The Development of Modern Rap

    Rap music as a musical form began among the youth of South Bronx,
New York in the mid 1970s.   Individuals such Kool Herc and
Grandmaster Flash were some of the early pioneers of this art form.
Through their performances at clubs and promotion of the music, rap
consistently gained in popularity throughout the rest of the 1970s.
The first commercial success of the rap song Rapper's Delight by the
Sugar Hill Gang in 1979 helped bring rap music into the national
spotlight. The 1980s saw the continued success of rap music with many
artists such as Run DMC (who had the first rap album to go gold in
1984), L.L. Cool J, Fat Boys, and west coast rappers Ice-T and N.W.A
becoming popular. Today, in the late 1990s rap music continues to be
a prominent and important aspect of African- American culture.

    Rap music was a way for youths in black inner city neighborhoods
to express what they were feeling, seeing, and living and it became a
form of entertainment. Hanging out with friends and rapping or
listening to others rap kept black youths out of trouble in the
dangerous neighborhoods in which they lived. The dominant culture did
not have a type of music that filled the needs of these youth, so they
created their own. So, rap music originally emerged as a way "for
[black] inner city youth to express their everyday life and struggles"
(Shaomari, 1995, 17).   Rap is now seen as a subculture that, includes
a large number of middle to upper white class youths, has grown to
support and appreciate rap music.

    Many youth in America today are considered part of the rap
subculture because they share a common love for a type of music that
combines catchy beats with rhythmic music and thoughtful lyrics to
create songs with a distinct political stance.   Rap lyrics are about
the problems rappers have seen, such as poverty, crime, violence,
racism, poor living conditions, drugs, alcoholism, corruption, and