Old School Hip Hop Records

old school hip hopMost music historians and hip hop fans consider hip hop records produced between 1979 and 1985 ‘Old School Hip Hop.’ In its infancy, this fascinating and ever-changing genre relied heavily on the expertise of DJs mixing the right beats to keep the party going all night long.

Hip hop began at block parties and neighborhood events in US cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. But it wasn’t long before the music made its way around the world. Today, there are many forms of hip hop, including alternative hip hop, crunk, grime, and industrial hip hop. But old school hip hop remains in the hearts and souls of many hip hop fans.

Entertaining the Crowds

In the beginning, it was the hip hop DJs that brought hip hop music to life. By combining different beats from multiple records, DJs had to develop an ear for piecing together various beats and rhythms to create unique sounds that people could dance and listen to. This meant hours of beat sampling, determining the precise moment to switch records, and putting together a routine that would last for hours at a time.

Along with the DJs, break dancers and MCs were responsible for providing additional entertainment and words – which later morphed into rap music. MCs added spoken words and phrases to DJ beats, which eventually became lyrics.

With the success of Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rappers Delight’ in 1979, hip hop officially began its journey from inner city neighborhoods to the rest of the US and eventually to other countries including the UK.

Famous US/UK Hip Hop Artists

During the age of ‘Old School Hip Hop,’ many artists emerged who contributed to the increased popularity of hip hop music. Artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Malcolm McLaren, DJ Richie Rich, and Kinetic Effect helped turn hip hop from an underground musical form into something far more main stream. Old school hip hop music provided a little something for everyone – interesting beats and musical pairings, provocative lyrics, political commentary, dancing, graffiti art and beat boxing.

Social Commentary

In addition to providing great sounds for parties and other social events, old school hip hop also provided an outlet for people fed up with social problems including poverty, class wars, unfair laws, and mistreatment of people. It was during this time when many countries, including the US and UK, were in the midst of social and economic change. Hip hop music helped give a voice to those that didn’t think they were being heard by the rest of society. Through rebellious beats, lyrics, and social gatherings were people could talk amongst themselves, the music allowed people to express feelings of anger, fear, and disenchantment with political and societal norms.

Collecting Old School Hip Hop Records

With many emerging artists and bands producing music during this time period, you can easily start an eclectic collection of old school hip hop records. You can find these records online, or by visiting local book or used record shops. You can also meet fellow collectors at online or traditional auctions, estate sales, garage sales or other events where people sell records and other memorabilia.

 

Alternative Hip Hop

alternative hip hop

Alternative hip hop, also known as underground hip hop, hit the US/UK music scene in the late 80’s. This form of hip hop continued to grow throughout the 90’s and still exists today. US Groups such as Digital Underground, The Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Stereo MC’s and UK artists such as The Streets, Skinnyman, Braintax all work within this intriguing genre to create music that’s new, fresh, and original.

Often filled with political undertones, social commentary, and personal affirmations, alternative hip hop artists strive to create music that’s  forward thinking.

The Appeal of Alternative Hip Hop

Hip hop fans and music critics alike enjoy listening to alternative hip hop music for many of the same reasons. In addition to being easy to dance to or play at a party, the music is also different from other forms of hip hop because artists frequently take risks; for example, mixing disco with rap and country music. Furthermore, alternative hiphop lyrics can be seen as a form of poetry. Artists like Braintax like to tell stories through their rapping, and his lyrics form imagery, as well as making the listener think about some serious topics. For those looking for more than lyrics about bitches, guns and money,  this form of hip hop is very appealing.

And since  indie music in general has become more popular over the years, a new generation of music lovers has discovered the exploratory and intriguing beats and deep lyrics of alternative hip hop.

Collecting Hip Hop Records

With the on-going popularity of hip hop records (and record collecting in general), it shouldn’t be too difficult for those looking for alternative hip hop albums to find some in the stacks at local record shops or online. Given the fact that many alternative hip hop acts such as Digital Underground and The Fugees seldom perform, these albums may be worth more than others.

When collecting alternative hip hop albums, look for acts like Arrested Development, Jungle Brothers, Outkast or UK artists like Contact Play and Jam Baxter. With so many talented artists producing a wide variety of music, you can build an eclectic collection of old and new artists.

As with all ‘alternative’ music,  alternative hiphop’s limited exposure could be just down to a lack of marketing, or a lack of appreciation for creativity and serious lyrics in the mass market. One thing is for sure though – if you can get past your prejudices of rap and hiphop music, and take some time to listen to some alternative hiphop artists, even the most adverse of us may be pleasantly surprised.

The Return of Vinyl

One could say that alternative music and vinyl records go hand in hand, since they are both out of the mainstream.

And although vinyl will never catch up with digital downloads,  it is starting to appeal to a wider audience again, which now includes a bigger reach to a younger generation. To reach out to this new, expanding market, hip hop and other musical artists have started releasing singles as well as entire albums on vinyl again. Collectors should also check book shops, consignment shops, and junk shops as many of these outlets sell vinyl.

 

 

 

Dance Records: The Evolution of Dance Music

evolution of danceIt all started with disco. Played in night clubs around the world throughout much of the 1970’s, the music was fast, upbeat, and created an air of excitement for club goers. From there, dance music morphed and separated in to sub genres including hip hop, house, new wave, techno, dubstep and many, many more. With so many genres to choose from, record collectors will find no shortage of albums for their growing collections.

Mixing Beats

Disco brought about a change in music history that opened up a whole new experience for club goers, DJs, and musicians. A combination of many musical genres, disco incorporated a variety of instruments, both traditional and electric, vocals, and dance. But by the late 1970s, local DJs, musicians, and dancers started experimenting with new sounds and techniques.

Mixing beats from different songs to form one long segment became very popular. DJs relied on two turntables to carefully combine beats to create repetitive music samples. Dancers then created new moves based on these beats. Break dancing and hip hop both rely on changes in the beat to signal dance move progression. By then, other forms of dance music started to emerge during the late 1970s and into the 1980s. These forms relied even more on electronic instruments, drum machines, and synthesizers. But mixing beats remains a musical technique still popular in various forms of dance music today.

House, New Wave, Techno

To keep things fresh in the clubs, DJs and musicians had to create different varieties of dance music. House music, for example, took cues from disco, but relied more on electronic sounds and limited vocals and rhythm changes. Popular in night clubs in larger US cities like New York City and Chicago, House music made its way to UK night clubs and eventually to clubs and night spots around the world.

New Wave, considered a sub genre of punk rock, featured electronic sounds and synthesizers. This sound was very popular in the mid-80’s in both the US and UK. Known for short beats and quirky lyrics, New Wave added a depth to dance music that other genres didn’t have – mostly due to the lyrics and musician vocals.

Techno, made popular during the mid-80’s, is slightly different from both House and New Wave. Mostly instrumental, this form of dance music combines fast and slow progressions that people can sit back and listen to or dance to.

 Garage and Dubstep

From the late 1980’s through the 1990’s into today, other forms of dance music have emerged to create even more sub genres. Garage and Dubstep, both considered experimental because of the types of beats mixed by DJs, are darker than other types of dance music. Relying heavily on drum beats, these forms have become mainstream over the years. Many clubs now play Garage and Dubstep regularly.

For record collectors, the variety of dance records is overwhelming. With so many sub genres and offshoots, collectors can build a collection based solely on one form if they want to. This makes collecting lots of fun – and in addition to being collector’s items, these albums are still great to listen and dance to.

 

Hip Hop Vinyl

hip-hop-vinylHip hop blends a variety of musical sounds from disco to soul into an unmistakable mix of extended beats, repetitive rhythms, and in many cases, spoken word poetry. During the 1970’s when block parties become popular, especially in city neighborhoods like the Bronx, DJs would combine various sounds and beats from records through scratching and crossfading. The results were isolated sounds (extended drum beats and musical hooks) played in sequence to form a new sound.

Used as a backdrop for break dancers, hip hop has evolved over the years to become a well-known and respected genre. Hip hop is much more than one sample played over and over. Most hip hop DJs create unique sounds that may never be heard again – it’s a magical music form that allows people be creative and impulsive at the same time.

Where to Find Hip Hop Records

Many hip hop artists still release singles on vinyl. Many used record and book stores have a section dedicated to hip hop albums. You can also find these kinds of records online or through estate sales and auctions or by contacting record dealers to see what they have on hand.

Because of the popularity of hip hop, there are many records available which means they aren’t as valuable as other musical genres. Some of the earliest recordings (late 70’s and early 80’s) may be collector’s items, however. Look for albums featuring Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc, DJ Hollywood, and Grandmaster Flash if collecting early recordings.

1980’s Hip Hop

Famous acts like Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, and LL Cool J helped turn hip hop mainstream. Politically motivated, these artists turned hip hop from street music into a platform in which to bring awareness to many social ills like poverty and racial inequality.

It was also during this time that rap music became popular. Taking a cue from hip hop, rap was also used by many artists including Ice-T and N.W.A as a platform to discuss the injustices of society.

1990’s Hip Hop

Many artists performing in the 1980’s helped move hip hop into the 90’s. Other artists like MC Hammer helped make the genre even more mainstream. It was during this time that hip hop divided into ‘West Coast’ and ‘East Coast.’ Artists on both coasts took the genre and made it their own. Even though the spilt caused some animosity amongst artists, hip hop continued to gain in popularity world-wide.

Hip Hop Today

Hip hop has undergone many changes since it began in the late 1970’s. Many successful artists now incorporate elements of hip hop into their music. With roots in disco, funk, and soul music, hip hop is a versatile genre that can easily adapt to new types of music.

Other musical forms like dubstep take from hip hop to create new and unique sounds. Much darker than traditional hip hop, dubstep relies on repetitive rhythms, drum beats, and record turntables to create a smooth transition between beats.

Hip Hop DJs

Afrika BambaataaHip Hop, a term coined in the late 1970’s, continues to be a driving force in the music industry. A mix of scat, rap, spoken word poetry, and music samples relying mostly on electric instruments and drum machines, Hip Hop got its start in poor neighborhoods in the Bronx, New York City. Many famous DJs including Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc, and Grandmaster Flash introduced the music to audiences by mixing a variety of sounds and producing songs and albums that featured music and vocals many people had never heard in combination before.

Afrika Bambaataa

Born in the South Bronx, Bambaataa witnessed the power of community activism at an early age after watching his mother and uncle try to create change in their impoverished neighborhood through debate and the free exchange of ideas. After a trip to Africa, Bambaataa returned to his neighborhood with high aspirations of making things better for his community.

As leader of a local gang, The Black Spades, Bambaataa used his leadership and speaking skills to turn the group from one that relied on violence to get what it wanted to one that helped stop violence from occurring. He renamed the gang The Bronx River Organization and started hosting and DJing block parties to showcase local talent.

Credited with starting the Hip Hop movement, in 1982, Bambaataa organized the first world tour for Hip Hop taking with him many local dancers, singers, rappers, DJ’s and other artists. Bambaataa went on to form Hip Hop groups and record labels that continue to produce Hip Hop music today. Borrowing from other genres including disco, jazz, rock n’ roll, blues, and soul music, Hip Hop has become a full-fledged genre that stands on it own.

DJ Kool Herc

Born in Jamaica, DJ Kool Herc is credited with creating the Hip Hop sound. While living and DJing in the Bronx, local break dancers often asked if Herc could provide a certain type of sound – one that broke the instrumental part of songs into specific beat patterns. Using two turntables, Herc was able to create this unique sound that allowed break dancers to stay with the rhythm and create moves that matched beat patterns.

While DJing at dance parties, Herc would often shout out upcoming beats and other instructions to the dancers – this became a precursor to rap. Even though Herc didn’t take his brand of Hip Hop/break dancing/rap on the road initially, he has been featured in several movies including Beat Street and has been active over the years in preserving the local landmarks in the Bronx where he used to host Hip Hop parties.

Grandmaster-flashGrandmaster Flash

In addition to contributing original beats to the Hip Hop movement, Grandmaster Flash is also credited with creating the first crossfade – a mechanism that allows DJs to switch from one record to another using a switch instead of having to completely remove a record and quickly replacing it. This mechanism allowed DJs to match beats in new ways that were cleaner and smoother.

Other innovations Grandmaster Flash is noted for adding to the movement include enhanced scratching techniques, backspin, and punch phrasing. Each allows DJs to mix sounds in various ways to create additional beats, combine beats, and to keep the music moving smoothly.

In 2007, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were the first Hip Hop group inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.