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Hip-Hop Music and Its History in the 80s-90s Essay

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Updated: Jul 17th, 2022

At the dawn of the twentieth century, American music produced a wide range of eclectic genres. Hip-hop, gangster rap, techno, and grunge have entered the scene. At the same time, older styles, such as country, saw a rise and a reinvention of their sound.

Hip-hop music was on the rise in the late 80s, and influential rap collectives such as Run DMC and the Beastie Boys provided an outlet for the hip-hop culture to acquire national recognition. Members of Run DMC were all well-educated, which along with the right marketing, enhanced their appeal to the white audience. Their albums were the first to go platinum in the history of hip-hop. Beastie Boys were representatives of a prominent portion of white fans, with their albums selling tens of millions of copies.

As hip-hop culture was spreading to a national scale, urban areas began to develop their own unique styles. This, along with the reaction to the commercialization of hip-hop, led to the birth of a subgenre called gangsta rap. NWA was the first collective to gain success; their rebellious attitude and violent lyrics made them appealing figures to white fans. After the group’s breakup, its members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, became the superstars of gangster rap, recording legendary albums like The Chronic and The Predator.

Outside the realm of hip-hop, the 90s produced a variety of alternative genres. However, the most influential indie rock bands were R.E.M. and Sonic Youth, who drew inspiration from the punk rock of the previous decade, as well as critically acclaimed Nirvana and Soundgarden – the pioneers of grunge. In the country scene, the tradition of the music was continued by George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Toby Keith, who were distinct representatives of the culture that spawned the country. K.D. Lang was one influential artist who resisted the pressure from major record labels and continued to exercise her unique musical expression, not conforming to the general idea of a country singer.

Latin music was abundant in diverse and talented singers and performers as well. The two loud names in it are Selena and Gloria Estefan – notable singers whose work gave Latin music wide critical acclaim. Estefan’s album Primitive Love, scored on the Top Ten charts multiple times, eventually beaten by her successor Selena. The tragic death of the latter produced an effect comparable to the deaths of John Lennon and Kurt Cobain – with the press naming her the Mexican Madonna.

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"Hip-Hop Music and Its History in the 80s-90s." IvyPanda, 17 July 2022, ivypanda.com/essays/hip-hop-music-and-its-history-in-the-80s-90s/.

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IvyPanda. "Hip-Hop Music and Its History in the 80s-90s." July 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hip-hop-music-and-its-history-in-the-80s-90s/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Hip-Hop Music and Its History in the 80s-90s." July 17, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/hip-hop-music-and-its-history-in-the-80s-90s/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Hip-Hop Music and Its History in the 80s-90s'. 17 July.

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