Hip-Hop History

I am a hip-hop historian. For me, hip-hop is a way of life. It is more than just a form of expression. It is a culture.

I produce a monthly show that focuses on the rich, cultural history that is hip-hop. Please follow the links below to read transcripts of the episodes and to download the podcasts for free.

Please remember to tune into DOPEfm each and every week as we bring you the best in underground hip-hop with great mix-sets, interviews, and real talk. Daddy J and Gamma Krush, and I have a lot of fun on the airwaves and we hope you will join us.

Episode 1 – Hip Hop is a Culture

I explore how hip-hop fits the standard definition of culture. I play the first ever recorded rap song and talk about what comprises this great culture we call hip-hop.

Episode 2 – The Elements

Hip-hop culture is based around four elements. I discuss each of these four in detail and play songs by Murs and The Artifacts.

Episode 3 – The DJ

Hip-hop culture started with the DJ. Over the years, the focus has shifted to the MC but we need to remember that at the very start of all this, it was all about the DJ. Without the DJ, we would not have rap music at all.

Episode 4 – 16 Bars

Have you ever heard a rapper “spit a hot 16?” What is 16 bars all about? Well, on this episode, I break down the science behind 16 bars, teach you how to count bars, and discuss why this convention is used in rap music.

Episode 5 – Rap is Born

Hip-hop culture was around before rap music. It started out with the DJ. I can’t stress that enough. As deejays got more technical with their sets, they employed MCs (Master of Ceremonies) to help them hype up the crowd. Rap as we know it was born.

Episode 6 – Rap Gets Popular

We take it for granted that hip-hop is a global phenomenon these days. However, we need to remember that this wasn’t always the case. Hip-hop started in one specific place at one point in time. This episode focuses on how and why hip-hop got popular in the 1980s.

Episode 7 – Rap Moves Out of New York

Hip-hop was born in the Bronx and was pretty much relegated to New York for almost ten years. However, hip-hop became a global phenomenon in 1984. Hip-hop never did leave New York but it did start to sprout up everywhere and it’s never looked back.

Episode 8 – Graffiti Art

Graffiti Art is an important part of hip-hop culture that often gets over-looked. We dedicate this entire episode to graffiti and try to make you see its importance through your radio.

Episode 9 – Breakdancing

In this episode, I give you a brief overview of what breakdancing is all about, how it fits into hip-hop culture, and why it’s important. We look at the influence James Brown, Afrika Bambaataa, and The Rock Steady Crew have all had in hip-hop culture.

Episode 10 – Beatboxing

Beatboxers use their mouth, lips, tongue, and voice to create musical sounds such as drum kits and any other kind of accompanying music you can think of. In this episode we look at the techniques involved and the pioneers who brought widespread attention to this unofficial fifth element of hip-hop.

Episode 11 – Political Rap

In the 1980s rap exploded in popularity. This allowed a brand new voice to be added to popular discourse, the voice of the black man. Rap groups started to call attention to issues such as racism, freedom of speech, police brutality, racial unity, and countless other issues that affected the black youth. This sub-genre of hip-hop is known as political rap and we explore it in detail in this episode.

Episode 12 – Gangsta Rap

Rap music comes in many different shapes, forms, and styles. To the casual listener though, there may only appear to be two distinct categories of rap. First, we have music with commercial and mainstream appeal. And on the other end of the spectrum we have what is referred to as Gangsta Rap. This style of hip-hop is laced with profanity and its subject matter is often violent. It’s often misunderstood but I hope to change that with this episode.

2010 – Season 1

We aired 12 full episodes, one for each month of the year in 2010. We also podcasted each episode and transcribed them for this blog. However, if you happened to miss any of that, or you’d like to have all of the segments in one place, I compiled them all for you here

Season 2

Episode 13 – Sampling

Sampling is the cornerstone of hip-hop music. Everything in this culture was built upon sampling. At its root, sampling involves taking a piece of music from any source and incorporating it into a new composition. This was originally done by the deejays who would take two turntables playing the same record to extend the break. Learn more about it.

Episode 14Comedy in Hip-Hop

In this episode we look at the comedic elements used in rap music. We play tracks from Biz Markie, Run-DMC, Eminem, Black Sheep, and Organized Rhyme. Who says rap music has to be serious all the time? Let’s have some fun today!

Bonus Special – Women in Hip-Hop

DOPEfm celebrated the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day by dedicating the entire overnight show to the Women in Hip-Hop.

Episode 15 – Women in Hip-Hop Part 1 (1970s)

Women have been involved in hip-hop since its very inception in the early 1970s. Today we look at some of those early female pioneers and their immense contributions to hip-hop culture.

Episode 16Women in Hip-Hop Part 2 (Ladies of the 80s)

Rap seems to be a male-dominated art form. Fortunately, we had some amazing artists break through that gender barrier to show that females can rock the microphone and can do it well. In this episode, we look at the contributions women made to hip-hop in its second decade.

Episode 17aA Spotlight on MC Lyte

MC Lyte really changed the rap game in the late 1980s. She opened the door for females to be taken seriously within hip-hop culture. She is still a strong role-model and voice for hip-hop’s better half.

Episode 17bA Spotlight on Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah showed us a strong, intelligent woman with a no nonsense attitude. She has achieved more than any other female artist in the history of this hip-hop.

Episode 18 Hip Hop in Black and White

The staff at The Word is Bond approached me to write an article about race relations in hip-hop as a guest contributor. We thought it would be a good idea to contrast the large white audience hip-hop has to the lack of successful white artists in the genre. I wrote a rather lengthy article on the topic and realized in the process that it would also work as this month’s episode of Know Your History.

Episode 19The Birth of the Rap Battle

Rap battles are a staple of hip-hop culture. In this episode we explore what is credited as being the first battle, the infamous Kool Moe Dee vs Busy Bee bout, and we look at how battles developed from those humble beginnings.

Episode 20The Roxanne Wars

The Roxanne Wars started with a single record by UTFO. Roxanne Shante answered the record brilliantly with her track “Roxanne’s Revenger.” Several other rappers tried to follow her lead and this rap battle actually spawned over 100 such answer records. Here’s the story . . .

Episode 21 The Bridge Wars

The Bridge Wars lasted for about twenty years. It was basically a beef between Boogie Down Productions (BDP) and The Juice Crew (MC Shan, Marley Marl, and others.) It started innocently enough with a record about “The Bridge” but BDP fired back with a record about their neighbourhood “South Bronx” and several more records were made after that. Here’s the whole story . . .

Episode 22Things Come Alive (Personification in Hip-Hop)

Hip-hop has the power to make things come alive. Whether it is due to the process of storytelling, the persuasive message behind the song, or through an infectious rhythm or hook. Hip-hop has power. It even uses literary devices such as personification. In this episode, we look at how rappers have used this device to great effect in their songs.

Episode 23Redefining Masculinity in Hip-Hop

In this episode, we take a close look at men in hip-hop music and culture. We explore the roles we play as men in this music and how they are flawed and ultimately harmful.We play tracks by Shad, Queen Latifah, and MC Lars to help call attention to some of these issues. It’s time that we redefine what it means to be a man in hip-hop. Are you with me?

Episode 24 Redefining Masculinity in Hip-Hop (Part 2)

We continue our look at gender roles in hip-hop culture. We covered a lot of ground last episode but merely scratched the surface of this topic. That is why we continued this theme for a second episode. We play snippets of documentaries and interviews from the show as well as highlight some music from some amazing female MCs.

2011Season 2

The second season of Know Your History featured quite a few interesting topics. If you missed any of the episodes or would just like to download all 12 in one handy spot., I have compiled them for you here. Enjoy 6 hours of hip-hop edutainment.

Season 3

Episode 25The Rise of the West Coast

The first episode of the third season puts a spotlight on the hip-hop scene that started to emerge on the West Coast, and in particular Los Angeles, in the early 1980s. We explore the distinct and regional sound that developed there and how it set the groundwork for what was to come with Gangsta Rap.

Episode 26The Cold Crush Brothers (Hip Hop Pioneers)

It’s important for us to remember where we came from, to honour our pioneers, to share the rich history we have in hip-hop culture. That is what I try to do every single day. I’m a hip-hop historian and I’m glad to have this outlet to share some of these stories with you. Today, it’s all about one of hip-hop’s first crews, The Cold Crush Brothers.

Episode 27Michie Mee (Canada’s First Lady of Hip-Hop)

This episode celebrates the accomplishments of Michie Mee. She was the first rapper out of Canada to get signed to a major label. She pretty much ignited the Toronto hip-hop scene and paved the way for Canadian rappers everywhere.

Episode 28Hip-Hop United for a Cause

Music has always had the power to unite people. Whether it brings them together around a campfire, a radio, a church service, or a concert, it’s undeniable the draw and power that music can have on people.

Episode 29Hip-Hop United for a Cause (Part 2)

This is the second part of a special looking at how hip-hop artists have come together to raise awareness  and money for charity by recording large collaborative projects or songs.

Episode 30Swearing in Hip-Hop

This episode features a lot of explicit content as we look closely at swearing in hip-hop music, in every day life, and the easily offended culture we live in.

Episode 31 – Father’s Day Special

Today’s show is about celebrating fatherhood. We will look closely at songs that show what an important role fathers have in their children’s lives. It’s all about fathers today as we celebrate Father’s Day with a special edition of Know Your History.

Episode 32The Famous Sample

This episode focuses on one famous record and how it’s been sampled creatively by several different artists. Each song in today’s show sounds unique. They have sampled different portions of “Ashley’s Roachclip” by the Soul Searchers to craft amazing songs.

Episode 33Rakim

Rakim is one of the best to ever do it. He is so hugely influential and changed the game with his unique wordplay and multi-syllabic rhyming. You better, know your history!

Episode 34Halloween Hip-Hop

Chase March explores Halloween-themed rap songs in this special edition of Know Your History. He even spins the special Whodini release “Haunted House of Rock” on a 45 rpm green vinyl record. It’s definitely a thing of beauty.

Episode 35Hip-Hop History Month

It’s hip-hop history month every month here on the program as we dive deep into topics that explore this rich, cultural history in detail. Today, we look at how November 12th, 1974 has been declared the official birthday of hip-hop and how November is now considered Hip-Hop History Month.

Episode 36The First Rap Song

In this edition of the show, Chase March tries to find the very first rap song, which isn’t as simple as it sounds. The first commercially recorded rap songs started to emerge in 1979, but there are songs that predate this recording that sound rather rap-like. Join us as we go quite a ways back into music history to discover the first rap song ever. It will surprise you, guaranteed!

Season 4

Episode 37The History of Radio Broadcasting

The first regularly scheduled radio program got its start just over 100 years ago and it started the home entertainment phenomenon that we are used to today. We owe a lot to the medium of radio. This is my salute to the medium and of course, it relates to hip-hop.

Episode 38 – Hip-Hop’s Better Half

We focus on all the important moments in hip-hop history where women were at the forefront. We look at the first female DJ to host a regularly scheduled radio program way back in 1912. We look at the early female rap groups prior to the first rap recording becoming commercially available. This was part of our 3rd Annual Women in Hip-Hop Radio Special.

Episode 39 –  Women in Hip-Hop Special 

We look at some notable women in hip-hop, the influence they have had, and feature music from Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Missy Elliott, Eve, Rah Digga, Remy Ma, Nicki Minaj, and Angel Haze.

Episode 40 – Hashtag Rap

Today we are exploring the poetic device known as the simile. More aptly, we are looking at instances where rappers have taken the word “like” out of the comparison in a style that has been branded “hashtage rap”

Episode 42Metaphor Concepts

In this episode, we explore name-dropping metaphor songs. We look at how the GZA incorporated close to four dozen rap labels into his narrative “Labels.” We also look at songs by Masta Ace, Mobb Deep, LL Cool J, and Ruste Juxx.

Episode 43Storytelling Rap

We explore rappers who often take an entire song to tell one story. Today we look at the master of storytelling rap, Slick Rick, and then move on to artists such as Boogie Down Productions, Ice Cube, and Eminem.

Episode 45Back to School

We play some school-themed rap songs from artists such as BDP, Leaders of the New School, Young MC, 2Pac, and Eminem. We also interview author Shanaya Fastje and tackle the issue of bullying in schools.

Episode 46 – The Haunted Rap Radio Hour

We expand on last year’s Halloween special by spinning an hour’s worth of Halloween-themed rap songs.

Episode 47Rest in Peace, Dad

I wanted to honour and pay tribute to my father in a meaningful way. He was always a positive influence in my life and supported me in all of my musical endeavours. So, for this edition of the show, I decided to look at the history my father and I have in hip-hop music and culture.

Episode 52The Rap Guide to Evolution

Baba Brinkman combines science and hip-hop in a fascinating, head-nodding way.  I hand the reigns over to him today and air his brilliant TED talk entitled “The Rap Guide to Evolution” as well as “Performance, Feedback, Revision.”