Rap Special Part I - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Rap Special Part I

Ask just about anyone under 25 to rap a bit and they can do it easily. Rap music is a multi-billion dollar industry.

South Mississippi DJ's Mixx Maestro and Tabari say raps roots go back to the 70's and the disco floor.

"Rapper's Delight was like a Easter Speech, everybody had to know Hip Hop Hip Hop," Mississippi DJ Mixx Maestro said.

The new genre made its debut in the 1970's, and it immediately began to take off.

It was this song, " Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang that set the tone.

In the 80's, RUN DMC mixed rap and rock.  Public Enemy added politics and social commentary to the lyrics, and gave rap whole new edge.

"At one time on every hip hop record there was at least one song about African American values, even on RUN DMC's "Raising Hell" CD," Mississippi DJ Tabari.

LL Cool J gets  the credit for turning mainstream music lovers on to rap. Earlier this month LL Cool J came to the coast for a show, and I asked the pioneer is rap an art.

"Of course it is an art. If was not art, everyone would be able to do well. It requires skill set, like everything else," LL CooL J said.

For LL Cool J and others of the early generation of rap, that's as 'bad' as it got, but rap was about to change. West coast rappers like NWA preached about ghetto life, poverty, gangs and police brutality.

"They consider themselves neighborhood newscasters and they were actually speaking on the things that the local news affiliate would not go in the hood and see," Mixx Maestro said.

Artists like Will Smith, Common and MC Hammer promoted more positive messages. Those artist's messages made money, but there was more cash in controversy.

Power and money, sex and drugs, violence and death. Those themes became loud and strong in the 90's thanks to TUPAC, Biggie Smalls and others.

"Tupac began talking and rapping as a means social discourse, but it was from his exact violence that he was rapping about he died from,"  Gulf Community College Professor Jonathon Woodward said.

Jonathan Woodward is a music professor at Gulf Community College. While rap got its start in mostly black inner city neighborhoods, they weren't the only ones listening.

"70 percent of rap sales are coming from Suburban White neighborhoods."

Suburbia and even the Gulf Coast are far from the ghettos glamorized in this music. And even though rap sales have slipped 33 percent in last year, rap still has a faithful following and a new generation of artists.

Louisiana Native lil Boosie considers himself one of the new rappers, the self proclaimed pimps, players and millionaires..

"I have been around a lot of gangsters stuff all my life, so I label my self a gangster rapper. We have a lot of people in the hood suffering, we are rapping about what we live in," Rapper lil Boosie said.

LL Cool J agrees rap imitates a tough life.

"These are some of the kids that just got out of the ghetto, who just got out of the worst situations in the world, and they are celebrating the only way they know," LL Cool J  said.

But this celebration is not without its critics, many people say rap is disrespectful, racist, and it poses a double standard.

Shock Jock Don Imus was fired for calling a group of women basket players a racial slur, yet he says rappers stay on the airwaves.

By Patrice Clark

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