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East Coast hip hop

Music Sound

East Coast hip hop

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East Coast hip hop
Stylistic origins: A form of hip hop music that combines the elements of Jamaican Dancehall toasting with the rhythms of R&B, disco and funk among other influences.
Cultural origins: Early 1970s South Bronx, New York City
Typical instruments: Prominent drum machine - Turntable - rapping - Sampler - synthesizer - human beatboxing
Mainstream popularity: Remains a staple of popular music since the late 1980s. It reached its commercial pinnacle during the late-1990s, lower but existent in the 2000s
Subgenres
Alternative hip hop - Jazz rap - Hardcore hip hop - Horrorcore - Mafioso rap - Pop-rap - Latin rap
Regional scenes
New York City (Brooklyn - Queens - South Bronx - Staten Island - Harlem) - Philidelphia - New Jersey - Virginia
Other topics
Roots of hip hop - Hip Hop Culture - Gangsta Rap - Timeline of hip hop - Old school hip hop - the golden age of hip hop

East Coast hip hop (sometimes also referred to as New York hip hop) is a style of hip hop music that originated in New York City during the late-1970s. East Coast hip hop emerged as a definitive subgenre after artists from other regions of the United States, chiefly the West Coast and the South, emerged with different styles of hip hop. It has since grown into a major subgenre of hip hop, and has played an instrumental role in hip hop history. East Coast hip hop has developed several creative epicenters and local scenes within the Northeastern United States, most of which are primarily located within African-American and Hispanic urban centers.

Contents

Old school hip hop (1970–1986)

1970s

For more details on this topic, see Roots of hip hop.
Afrika Bambaataa was instrumental in the early development of hip hop throughout the 1970s. Afrika Bambaataa was instrumental in the early development of hip hop throughout the 1970s.

Hip hop music emerged from block parties thrown by owners of loud and expensive stereo equipment, which they could share with the community or use to compete among ultra-competitive West Indian DJs who began isolating the percussion break from funk or disco songs. The rough economic situation of the inter-city community motivated DJS to remake, rearrange, or remix existing recordings into completely different compositions with the use of turntables. DJs would extend the break section of previously released songs by alternating between duplicate copies of a vinyl recording with the use of two turntables and a mixer. In the late 1970s, visionary DJs residing in New York City (specifically the Bronx), such as Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambataa molded this new sound into a definable genre of music, which soon evolved into a urban sub-culture, which included rapping, beatboxing, scratching, graffiti, and breakdancing. Therefore, because New York City is considered to be the birthplace of hip hop, many look to the East Coast (New York City in particular) as the prestigious capitol, or Mecca, of Hip hop culture.

Soon MCs entered the equation to enhance the DJ's efforts and act as a crowd moderator. Originally, early hip hop performers focused on introducing themselves and others in the audience (the origin of the still common practice of "shouting out" on hip hop records). These early performers often emceed for hours at a time, with some improvisation and a simple four-count beat, along with a basic chorus to allow the performer to gather his thoughts (such as "one, two, three, y'all, to the beat, y'all"). Later, the MCs grew more varied in their vocal and rhythmic approach, incorporating brief rhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort at differentiating themselves and entertaining the audience.

1980s

The techniques used in hip hop changed during the 1980s as well. Most important was the DJ records such as Grandmaster Flash's "Adventures on the Wheels of Steel" (known for pioneering use of scratching, which was invented by Grandwizard Theodore in 1977) as well as electronic recordings such as "Planet Rock" by Afrika Bambaataa and Run DMC's very basic, all electronic "Sucker MC's" and "Peter Piper" which contains genuine cutting by Run DMC member Jam Master Jay. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five released a "message rap", called "The Message", in 1982; this was one of the earliest examples of recorded hip hop with a socially aware tone. In 1984, Marley Marl accidentally caught a drum machine snare hit in the sampler; this innovation was vital in the development of electro and other later types of hip hop.

DJ Grandmaster Flash is credited with pioneering what became known as the scratching technique DJ Grandmaster Flash is credited with pioneering what became known as the scratching technique

With the advent of recorded hip hop in the late 1970s, all the major elements and techniques of the genre were in place. While Kool Herc & the Herculoids were the first hip hoppers to gain major fame in New York, the public at large was first introduced to hip hop by the releases of the first two commercially issued hip hop recordings, "King Tim III" by The Fatback Band and "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang. Neither act had significant roots in the culture; the Fatback Band was primarily a funk act, while the Sugarhill Gang was the studio creation of Sugar Hill co-founder Sylvia Robinson. Nevertheless, "Rapper's Delight" became a Top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard pop singles chart, and after the releases of follow ups by acts such as Kurtis Blow ("The Breaks"), The Sequence ("Funk You Up"), and Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five ("Freedom"), hip hop was pegged as a successful, yet temporary, trend in music. During the early 1970s, breakdancing arose during block parties, as b-boys and b-girls got in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive, frenetic style. The style was documented for release to a world wide audience for the first time in Beat Street.

Though not yet mainstream, it was well-known among African Americans, even outside of New York City; hip hop could be found in cities as diverse as Los Angeles, Washington, Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Houston. In particular, Philadelphia was, for many years, the only city whose contributions to hip hop were valued as greatly as New York City's by hip hop purists and critics. Hip hop was popular there at least as far back as 1976 (first record: "Rhythm Talk", by Jocko Henderson in 1979), and the New York Times dubbed Philly the "Graffiti Capital of the World" in 1971, due to the influence of such legendary graffiti artists as Cornbread. The first female solo artist to record hip hop was Lady B. ("To the Beat Y'All", 1980), a Philly-area radio DJ.

The Golden Age of Hip Hop (1986–1993)

Main article: The golden age of hip hop
Eric B. & Rakim's debut album, Paid in Full, is one of the quintessential releases of the golden age of hip hop Eric B. & Rakim's debut album, Paid in Full, is one of the quintessential releases of the golden age of hip hop

Old school hip hop would often sample disco, soul, and funk tracks. In the case of the Sugarhill Gang, a live band was used for samples. However, the old school sound soon became based largely on drum machines and popular break samples. Mixing and scratching techniques eventually developed along with the breaks. In contrast with the later rhymes of new school hip hop, old school rap was relatively simple in its rhythms and cadences. However, from the mid- to late 1980s, Hip hop gradually gravitated to a more sample-reliant sound, as rappers increased their technical dexterity in crafting lyrics. As time went by, a distinction appeared between the old school sound (defined by simplistic rhyme schemes, straightforward messages, and sparse rhythms and cadences with few samples) and the new school. Typifying this Golden Age of the East Coast sound was Eric B. & Rakim’s Paid in Full. Paid in Full showcased Rakim’s multi-syllabic lyrical delivery which would be subsequently adapted by numerous rappers —introducing the idea of a rapid, continuous, free-rhythmic flow, based around deeply woven rhyme structures (incorporating internal rhymes and sophisticated metaphors). Furthermore, Eric B.'s innovative distillation of James Brown samples ushered the "godfather rap" period, which witnessed the extensive sampling of R&B and soul music as instrumentals for hip hop songs.

Popularization

Public Enemy’s influential sophomore album garnered critical acclaim due to its sample-heavy beats and revolutionary lyrics Public Enemy’s influential sophomore album garnered critical acclaim due to its sample-heavy beats and revolutionary lyrics

While New York City would remain the center of hip hop culture for much of the 1980s, hip hop music itself was gaining mainstream success and becoming increasingly accessible within the musical fabric of pop culture. Artists such as Kurtis Blow, Run DMC, Biz Markie, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, and EPMD, were considered the closest thing to superstars that hip hop had yet produced, and all were firmly rooted on the East Coast. In fact, Kurtis Blow (Kurtis Blow), LL Cool J (Radio) and especially Run-D.M.C. (Raising Hell), were among the first hip hop artists to legitimize the genre by gaining acceptance from the mainstream media. LL Cool J's Radio spawned a number of singles that entered the dance charts, peaking with "I Can Give You More" (#21). 1986 saw two hip hop acts in the Billboard Top Ten; Run-D.M.C.'s "Walk This Way" collaboration with Aerosmith, and the Beastie Boys "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)". The pop success of both singles was unheard of for the time. Kurtis Blow, whose appearance in a Sprite commercial made him the first hip hop musician to be considered mainstream enough to represent a major product, but also the first to be accused by the hip hop audience of selling out. Other popular performer among mainstream audiences included DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, who won rap's first grammy award in 1988.

Diversification and The Rise of Alternative Hip Hop

De La Soul’s landmark album, 3 Feet High and Rising is often viewed as the stylistic beginning of 1990s alternative hip hop De La Soul’s landmark album, 3 Feet High and Rising is often viewed as the stylistic beginning of 1990s alternative hip hop

During the late-1980s, Philidelphia's Schoolly D, developed what became known as gangsta rap. Although Gangsta rap is usually credited as being an originally West Coast phenomenon (due to the mainstream exposure of Ice-T and N.W.A) Boogie Down Productions (Criminal Minded) and Kool G Rap (Road to the Riches) were instrumental in pioneering hardcore hip hop, an East Coast variant of gangsta rap. Another major influence on East Coast hip hop was the pioneering work of the politically-aware performers, Public Enemy. In the late 1980s, Public Enemy became one of the premiere acts in hip hop, both among aficionados and mainstream listeners. In 1987, Public Enemy released their debut album (Yo! Bum Rush the Show) on Def Jam - one of hip hop's oldest and most important labels, and Boogie Down Productions followed up in 1988 with By All Means Necessary; both records pioneered wave of hard-edged politicized performers. In particular, Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back became surprisingly successful, despite its militant and confrontational tone, appearing on both the club and rap charts, and peaking at #17 and #11, respectively. Aside from the lyrical innovations, Public Enemy's DJ, Terminator X, and their production team, The Bomb Squad (along with Eric B., Marley Marl, and Prince Paul among others) both pioneered new techniques in sampling and scratching that resulted in dense, multi-layered sonic collages.

A Tribe Called Quest’s, The Low End Theory, is one of the defining albums of the Alternative hip hop genre A Tribe Called Quest’s, The Low End Theory, is one of the defining albums of the Alternative hip hop genre

Public Enemy's politically aware lyrics and militant activism served as the blueprint for groups such as X-Clan, Brand Nubian, and Native Tongues Posse (the last of which arose as a form of alternative rap with artists like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest). In 1988 and 1989, albums from the Native Tongues Posse collective such as De La Soul's Three Feet High and Rising, A Tribe Called Quest's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, and the Jungle Brothers' Done by the Forces of Nature are usually considered the first definitive alternative rap albums, with jazz-based samples and quirky, insightful lyrics covering a diverse range of topics and strongly influenced by the Afrocentric messages of Bambaataa's Zulu Nation. This period, between 1988 and 1992, when the Native Tongues (together with other crews such as Pete Rock and CL Smooth and The Main Source) were at their creative peak, is considered the apogee of golden age of hip hop.

In addition to the Native Tongues Posse, influential singles were released in 1988, by Gang Starr ("Words I Manifest") and Stetsasonic ("Talkin' All That Jazz"); these two singles fused hip hop with jazz in a way never done before, and helped lead to the development of jazz rap. Digable Planets also achieved phenonemal success in the early nineties with their single Cool Like Dat and the album Reachin' (A New Refutation Of Time & Space), though this alternative rap movement largely fizzled out in the mid-1990s, with A Tribe Called Quest splitting up and De La Soul, the Jungle Brothers, and Gang Starr retreating to the hip hop underground.

Modern Hip Hop (1993–Present)

The Rise of the West Coast

Main article: West Coast hip hop
The pioneering group, Wu-Tang Clan. Left to right: Raekwon, Masta Killa, Method Man, Ghostface Killah (back) and Ol' Dirty Bastard (front), Inspectah Deck (standing) and GZA (kneeling), U-God, and The RZA The pioneering group, Wu-Tang Clan. Left to right: Raekwon, Masta Killa, Method Man, Ghostface Killah (back) and Ol' Dirty Bastard (front), Inspectah Deck (standing) and GZA (kneeling), U-God, and The RZA

Though East Coast hip hop was dominant throughout the 1980s, N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton and later Dr. Dre's The Chronic would introduce West Coast hip hop to the mainstream, and went on to supersede the East Coast's dominance. The Chronic, in particular, took West Coast rap in a new direction that was strongly influenced by P-funk artists, melding the psychedelic funky beats with slowly drawled lyrics. This came to be known as G-funk, and dominated mainstream hip hop for several years through a roster of artists on Death Row Records, including most popularly, Snoop Doggy Dogg, whose debut, Doggystyle, included "What's My Name" and "Gin and Juice", both Top Ten pop hits. Thus, for much of the early-to-mid 1990s, the West Coast hip hop scene overshadowed several East Coast rappers. Encapsulating the torpid times, Jay-Z stated that, "It's like New York's been soft ever since Snoop came through and crushed them buildings", while making a reference to Dogg Pound's "New York, New York” video that featured Death Row artists stepping on New York's famed skyline. East Coast hip hop appeared to be in such disarray, that in 1993, West Coast rappers sold three times as many records as their East Coast counterparts.

The East Coast Renaissance

Mobb Deep’s The Infamous is an influential album of the Hardcore rap genre Mobb Deep’s The Infamous is an influential album of the Hardcore rap genre

Although G-Funk was the most popular variety of hip hop during the early 1990s, New York's hip hop scene did not disappear, and would remain an integral part of the industry. Several New York rappers rising from the local underground scene, began releasing noteworthy albums (including Enta Da Stage, Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Illmatic, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, The Infamous, Doe Or Die, and Reasonable Doubt) —most of them gaining outstanding critical recognition and prominence, despite their sporadic sales. Gabe Gloden of Stylus Magazine wrote, “From my perspective in the Midwest, the market was dominated by West Coast hip hop, and these albums didn’t make much of a dent in West Coast sales, but with time, these albums filtered their way into everyone’s collections” [1]. The most commercially successful of these albums, Ready to Die, launched Notorious B.I.G. into stardom and established Bad Boy Records (under the direction of Puff Daddy') as the main competitor of Death Row Records. In addition to the hugely profitable and pop-accessible Bad Boy label, the East Coast produced its share of varied, highly acclaimed artists, including the lyrical genius Nas, the hugely influential hardcore groups Wu-Tang Clan, and Mobb Deep, and lesser-known artists such as Black Moon, Smif-N-Wessun, O.C., Mic Geronimo, and Jeru the Damaja. These events signaled what many hip hop purists have since coined as the "East Coast Renaissance".

Illmatic, Nas's seminal debut, had a profound impact on East Coast hip hop during the mid-1990s Illmatic, Nas's seminal debut, had a profound impact on East Coast hip hop during the mid-1990s

The Shiny Suit era & Mainstream pinnacle

For more details on this topic, see Pop rap.

The revival of the East Coast hip hop scene as a reemerging identity soon spawned an inter-coastal confrontation. This rivalry culminated into the murders of Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. in the mid-1990s. In the wake of the deaths of both artists, Biggie's certified-diamond double album, Life After Death, became a huge posthumous success in 1997. Whereas West Coast dominance soon crumbled after the death of Tupac, as Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg left Death Row Records and Suge Knight was jailed over illegal business practices. This spelled an end to the West Coast’s four year reign —which was soon to be superseded to the East. Bad Boy Records went on to further dominate the charts upon the release of Puffy's and Ma$e's respective multi-platinum albums: No Way Out and Harlem World.

Though this commmercial success came at the detriment of critical acclaim, due to the perceived over-reliance on sampling). Generally, the era in which this sound prospered (called the "Shiny Suit Era" by some due to Puffy and Ma$e's tendacies to wear expensive clothing that would literally shine) is not fondly remembered, and it is no coincidence that its rise to prosperity was virtually paralleled by a surge of activity in hardcore and alternative hip hop scenes. Afterwards, during the remainder of the late-1990s, a new breed of hard-edged East Coast rappers soon emerged, who began topping the charts once again. These rappers included DMX, Ja Rule, and Jay-Z, who all rose to mainstream prominence with their multi-platinum releases: It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, Rule 3:36, and Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life.

The eponymously titled Black Star album was a major breakthrough in alternative hip hop during the late 1990s. The eponymously titled Black Star album was a major breakthrough in alternative hip hop during the late 1990s.

Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is credited with popularizing Mafia and gangster movie motifs in Mafioso Rap Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is credited with popularizing Mafia and gangster movie motifs in Mafioso Rap

'Second Wave' Alternative hip hop

Just as gangsta rap and pop-rap was beginning to achieve incredible mainstream and crossover success, hip hop's alternative side experienced a resurgence. The Afrocentric neo-soul movement was heavily influenced by the Native Tongues and artists such as Mos Def (Black on Both Sides), Talib Kweli (Train Of Thought), The Fugees (The Score), The Roots (Things Fall Apart), Erykah Badu (Baduizm), and Slum Village (Fantastic Vol. 2) achieved great success at the close of the decade. The Rawkus record label, home to Mos Def, Talib Kweli and Company Flow as well as Pharoahe Monch is largely credited with aiding the late 1990s resurgence of alternative rap.

Mos Def and Talib Kweli's 1998 release, Black Star (largely produced by Hi-Tek) also contributed greatly to this evolution, with its return to Native Tongues-style old school hip hop. Mos Def's solo debut, Black on Both Sides (1999), quickly established him as a darling of alternative media for its incendiary politics. Kweli's solo career, however, took some time to get off the ground; as he did not release his debut, Reflection Eternal until 2000. Pharaoh Monch's Internal Affairs, his 1999 solo debut after leaving Organized Konfusion, also added more gangsta and hardcore hip hop elements to the mix. The hip hop band, The Roots were among the leaders of the second alternative hip hop wave, dropping several critically acclaimed albums in the mid-to-late 1990s, including Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995), Illadelph Halflife (1996), and the breakthrough, Things Fall Apart in 1999.

The Rise of the South

Main article: Southern Rap

However, for much of the early 2000s, the East Coast chart-dominance began losing its momentum to the then growing Dirty South. Particularly, in the year 2003 (a year which coincided with the retirement of Jay-Z and DMX, and the decline of Ja Rule's popularity), Southern Rap experienced an unprecedented degree of mainstream popularity with several hit singles, including Never Scared by Bone Crusher, featuring Killer Mike and T.I., Damn! by Youngbloodz, and especially Get Low (produced by Lil' Jon and featuring the Ying Yang Twins). Rap News Network summed up this phenomenon when it stated, "This year's hottest hip hop artists are from the Midwest and the South, from Atlanta or St. Louis or Chicago. Anywhere, it seems, but here [New York]." [2] Since then, 50 cent remains the only multi-platinum selling East Coast artist to top the charts. From the forementioned mass appeal of Lil' Jon and the Ying Yang Twins, to the meteoric rise of Missy Elliot, T.I., Ludacris, Outkast, to the rise of Houston rappers such as, Lil' Flip, and Chamillionaire, the East Coast has struggled to retain its former status in the mainstream.

Furthermore, despite having one of the most productive underground scenes in the country, East Coast hip hop currently suffers from frequent infighting. While East Coast rap is currently struggling for mainstream recognition, East Coast (most notably New York) critics, DJ's, radio personalities, and even a few upcoming rappers have frequently expressed their distaste for Southern dominance. Criticisms range from generalizations of the South as being only one type of music, claims of lack of lyricism and creativity, and even criticizing other East Coast rappers for collaborating with Southern artists. Some hip hop experts speculate that this will eventually lead to a regional war between today's popular Southern artists and today's upcoming East Coast acts, a la the infamous and tragic East Coast/West Coast feud.

Musical style & Regional difference

DJ Premier is considered by many to be one of the greatest producers in hip hop history. DJ Premier is considered by many to be one of the greatest producers in hip hop history.

The stand-out point of East Coast hip hop from other regional forms (in general) is the intricate and multi-threaded lyrics and delivery of this sub-genre. East coast artists tend to be more complex, witty, and versatile (depending on the artist). As a general rule, East Coast rap artists tend to emphasize lyricism coupled with production centered on the frenetic use of a drum machine. Critically-acclaimed East Coast artists such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Nas have a wide margin of subject matter thus appealing to a wider audience, particularly when they address social issues in their communities. Alternative styles usually develop in this region with groups such as A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Gang Starr, and De La Soul, and Common; who blend jazz or abstract production with socially-conscious lyrics.

Few rappers such as 50 Cent, Jay-Z, DMX, Jadakiss, and Fat Joe haved adopted gangsta rap persona which typically glorifies violence, drugs or gang affiliation, or groups such as M.O.P. which could produce hardcore, adrenaline inducing music. Furthermore, East coast hiphop also tends to have slower pace beats-per-minute (90-120 Beats Per Minute) than its southern and west coast counterparts.

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.


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