The last of the four original elements of hip-hop, Emceeing (MCing) aka Rap, is said to have originated in the South Bronx in the late 70’s. Similar to b-boying, emceeing was also created [behind] the DJ. The acronym “MC”, is a misnomer. It has come to be known as an abbreviated version of the term “emcee”, but it actually stands for “master of ceremony”.
During the late renaissance period, after the emergence of b-boying, performing alone at parties with large audiences became overwhelming for many popular DJs. As a solution to this problem, DJs produced a master of ceremony, or MC, who was a sort of “host” partner of the DJ that would motivate the crowd via spoken hype and other rhetoric during the DJ’s music-playing. Not long after the inception of the MC, DJs began playing the instrumental versions of recorded songs-that is, the songs’ music would play devoid of any lyrics. DJs did this to give MCs a clearer platform by which they could speak. MCs began to then speak their rhetoric in the form of a rhyme and also in tune with the rhythmic tempo of the melody that was playing. This spoken rhyming over a random instrumental tune played by a DJ became what is known today as rapping. In terms of the global [commercial] significance of hip-hop, the emergence of rap is arguably most responsible for hip-hop’s current global success and influence. Hip-Hop as a genre did not become [monetized] until rap was picked up by record labels and put on vinyl. Once this occurred in the early 80s, the first several rap albums were a quiet introduction to hip-hop’s future pop-culture domination. After about 1983, a few legendary game-changing rappers came upon the scene and the hip-hop genre almost immediately became a global phenomenon. Throughout the 80s, each successive year marked an increase in overall record sales within the hip-hop genre. By the early 90s, rap had become so overwhelmingly dominant, that it overshadowed graffiti-writing as well as b-boying. The awe-inspiring dominance of rap even began to take a toll on the original-intended role of DJs. The commercial success of rap music had become immensely popular and through many advances of music production technology, the emcee no longer needed to depend on the DJ for music production. This meant that there was less money that needed to be divided when producing an album.
The widespread commercialization of rap music in the mid-90s marked the beginning of a new era for hip-hop and its elements. This was an era of great wealth, global [commercial] marketability, and indulgence for a majority of rappers, and an era of betrayal, independence, and reinvention for most DJs, b-boys and graffiti writers. During this era, rap music began to greatly influence numerous facets of American popular culture, despite the fact that a majority of its subject matter tended to be violent and/or profane. However, most of these artists were simply illustrating the only life they knew via their music-a clear and justifiable means of self-expression. Eventually, the frustration that was so frequently expressed by rappers during that time had resonated with much of the American youth of that time as well. As a result, this genre that was once regarded as a “minority” or “urban” form of music, had rapidly swept across the South, West, and Mid-Western sections of the United States; increasing the national hip-hop fan base throughout suburban communities exponentially all over the US. By the turn of the century, no longer did hip-hop represent any single specific ethnicity. And despite some of its misconceptions, rap music is still an element of Hip-Hop Culture-a culture that was founded on the principles of peace, love, and unity, and having fun--as deemed by Afrika Bambaataa. These original ideals can be restored, but only through an effort of institutional proportions.
Emceeing-or Rap-as an element of Hip-Hop-Culture, is a means by which a poet can express him/herself through song without regard to gender, ethnicity, or nationality. In this sense, rap music perpetuates a togetherness and universal tolerance not often experienced in most other genres of music. Its global appeal and embracement will help to ensure its global stability.
Hiphopmuseum.org. www.hiphopmuseum.org/elements. Accessed 1 May 2017.
Project Overture is an empowerment program which provides youth with exposure to and education in the music industry as a vehicle to foster self esteem, confidence, and creativity. Our program is geared towards youth (13-17) from disadvantaged communities, with an expressed interest in various aspects of the music industry.
Successful completion of the Project Overture week long intensive will provide students with
-An Introductory skill set which will serve as a foundation for further development and growth
-A Social media site where student work can be displayed (Blog, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram)
-Self produced work in chosen discipline
-Network of resources for continued collaboration and growth
It is our hope the experience gained from participation will serve as a springboard for continued creativity and development.
PROJECT OVERTURE is in development and expected to debut in summer 2020. Please check back for more information.