✔️ What is rap music?
Rap music is a genre that involves rhythmic speech and lyrical expression delivered over a beat. It often incorporates poetic elements, storytelling, and social commentary.
Rap music, an integral part of the broader hip-hop cultural movement, has evolved into a diverse array of subgenres, each with its own distinct characteristics and influences. From the early days of MCs rapping over DJ sets at block parties to the contemporary fusion of various musical elements, rap has showcased remarkable versatility and innovation.
Understanding Rap Music
Rap music, often simply referred to as “rap,” derives its name from an acronym that stands for “rhythm and poetry.” It involves the art of combining rhythmic speech with beats to create a musical experience. The instrumental tracks in rap music commonly feature digitized sampling and beats, contributing to the genre’s distinctive sound.
The Historical Roots of Rap Music
Rap music is most prominently associated with the hip-hop movement, which originated in the vibrant cultural landscape of New York City during the 1970s. This movement gave rise to iconic elements such as graffiti, DJing, MCing (which evolved into rap), and break dancing. The inception of hip hop can be traced back to the block parties where DJs would sample funk, soul, and disco records.
The role of MCs in introducing different DJs to the audience gradually evolved into rapping over DJ sets, laying the foundation for the rap genre. The release of tracks like “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang and “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow catapulted rap music into the public eye. The evolution of rapping and DJing was pivotal, giving rise to signature sonic features like record scratching, needle drops, and the use of drum machines.
Distinguishing Rap, Hip Hop, and Trap
While often used interchangeably, “rap,” “hip hop,” and “trap” are distinct yet interconnected terms within the musical landscape. Rap refers to the vocal delivery style, while hip hop encapsulates the broader culture encompassing MCing, DJing, break dancing, and graffiti art. Trap, on the other hand, is a subgenre of hip hop originating in the Southern United States, characterized by its heavy use of 808s, hi-hats, and bass elements.
An Exploration of Rap Subgenres
The rap genre has spawned an impressive array of subgenres, each with its unique sonic characteristics and cultural influences. Let’s delve into some of these subgenres, accompanied by notable examples:
- Old School Hip Hop
A foundational subgenre, old-school hip hop harkens back to the early days of the genre. Defined by rapping over sampled records, it pays homage to the roots of hip-hop. Fearless Four’s “Rockin It” exemplifies the quintessential old-school vibe.
Emerging from the streets of Chicago, drill blends trap influences with gritty lyrical content. Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” is a prime example of the genre’s intense energy and street-centric narratives.
- UK Drill
Hailing from the UK, this subgenre infuses haunting melodies with lyrics that reflect urban life. 67’s “Let’s Lurk” encapsulates the raw and authentic essence of UK drill.
- Jazz Rap
An innovative fusion of rap and jazz, this subgenre is characterized by its sophisticated musicality. A Tribe Called Quest’s “Buggin’ Out” masterfully blends the rhythmic flow of rap with the intricate melodies of jazz.
- Cloud Rap
Emerging from the American South, cloud rap creates dreamy soundscapes with lo-fi beats. Yung Lean’s “Diamonds” immerses listeners in its ethereal sonic realm.
- Gangsta Rap
A genre rooted in reality, gangsta rap explores the culture of American street gangs. N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” set the stage for this influential subgenre.
- Boom Bap
A signature sound of East Coast rap, boom bap is known for its distinctive kick and snare pattern. Gang Starr’s “ALONGWAYTOGO” is a prime example of this rhythmic style.
Originating in the South, crunk is characterized by its uptempo and energetic beats. Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck” is a club anthem that embodies the spirit of crunk.
- Chopped and Screwed Hip Hop
This unique subgenre involves manipulating beats through sampling and slowing down tracks. DJ Screw’s “Tell Me Something Good” offers a mesmerizing experience of chopped and screwed hip hop.
- Emo Rap
Blending emotional vulnerability with trap-inspired beats, emo rap delves into introspection. The late Lil Peep’s “Lucid Dreams” epitomizes the emotional depth of this subgenre.
- East Coast Rap
Originating in New York City, East Coast rap is characterized by its lyrical complexity and storytelling. Wu-Tang Clan’s “C.R.E.A.M.” is a seminal track in this subgenre.
A product of the Bay Area, hyphy delivers gritty rhythms and an unmistakable energy. The Federation’s “Hyphy” captures the essence of this West Coast sound.
- Conscious Hip Hop
Fueled by social awareness, conscious hip hop addresses issues like politics and culture. Common’s “I Used to Love H.E.R.” exemplifies the genre’s thought-provoking lyricism.
Originating in New Orleans, bounce is characterized by its upbeat tempo and call-and-response structure. Big Freedia’s “N.O Bounce” gets bodies moving with its infectious rhythm.
A powerhouse subgenre, trap boasts heavy 808s and bass lines. Future’s “Life is Good” is a prime example of trap’s infectious energy.
- Mumble Rap
Known for its distinctive vocal delivery, mumble rap gained popularity on platforms like Soundcloud. Gucci Mane’s “Pillz” showcases the subgenre’s unique style.
Originating on the West Coast, G-funk infuses funk elements with rap. DJ Quik’s “dollaz + sense” exemplifies the genre’s laid-back yet groovy vibe.
- Country Trap
A fusion of hip hop and country, country trap introduces a fresh sonic blend. Young Thug’s “Family Doesn’t Matter” seamlessly marries these two genres.
- Dirty South
Characterized by danceable beats and double-time hi-hats, dirty south captures the essence of the Southern hip-hop scene. Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” epitomizes this subgenre’s catchy flow.
- Hardcore Hip Hop
Pioneered by artists like Run-D.M.C., hardcore hip hop delivers a hard-hitting and unapologetic sound. “It’s Like That” by Run-D.M.C. showcases the genre’s raw energy.
- Soundcloud Rap
Named after the platform that popularized it, Soundcloud rap is known for its DIY aesthetic. Trippie Redd’s “Love Scars” captures the grassroots spirit of this subgenre.
- Lofi Hip Hop
Characterized by its dreamy and laid-back sound, lofi hip hop has gained prominence as a relaxing backdrop. Moods’ “Dedicated” immerses listeners in a nostalgic sonic landscape.
- Latin Trap
A fusion of trap and Latin influences, Latin trap brings a global flavor to the genre. Bad Bunny’s “Party” showcases the subgenre’s infectious rhythms.
- Frat Rap
Defined by its casual and carefree sound, frat rap has gained popularity among college campuses. Jordan Walker’s “Jordan Belfort” and Mac Miller’s “The Spins” capture the essence of this subgenre.
- Rap Rock
A genre that blends rap with the energy of rock music, rap rock has left an indelible mark. The Beastie Boys’ “Fight for Your Right” is an iconic track within this fusion.
Originating in the UK, grime draws inspiration from genres like jungle and garage. Skepta’s “Shutdown” embodies the aggressive and distinctive sound of grime.
Pushing boundaries with transgressive content and imagery, horrorcore delves into the macabre. Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers” captivates listeners with its dark and eerie narrative.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rap Music
Q: What are the three types of rap?
A: Rap encompasses a multitude of styles, often evolving into subgenres like gangsta rap, rap rock, and lo-fi hip hop, among others.
Q: What is 90s rap called?
A: The 90s witnessed the emergence of various rap genres, including the golden age of hip hop, along with experimental subgenres like hardcore, gangsta, and G-funk.
Q: Who started rap?
A: The origins of rap can be attributed to DJ Kool Herc from the Bronx, who pioneered the art of manipulating turntables and rapping over beats.
Q: What’s the difference between rap and trap?
A: Rap pertains to vocal delivery, while trap is a subgenre of hip hop characterized by its heavy use of 808s, hi-hats, and bass elements.
The world of rap music is a vibrant tapestry of creativity and diversity, with each subgenre contributing its unique flavor to the genre’s evolution. From the early days of block parties in New York City to the contemporary global phenomenon, rap music has continuously reinvented itself while retaining its core essence. Exploring the plethora of rap subgenres not only deepens our understanding of music but also offers a glimpse into the cultural movements that have shaped it. As new artists and trends emerge, the rap genre will undoubtedly continue to captivate audiences worldwide.