And I'm Steve Ember
with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about hip-hop music with a
music started in the South Bronx area of New York City in the early nineteen
seventies among young African Americans and Latino Americans. People would gather in the streets singing
and dancing to hip-hop. It was a place
for people to sing about social injustices as well as what was happening on the
Some of the world's greatest hip-hop
singers started this way. Now, hip-hop
is popular worldwide. It is often used
to express social and political issues. Some
people call these musicians socially conscious hip-hop artists.
are four main parts of hip-hop: MCing is
singing words or what is called rapping. DJing is using records to produce special sounds. Graffiti is writing
messages on outdoor surfaces. And breakdancing is a special kind of dance.
Today we will tell about how performers in
several countries use rapping to spread messages. Rapping could be described as speaking or
singing words at a fast speed over music with quick beats. Some reports say rapping came from the West
African tradition of Griots. These storytellers would quickly tell a story
while someone played music.
Hip-hop beats were made
when a DJ used two records to create a special measured sound. Sometimes the DJ would move one record while
holding the other one down. Other times
he would move both records at the same time producing a quick measured beat. This is called scratching. DJs do this using a turntable. Today the turntable may be replaced by music
that is produced on computers. Here is
part of the song "Beat Street" by the famous scratcher and DJ Grand Master
Sugarhill Gang was one of the first groups to perform hip-hop. In the late
nineteen seventies, music producer Sylvia Robinson realized that hip-hop was
becoming a popular part of street celebrations. She decided to find three MCs in her neighborhood in Englewood, New
Jersey, and have them sing together.
The men called themselves Wonder Mike, Big Bank Hank, and Master Gee.
They went on to sing one of America's favorite songs of nineteen seventy-nine,
"Rapper's Delight" was not one of
hip-hop's first songs. But it made hip-hop popular in the United States and
around the world.
B & Rakim was another American group that changed the sound of hip-hop. In nineteen eighty-six, sixteen year old
Rakim started to work with the New York City music producer, Eric B. Rakim added different beats to the music and
began using poetic words to spread his message.
The two musicians produced four CDs together. As an individual musician, Rakim created four
other CDs. One song that made the two
famous is "Eric B is President". Many
international socially conscious hip-hop artists say they became interested in hip-hop
when they heard Rakim.
are a huge number of hip-hop artists and rappers in the United States. Immortal Technique is a popular artist who
has ignored requests to sign up with large companies to produce his music. Immortal Technique was born in Lima, Peru. But
his family moved to the Harlem area of New York City to escape conflicts in
Immortal Technique is
considered a political activist. Many of
of his songs are about politics, poverty, religion, social class and racism. One song that became popular among young
people around the world is "The Fourth Branch."
Hip-hop has influenced artists
around the world. For example, Didier
Awadi is considered the father of African hip-hop. Awadi is a Senegalese musician who created
the band called Positive Black Soul in nineteen eighty-nine. He started a music center called Studio
Sankara. Awadi's songs are about politics,
social rights and fair elections in Senegal and other African countries.
In two thousand
seven he produced an album that mixes the speeches of African leaders with
African MCs. The album is called "African Presidents." The album aims to bring young MCs from Africa
together to explore their history and unite for a better future. Awadi also has an album called "Another World
is Possible." In the song "J'accuse," he
accuses all the powers and forces that have interfered with the development of
Emmanuel Jal is an African hip-hop artist who has become
a well known activist and musician around the world. Jal believes he survived
violence to spread a message of peace and forgiveness.
At the age of six or seven years old, Emmanuel
became a soldier for the Sudan People's Liberation Army. He was made to carry a gun that was taller
than he was. For almost five years he
fought in wars in Ethiopia and Sudan. A
British aid worker, Emma McCune, rescued him and took him to Nairobi,
Kenya. She legally made him her
son. But Mizz McCune died soon after in
an automobile accident.
To help him recover from what he experienced as a
child, Emmanuel Jal began singing. When
he was in school in Kenya, he fell in love with hip-hop.
He believed the music was an easy and
effective way to spread his message. His
first CD was "Gua," which means "peace" in the Nuer language of Sudan. The CD made him famous. His second album, "War Child," is about his
experiences as a child soldier in Sudan, how he changed and how he wants to
make a difference. Emmanuel Jal started
an aid organization called Gua Africa. He performs around the world to raise money for the organization. Here is part of the song "War Child."
has no borders. In the Philippines, people
started listening to it in the early nineteen eighties. One hip-hop artist, Francis Durango Magalona,
also known as FrancisM, made this music even more popular in the
Philippines. Many of the songs in his
first two albums were about political and cultural problems during the nineteen
nineties. For example, in his second CD,
"Rap Is FrancisM," the song "Halalan" is about political insecurity in the
Philippines. Other songs were about the
illegal drug problem.
became known as the leading socially conscious artist in the Philippines. But
in March of two thousand nine he died from the disease leukemia. Other artists around the world are spreading
their own messages through hip-hop music.
program was written by Kim Varzi and produced by Mario Ritter. I'm Steve Ember.
And I'm Barbara Klein.
Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English.