Showing posts with label Hip Hop. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hip Hop. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Now That's What I Call Motown
Now That's What I Call Motown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Growing up in the City of Detroit during the early sixties was a memorable era for music. It was a period of time whereby the unique sounding records of Motown were being played and heard throughout the streets, nightclubs, house parties and radio stations everywhere. It was common to have the soulful R and B records playing on the jukeboxes while folks were dancing in the streets or singing in the barber shops and beauty parlors to the love songs that eventually captivated the hearts of millions of people throughout the world. Music CDs and rap music were not heard of during that period, it was all about the vinyl records and rhythm and blues soul.

The songs that were written by Motown songwriters during the 60’s & 70’s had so much meaning. They were songs that spoke about true love, current events and the heartache and pains of life experiences. Oh yes, Motown had it going on! Their music became universal music. Many of the soulful tunes crossed over into other markets such as pop, jazz, blues, etc… But just like George Benson said in one of his recordings “Everything Must Change”, and sure enough, he was right about the music.

After giving so many years service and great music to the City of Detroit, Motown moved out and Rap/Hip-Hop moved in. Instead of hearing someone singing My Baby Loves Me or My Girl, you began to hear new sounding lyrics of street experience expressed in rhythms with the mouth, chest, hands, and feet as such had never been heard before.

This new sound called Rap evolved in the early 80’s and took off as a skyrocket in the late 90’s and New Millennium as Hip Hop/Rap. Even today Rap/Hip-Hop music is still a multi-billion dollar genre. Millions of CDs, videos and DVD's are sold each year in the Hip Hop genre of music. And there is no sign that Hip Hop will be slowing down or taking a back seat to anyone anytime soon.

So what happened to the Motown sound…. did it die out? No! The Motown sound will never die out. It will always play a significant part in the hearts of millions who embraced it’s sound back in the early 60’s and continued to pass that sound on to their children throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Sometimes you just have to move over and let the new kids on the block have a turn in expressing their musical talents, songs and ideas. That’s what Motown did…moved over-not out. And now the Hip Hop artists are not the new kids on the block anymore, for they have taken their position to express themselves musically, just like the rhythm and blues artists took their position to express themselves in the Motown era.

That’s how we’ve gone from Motown to Hip Hop!

    Written by: Michael Bell  ©2006 Michael Bell

Friday, August 11, 2017

HIP HOP Slang, Knowing What It’s All About

Bling Bling Bling!
Bling Bling Bling! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Okay, now you may be a hip hop fan that is just not with it enough.  Or, you may be new to it.  Or, you may even be a parent trying to figure out what the hip hop slang is all about.  Hey, no problem!  Let’s talk about it here.  If you are not sure what the words you are hearing mean, take a minute to check them out.  We’ll get you in touch with a few here, but know that there are some awesome websites out there that can keep you together as well.  So, don’t pretend to know what bling bling means get with it and learn the hip hop slang!

So, what is it that you do not know?  Perhaps you are not sure what all the “izzle” words are standing for?  This form of hip hop was started by Frankie Smith but has been largely popularized by Snoop Dog, a very popular hip hop artist in the current time.  These words are often just changed to add the “izzle” onto them without changing their meaning.

As for bling bling, this term is used to mean something of high worth.  Usually, it refers to expensive jewelry.  Flashy, highly valuable jewelry is very commonly considered part of the hip hop culture.  Bling bling can also be a term used for those who have a lifestyle built on excess spending and accruing wealth.  Having bling bling isn’t a bad thing!

Okay, so this is nowhere near all the information you need about hip hop slang.  So, what do you do to get what you need to know?  Translating songs or just knowing what the artists are talking about on their videos can be somewhat hard when you can’t figure out the words.  But, it isn’t meant for everyone.  If you are determined to learn what hip hop slang means, check out some of the pretty cool websites that talk about it.  Some are even in dictionary form to help you easily converse in hip hop anytime you want to.  So, get with it and learn your hip hop slang!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

How HIP HOP Started

Hip hop means many different things.  It was first used to refer to the culture and way of life of urban city New York City.  But, since then, the term has taken on a life of its own.  The most popular meaning of hip hop is now music.  Hip hop or rap as it is also called has several origins.  In fact, there is no one origin that can be called the only one.  There are several histories about how hip hop got started.

DJ Kool Herc is credited as being highly influ...
DJ Kool Herc is credited as being highly influential in the pioneering stage of hip hop music.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First of all, the influences that helped to inspire hip hop are thought to be traced back to African culture, but it isn’t until the multicultural mix of New York City that the music began to flow.  But, even if we do not have a clear picture as to when hip hop was started, we do know that there are some major players in its history.  

For example, one type of hip hop called dub is traditionally Jamaican style.  Other forms such as Reggae are evident from the 1960’s.  Through development with artists such as U-Roy, Dr. Alimontado and Dillinger that most began to change to incorporate a more obvious baseline and percussion element.    Blues music also came to light inspiring another turn in the culture.  

When we talk about the term of hip hop, we are often brought back to Kool Herc, a DJ when he began working with Afrika Bambaataa.  There are many more people that fold into the story of how hop hip hop got started.  If you want to take it back to decades ago with the combination of African music, reggae and blues you will find a line of wonderful artists.  Or, with the urban culture of inner city New York, there is another line of artists that have made their mark.  One thing is clear, though; hip hop continues to make history for years to come.  

To find more information about how hip hop got started, you can find a wide range of information available to you right on the web.  And, with so many people needing this information and wanting to know the roots of this music genre, it is safe to say that what you need to know is available to you here, on the web.

Author: Brent Wilson

Sunday, May 7, 2017

‘Things Just Ain’t the Same’: HIP-HOP’s Reconstruction of the Gangster Rap Identity

Talib Kweli performing in Brooklyn/Red Bull Ex...
Talib Kweli performing in Brooklyn/Red Bull Experiment
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Gangster rap, or hardcore rap, is generally considered a sub genre of the larger category of rap music, which itself is a subcategory of hip-hop. Gangster rap is differentiable from other rap music in that it makes use of images of urban life associated with crime (Haugen, 2). According to the Encyclopedia Britannica definition of gangster rap, the top four images associated with the genre are violence, drugs, materialism and sexual promiscuity. 

Gangster Rappers as Defining the Hip-Hop Social Group
As the hip-hop movement has gained recognition throughout the United States, it has established itself as one of the fastest growing social groups anywhere. In the late 1990s immediately following the murders of both Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, two nationally known gangster rappers, a propaganda campaign escalated against rap music and the hip-hop culture (Slaughter). Although gangster rap only represented a small percentage of the hip-hop culture at the time, all hip-hop and rap music was instantly stereotyped negatively as being “gangter-like”. Why? Well, this gangster version of hip-hop was the highest selling and most recognized form of hip-hop music among the majority class. And many critics have determined that this is because America is in love with sex, drugs and violence (Whaley).

Hip-Hop’s Rejection of Inferior Social Group Status
Henri Tajfel, a social psychologist who developed a theory of inter-group relations and social change, argues that members of a social group deemed inferior by a majority class can either accept or reject their inferior position in society. If a group refuses to accept its inferior position in society as just, it will attempt as a group to change things (Coates, 8-9). A large number of hip-hop artists have used their musical lyrics to reject the inferior social status placed upon them by the majority class.

The Reconstruction of the Gangster Identity
I have found that hip-hop artists use lyrics, both musical and poetic, to redefine the negatives characteristics given to their culture by the majority class, and in the process, reconstruct the gangster identity. By examining these hip-hop and gangster rap lyrics as text, I will show ways in which the lyrics attempt to reconstruct the stereotyped gangster rap identity by examining different views of violence, drugs, materialism and sexual promiscuity. In the end, one tends to wonder: Who exactly are the real gangsters?

That the hip-hop culture represents gangster-like violence is perhaps the biggest disputed claim amongst hip-hop artists. In order to disprove this claim, many hip-hop artists have pointed to the violence that exists within the majority social group, and how it leads to violence all over the world.
In “Violence”, 2 Pac demonstrates his belief that violence was prevalent long before gangster rap existed:

I told em fight back, attack on society
If this is violence, then violent's what I gotta be
If you investigate you'll find out where it's comin’ from
Look through our history, America's the violent one

Here, the poet points to American society as “the violent one” and that he has to be violent in order to “fight back.” 

In “Who Knew”, Eminem showed a similar viewpoint by expressing his belief that violence is a common occurrence in American society, yet not challenged in genres outside of the urban environment:

So who's bringin’ the guns in this country?  
I couldn't sneak a plastic pellet gun through customs over in London
And last week, I seen a Schwarzaneggar movie
Where he's shootin’ all sorts of these bad guys with an Uzi

Here, the poet questions the existence of violence in a country that allows firearms and violent movies.

In “Casualties of War”, Rakim blames the United States government, specifically its Head of State, as the group causing the violence in society with their war-like ways:

I'ma get back to New York in one piece
But I'm bent in the sand that is hot as the city streets
Sky lights up like fireworks blind me
Bullets, whistlin’ over my head remind me...
President Bush said attack
Flashback to Nam, I might not make it back

In this text, the poet refers to our country’s decision to go to war as an example of the violence that exists amongst the majority social class.

In “The Watcher”, Dr. Dre redefines the negative characteristic of violence by pointing to the police force as the source of violence, and therefore, referring to them as “gangster-like”:
Things just ain't the same for gangstas
Cops is anxious to put people in handcuffs
They wanna hang us, see us dead or enslave us
Keep us trapped in the same place we raised in
Then they wonder why we act so outrageous
Run around stressed out and pull out gauges
Cause everytime you let the animal out cages
It's dangerous, to people who look like strangers

Here, the poet accuses the majority class of keeping them “trapped in the same place we raised in” and that the perceived violence is only due to the introduction of “people who look like strangers.”

These are examples of how hip-hop artists redefine the image of violence by showing how it exists or was created within the majority social group. 

Another common disputed stereotype of hip-hop artists is their use and distribution of illegal drugs. In attempts to redefine this negative characteristic, many hip-hop artists have pointed at the majority social group as the facilitator of drug abuse.

In “Justify My Thug”, Jay-Z speaks directly to members of government, raising questions about who has made the availability and use of these drugs possible:

Mr. President, there's drugs in our residence
Tell me what you want me to do, come break bread with us
Mr. Governor, I swear there's a cover up
Every other corner there's a liquor store - what is up?

In this example, the poet inquires as to why there is a liquor store in “every other corner” of his community.

In “I Want to Talk to You”, Nas uses the same approach to challenge the notion of drug distribution by asking his representatives what they would do in his situation:

Why y'all made it so hard, damn
People gotta go create their own job
Mr. Mayo,r imagine if this was your backyard
Mr. Governo,r imagine if it was your kids that starved 
Imagine your kids gotta sling crack to survive

Here, the poet claims that the distribution of drugs is not only an effect of the poverty that exists in his environment, but also a means of survival. 

In “Manifesto”, Talib Kweli actually accuses the government of being the body which allows drugs into the country:

Like the C.I.A. be bringin’ in crack cocaine bailin’ out of planes
With the George Bush connections, I push Reflection
Like I'm sellin’ izm, like a dealer buildin’ the system
Supply and the demand it's all capitalism
People don't sell crack cause they like to see blacks smoke
People sell crack cause they broke

In this example, the poet accuses the C.I.A. of flying drugs into the country, and again reiterates the point that it is a means of survival due to the “supply and demand” of a capitalist society.

In “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangster”, the Geto Boys fully redefine the negative characteristic of drug distribution by accusing the President of being a drug dealer, and therefore, a gangster:

And now, a word from the President!
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Getting’ voted into the White House
Everything lookin’ good to the people of the world
But the Mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin' down
Like lettin' a big drug shipment through
And send 'em to the poor community
So we can bust you know who

These examples show how hip-hop artists redefine the image of being drug dealers and users by again pointing to the majority class as the creator of the drug problem in this country.

Hip-hop music is also seen by the majority class as a genre dominated by materialism. Again, artists point back to the majority class in an attempt to redefine this negative characteristic.

In “Respiration”, Black Star points to all the wealth surrounding urban areas, and how it absorbs the lower class in materialism, making them want parts of that wealth:

Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of workin’ class watches
Skyscrapers is colossus, the cost of living
Is preposterous, stay alive, you play or die, no options

Here, the poet talks about various materialistic aspects of the majority class, and how the lower class must “play or die” to “stay alive.”

In “All Falls Down”, Kanye West actually blames this materialism on American society:

It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings

In this example, the poet blames the “American dream” for materialism, saying it causes people to “do the ugliest things” for “riches and diamond rings.”

In “Los Angeles Times”, Xzibit also blames this materialism on the majority class, claiming that is what the youth are taught coming up in urban environments:

Welcome to L.A.
Where you can see the whole city burning
Cause the cops got Uzis and the dealers keep serving
And your kids ain't learning it, except this
Sex power and wealth, forget everything else

Here, the poet expresses his belief that certain aspects of materialism, including “power and wealth” are taught to children through occurrences in society.

These are examples how hip-hop artists redefine the negative characteristic of being materialistic by showing examples of how this materialism is prevalent in the majority class, and often created within that class.

And the final debated stereotype of the hip-hop social class is that they are sexually promiscuous, often leading to disrespectful treatment towards women. The poets also attempt to redefine this stereotype by blaming the core of the problem on society.

In “Pussy Galore”, the Roots claim that the country’s obsession with sex is pushed by sexually-driven marketing campaigns:

Lookin' out the limo window up at the billboards
200 miles, she was the only thing I saw
Promotin' everything, from the liquor to the nicotine
Cell phones, anti-histamines, chicken wings
You gotta show a little skin to get them listening
For real yo, the world is a sex machine

In this example, the poet retells a personal experience in which he saw sex advertisements as “promotin’ everything.” And in order to “get them listening”, he claims, “you gotta show a little skin.”

In “Get By”, Talib Kweli blames this sexual obsession on what we view on television:

The TV got us reachin’ for stars
Not the ones between Venus and Mars, 
The ones that be readin’ for parts
Some people get breast enhancements and penis enlargers

Here, the poet expresses his belief that television creates a misconception of what people should be sexually, and that contributes to the promiscuity that is being blamed on the hip-hop movement.

Hip-hop artists have used their lyrics and poetry to influence the rejection and reconstruction of the gangster identity that plagues their social class. This is accomplished through the redefining of negative characteristics assigned by the majority class. In most cases, these redefinitions include pointing to the majority class as the real holders of these negative characteristics. The redefining of these “gangster-like” images through hip-hop lyrics helps to reconstruct the gangster identity by questioning “gangster-like” behaviors and which social class actually has these behaviors. So the question presented is: Who exactly are the gangsters?

Works Cited / Discography
2 Pac. 2Pacalypse Now. Jive Records, 1991.
Black Star. Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. Rawkus Records, 1998.
Coates, Jennifer. Women, Men and Language. Longman Publishing, New York: 1993.
Dr. Dre. The Chronic 2001. Interscope Records, 1999.
Eminem. The Marshall Mathers LP. Interscope Records, 2000.
Geto Boys. Uncut Dope LP. Interscope Records, 1999.
Haugen, Jason. “‘Unladylike Divas’: Language, Gender and Female Gangster Rappers.” Popular Music and Society: December, 2003.
Jay Z. The Black Album. Def Jam, 2003.
Kanye West. College Dropout. Roc-A-Fella Records, 2004.
Nas. I Am. Sony Records, 1999.
Rakim. Don’t Sweat the Technique. MCA Records, 1992.
Rawkus Records. Lyricist Lounge Volume 1. Priority Records, 1999.
Slaughter, Peter. “Attack on Rap Music.” Barutiwa Weekly News. June 14, 1997.
Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek. Train of Thought. Rawkus Records, 2000.
Talib Kweli. Quality. Rawkus Records, 2003.
The Roots. Phrenology. MCA Records, 2002.
Whaley, Angela. “Hip Hop is Not for Sale.” Colorado State University’s Talking Back: Volume 3, Issue 1. 
Xzibit. 40 Days and 40 Nights. Loud Records, 1998.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

HIP HOP Beats Online – New Ideas in Music

English: Hip hop icon
Hip hop icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Selling on the web has become one of the new frontiers of commerce. We find it hard to think of anything not being sold and bought every minute over the internet; just have a look on ebay.

Hip-Hop producers were quick to understand the powerful worldwide reach of the internet and started selling instrumentals to artists through this channel.

A couple of websites therefore gathered enormous music inventories from professional record label producers, and started selling complete instrumental tracks just like Amazon sell CDs.  Pay x amount online, and we’ll ship you a CD with the tracks you purchased.  A new market full of opportunities was born.

About a year and a half ago we also understood the potential this new market had.  Having promoted our own music on websites such as and, we realised that creating our own service would give us much greater flexibility and reach.  We also had around 250-300 instrumentals sitting on our hard drives waiting for rappers and vocalists to rhyme/sing over them.  There was no way we could’ve used all of these instrumentals ourselves, therefore why not offer artists worldwide the chance to easily obtain top quality instrumentals for their musical projects?

Hence the birth of La Cantina Productions. Our aim is to give artists who may not be able to afford to buy expensive instrumentals/beats a fair chance to get their music out there. Our typical artists are talented emcees or vocalists, desperately in need of beats, but with little cash.

So how does it all work? Artists just need to visit the website, listen to preview samples of the instrumentals and then purchase the ones they like directly online. We were one of the first websites to offer the possibility to download instrumentals immediately after payment; no more waiting for CDs to arrive through the post, high quality mp3’s can be downloaded immediately.

And it doesn’t end here.  Artists record their vocals over our instrumentals and we then take care of promoting their complete tracks in the right places.  After years of promoting our own music on the web, we know exactly where the online promotional efforts should be concentrated. Promoting music online requires hard work, but when you know where to go, the job is a thousand times easier.

So in other words, we produce hip hop instrumentals and promote the artists who use them.  We take great pride in what we do and hope to see some of our most talented artists make it big over our tracks. We’re not in this for financial gain, but simply for musical enjoyment.

We’re growing fast and are now one of the top online production websites in a market unfortunately already cluttered with “me too” faceless unprofessional services.  We’re not trying to be a business, but simply a group of friends hoping to take hip hop to the next level through the reach of the world wide web.

Jerry Spina and Stone Tone 
Founders of La Cantina Productions

Or, email us for further information at

['Hip Hop Beats Online,' article appeared on Fat Controller Issue #2 (the UK National Student Magazine)]