The History And Evolution Of Rap Music

For decades, the American “black cultural” has included hip-hop music and rap. Black people have had many outlets for their incessant burdens, including song and music, since they arrived in America as slave ships. This began to develop into the hip-hop and rap music genres in the 1980’s. It began with spoken-word artists like Gil-Scott Heron. He would sometimes speak in verse over a beat. The beats became the beats, and eventually the words were adapted to the music. This created a new way for music and words to be synchronized. While hip-hop originated in African American culture, it was quickly adopted by many other cultures. Because it originated in black culture, many people associate hip-hop with African Americans. This is true for most people, especially white privileged ones. I disagree. Rap and music can be used as a means of oppression or struggle, but in other cultures hip-hop and rap allow any group that is discriminated to express themselves. Rap and hip-hop are not cultural appropriation. Instead, they serve as empathetic identification.

Particularly, the integrations of hip-hop with rap in European culture exemplify the way the genre acts as an outlet not only for blacks but for every underprivileged group. The late 70’s and 80’s were the first years that Rap was popular. Foreign countries began to notice. Jazz music in France was extremely popular through the 1950’s. Liberation, an English newspaper, published several articles about New York rappers in October 1982. Chagrin D’amour, an American pop group, produced an album entirely in French and used rapping techniques. Prevos 714 is the name of the first French rap group. Chagrin’s D’amour was not an American rapper, but he raped with a different purpose than American rappers. It was a mainstream music group trying to mimic a American culture for its popularity. In Paris’ northern cities, breakdancing and rap had been widely spread. These areas were very similar in nature to American ghettos. They also “became hotbeds for violence, drugs and crime” (Prevos 704). The popularity of Chagrin D’amour was both a delight and a concern for these Parisian rappers. They were both excited to see rap become an art form that was quickly becoming popular, but they were also worried about their lyrics not being as simple and innocent as Chagrin D’amour’s (Prevos 714). In these poor areas, hip-hop and rap became an integral part of culture, much like it was in American ghettos. Although rap was brought to France by cultural appropriation, its real power came from underprivileged youth living in similar communities to American rappers. In the late 1980’s, urban rappers began to dominate the French music scene. The new rap artist closely resembled American counterparts such as NWA. In the lyrics, there was a lot of anti establishment prose. Many rappers talked about the discrimination that they experienced, both in their personal lives and in society. The new art of Prevos 715 was created by these rappers to share the hardships of their daily lives with the public. Puppa Leslie’s song “Dimanche Dans Le Ghetto”, which means Sunday in the ghetto, is an example. This song details the difficulties of dealing with violence, crime and everyday life in Paris’s ghetto.

The early 1990’s saw rap becoming an outlet for those who were not as fortunate than the American black community. However, the urban French rappers were not separated only by their wealth and socioeconomic status. French blacks were also beginning to have access to hip-hop and Rap. This did not happen because the French black community saw that American black people were doing it.

It was because large numbers of blacks were Arabs who had fled North Africa (Knox 126). Rap lyrics became popularized by the oppression faced by Arab minorities. Supreme NTM, one of the most popular French rappers in the late-1990’s made many songs discussing racism (Prevos716). France’s hip-hop scene had turned black, but that’s because it’s the main art form for the poor and the oppressed. In fact, hip-hop and rap continue to be used in Europe for marginalized groups.

It is clear that hip-hop and Rap are not just for black youths. Many Turkish immigrants began to move to Germany to work in the middle century. A lack of cultural and/or linguistic resources caused complete alienation to the Turkish immigrants. German society was not patient enough to allow Turkish assimilation. The Turkish community settled in Germany over the next several decades but was still at disadvantage. In addition to the physical and emotional pain of being second-class citizens, many Turkish immigrants were not exposed to good education. The third generation, which included many Turkish-German immigrants, was born in Germany in 1990. They struggled to find work opportunities as their parents were not educated. In the 1990’s, young Turkish-Germans were more likely to be unemployed than young Germans. This generation of Turkish people brought hip-hop and rap to Germany. They were people born in an unfriendly country and had no connection with their native culture. The message and intent of this new art form that emerged in Germany was the same as in France or the United States. Turkish-German Rap often addressed the stereotyping and social discrimination of Turkish-German youth. One song called “Der Weg” plays with the sinister, blood-curdling macho stereotypes of the “bad Turk”, but it’s only for the sake of convincing its audience (Ickstadt 564) Many German rappers were able to convince many young Turkish people to go to school and not live on the streets after the establishment of the hip hop scene in Germany. Although Germany’s hip-hop scene isn’t all white, it doesn’t mean that their art is culturally appropriated. Instead, an underprivileged group uses hip-hop and rap to express themselves against oppression.

Many communities that are socially and economically disadvantaged have been helped by hip-hop. Although rap is often negative and encourages violence and crime, it can still be a form of rap. “Historically, Hip-hop was a reflection on the environment an artist had to live in…so if the goal is to change the content, you have to change the environment. Therefore, those who have been privileged but not faced any social hardships are less authentic and can’t participate in hip-hop. Hip-hop and Rap are not just for black Americans. Only those who have experienced similar economic and social hardships can truly access their power.


  • tenleylancaster

    Tenley Lancaster is a 34-year-old educational blogger and student. She enjoys writing about topics related to education, including but not limited to student motivation, learning styles, and effective study techniques. Tenley has also written for various websites and magazines, and is currently working on her first book. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling.