A Brief History of Hip-Hop – Part 3 The Shift to the MC

Read The Introduction, Part 1, and Part 2

In 1978 a subtle shift happened to the culture of hip-hop. The music industry needed a name to call this music and started referring to it as “rap music.” Most people didn’t mind the new term. In fact, people started to call themselves rappers. This term shook up the very foundation of hip-hop. The music shifted from being about the DJ to being about the person rhyming on the microphone.

Rap radio shows were born. Then first one was Mr. Magic’s “Rap Attack” on WHBI. So now with an outlet for the music to be heard other than just parties, the focus shifted from DJing and dancing to rhyming. It took a while but soon the MC was front and center and the DJ was pushed to the rear.

In 1982 Kool Moe Dee crushed Busy Bee in a rap battle on stage. Busy Bee was known for kicking famous party raps that sounded good but really didn’t say much. Kool Moe Dee was much harder in his delivery and lyrics and beat the popular MC hands down. Since then, battling has become part of the culture as well.

In 1983, Run-DMC released a single on vinyl. 12-inch singles would feature two songs, one on either side of the record. On one side of this historic single was “It’s like That,” which was much like Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks,” in that it dealt with real issues for the poor black nieghbourhoods. Run-DMC had a harder and more street sound that the flashy Kurtis Blow. This was more evident on the B-side to the record “Sucker MCs.” This track was a battle track where Run ripped through any would be MC. It was a great record and had an edge to it unlike any other record out at the time.

The following year, The Fresh Fest tour rolled through 27 cities with the biggest acts of the time; Whodini, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, and Run-DMC. The tour was such a big success that they ran what was billed as “The Second Annual Fresh Fest” only six months later.

The rappers were now more popular than the DJs. DJS still had a vital role in the shows but the rappers seemed to garnering all of the attention. Battle raps came to the forefront. Doug E Fresh came out with “The Original Human Beat box,” and blew everyone away with the drum sounds he was able to make come out of his mouth.

It was an exciting time for hip-hop culture and it was only about to get bigger.

Next Up

Part 4 – Rap Becomes Popular