The History of Hip Hop | Youth Against Prejudice

The History of Hip Hop

Category:      Education

The History of Hip Hop Curriculum

  1. Purpose Statement: What will this curriculum achieve?
  2. Outcome Statement: What will students be able to do with this information?
  3. Essential Resources: What will you use to teach your class and what will students use to learn?
  4. Strategy Framework: What teaching approach will you use?
  5. Verification Method: How will you know that you're effectively teaching?
  6. Standards Alignment: How well do you adhere to federal, state, and school standards for your course?
  7. Course Syllabus: What will you teach and when?
  8. Capstone Project: What final accomplishment will your students use to prove what they've learned in your class?

Purpose Statement: The History of Hip Hop will show how composers and performers of different ethnic backgrounds created the music styles - including jazz, gospel, rock and roll, soul, and funk - that led to the development of hip hop.

Outcome Statement: The participants will be able to use the knowledge of the building blocks of hip hop to create original music with the assistance of a composer/producer. The participants will learn two lessons:

  • A variety of music styles, each created by a composer of different cultural background, were the cornerstones of the development of hip hop.
  • How the understanding that multi-racial participation in musical composition can in and of itself minimize or erase the antagonism that often serves as a foundation for prejudice itself.

Essential Resources: Video clips, audio recordings, white boards or chalk boards, reference materials, a computer for online learning, and musical equipment will be used to write original music.

Strategy Framework: A blended learning approach of lectures, audio and video clips and other resource materials.

Verification Method: To establish any internal biases, at the beginning of the program participants will be asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire. At the end of the program a similar anonymous questionnaire will be distributed to determine how and if those biased ideas have changed.

Standards Alignment: Not yet available.

The History of Hip Hop Course Syllabus

Week 1: The Origins and History of Hip Hop

In the first class, the participants will be exposed to the crucial founders and pioneers of hip hop. Hip hop's roots are seen in the "toasting" or rapping of Jamaican MCs. Modern hip hop can be attributed to one event, a birthday party on August 11, 1973 when DJ Kool Herc used two turntables to extend the "break" in the song. He calls this technique the Merry Go Round. Today this technique is known as the "break beat." The instructor will play segments of songs performed by the artists whose music led the way for hip hop as well as songs performed by the most essential hip hop artists. Artists of African American, Latinx, and White origins contributed to the development of hip hop.

The crucial artists who laid the groundwork for Hip Hop are:

  • James Brown
  • Jamaican DJ U Roy
  • Gil Scott Heron

Some of the crucial hip hop artists that will be covered are:

  • Africa Bamaataa
  • Grandmaster Flash
  • The Beastie Boys
  • Ice-T
  • Run-DMC
  • Salt-N-Pepa
  • Public Enemy
  • N.W.A.
  • A Tribe Called Quest
  • Tupac Shakur, known as 2Pac
  • Dr. Dre
  • Queen Latifah
  • The Fugees
  • Jay-Z
  • Missy Misdemeanor Elliott
  • Eminem

Week 2: The Musical Origins of Hip Hop: Jazz

During the next five classes the music that paved the way for hip hop will be featured and discussed. Jazz, an American artform, will be showcased first. Jazz as a cultural phenomenon began in New Orleans where a mix of Creole, French and African Americans came together. Jazz is one of the crucial building blocks of hip hop. Improvisation is not only a critical component of instrumental jazz but scat singing is a form of vocal jazz in which the performer improvises melodies and rhythms using the voice as an instrument rather than a speaking medium. Improvisation is a fundamental component of hip hop as well, particularly evident in "rap battles" in which the lyrical flow of one MC/rapper is pitted against one or more MCs/rappers. The development of jazz was made possible by African American, Caucasian, and Latinx performers.

Some of the jazz artists or sub genres featured are:

  • Ferdinand Joseph Morton aka Jelly Roll Morton
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Mary Lou Williams
  • Duke Ellington nee Edward Kennedy Ellington
  • Count Basie nee William Basie
  • Tommy Dorsey
  • Bebop
  • Dizzy Gillespie
  • Charlie Parker aka "Bird"
  • Art Pepper
  • Miles Davis
  • Latin Jazz
  • Jazz Fusion (also known as Fusion and Progressive Jazz). The term "jazz rock" is sometimes used as a synonym for "jazz fusion".

Week 3: Gospel Music

In the third class, gospel will be featured. Gospel music is a genre of christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music's reach is far and wide as it impacted rock and roll, rhythm and blues, soul, and funk which are also central to the development of hip hop. Both African Americans and Whites created gospel music.

Some of the gospel leaders or important events are:

  • Carter Family
  • Five Blind Boys of Alabama
  • The Soul Stirrers
  • The Swan Silvertones
  • 1930 National Baptist Convention
  • Mahalia Jackson
  • Sensational Nightingales, Julius Cheeks (Wilson Picket and James Brown were influenced by Julius Cheeks.)
  • Alfred E. Brumley
  • 1950 Joe Bostic brought Gospel Music to Carnegie Hall
  • Gospel Music Hall of Fame
  • Dove Awards
  • Christian or Gospel Hip Hop
    • Reach Records
    • Lecrae
  • Urban Contemporary Gospel
    • Kirk Franklin
    • The Clark Sisters

Week 4: Rock and Roll

In the fourth class, we will discuss how Rock and Roll is one of the fundamental components of hip hop. Rock and roll is a genre of popular music that evolved in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Rock and roll originated from musical styles such as gospel, jump blues, jazz, boogie woogie, rhythm and blues, and country music. While rock and roll's formative elements can be heard in blues records from the 1920s, and in country records of the 1930s, the genre did not acquire its name until 1954. Some of The earliest rock and roll artists are Fats Domino, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Louis, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Ritchie Vallens, Little Richard and Louis Jordan. Rock and roll was created by African American, Latinx, and White performers.

The various elements that ultimately contributed to the formation of rock and roll will be discussed and some of these artists' music will be played.

  • Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard were influenced by gospel music.
  • Jump blues is an up-tempo style of blues, usually played by small groups and featuring horn instruments. It was popular in the 1940s and was a precursor of rhythm and blues.
    • Lionel Hampton
    • Louis Jordan
    • Earl Bostic
    • Tympany Five
    • Benny Goodman Sextet
    • Big Joe Turner
    • Wynonie Harris
    • Louis Prima
  • Boogie woogie, aka fast western or fast blues is a music genre of blues that became popular during the late 1920s, developed in African American communities in the 1870s. It was eventually extended from piano, to piano duo and trio, guitar, big band, country and western music, and gospel. While standard blues traditionally expresses a variety of emotions, boogie-woogie is mainly associated with dancing.
  • Several African terms have been suggested as having some interesting linguistic precursors to "boogie": Among them are the:
    • Hausa word "Boog"
    • Mandingo word "Booga" (both of which mean "to beat," as in beating a drum)
    • West African word "Bogi" (which means "to dance")
    • Bantu term "Mbuki Mvuki" (Mbuki: "to take off in flight"; Mvuki: "to dance wildly, as if to shake off one's clothes").
  • Boogie woogie artists:
    • Huddie "Leadbelly" Ledbetter
    • Dave Alexander aka "Black Ivory King"
    • Jelly Roll Morton
    • Pine Top Smith
    • Meade "Lux" Lewis
  • "From Spirituals To Swing" Carnegie Hall Concerts of 1938 & 1939
  • Swing Bands incorporated Boogie Woogie:
    • Tommy Dorsey
    • Glen Miller
    • Harry James
    • The Andrew Sisters
  • Country artists that incorporated boogie woogie aka hillbilly boogie, okie boogie, later known as country boogie:
    • John Barfield
    • Ella Mae Morse & Freddie Slack
    • Bob Wills
  • Rhythm and blues abbreviated as R&B, is a genre of popular music that originated in African American communities in the 1940s. The term was originally used by record companies to describe recordings marketed predominantly to urban African Americans, at a time when "urbane, rocking, jazz based music with a heavy, insistent beat" was becoming more popular. In the commercial rhythm and blues music typical of the 1950s through the 1970s, the bands usually consisted of piano, one or two guitars, bass, drums, one or more saxophones, and sometimes background vocalists.
  • R&B has stronger gospel influences than jump blues.
  • Rhythm and blues artists:
    • Louis Jordan
    • Johnny Otis
    • The Clovers
    • Ruth Brown
    • Faye Adams
    • Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thorton

Week 5: Soul Music

In the fifth class, we will be discussing and showcasing soul music. Soul music (often referred to simply as soul) is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community throughout the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa. Soul is a cornerstone of hip hop.

Some of the soul artists that will be discussed and whose songs will be played are:

  • Ray Charles
  • Etta James
  • Sam Cooke
  • Otis Redding
  • James Brown
  • Sam and Dave
  • Wilson Pickett
  • Jackie Wilson
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Aretha Franklin
  • The Four Tops
  • The Temptations
  • The Supremes
  • Marvin Gaye

Week 6: Funk

In the sixth class, we will discuss funk. Funk is a music genre that originated in Black American communities in the mid-1960s when musicians created a rhythmic, danceable new form of music through a mixture of soul, jazz, and rhythm and blues (R&B). Funk de-emphasizes melody and chord progressions and focuses on a strong rhythmic groove of a bassline played by an electric bassist and a drum part played by a drummer, often at slower tempos than other popular music. Like much of African-inspired music, funk typically consists of a complex groove with rhythm instruments playing interlocking grooves that create a "hypnotic" and "danceable" feel. The "breakbeats" discussed in the first class, are one of the most important components that make up hip hop. Latinx, African Americans, and Whites all helped pioneer funk.

Some of the funk artists that will be discussed and whose music will be played are:

  • James Brown
  • Wilson Pickett
  • Rufus Thomas
  • Lyn Collins
  • Marva Whitney
  • Stevie Wonder
  • Curtis Mayfield
  • Betty Davis
  • Parliament/Funkadelic
  • Dr. John
  • Tower of Power
  • War
  • Sly and The Family Stone
  • The Isley Brothers
  • The Temptations
  • Marvin Gaye

Week 7: How To Make A Hip-Hop Song Using Samples

In this class the composer/producer will be introduced, and they will play a variety of hip hop songs in which samples are used and will dissect the songs and recreate how each one of these songs were put together/composed. The composer will then work with the participants to put together the music of an original song.

Weeks 8, 9, 10, and 11: Writing Original Songs With The Composer

In these classes, the participants will write original lyrics or bring in poems or writings that they have already done and put them to original music to make songs. Everyone in the class will be supported and encouraged to participate in writing these songs. For some of the songs the participants will be asked to address prejudice and racism and or how to promote acceptance and understanding. The students will also be given the opportunity to use the musical equipment to create their own beats or parts of songs.

Week 12: Playing and Discussing The Meaning of All of Their Songs

The participants will play their songs and discuss their meaning and significance in relation to creating a new whole out of differences.

We will distribute the anonymous questionnaire which will determine if the participants biases have changed as a result of what they learned in the class.

Capstone Project: The final accomplishment that proves what they learned in the course will be the original songs that they write and produce with the professional composer.