Make Em’ Clap To This: (Young) Black Men and the De-Evolution of Hip Hop


By Nicholas Maurice Young, Ph. D.

            According to several sources, the musical genre known as “Hip Hop” began in the early 1970”s in the Bronx.  Students of the musical style argue that the founder of the music is someone known to Hip Hop enthusiast as  “DJ Cool Herc,” a Jamaican DJ from Kingston, New York.  According to Blogger and Hip Hop Historian “Davey D,” when Mr. Herc moved from Kingston to the area called West Bronx he created a new musical genre that involved reciting improvised lyrics and rhymes to current reggae music.  But, while this version of the story about Hip Hop’s history is mostly undisputed, others like “Blastmaster KRS-One” argue that the musical style began in the area called “South Bronx.”

To be sure, regardless of the music’s origin, the genre that they created evolved into a dominant musical tradition; so much so, that the music produced by some of today’s Hip Hop artist currently dominating the music charts, by young Black men like “Drake,” “Little Wayne.” “Young Jeezy’” and “Wacka Flocka” (What is a “Wocka Flocka?”).   Amazingly, music produced by artist like this group of young men have replaced the musical genre created by DJ Cool Herc and others like the “Sugarhill Gang” (“I said a Hip Hop, the Hippit…”); “Kurtis Blow” (“Clap yo’ hands everybody, if you got what it takes, cause I’m Kurtis Blow, and I want you to know that these are the Breaks!); “MC Lyte” (“Milk is Chillin,’ Gizmo’s Chillin,’ What more can I say, TOP BILLIN?”); “Eric B and Rakim” (“I came in the door.  I said it before.  I’ll never let the mic magnetize me no more”);  “LL Cool J” (LL Cool J is hard as hell!  Battle anybody I don’t care if you tell!  I excel!  They all fail!  Gonna come excel, Double L must rock the bells!!!); Lauryn Hill (“It’s Funny how money changes situations.  Miscommunications lead to complications.  My emancipation don’t fit your equation.”); “Big Daddy Kane”  (“Rappers steppin’ to me.  They wanna get some.  But, I’m the Kane, yo’ you know the outcome…”) “KRS-ONE” (“Criminal minded, you been blinded, lookin’ for a star like mine, you can’t find it”).  However, despite the great music produced by this creative contingent, and others like them, the Hip Hop tradition has devolved into a wanting, boring mix of deliberate and predictable lyrics (Using the “B” and “N” words) and music that leaves the creative imagination hoping for a return to what is now is being called “Old-School Hip Hop.”

Folks, how and why did this happen?

Nicholas Maurice Young is a sociologist, writer, and independent researcher.  He is a former Fellow with the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University.   He holds a Ph. D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago.  Nick is currently writing a book about the network connections of the Underground Railroad.

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6 Responses to “Make Em’ Clap To This: (Young) Black Men and the De-Evolution of Hip Hop”

  1. It gained a new audience and demographics. It no longer appealed only to those out in the park. It followed the evolutionary steps of music influenced by people of color and left the park and entered into corporate America. The same thing happened to jazz, rock n roll, and other forms of soul music which today, is no longer even recognized as soulful music.

  2. Nick, it would just be an honor to have a brother like you involved with our movement of Fatherhood we believe there is the correction that is needed in our communities. see http://www.thegoodfathersonly.com looking forward to feedback. Hip hop is not dead but ganster rap, should be, its a single thought of ignorance of an individual, if not please change the lyrics because if i hear one more person place me in this catogory ill go crazy, im not a nword, gansta, or pimp, Im a father.

  3. Peace, Respect & Love!

    I understand that some people are unhappy about most of the Rap music being played in the mainstream media, however, WACK articles like this DO NOT help! This article is filled with mis-information, from spelling names wrong to misquoting lyrics! There are several individuals and Hip Hop organizations, myself included, that can give provide Dr. Young with vital information, facts and SOLUTIONS that would support his premise. Dr. Young should do BETTER research or actually talk with someone involved with Hip Hop culture BEFORE he attempts to speak on a subject, that he obviously knows LITTLE about, Word!

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