Hip Hop’s Evolution and Revolution
Hip hop was destined to change the world. Before we could blink, this culture was born that turned everything we thought we knew upside down. Hip hop revolutionized music, and it began simply enough: by giving the people a forum to be heard. And they had a lot to tell the world. They still do. And the world listens. We use music to express ourselves and connect with each other. It influences, moves, and inspires. Say Hey There exposes the stories that people are telling every day through this medium.
It began simply enough: by giving the people a forum to be heard. And they had a lot to tell the world.
Music is a friend. Maybe the best of friends. It wraps itself around our brains and penetrates the deepest parts of our souls. It attaches itself to our emotions and memories. It transports us through time.
The beautiful thing about hip hop is that it’s uncensored and rebels against what’s normal or expected, and what we have to say is at the forefront of the art form, supported by beats that you can’t help but move to. Inspired by Jamaican music, it was born in New York at a time when the world was ready for a new sound. The only rule was to rhyme over a beat, and much like rock ‘n roll did in the 1960s, hip hop had a message that changed the world forever.
The only rule was to rhyme over a beat, and much like rock ‘n roll did in the 1960s, hip hop had a message that changed the world forever.
The Evolution of Hip Hop
Old School hip hop from the late ’70s early ’80s largely sampled soul and funk and was dominated by light-hearted subject matter and braggart-style battle rapping. Conscious rap over boom bap emerged in the mid-1980s, and this more sophisticated sound brought on what is now referred to as the Golden Age of Hip Hop.
The Golden Age is nostalgic for many of us because it wasn’t yet tainted by commercialism, and much of what came out was fresh and innovative. What’s referred to as “gangsta rap” was also born around this time, with subject matter centered around exposing inner city issues at a time they weren’t discussed in American politics. This sub-genre quickly became the most well-known and lucrative form of rap.
In the early ’90s, rap officially broke into the mainstream. As hip hop became more prominent in pop culture, many believe that the once innovative, intricate production started to decline with fewer samples, dumbed-down production, and unimaginative subject matter—an unfortunate fate many artists succumb to when signing with major labels whose only goal is to appeal to the masses and make money.
The first decade of the millenium saw a crossover where alternative artists started gaining mainstream popularity, which has opened a new realm of possibility, with artists experimenting more and more with how far they can stretch the range of rap. With the strength of the underground community, rise of alternative hip hop, and possibilities that the internet and social media have created, a whole new culture has been born. All forms and sub-genres are easily accessible, with even independent artists finding massive success in the mainstream.
With the strength of the underground community, rise of alternative hip hop, and possibilities that social media has created, a whole new culture has been born.
Although mainstream rap is still prominent, the underground movement runs deeper than ever before, largely due to the accessibility that social media offers and a passionate cult following that boycotts the often simplified, predictable, over-produced, and commercialized reputation of mainstream rap.
Say Hey There salutes the independent rhymesayers who aren’t afraid to expose themselves and the deepest parts of what makes them human; wearing their relationships, struggles, ideologies, and spirits on their sleeves, refusing to to conform to anyone else’s agenda.
In fact, it’s that raw honesty and devotion to being real that makes great hip hop great and precisely the reason that the independent army is—just that—an army. Which is not to say that anything mainstream should automatically be discarded; art is art whether it’s heard by a few or by millions. The difference is with authenticity and innovation. Does it feel good, or is it cheap? When money is the main focus, music loses. And it’s for that reason that independent hip hop today is in many ways the second coming of the Golden Age.
In fact, it’s that raw honesty and devotion to being real that makes great hip hop great and precisely the reason that the independent army is—just that—an army.
About Say Hey There
Say Hey There is a collective of independent hip hop show reviews, album reviews, artist interviews and features, op-eds, news, and exclusive releases.
Say Hey There supports independent hip hop everywhere, with a special emphasis on what’s going on in the Midwest. We may not have a coast, but we’re leaving our mark, and it’s time the world paid attention.
If you want to contribute to Say Hey There, know someone who should be featured, or want to pitch a story, contact us.