It is a musical style that has set aside all trends and clichés and emerged as the voice of an entire community of people united by roots and origin. Rap is the urban poetry of lyrical resistance, the power that unites and expresses the thoughts of music lovers in big cities. And that is what makes it so different from all the other musical genres. It doesn’t speak only to the mind and emotions, but speaks to the society as a whole and the environment that is all around people. Rap is neither tender like classical music, nor suave like country songs or glossy like the pop genre. It is harsh and built to convey the pain and emotion of situations, a style that simply embodies free expression of radical thoughts and the realities of the world that surround us.
In its simplest form, Rap is just a combination of speech and music. In fact, it would be better to say that rap is actually speech that has been laid on beats and rhythms. It falls into a sort of gray area when you try to place it as a part of speech or prose or poetry or song. Its roots can be traced back to Africa, long before hip hop even came into the picture. The ‘griot’ people of West Africa have been delivering their stories in this format for centuries, using drums and very few other instruments to provide a rhythm to their songs while Blues music finds its roots in the work songs and emotional expressions of slavery and the unmistakable influences of West African musical traditions.
But modern day rap is an integral part of the hip hop culture, with the two terms often being used interchangeably. It started being used as a part of the hip hop musical movement that was gaining momentum in the early 1970s. Veterans like DJ Cool Herc and Grand Master Flash were the first to use rap with the new style beats and rhythms that are now its signature style. In the parties in the Bronx, rap was introduced and gained popularity with the youth of the African American and Latino communities. Soon this style became a part of their identities. New rap songs started being churned out every day and the revolution that started took the music world by storm.
Today, rap and hip hop are one of the most popular musical genres in the current music scenario. Although, it did start out as an all-African American movement, rap is now listened to, followed and practiced by people around the world, despite of their ethnicities and roots. Latest rap songs and rap music videos are topping every chart and the movement has gifted the industry with many talented artists in the likes of Eminem, Jay Z, Dr. Dre, Rihanna and many many more.
It is a style that can be and is being used in fusion with other music genres like rock, pop etc. And as the staunch follower of the genre would say, Rap is not just a style of music. It truly is a frame of mind!