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Posted by Robert
Rap News Network
11/1/2004 1:33:27 PM

Tags and topics realted to this article include N.W.A., Ice-T, Dr. Dre and Suge Knight.

At the end of his last video, 99 Problems, Jay Z is symbolically gunned down, Bonnie and Clyde style. He stated that the video assassination represented his exit from the rap scene and the return of Sean Carter (Jay Z's real name).

Jay Z's video represented a clear change in direction, but it also comes at a time in which rap itself has turned a corner and seen a new style develop and dominate. Jay Z, by the way, has been one of the chief architects of this new direction.

In recent years, rappers have further broken down the barriers of what they can do - see any Missy Elliott video, or listen to Twista (who is the fastest rapper ever), if you want to see how far the limits are being pushed. There is much to applaud, but also something to lament. The idea of rap as social statement - a theme through much of its history - has been lost or abandoned by most in the past few years.

The social conscience of hip-hop developed slowly, through the early to mid 1980s. When DJs like Grandmaster Flash, DJ Herc, and Grand Wizard Theodore introduced rapping, beats, and scratching to this country in the late 1970s, they performed in parks and in basements. Rap was meant to dance to, whether breakdancing to a Kurtis Blow record, dancing disco-style to the original "Rapper's Delight", or even jump roping to beats - a popular activity at the time. In this infant stage, the point of rap was to have a good time.

Rap's social conscience was born out of the period of expansion and experimentation that was prevalent from 1980 to 1983. After the success of the early rap records (a couple even made it to the Billboard charts), rap branched out in all manner of directions. "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash and the Wheels of Steel" made scratching popular. Rappers like Jimmy Spicer, K-Rob, and Rammallzee looked for new ways to combine lyrics with beats, and looked to see how long they could stay on the mic (In "The Adventures of Super Rhymes", Spicer went on for 15 minutes). Even Mel Brooks put out a song, titled "It's Good to be the King."

Two of the most important contributions, though, were those made by the aforementioned Grandmaster Flash, along with the Furious Five, and Afrika Bambaataa. Bambaataa was, aside from rapping, was a social activist. He had formed the Zulu Nation in the 1970s, and brought the Nation's emphasis on knowledge and social awareness to rap. Bambaataa was one of the first to incorporate politics into his music - he sampled Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and others into his music. Bambaataa also pioneered the use of other types of music into rap; he sampled the electronic group Kraftwerk in "Planet Rock", and called the sound "electrofunk". Bambaataa brought social utility to rap.  Find out more about N.W.A.. Other items you may find on N.W.A. include updates, news, multimedia, chat, links and more. Click here...

Find out more about Ice-T. Other items you may find on Ice-T include updates, news, multimedia, chat, links and more. Click here...

Find out more about Dr. Dre. Other items you may find on Dr. Dre include updates, news, multimedia, chat, links and more. Click here...

Find out more about Suge Knight. Other items you may find on Suge Knight include updates, news, multimedia, chat, links and more. Click here...

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