Hip Hop goes pretty far back, actually; if you consider the play with words musically. Some have traced the use of poetry, word mastery, in the musical context, back to our tribal days. Not just in Africa either; also in such regions of the world as Southeast Asia.
By John Ferrell [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Consider the Cotton Club and those old school jazz days. There was a lot of rap going on back then. But no need to speculate and ruminate; we can see it in action from some of music’s popular acts from back in the day.
By Sup3r_Fudg3 (Kreayshawn) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
One of these acts, an all-girl group, was the Dinning Sisters. The girls were gorgeous, cute and sexy. And their lead singer was a rapper from the Big Band Boogie-Woogie days. Makes me think of the cute girls who rap today, like Kreayshawn.
Their sound had that infectious rhythm, that element of story-telling and street legend that’s so much a groundwork for Hip Hop.
What’s interesting about the Dinning Sisters is that they climbed to the top from the bottom, their story is as much a story about struggle as your modern-day rapper. And they are adorable too. Kind of like Kreayshawn.
Dorothy Dandridge is a good example of that 40s style that has all appearances of being pure Hip Hop. Talking about stylin’ and lookin’ fly. Also she had some seriously good dance moves and worked with those legends, the Nicholas Brothers.
What’s noticeable is that elements of Hip Hop today have the same elements as its musical ancestor of the 1940s. Those hardcore Hip Hop heads that bash bling and dancing in Hip Hop might be misguided. Maybe those things are part of the foundation of the Hip Hop art form. And maybe it goes way back. Those things are subject matter of people from a certain circumstance expressing what they know and see, in the art form music. With a bit of flamboyance and style. Not much different than the sensibilities of Mardi Gras or Brazilian Carnival.
What we see is a musical phenomenon that expresses the sensibilities of the street, of the party scene, the Cotton Club or Latin Quarter. Does it matter what era it comes from or the specific subject matter? Not really. It seems to be a phenomenon that stays with us but changes form over time.
By Sup3r_Fudg3 [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Ya Don’t Stop!
alifetale, Flickr. Some rights reserved.