It began as a soundtrack of a mix of funk, soul, and rhythm and blues, invented by blacks and Latinos for ghetto block parties in the South Bronx in the 1970s, evolving into the rap and hip hop that became the hot center of youth culture during the last decade of the century. At first a music to party to, rap kept reinventing itself as a cry of pain and rebellion, eventually spreading across America and jumping all barriers of race to blossom into a critique of American life, race, and political hypocrisy, embraced by the young, regardless of color. From the turntable acrobatics of Grandmaster Flash to the electro-funk of Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu nation, from the provocative blend of black nationalism and rebellion of Public Enemy to the chart-topping albums of Eminem, hip hop’s story of success is a journey of a subculture attacking the mainstream to become the mainstream itself. Now a multimillion dollar industry that dominates record sales worldwide, it influences international fashion, language, and youth culture. The Hip Hop Years traces the history of this vibrant culture through the firsthand accounts of many of the people who have played a pivotal role in that journey, including Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Run-D.M.C., Ice-T, Public Enemy, N.W.A., De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan, and Eminem.
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