Hip Hop is believed to be the product of cross cultural integration and has deep roots in African tradition, especially in oral tradition. Numerous sources believe the Bronx of New York City to be the true birthplace of Hip Hop. Many cite a DJ named Kool Herc from Jamaica as getting the movement going. His DJ style included reciting rhymes over an instrumental background and at house parties would often include several in-house references. As his parties grew in popularity, numerous others would pop up throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan. Soon other house party DJs would help spread the culture throughout the city and develop a large following. The Hip Hop culture has spawned into four main elements: deejaying, emceeing, graffiti, and break-dancing.
DJ Kool Herc and his house parties are not the only thing that led to this wide spread movement. Before the rise of the house parties, a large socioeconomic change occurred in New York that led the foundation for this. In 1959, the Cross-Bronx Expressway was built across the heart of Bronx, New York. This displaced many of the middle class white communities and led to a widespread unemployment rate among blacks and Hispanics. The large unemployment was due mainly from the shut down and removal of several factories in the area. Poverty became rampant and street gangs began to increase in the area. Afrika Bambaataa, a former leader of the Black Spades gang, stepped in and created The Universal Zulu Movement. This movement gave a cultural alternative to the street gang lifestyle.
Some of the early Hip Hop songs grew a mass following and demonstrated early on that Hip Hop had a major commercial appeal. “King Tim III” by Fatback Band is cited as one of the earliest to be released along with “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. “Rapper’s Delight” made it to number 36 on the billboard charts which was a huge feat for the 1970′s. Hip Hop is still evolving even today and has widened to include influences from soul, jazz, reggae, the use of live instrumentation, and rap. Every new artist emerging in the genre adds their unique touch and Hip Hop has truly become a melting pot of style.