A Rhythmic History of Hip-Hop
Hip-hop, which originally began more than 20 years ago, has undergone many changes during its lifetime. The music has always remained centered in urban landscapes, with most performers of the music rising up from the inner-city neighborhoods. Throughout its history, hip-hop has centered on the rhythm of the beat rather than the melody, which shows the connection between modern hip-hop and traditional African tribal music, often featuring complex polyrhythms and little to no melody. Hip-hop has also featured heavy bass sounds through out its history, with the rhythms hitting the second and fourth beat of each measure hard with either a heavy bass drum or a bass guitar. Hip-hop beats have evolved in many different ways throughout their twenty-year history, yet they are all centered around rhythm and feature heavy, syncopated bass.
For my field report, I chose to compose a number of different hip-hop beats, each one emulating a different style of beat from the history of hip-hop. I composed five different beats. The first is an emulation of a beat from the mid-eighties, the second is based on a gangster rap beat from the west coast during the early nineties, the third is based on a beat from New York City during the early nineties, the fourth based on a beat from the south during the late nineties, and the fifth is based on a beat from New York City during the late nineties. For two of the beats I used samples, which is a common practice in the construction of hip-hop beats. The other beats are all originals, yet they are not as long in length as those that contain samples.
The first beat is one that is based on the song . South Bronx. by Boogie Down Productions, which was released in 1986. Boogie Down Productions was a duo originally consisting of KRS-ONE, the MC, and DJ Scott La Rock. The beat is sparse, with the high hat keeping the steady beat throughout the entire song, and the melody consisting of brass hits during the verses, and a repeated guitar line during the bridge. The beat is both rhythmically and melodically repetitive, as it stays the same during the verse and only changes up when it hits the chorus. The brass hits are always the same rhythmically, and only occasionally during the song do they change pitch. For my beat, I decided to utilize the sound of handclaps instead of a snare drum, which, although not featured in the song "South Bronx," was something that was utilized often in "old-school" hip-hop songs. I also used brass hits to accent different beats, yet mine were more randomly spaced than those found in . South Bronx.. The old school beats were simple, sparse, and repetitive, yet they served as an ample background for the MC to rhyme over.
In 1992, Dr. Dre released an album called The Chronic, which was a gangster-rap album coming from Compton, California that set the standard for all hard-core gangster-rap beats to follow. The beats were more full than any other before, with...