Apple Music Hip-Hop
Transforming heavy beats and hard-hitting rhymes into both cutting-edge art and mainstream hits, hip-hop revolutionized music with just two turntables and a microphone. It was born on the streets of the Bronx in the early ’70s, when groundbreaking DJs like Kool Herc began spinning at block parties and clubs, eventually bringing in local MCs to entertain with some party-starting rhymes. In the 21st century, hip-hop is a global phenomenon, with outposts as far-flung as Paris and Tokyo. From its earliest days, however, it's been built on constant innovation. This endlessly evolving history encompasses the gritty gangsta tales of Ice Cube, the jazzy playfulness of A Tribe Called Quest, the intensely thoughtful and provocative duality of Tupac, the genre-bending ambition of Kanye West, the razor-sharp punchlines of Lil Wayne, and many points between.
On the heels of Sugarhill Gang’s breakthrough 1979 single, “Rapper’s Delight,” hip-hop was launched into the international spotlight. In the early ‘80s, trailblazers like Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kurtis Blow (the first rapper to sign a major-label record deal) drew the genre’s blueprint. By the mid-‘80s, it was in the throes of its first creative renaissance, a golden age that sparked the careers of icons like Run-DMC, Eric B. & Rakim, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys. At the same time, West Coast hip-hop was developing its own funky-but-rough brand thanks to pioneers like N.W.A. and Ice-T. From Miami to New Orleans and Chicago to Atlanta, dozens of musically distinctive regional scenes soon were vying for the spotlight. In the ’90s, hip-hop went thoroughly mainstream; even hardcore rappers like The Notorious B.I.G. sold millions of albums. At the same time, an adventurous underground hip-hop movement took shape around the world, both reaffirming old-school values and pushing the genre's boundaries forward. As the new millennium approached, Southern rappers like crunk impresario Lil Jon and the rule-breaking duo Outkast came to dominate the landscape, while another influential subgenre, trap, started ratcheting out of speakers in Atlanta and eventually crossed into the mainstream. But by then hip-hop was already far too diverse to be truly summed up by any one style or scene. Retro or futuristic, poetic or hilarious, catchy or abrasive, political or hedonistic—hip-hop remains as vital as ever.