Tracing the Rap/Hip-Hop Dichotomy in Popular and Underground Music

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Tracing the Rap/Hip-Hop Dichotomy in Popular and Underground Music Rap music has experienced a radical increase in popularity in the last five years. In the year 2000, rap became the second-best-selling genre in music, capturing 12.9 percent of the year's $14.3 billion in total record sales ("Rap/Hip Hop" Sc 1). Though rap is no stranger to criticism, that criticism has increased in both quantity and vociferousness at about the same rate as the number of rap albums climbing the charts. And the growing evidence that, apparently, in order to achieve commercial success, each rap album must be more negative and offensive than the last does not help to address these criticisms. Unfortunately, the critics miss most of the…show more content…
The genre's performers and audience were predominantly black in its early phases, though there was a significant Latino minority (Smitherman Sc 1), and it originated as the response of these marginalized groups to the commercial music of the period. Afrika Bambaataa, one of hip-hop's founders and leader of the Zulu Nation (a hip-hop clique), once said, "The Bronx wasn't into radio music no more....Hip-hop was against the disco that was being played on the radio" (Stern 412). The hip-hop community also developed responses to other aspects of disco culture: Athletic gear in place of leisure suits and breakdancing in place of disco dancing. Graffiti art also became intertwined with hip-hop early on, and the music became a celebration of the three art forms that comprise hip-hop culture—graffiti, break dancing, and the music itself (Smitherman Sc 1, Costello 22). The mid-1980's saw the rise to marginal mainstream popularity of rap groups like Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, who drew criticism for their relaxed treatment of sex, violence and, in the case of the Beastie Boys, drugs. Indeed they had, if not lost sight of the music's original aims completely, at least added these seemingly incongruous elements to it. Then, in 1989, hip-hop blew up in the mainstream with the introduction of

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