Alternative hip hop

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Alternative hip hop
Stylistic origins
Hip hop, various others
Cultural origins
Late 1980s, United States and, to a lesser extent, United Kingdom
Typical instruments
Mainstream popularity High during the early–mid 1990s; low but existent since then.
Derivative forms Underground raptrip hopneo-soul
Jazz rap
Other topics
Alternative music

Alternative hip hop (also known as alternative rap) is a form of hip hop music that is defined in greatly varying ways. Allmusic defines it as follows:

Alternative Rap refers to Hip-Hop groups that refuse to conform to any of the traditional stereotypes of rap, such as gangsta, bass, hardcore, and party rap. Instead, they blur genres - drawing from funk and pop/rock, as well as jazz, soul and reggae. [1]

Originating in the late-80s and peaking in the early-90s, alternative rap was headed primarily by East Coast groups such as The Roots, De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, and A Tribe Called Quest in subsidiary conjunction by certain West Coast acts such as The Pharcyde and Jurassic 5. However, the artists often found themselves competing and struggling to co-exist with the then also newly emerging and rising West Coast gangsta rap. The situation broke way around the mid-90s with the emergence and mainstream popularity of East Coast hardcore rap artists such as Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, and The Notorious B.I.G. Following this development, many alternative rap acts eventually either disbanded or faded into obscurity. However, a resurgence came about in the late 1990s-early 2000s. Today, due in part to the increasing use of music distribution through the internet, many alternative rap artists are able to find acceptance by far-reaching audiences.

Stephen Rodrick cites Arrested Development, Basehead, and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy as examples of such "alternative" hip-hop.[2] Arrested Development, along with The Fugees, stand as the some of the first few alternative rap groups to be recognized by mainstream audiences.[1] Since the mid 90's, labels such as Rawkus Records and Definitive Jux have experienced similar mainstream success with alternative rap acts such as Black Star, Pharoahe Monch, Mos Def, and Aesop Rock.

Aside from exceptions, most alternative rap groups tend to be embraced primarily by alternative rock fans, rather than hip-hop or pop audiences.[1] Rodrick writes that alternative hip-hop has "drawn little more than barely concealed yawns from other rappers and urban audiences." [2] Heywood and Drake counter that "making rap music that appeals to mass audiences isn't simply about selling out," stating that alternative hip-hop is an attempt to counter the association that much of the mass market has between hip-hop music and violence, giving as an example the "Smokin' Grooves Tour" of 1996, featuring Cypress Hill, A Tribe Called Quest, Nas, Ziggy Marley, and Busta Rhymes—most of whom are hip-hop performers who "don't fit the mold of gangsta rap."[3]

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c allmusic: alternative rap
  2. ^ a b Rodrick, Stephen (1995). "Hip-Hop Flop: The Failure of Liberal Rap". in Adam Sexton. Rap on Rap: Straight-up Talk on Hip-Hop Culture. New York: Delta. pp. 115–116. 
  3. ^ Leslie Heywood and Jennifer Drake (1997). "Hip-Hop matters". Third Wave Agenda: Being Feminist, Doing Feminism. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 243. ISBN 0816630054. 

[edit] External links

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