, but did not become mainstream until the early 2000s. The first notable crunk single is commonly believed to be "Tear Da Club Up '97" by Three 6 Mafia[citation needed] which appeared in 1997 and reached #29 on the US Rap charts. We Ready: I Declare War is the debut album from Atlanta, Georgia rapper Pastor Troy is most known for his vicious crunk dis track against rival Master P, "No Mo Play In G.A.", which received huge success in 1999[citation needed]. In the year 2003, the crunk genre had surprise hit singles with "Never Scared" (Bone Crusher, featuring Killer Mike and T.I.), "Salt Shaker" (Ying Yang Twins, featuring Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz), "Damn!" (YoungBloodZ featuring Lil Jon, and produced by Lil Jon), and most notably "Get Low" (Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, featuring the Ying Yang Twins), which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. By 2004, crunk was in such high demand that superstar R&B singer Usher enlisted Lil Jon to produce his single "Yeah!" which went on to be the biggest hit of 2004, according to Billboard magazine. Lil Jon produced another number-one hit in 2004 with "Goodies" by R&B singer Ciara, featuring Petey Pablo. The release of Hustle and Flow and its Oscar for best original song, "It's Hard out Here for a Pimp", helped crunk reach mainstream American culture. By 2005, however, it was widely perceived that crunk was on the wane[citation needed], with its appeal primarily confined to Memphis and Atlanta[citation needed].

Lil Jon and the Eastside Boyz have several albums with crunk in thetitle, such as "Kings of Crunk", "Crunk Juice", "Get Crunk", "We StillCrunk", and "Crunk Rock". Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz often claimto be the "Kings of Crunk" with Rasheeda as the "Queen of Crunk", while Lil' Scrappy is referred to as the "Prince of Crunk"[citation needed]. Ciara is often referred to as the "Princess of Crunk" or the "First Lady of Crunk & B", and Petey Pablo is referred to as the "Godfather of Crunk".
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Hip hop music is a style of popular music. It is usually composed of two elements: rapping (also known as emceeing) and DJing. When combined with breakdancing and graffiti art, these are the four components of hip hop, a cultural movement which began in New York City in the 1970s, predominantly by African Americans and Latinos.[1] The term rap music is sometimes used synonymously with hip hop music, though it is also used to refer specifically to the practice of rapping.

Typically, hip hop music consists of one or more rappers who chantsemi-autobiographic tales, often relating to a fictionalizedcounterpart, in an intensely rhythmic lyrical form, making abundant useof techniques like assonance, alliteration, and rhyme. Though rap may be performed a cappella, it is more common for the rapper(s) to be accompanied by a DJ or a live band providing an appropriate beat. This beat is often from the percussion of a different song, usually rock, funk, or soul, and is sometimes sampled.In addition to the beat, other sounds are often sampled, synthesized,or performed. Though rap is usually an integral component of hip hopmusic, instrumental and non-rap Electro acts such as Planet Patrol are also defined as hip hop music groups.

Hip hop arose in New York City when DJs began isolating the percussion break from funk or discosongs. The role of the emcee (MC) arose to introduce the DJ and themusic, and to keep the audience excited. The MCs began by speakingbetween songs, giving exhortations to dance, greetings to audiencemembers, jokes and anecdotes. Eventually, this practice came to be morestylized, and was known as rapping. By 1979, hip hop had becomea commercially recorded music genre, and began to enter the Americanmainstream. It also began its spread across the world. In the 1990s, aform called gangsta rap became a major part of American music,causing significant controversy over lyrics which were perceived aspromoting violence, promiscuity, drug use and misogyny. Nevertheless,by the beginning of the 2000s, hip hop was a staple of popular musiccharts and was being performed in many styles across the world.

The roots of hip hop are found in West African and African-American music. The griotsof West Africa are a group of traveling singers and poets, whosemusical style is reminiscent of hip hop. Within New York City,griot-like performances of poetry and music by artists such as The Last Poets and Jalal Mansur Nuriddin had a great impact on the post-civil rights era culture of the 1960s and 1970s. Hip hop arose during the 1970s when block parties became common in New York City, especially the Bronx. Block parties were usually accompanied by music, especially funk and soul music. The early DJs at block parties began isolating the percussion breaks to hit songs, realizing that these were the most dance-able and entertaining parts; this technique was then common in Jamaica (see dub music) and had spread via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community in New York City, especially the "godfather" of hip hop, DJ Kool Herc. Dub had arisen in Jamaica due to the influence of American sailors and radio stations playing R&B. Large sound systems were set up to accommodate poor Jamaicans, who couldn't afford to buy records, and dub developed at the sound systems (refers to both the system and the parties that evolved around them).

Herc was one of the most popular DJs in early 70s New York, and he quickly switched from using reggaerecords to funk, rock and, later, disco, since the New York audiencedid not particularly like reggae. Because the percussive breaks weregenerally short, Herc and other DJs began extending them using an audio mixerand two records. Mixing and scratching techniques eventually developedalong with the breaks. (The same techniques contributed to thepopularization of remixes.) Later DJs such as Grandmaster Flash refined and developed the use of breakbeats, including cutting.[citation needed] As in dub, performers began speaking while the music played; these were originally called MCs; Herc focused primarily on DJing, and began working with two MCs, Coke La Rock and Clark Kent—thiswas the first emcee crew, Kool Herc & the Herculoids. Originally,these early rappers focused on introducing themselves and others in theaudience (the origin of the still common practice of "shouting out" onhip hop records). These early performers often emceed for hours at atime, with some improvisation and a simple four-count beat, along witha basic chorus to allow the performer to gather his thoughts (such as"one, two, three, y'all, to the beat, y'all"). Later, the MCs grew morevaried in their vocal and rhythmic approach, incorporating briefrhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort atdifferentiating themselves and entertaining the audience. These earlyraps incorporated similar rhyming lyrics from African American culture(see roots of hip hop music), such as the dozens.While Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hoppers to gainmajor fame in New York, more emcee teams quickly sprouted up.Frequently, these were collaborations between former gang members, such as Afrikaa Bambaataa's Universal Zulu Nation (now a large, international organization). Melle Mel, a rapper/lyricist with The Furious Five is often credited with being the first rap lyricist to call himself an "MC."[2] During the early 1970s, breakdancing arose during block parties, as b-boysand b-girls got in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive,frenetic style. The style was documented for release to a world wideaudience for the first time in Beat Street.

Origin of term

Coinage of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. Though Lovebug Starski, Keith Cowboy, and DJ Hollywood used the term when the music was still known as disco rap, it is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers.[3]Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his stageperformance, which was quickly copied by other artists; for example theopening of the song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang.[3] Former Black Spades gang member Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term to describe the subculturethat hip hop music belongs to, although it is also suggested that theterm was originally derisively used against the new type of music.[4]

Contributing historical conditions

The reasons for the rise of hip hop are found is the changing urbanculture within the United States during the 1970s. Perhaps mostimportant was the low cost involved in getting started: the equipmentwas relatively inexpensive, and virtually anyone could MC along withthe popular beats of the day. MCs could be creative, pairing nonsenserhymes and teasing friends and enemies alike in the style of Jamaican toasting at blues parties or playing the dozens in an exchange of wit. MCs would play at block parties, with no expectation of recording, in the way of folk music.The skills necessary to create hip hop music were passed informallyfrom musician to musician, rather than being taught in expensive musiclessons.

Another reason for hip hop's rise was the decline of disco, funk and rock in the mid- to late 70s. Disco arose among black and gaymale clubs in America, and quickly spread to Europe, where it grewincreasingly sunny, bright and pop. Once disco broke into themainstream in the United States, and was thus appropriated, itsoriginal fans and many other listeners rejected it as pre-packaged andsoul-less. While many remember the white teens shouting "disco sucks"at every available opportunity, often in racist and homophobiccontexts, inner-city blacks were similarly rejecting disco anddisco-fied rock, soul and funk (which was virtually everything on theradio at the time). If disco had anything redeemable for urbanaudiences, however, it was the strong, eminently danceable beats, andhip hop rose to take advantage of the beats while providing a musicaloutlet for the masses that hated disco. Disco-inflected music (thoughcomparatively little actual disco) was one of the most popular sourcesof beats in the first ten or twelve years of hip hop's existence. In Washington DC, go go also emerged as a reaction against disco, and eventually mixed with hip hop during the early 1980s, while electronic music did the same, developing as house music in Chicago and techno music in Detroit.

Along with the low expense and the demise of other forms of popularmusic, social and political events further accelerated the rise of hiphop. In 1959, the Cross-Bronx Expresswaywas built through the heart of the Bronx, displacing many of themiddle-class white communities and causing widespread unemploymentamong the remaining blacks as stores and factories fled the area. Bythe 1970s, poverty was rampant. When a 15,000+ apartment Co-op Citywas built at the northern edge of the Bronx in 1968, the last of themiddle-class fled the area and the area's black and Latino gangs beganto grow in power.

Diversification of styles in later part of decade

In the mid-1970s, hip hop split into two factions. One sampled discoand focused on getting the crowd dancing and excited, with simple or norhymes; these DJs included Pete DJ Jones, Eddie Cheeba, DJ Hollywood and Love Bug Starski. On the other hand, another group were focusing on rapid-fire rhymes and a more complex rhythmic scheme. These included Afrika Bambaataa, Paul Winley, Grandmaster Flash and Bobby Robinson.

As the 70s became the 1980s, many felt that hip hop was a noveltyfad that would soon die out. This was to become a constant accusationfor at least the next fifteen years. Some of the earliest rappers werenovelty acts, using the themes to Gilligan's Island and using sweet doo wop-influenced harmonies.

With the advent of recorded hip hop in the late 1970s, all the majorelements and techniques of the genre were in place. Though not yetmainstream, it was well-known among African Americans, even outside ofNew York City; hip hop could be found in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Houston.

Philadelphia was, for many years, the only city whose contributions to hip hop were valued as greatly as New York City's by hip hop purists and critics. Hip hop was popular there at least as far back as 1976 (first record: "Rhythm Talk", by Jocko Henderson in 1979), and the New York Times dubbed Philly the "Graffiti Capital of the World" in 1971, due to the influence of such legendary graffiti artists as Cornbread. The first female solo artist to record hip hop was Lady B. ("To the Beat Y'All", 1980), a Philly-area radio DJ. Later Schoolly D helped invent what became known as gangsta rap.


The 1980s saw intense diversification in hip hop, which developedinto a more complex form. The simple tales of 1970s emcees werereplaced by highly metaphoric lyrics rapping over complex,multi-layered beats. Some rappers even became mainstream popperformers, including Kurtis Blow, whose appearance in a Spritecommercial made him the first hip hop musician to be consideredmainstream enough to represent a major product, but also the first tobe accused by the hip-hop audience of selling out. Another popular performer among mainstream audiences was LL Cool J, who was a success from the release of his first LP, Radio.

Hip hop was almost entirely unknown outside of the United Statesprior to the 1980s. During that decade, it began its spread to everyinhabited continent and became a part of the music scene in dozens ofcountries. In the early part of the decade, breakdancing became the first aspect of hip hop culture to reach Germany, Japan and South Africa, where the crew Black Noise established the practice before beginning to rap later in the decade. Meanwhile, recorded hip hop was released in France (Dee Nasty's 1984 Paname City Rappin') and the Philippines (Dyords Javier's "Na Onseng Delight" and Vincent Dafalong's "Nunal"). In Puerto Rico, Vico C became the first Spanish language rapper, and his recorded work was the beginning of what became known as reggaeton.


The first rap records (Fatback Band's King Tim III, Grandmaster Flash's "Super Rappin'" and The Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight)were actually recorded by live musicians in the studio, with therappers adding their vocals later. This changed with DJ records such asGrandmaster Flash's "Adventures on the Wheels of Steel" (known for pioneering use of scratching, which was invented by Grandwizard Theodore in 1977) as well as electronic recordings such as "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa and Run DMC's very basic, all electronic "Sucker MC's" and "Peter Piper" which contains genuine cutting by Run DMC member Jam Master Jay.These early innovators were based out of New York City, which remainedthe capital of hip hop during the 1980s. This style became known as East Coast hip hop.

Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Fivereleased a "message rap", called "The Message", in 1982; this was oneof the earliest examples of recorded hip hop with a socially awaretone. In 1984, Marley Marl accidentally caught a drum machine snare hit in the sampler; this innovation was vital in the development of electro and other later types of hip hop.


The mid-1980s saw a flourishing of the first hip hop artists to achieve mainstream success, such as Kurtis Blow (Kurtis Blow), LL Cool J (Radio) and especially Run-D.M.C. (Raising Hell), as well as influences in mainstream music, such as Blondie's Debbie Harry rapping in the first non-black hit to feature rapping, "Rapture". LL Cool J's Radiospawned a number of singles that entered the dance charts, peaking with"I Can Give You More" (#21). 1986 saw two hip hop acts in the BillboardTop Ten; Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" collaboration with Aerosmith, and the Beastie Boys"(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)". The pop success of bothsingles was unheard of for the time; "Walk This Way" has provedespecially memorable for its early mixture of hip hop and rock (thoughit was not the first such mixture), and it peaked at an unheard of #4on the pop charts. Also, the mid-1980s saw the rise of the first majorblack female group, Salt-N-Pepa, who hit the charts with singles like "The Show Stoppa" in 1985. Ice-T's seminal "6n' Da Mornin'" (1986) is one of the first nationally successful West Coast hip hop singles, and is often said to be the beginning of gangsta hip hop (along with Schoolly D, LL Cool J and N.W.A.).

In 1987, Public Enemy brought out their debut album (Yo! Bum Rush the Show) on Def Jam - one of hip hop's oldest and most important labels, and Boogie Down Productions followed up in 1988 with By All Means Necessary;both records pioneered wave of hard-edged politicized performers. Thelate 1980s saw a flourishing of like-minded rappers on both coasts, andPublic Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Backbecame surprisingly successful, despite its militant andconfrontational tone, appearing on both the club and rap charts, andpeaking at #17 and #11, respectively. Aside from the lyricalinnovations, Public Enemy's Terminator X (along with Eric B., of Eric B. & Rakim) pioneered new techniques in sampling that resulted in dense, multi-layered sonic collages.

Rise of gangsta rap

Main article: Gangsta rap

The first gangsta rap album to become a mainstream pop hit, selling more than 2.5 million copies, was N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton (1988). N.W.A.'s controversial subject matter, including drugs, violence and sex, helped popularize what became known as gangsta rap (said to have begun with Ice-T's "6N' Da Morning"). Specifically, the song "Fuck Tha Police" earned the foursome the enmity of law enforcement, resulting in a strongly-worded letter of discontent from the FBI. N.W.A.'s most lasting impact, however, was placing the West Coast on the hip hop map.


Though women, whites and Latinos had long been a part of the hip hopscene, it was not until the 1980s that groups other than young AfricanAmerican males began creating popular, innovative and distinctivestyles of hip hop music.

The first rap recording by a solo female was Philadelphia-based Lady B.'s "To the Beat, Y'All" (1980), while The Sequence became the first female group to record. It was, not, however, until Salt-N-Pepa in the middle of the decade that female performers gained mainstream success.

The first groups to mix hip hop and heavy metal included 1984's "Rock Box" (Run-D.M.C.) and "Rock Hard" (Beastie Boys). Later in the decade, Ice-T and Anthrax were among the most innovative mixers of thrash metaland hip hop. These fusions helped move hip hop into new audiences, andintroduced it to legions of new fans in the States and abroad.

Latin hip hop

Main article: Latin Rap

In Puerto Rico, Vico C became the first mainstream Spanish language rapper, and his recorded work was the beginning of what became known as reggaeton. Hip hop had always had a significant connection to the Latino community in New York City including the first Latin DJ DJ Disco Wiz,and hip hop soon spread amongst Latinos. In the late 1980s and early1990s, most Latin rap came from the West Coast of the United States. In1989, Cuban-American Mellow Man Acebecame the first Latino artist to have a major bilingual single. MellowMan, referred to as the "Godfather of Latin rap", brought mainstreamattention to Spanglish rhyming with his 1989 platinum single"Mentirosa". In 1990, fellow West Coast artist Kid Frost further brought Latinos to the rap forefront with his single "La Raza." Cypress Hill,of which Mellow Man Ace was a member before going solo, would becomethe first Latino rap group to reach platinum status in 1991. Ecuadorianborn rapper Gerardoreceived heavy rotation on video and radio for his single "Rico,Suave." As a result of the success of these artists, countriesthroughout Latin America such as Cuba, the Dominican Republic andMexico created their own hip hop scenes.


While Run DMC laid the groundwork for East Coast rap, "Planet Rock" (Afrika Bambaataa) was one of the first electro tracks. Based on a sample from German rock group Kraftwerk (Trans-Europe Express), "Planet Rock" inspired countless groups, based in New Jersey, New York City and Detroit, among other places, to make electronic dance music (called electro) that strongly influenced techno and house music, and especially the burgeoning electro music scene in northern England, the Midlands and London.

"Planet Rock" influenced hip hop outside of New York as well, such as Latin hip hop (also Latin freestyle or freestyle) such as Expose and The Cover Girls, as well as Los Angeles-based electro hop performers like the World Class Wreckin' Cru and Egyptian Lover.

Further spread within U.S.

By the end of the 1970s, hip hop was known in most every major cityin the country, and had developed into numerous regional styles andvariations. Outside of New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia,where hip hop had long been well-established, the 1980s saw intenseregional diversification.

The first Chicago hip hop record was the "Groovy Ghost Show" byCasper, released in 1980 and a distinctively Chicago sound began by1982, with Caution and Plee Fresh. Chicago also saw the development of house music (a form of electronic dance music) in the early 1980s and this soon mixed with hip hop and began featuring rappers; this is called hip house,and gained some national popularity in the late 1980s and early 90s,though similar fusions from South Africa, Belgium and elsewhere becamejust as well-known into the 90s.

Los Angeles hardcore rappers (Ice-T) and electro hop artists (Egyptian Lover) began recording by 1983, though the first recorded West Coast rap was Disco Daddy and Captain Rapp's "Gigolo Rapp" in 1981. In Miami, audiences listened to Miami bass, a form of sultry and sexually explicit dance music which arose from Los Angeles electro; it frequently included rapping. In Washington D.C. a hip hop-influenced form of dance music called go go emerged and incorporated rapping and DJing.

International spread

Beginning in the early 1980s, hip hop culture began its spreadacross the world. By the end of the 1990s, popular hip hop was soldalmost everywhere, and native performers were recording in most everycountry with a popular music industry. Elements of hip hop became fusedwith numerous styles of music, including ragga, cumbia and samba, for example. The Senegalese mbalax rhythm became a component of hip hop, while the United Kingdom and Belgium produced a variety of electronic music fusions of hip hop, most famously including British trip hop.Hip hop also spread to countries like Greece, Spain and Cuba in the1980s, led in Cuba by the self-exiled African American activist Nehanda Abiodun and aided by Fidel Castro'sgovernment. In Japan, graffiti art and breakdancing had been popularsince the early part of the decade, but many of those active in thescene felt that the Japanese language was unsuited for rapping; nevertheless, by the beginning of the 1990s, a wave of rappers emerged, including Ito Seiko, Chikado Haruo, Tinnie Punx and Takagi Kan. The New Zealand hip hop scene began in earnest in the late 1980s, when Maori performers like Upper Hutt Posse and Dalvanius Prime began recording, gaining notoriety for lyrics that espoused tino rangatiratanga (Maori sovereignty).


In the 90s, gangsta rap became mainstream, beginning in about 1992, with the release of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. This album established a style called G Funk, which soon came to dominate West Coast hip hop.Later in the decade, record labels based out of Atlanta, St. Louis andNew Orleans gained fame for their local scenes. By the end of thedecade, especially with the success of Eminem, hip hop was an integral part of popular music, and nearly all American pop songs had a major hip hop component.

In the 90s and into the following decade, elements of hip hop continued to be assimilated into other genres of popular music; nu soul, for example, combined hip hop and soul music and produced some major stars in the middle of the decade, while in the Dominican Republic, a recording by Santi Y Sus Duendes and Lisa M became the first single of merenrap, a fusion of hip hop and merengue.

In Europe, Africa and Asia, hip hop began to move from an underground phenomenon to reach mainstream audiences. In South Africa, Germany, France, Italyand many other countries, hip hop stars rose to prominence andgradually began to incorporate influences from their own country,resulting in fusions like Tanzanian Bongo Flava.

Rise of the West Coast

Main article: West Coast hip hop

After N.W.A. broke up, Dr. Dre (a former member) released The Chronic(1992), which peaked at #1 on the R&B/hip hop chart and #3 on thepop chart and spawned a #2 pop single in "Nothin' But a 'G' Thang".. The Chronic took West Coast rap in a new direction, influenced strongly by P funk artists, melding the psychedelic funky beats with slowly drawled lyrics—this came to be known as G funk, and dominated mainstream hip hop for several years through a roster of artists on Death Row Records, including most popularly, Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose Doggystyle included "What's My Name" and "Gin and Juice", both Top Ten pop hits.

Though West Coast artists eclipsed New York, some East Coast rappersachieved success. New York became dominated in terms of sales by Puff Daddy (No Way Out), Mase (Harlem World) and other Bad Boy Recordsartists, in spite of often scathing criticism for a perceivedover-reliance on sampling and a general watered-down sound, aimeddirectly for pop markets. Other New York based artists continued with aharder edged sound, achieving only limited popular success. Nas (Illmatic), Busta Rhymes (The Coming) and The Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)), for example, received excellent reviews but generally mediocre or sporadic sales.

The sales rivalry between the East Coast and the West Coasteventually turned into a personal rivalry, aided in part by the musicmedia. Many reporters were not aware that MC battles were an integralpart of hip hop since its inception, and that, generally, little wasmeant by open taunts on albums and in performances. Nevertheless, the East Coast-West Coast rivalry grew, eventually resulting in the still unsolved deaths of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G..

Diversification of styles

In the wake of declining sales following the deaths of bothsuperstar artists, the sounds of hip hop were greatly diversified. Mostimportant was the rise of Southern rap, starting with OutKast (ATLiens) and Goodie Mob (Soul Food), based out of Atlanta. Later, Master P (Ghetto D) built up an impressive roster of popular artists (the No Limit posse) based out of New Orleans and incorporating G funk and Miami bass influences, and distinctive regional sounds from St. Louis, Chicago, Washington D.C., Detroit (ghettotech) and others began to gain some popularity. Also in the 1990s, rapcore (a fusion of hip hop and heavy metal) became popular among mainstream audiences. Rage Against the Machine, Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit were among the most popular rapcore bands.

Though Caucasian rappers like the Beastie Boys (Paul's Boutique), Vanilla Ice (To the Extreme) and 3rd Bass (The Cactus Album) had had some popular success and/or critical acceptance from the hip hop community, Detroit-native Eminem's success, beginning in 1999 with the triple platinum The Slim Shady LP,came as a surprise to many. Like most successful hip hop artists of thetime, Eminem came to be criticized for alleged glorification ofviolence, misogyny, and drug abuse, as well as homophobia and albumslaced with constant profanity.

In South Africa, pioneering crew Black Noise began rapping in 1989, provoking a ban by the apartheid-era government, which lasted until 1993. Later, the country produced its own distinctive style in the house fusion kwela. Elsewhere in Africa, Senegalese mbalax fusions continued to grow in popularity, while Tanzanian Bongo Flava crews like X-Plastaz combined hip hop with taarab, filmi and other styles.

In Europe, hip hop was the domain of both ethnic nationals and immigrants. Germany, for example, produced the well-known Die Fantastischen Vier as well as several Turkish performers like the controversial Cartel. Similarly, France has produced a number of native-born stars, such as IAM and the Breton crew Manau, though the most famous French rapper is probably the Senegalese-born MC Solaar. The Netherlands' most famous rappers are The Osdorp Posse, an all-white crew from Amsterdam, and The Postmen, from Cape Verde and Suriname. Italy found its own rappers, including Jovanotti and Articolo 31, grow nationally renowned, while the Polish scene began in earnest early in the decade with the rise of PM Cool Lee. In Romania, B.U.G. Mafia came out of Bucharest's Pantelimonneighborhood, and their brand of gangsta rap underlines the parallelsbetween life in Romania's Communist-era apartment blocks and in thehousing projects of America's ghettos. Israel's hip hop grew greatly in popularity at the end of the decade, with several stars emerging from both sides of the Palestinian (Tamer Nafer) and Jewish (Subliminal) divide; though some, like Mook E., preached peace and tolerance, others expressed nationalist and violent sentiments.

In Asia, mainstream stars rose to prominence in the Philippines, led by Michael V., Rap Asia, MC Lara and Lady Diane, and in Japan, where underground rappers had previously found a limited audience, and popular teen idols brought a style called J-rap to the top of the charts in the middle of the 90s.

Latinos had played an integral role in the early development of hiphop, and the style had spread to parts of Latin America, such as Cuba,early in its history. In Mexico, popular hip hop began with the success of Calo in the early 90s. Later in the decade, with Latin rap groups like Cypress Hill on the American charts, Mexican rap rock groups, such as Control Machete, rose to prominence in their native land. An annual Cuban hip hop concert held at Alamar in Havanahelped to popularize Cuban hip hop, beginning in 1995. Hip hop grewsteadily more popular in Cuba, due to official governmental support formusicians.

Alternative hip hop

Main article: Alternative hip hop

Though mainstream acceptance has been almost entirely limited to gangsta rap, isolated alternative rap artists, with a socially aware and positive or optimistic tone, have achieved some success. In 1988 and 1989, albums like De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising, Gang Starr's No More Mr. Nice Guy and the Jungle Brothers' Straight Out the Jungle are usually considered the first albums in this genre, with jazz-based samples and intelligent lyrics (see jazz rap) strongly influenced by the Afrocentric messages of Bambaataa's Zulu Nation collective. Later alternative artists, many of whom were members of the Native Tongues Posse, including Tribe Called Quest (The Low End Theory), Mos Def (Black on Both Sides) and The Roots ( 

vložil: M.y.Shak
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