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Hip Hop Music: East Coast, West Coast, Dirty South, And Midwest Rap

3726 words - 15 pages

The beauty of hip hop is that it is malleable. It is not defined by strict boundaries but by multiple characteristics. Young artist J. Cole (2013) explains this best by stating in an interview, “I think there’s no rules [in rap]. You can say what you want. That’s your poetic license: to test people’s boundaries.” (p.1) The results of such malleability and the need to experiment within the unwritten boundaries of hip hop are the birth of different styles and sectors/scenes in America. These sectors are represented by the geographic location of the artists and the distinctive sounds and styles that the artists utilize. For years the genre of hip hop was found primarily in the United States in these particular scenes. In the past few years, however, Toronto has been making waves and slowly making a name for itself in the rap game due to the native artists gaining popularity and critical acclaim across the globe. As a result, it had come to question whether the Canadian city can be defined as its scene due to styles the artists from the city are using or whether or not the artists are simply mocking styles from other distinct hip hop scenes in America.
When the genre of hip hop music was starting to emerge to mainstream America it was not classified into distinctive groups based on the type of rapping. Instead, artists were labeled based on the geographic location they were hailing from. Until the mid-1980’s, the majority of the rappers were hailing from the Big Apple. However with the introduction of new artists such as Ice-T and N.W.A., California would offer competition for the East Coast dominated genre. In the coming years, talented artists would emerge from all corners of the country. As a result, four distinctive scenes can be found in the genre of hip hop: East Coast, West Coast, Dirty South, and Midwest rap. Though time has allowed each scene and the artists to change and experiment with the genre, each scene offers a set of characteristics that the artists from that area share and view as basics.

The streets of the Eastern America cities would birth the most influential and largest hip hop scene. East Coast rap was started in the 1970 through block parties that were hosted in the streets of the Bronx. Young men, usually African Americans, took turns rapping over the beats laid by the deejays. Early artists who hail from New York, including DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, the Sugarhill Gang, Kurtis Blow, Jam Master Jay, and Run-D.M.C., pioneered East Coast style. The style of most East Coast rappers was characterized by simplistic rhyme pattern laid over aggressive beats, and featured the use of metaphors and complex word play. These characteristics were especially prevalent in the earlier history of hip hop due to the amount of artists who utilized these characteristics. The topic matter of the artist usually ranged from rapping about one’s reputation (money, clothes, and girls) to lyrics dealing with social...

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