The breakthrough or rap music started in the 1960’s and was known to cross a lot of the boundaries that other music genres had already set.
Rap music was one of the first genres to actually communicate with the American culture merging what was known to Americans with up beat sounds.
Rap origins founded from tribesmen in West Africa where they held ‘men or words’ in high regards.
When slaves were brought to what was the titled the ‘New World’, the captives combined beats they had remembered with typical music/phrases.
A separate origin of rap is known as ‘toasts’ which is told in the form of Jamaican folk stories. These are put together by the construction of narrative poems told in rhyme.
Around 100 years later, rap became known as a street art and the earlier songs were primarily boastful tales and negative thoughts about other rappers.
THE HISTORY OF RAP MUSIC
The genre firstly grew in Washington DC, Philadelphia and New York.
Within these states, the popularity of rap music was most influential to black teenagers and then began to grow to entertain a wider audience.
The Sugarhill Gang’s song titled ‘Rappers Delight’, which was released in 1979, is known as the first major rap single.
Topics that rap artists tend to base their music on today is:
- ‘Life’ of a certain individual or group - Drugs - Love, lust / desire
Link to The Sugarhill Gang – ‘Rappers Delight’
CONVENTIONS OF RAP MUSIC Typical conventions of rap music include:
Casual clothing, nothing too characterised but more subtle and loose.
Sections of direct contact with the camera (the artist usually spends a lot of time looking straight into the camera as if to talk or have a conversation with the audience)
Props regarding costume tend to be used, for e.g. Jewellery (male rap artists are commonly known to wear heavy chains or prominent rings)
Show a clear display of emotions – if the tone of the song is angry, the artist is likely to present this through their gestures and facial expressions.
Strong editing cuts between concept and narrative (if the aim of the video is for the audience to try and distinguish between two different views)
Today, a lot of rap artists have another artist featuring in their track (if a male rapper, they may decide to employ a female singer to vocalise the chorus.
EXAMPLES OF CONVENTIONS In the first example, Lil Wayne’s ‘ 6 Foot 7 Foot, the convention reveals that the artist presents himself by looking directly into the camera. Lil Wayne – 6 Foot 7 Foot The shot of Nelly reveals his loose and baggy clothing and his image is also characterised by wearing a chain. This is seen as the typical costume for rap artists and this convention is hardly ever subverted unless the music video has a specific theme. Nelly – Dilemma
EXAMPLES OF CONVENTIONS The Chain As the screen grab from Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop it Like it’s Hot’ shows, the artist is seen wearing a clear display of jewellery and more prominently in this shot, a chain. Snoop Dogg - Drop it like it’s hot From the shot displayed to the right, we can see that rap artists tend to show pictures, or direct shots of themselves, which convey emotion or meaning to the song. 2 Pac - Changes
The target audience that rap artists try to attract is not too specific but actually quite broad.
It is claimed that they try to appeal to those of a similar age to themselves so this varies between each artist.
However, I did find that when looking at merchandise and blogs of artists such as Kanye West, the target audience was based around ages of 14-25.
Evidence for this can be shown through a reporters write-up below.
The link not only reveals Kanye West’s targeted age group, but also how his online site attracts these members of society.
Kanye West - Stronger Video Glasses worn in ‘Stronger’ aimed to target Kanye West’s audience of 14-25 year olds. Evidence of Target Audience
THE SUGARHILL GANG The group became part of the music industry after their major hit ‘Rappers Delight’ in 1979 which was the first hip-hop/rap song to make it into the top 40, taking number 4 on the U.S RnB chart. The group were nominated for a total of twelve awards and won eight of them. Band members: The members of the group originally included; Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank and Master Gee.
LIL WAYNE Lil Wayne started rapping at just 8 years old and later met the founders of the famous Cash Money Records. The Record Company could immediately see his talent and instantly gave him their business card. By the age of 16, the artist was part off a group named ‘Hot Boys’ where their first album had sold over 400,000 copies and their second album over a million. http://lilwayne-online.com/
LEFT EYE [LISA LOPES] Left Eye was a member of the all girl group TLC (1991) which were known most commonly for their tracks titled No Scrubs, Waterfalls and Creep. Left Eye was later arrested for burning down her boyfriend’s house but managed to escape jail time. In 2000, Left Eye began her solo career but the album date was repeatedly postponed. Sadly, in 2002, the well known rapper was tragically killed in a car accident. Left Eye - Play from 2:24
NICKI MINAJ NickiMinaj released her first recording ‘Playtime is Over’ in 2007 and then had many more successes. In 2009, she was discovered by American rapper Lil Wayne and then became part of Young Money Entertainment Just one month after release, NickiMinaj’s debut studio album was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. NickiMinaj – Super Bass