Hip-Hop Did Not Begin How You Think It Did

Categories: Hip-Hop

Things began to crystalize in 1970s New York. Isaac Hayes rhymed in his soulful voice, and tracks like Jimmy Castor's "Hallucinations" (1974) feature an instantly-identifiable early rap cadence.

A favorite at this time was Lightning Rod's album-length tale Hustlers' Convention, which was probably the closest relative to rap, before hip-hop officially began.

In traditional discussions of hip-hop forebearers, the names that most often pop up are the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron. But according to Priest Forever, a hip-hop historian and one half of rap duo the Gecko Brothers, the connection between the Last Poets and hip-hop wasn't really made in the media until the rise of Public Enemy.

While there's no denying the Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron helped popularize rhyming as a means of social communication, there's debate as to how much influence they had on those early 1970s block parties, like the ones Kool Herc rocked.

And the huge sonic differences between these supposed direct antecedents and that of early hip-hop can't easily be overlooked.

At the end of the day, folks like Moore, Blowfly, and Lightning Rod surely had at least as much influence as their more politically-correct contemporaries.

Even if that doesn't sound as safe in a cultural studies thesis.


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