I am utterly fascinated by the history of hip hop. While many other genres of music have their roots in other countries and cultures, I sometimes think the only three genres that are distinctly American and ours as a nation are jazz, R&B, and hip hop. (Sorry rock fans, but England really prevails here, even if the USA has dominated rock since its inception.) I know a lot of people who are not fans of hip hop dismiss it as gang-banging, misogynistic, hyper-masculine, “look at all my money” type, but it’s not. I do think it’s got roots in spoken poetry, possibly even an offshoot of beatniks from the 50s and 60s.

I know the actual music and culture has its roots in the 70s, around the Big Apple. This was especially prevalent among black youth in the Bronx, where block parties became a regional thing. The early 80s brought the history of hip hop to a national level. LL Cool J had early work out then, but it was probably Aerosmith teaming up with Run-D.M.C. that exposed the genre to new audiences. The late 80s to early 90s were definitely the heyday and golden age in the history of hip hop. So many artists now are just too computerized and polished, but if you search indie labels, YouTube, and the like, you’ll still find gems out there.