Rise of Rap

By Matthew Jones, Sabrina Solla and Benjamin Rabinowitz
DEC 12, 2018

The rap music genre has rapidly evolved in style, structure, and popularity throughout the years. Rap started when a style known as toasting was mixed with hip-hop music. The first known artist to do this was Coke La Rock. He composed rhythmic poems, which were the first known raps. He wrote The First Rap Ever in 1973. In 2014, Cole Mize posted an article on his CMS Studios website in which he said, “Coke la Rock….DJ Kool Herc….are recognized for being the founding fathers of rap.” The media company known as Genius published Coke La Rock’s rap poem, The First Rap Ever, on their website.

Eminem performing at the 2002 MTV Music Award show.
Photo: Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.

When rap emerged as a style of music around 1975, there were mainly groups that performed together instead of soloists. The first well known group of rappers, to gain popularity around 1990, was the NWA. The most recognized members of the group were Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and Dr. Dre. This group was controversial because of their frequent encounters with the police. The cops would try to shut down their concerts due to the fact that NWA’s lyrics “dissed” the police. In the rap community, negative news coverage was considered to be good publicity, which meant increased ticket sales.

Ten years later the rap genre became one of the biggest and most popular music genres. In 2002, rapper Eminem released his multi-award-winning movie 8 Mile. This movie broadened the audience for rap.

Now rap is a major genre that has taken over the world. USA Today reporter Patrick Ryan stated that, “Eight of the 10 most listened-to artists of the year [2017] came from the R&B/hip-hop genre.”  This is a major accomplishment for the rap industry and shows that it is still growing in popularity.