Billboard Explains: The Origins of Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, but how did it develop into what it is today? And furthermore, how did it become the No. 1 most-consumed type of music across the globe? The latest episode of Billboard Explains dives into the origins of the genre.

To get to the core of rap music, one should start in New York City. In the 1970s, block parties became a staple for several communities throughout the city, and DJs started making popular dance breaks in music tracks through a dual turntable system and mixer in order to keep parties going. DJ Kool Herc formally established the genre on Aug. 11, 1973, at his sister’s graduation party in the Bronx; while mixing tracks on the spot, Herc would provide spoken word over that tracks that later evolved into what rap is today.

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In the years following the birth of the genre, a golden age of hip-hop started to emerge — old-school greats like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, LL Cool J and Run-DMC dominated the 1980s, as well as Public Enemy, Salt-N-Pepa and Boogie Down Productions. The 1990s saw the rise of gangsta rap, with 2Pac representing the West Coast and The Notorious B.I.G. the East Coast. Throughout the 2000s to today, artists have used their influence to branch out into entrepreneurial endeavors, self-releases and more.

After the video, catch up on more Billboard Explains videos and learn about how Beyoncé arrived at Renaissance, the evolution of girl groupsBBMAsNFTsSXSW, the magic of boy bandsAmerican Music Awards, the Billboard Latin Music Awards, the Hot 100 charthow R&B/hip-hop became the biggest genre in the festivals book their lineupsBillie Eilish’s formula for success, the history of rap battlesnonbinary awareness in musicthe Billboard Music Awardsthe Free Britney movementrise of K-pop in the U.S.why Taylor Swift is re-recording her first six albumsthe boom of hit all-female collaborationshow Grammy nominees and winners are chosenwhy songwriters are selling their publishing catalogshow the Super Bowl halftime show is booked and why Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” was able to shoot to No. 1 on the Hot 100.

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