Rap music has been around for centuries, and it is no surprise that it is one of the most successful music genres in the world.

Artists such as Eminem, Tupac, and Biggie Smalls, to name a few, have made rap into a global phenomenon and laid the foundation of what the rap genre is today.

The word "rap" can be traced down to as early as the 15th century. Initially, 'rap' meant: the action of hitting or striking in Britain.

Its definition then became: talking or speaking. However, it wasn't until the 1960s that it began gaining traction as a slang word in the African-American community to describe having a conversation.

Rapping traces back thousands of years ago to Africa. The "griots" tradition dates back to the dark ages of slavery, where Africans were taken from their homes and transported to America to be slaves.

To cope with the immense pain and loss, they used to sing. This was said to have laid the foundation of the rap culture that we know today.

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History Of Rap

When we think about who invented rap music, DJ Kool Herc is the first name that comes to mind. Rap as we know it first came into being in 1973, in the Bronx, New York.

DJ Kool Herc, the founding father of hip-hop, used to host events such as school parties.

In one of these events, DJ Kool wanted to try something new, and with the help of his two turntables, he was able to extend a children's song breakbeat section as long as he wanted.

He did this by playing the track on both turntables, and when one section would end, he would switch to the other turntable, effectively being able to play the song for as long as he wanted.

This set the basis of looping, which every producer uses in modern times to create beats.

Shortly after, DJ Kool hired Coke La Rock to MC for his events, and with the help of his looping, he set the stage for Coke La Rock to perform his first bar (4 line section of a rap song) and make him the first rapper in history.

This event set the precedence for what the rap industry is today.

Turntable recording studio
When we discuss who invented rap music, we often think of DJ Kool using the looping technique on his turntable. Modern technology has brought beat production a long way in the past years. (Source: Unsplash)

Growth In The Rap Industry

Fast forward five years, and the hype for rap started to gain massive traction among people. People from all walks of life wanted to showcase their talents as D.Js or rappers.

On the other hand, this was not received well among record labels and was treated more like a fad than a serious genre worth investing in.

The first rap song to ever be released commercially was "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" by the Fatback Band.

This song was initially on the B-side of the tape, but after seeing the positive response from clubs and the popularity, it gained, it was later released on the A-side.

The song got named in the top 30 hits of the global R&B charts in 1979.

In the winter of the same year, rap music grew further with the release of "rappers delight" by the Sugar-Hill Gang. This 14-minute track went to achieve a spot in the official top 40 billboard charts in 1980.

The "Great Rap War"

As time progressed, rap started to mature, and just over a decade after the invention of rap, the concept of "Gangsta Rap" came into existence.

This rap style was mainly to bring awareness to the masses about the African-American community's social injustice.

Since African-Americans predominantly did rap, they used this art form to express their views and send them out to the masses.

Rap groups like Run D.M.C. and N.W.A were the forerunners in this rap style and represented the east coast and west coast of the U.S, respectively.

This difference between the two coasts started a bit of a war between the two regions. This violence led to the murder of the pioneers of modern rap, Tupac Shakur (west coast) and Notorious B.I.G (east coast).

After the passing of the two icons, the war settled between the two regions and gave birth to a new generation of rappers that were more mainstream.

Before the late 1990s, rap was deemed a 'violent' music genre, and most parents discouraged their children from indulging in this art form as it instigated juvenile and criminal behavior, according to them.

It wasn't until the art form went mainstream with the help of artists such as Snoop Dogg and Jay-Z that people were slowly starting to accept it again.

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Modern Rap As We Know It

After the 2000s, rap has become a full-fledged genre gaining massive mainstream appeal. So much so that a rap song even went on to win an Oscar.

The song "lose yourself" by Eminem received an Oscar for best original music for his movie "8 miles". This song is arguably one of the top rap songs ever.

Although rap faces backlash from certain groups calling it sexist, abusive, and violent, that has not deterred its audience in any way, and rappers are still growing in the industry.

New names such as Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Nas X are all gaining massive popularity.

From one song being in the billboard top 40 charts back in 1980 to entire rap albums being in the charts today clearly shows that rap has come a long way in the past 40 years.

An audience at a rap concert
The art of rap has gained massive traction over the years, and people from all walks of life are starting to appreciate the genre. Rap artists have managed to sell out entire stadiums for their concerts. This goes to show the following behind rap music. (Source: Unsplash)

The Artists That Brought Rap on the Map

There are several artists that the world can thank for making rap a worldwide art form. Going back to the mid-1900s, we can think of Tupac and Biggie making the rap genre an actual art form.

Before their time, it was rare to see rappers perform and make a living from rapping.

The early 2000s saw the rise of excellent artists such as Dr. Dre and Eminem that set the precedent of the rap genre for the following decade.

Eminem is considered one of the greatest rap artists of all time, and to this day, he has plastered his legacy into the genre.

The current era sees artists like Lil Nas X, who has changed how rap music is perceived and enjoyed by the current generation.

Every artist has left a mark on the genre, and it is thanks to their contributions, rap and hip-hop have become global with millions of fans and followers.

The Future Of Rap Music

Rap has been an art form known for its expressiveness and utilizes its freedom of speech to the fullest. Rap has been around for generations and is the only genre that has little to no filter.

That said, the future of rap seems to be going in a different direction.

Just a few years ago, people appreciated storytelling and lyricism, but now the attention has shifted. As a result, people are looking for the next trend to follow.

Tiktok is one of the most significant contributors to this. The audience today wants something that is instantly catchy and can get you in the groove.

Lyrics are no longer the main focus; the beat is rising in importance.

Easy accessibility and a shorter attention span have caused good, lyrically sound rap music to take a back seat and be substituted by party beats and songs of the exact nature.

This doesn't mean that rappers still offering lyrically good music are fading away, but the frequency is decreasing.

Artists like "N.F." are still keeping storytelling as their main selling point and, although underrated, are still getting success.

At the same time, artists like Lil Nas X are getting back-to-back hits. The audience widely accepts songs such as "Montero" and "Old Town Road" due to their laid-back style and catchy beats.

Every art form needs to be accepted, but this transition shows that the industry is experiencing a paradigm shift and rap is not the same as a decade ago.

This does not mean that it's a bad thing; it just means that the audience is accepting a different rapping style.

Rap artist performing a concert
The art of rap is widely accepted, and the future looks bright for new upcoming artists. The world of rap has been growing exponentially from when it was first invented back in the 1980s. (Source: Unsplash)

Learn How To Rap With The Help Of An Expert

Just like any art form, mastering the art of rap requires help and mentorship. Rap is like telling a story that sits nicely on a beat.

It brings together the art of music and storytelling and, once mastered, can result in something beautiful.

Learning the art of rap is a great way to express yourself, and with the help of the right tutor, you can be on your way towards greatness.

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Ian