Inside Music Curation: 50 Years of Hip-Hop

2023 is a mammoth year in music as the world celebrates Hip Hop @ 50. Join our curation team for a lively discussion about this art form.


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The music curation team here at Feed Media Group (FMG) is experienced at selecting music for businesses. While technology and analytics play a critical role throughout the curation process, our music curators' expertise, inquisitiveness, and ability to put the world around us into perspective make our music stations so effective.

Staying connected to pop culture trends and understanding the broader context of songs in society is key to creating a great music station. It's this connection, context, and care that most distinguishes our stations from those the best algorithms of major streaming platforms might generate.

Join us as we explore topics surrounding the curation of music for businesses and brands. From use cases to user experience, we will dive into genre, audience, data and trends. Live on Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn, the first Wednesday of the month at 1pm Pacific. 









hello and welcome to inside music curation where the team at feed Media Group my name is Melissa Clark and I've got my esteemed colleagues of our music curation team with me today to talk about 50 years of hip-hop we can't really pack 50 years of hip-hop into 20 minutes so we decided today we would dig in a little bit to our own personal experiences and hip-hop's push into the mainstream so again I've got Claire stance Juan all master music curators here at feed Media Group where we program music for businesses and wanted to just dive in sends maybe tell us a little bit about you know the beginnings of hip-hop and then we'll we'll switch over to talk about our personal experiences yeah well I mean I I unfortunately wasn't there so you know truth and advertising but according to Laura in the summer of 73 I had a block party in the Bronx DJ coolhirk um a Jamaican influenced uh DJ um took a couple records and he started to Loop them back and forth and extend the break which is the Juicy instrumental part that happens in a lot of mainstream popular songs and he extended that break hence the term break dancing um and that you know it really was a story of like Innovative party posting right and so that party ethos and the crowd involvement has always been part of the lifeblood of hip-hop among other things and one other thing about hip-hop that's always Captivate captivated me well two other I can't resist one the kind of everything in the kitchen sink ISM of the aesthetic is like there at the birth right it was like taking records and mixing and matching them in unusual ways with no copyright considerations what it all you know at all because it was a live music Forum that that originated fully six years before it was ever recorded and then secondly I think it's notable and so exciting that music is such a fundamental part of Human Experience is that if you you know give kids Arts education and violins and pianos and and singing lessons and stuff they'll do that and if you don't and if you you know withhold Arts education like you know music is like a rose that grows up out of the concrete like boom it's powerful like it is an innate need in humans and so these incredible resourceful kids and young adults grabbed what they had available to them they had records They had record players they had microphones and from the musical limitations that they were presented and and counted out right it spawned a whole new style of music that's overtaken the globe right that has so much uniqueness and relevance and currency both you know so SEO politically and also musically the vibrancy of that it's all there at the Inception and I think you know it's it's a story about you know race and racism it's a story about America and it's also a story about the power of music like it cannot be supplanted it cannot be kept down like it's gonna come out and it's awesome foreign well said for sure um so it's all happening in the in the 70s and 80s and I I think we have the note here that in 1989 hip-hop had established itself and the Grammys introduced best rap performance category um and we had an inside music curation just a few weeks ago where we did a Grammys Edition and talked about some of the changes there um and you know there's there's definitely still some work that could be um done within the Grammy organization to address you know how this this genre has evolved yeah and I'll I'll just continue a little bit longer just because I know I'm a little bit older than my curation colleagues and a lot of this as we were preparing we realized that our you know relationship with hip-hop probably more so than other music forms because it's of the moment it's of the now it's depended a lot on our age and our location so I'm a little older and so for me my first introduction to Hip Hop it was not 73 it was not 79 when Road Opera's Delight put on wax right I was way hella beyond that and thanks God for Run DMC Walk This Way boom it penetrated through to Iowa I think I was in Iowa at the time and it was like I couldn't even make heads or tails of it but I immediately loved it and so to me they're in my perspective there were three big pushes to the mainstream like power punches through the door of the mainstream and the first was run dmc's Walk This Way the second was Dr Dre's The Chronic in 92 and the third was Puff Daddy with the finishing Stroke Of No Way Out in 97 and the sad demise of of Biggie so you know not to preempt what others have to say but you know it's really a thing with hip-hop of like always that delicate balance between preserving the Integrity of the art form while continuing to broaden it which was both a conscious effort and I think a natural thing where when people got wind of it they're like I want to hear more of that right so it's like this delicate dance the whole time through hip-hop history of like authentic versus pop and mainstream so I'll I'll peace out and let the others chime in but to my mind the first 30 years are really encapsulated by the early party music and the block parties right and the old school which actually the old school predated Run DMC it was disco influence so the Disco influence era into Run DMC and then Dr Dre and boom Beyond yeah yeah and I think and 89 was Young MC I think right wasn't that Young MC in 89. that sounds about right I was also a young kid in the Midwest and I remember um Young MC and you know it was when we talk about hip-hop breaking through in a mainstream you got to talk about like what kids are listening to and you know as like a 10 11 12 year old you know we were getting access to hip-hop in a way that had never been done before right I mean you had like you had like crisscross and Another Bad Creation that were literally like kids doing hip-hop in a pop way that connected with a 10 year old um and so that was a that was a big deal and then you know just really saying the tone for for me The Chronic was you know the game changer and that's when that's when everything changed yeah being a 90s baby was interesting um because it was like you were born into it right like I didn't know that rap didn't exist before right and as a child it was like besides the content which my parents are very strict I wasn't really able to listen or buy rap right until I was like maybe 10 or 11. but that being said it wasn't that I could not hear it right it was on every street corner in Hartford it was in every barber shop it was at every Pizza Stop if you're playing baseball in the 90s you're listening to rap like it was inescapable um and then as far as being a kid in the 90s like one of the my favorite pastimes was you know being at the lunch table with the guys or with you know the ladies as well right and we're just hitting the table you know slapping beats and if we're outside and we have no tables we're beat boxing right and it just the Lexicon of that and actually they're a play inappropriate stores that have in college where we're also beatboxing and doing stuff like that but at the same time like it's something it's a Pastime that is shared both professionally amateur it is it's it's a it's a culture it's it's it's a integral part of uh American culture yeah definitely I had uh sort of some interesting Reflections and thinking back of you know being uh you know now you know consider myself a hip-hop fan of of you know more certain artists or genres than like or subgenres versus like an entire one but in a sort of similar like 90s timeline thinking back to what an early memory of being exposed to hip-hop was um one thing that did come up is I do distinctly remember in the sort of like pop radio crossover um having to change the radio channel if it was a rap song with with my parents of like that was not gonna gonna fly in that respect so and I hadn't had hadn't thought about that memory in a long time but I'd also in terms of yeah like well I never like bought a specifically like rapper hip-hop CD um I did have the first two now CDs and on there the uh Jay-Z Hard Knock uh life was on one of them which obviously uses a song from Annie and which sort of has at eight years old had plenty of sort of like appeal of like it was a sample I already knew um and you don't have a ton of you know musical knowledge at that age but um was sort of thinking about that as like an interesting sort of Gateway into it um and additionally around that same time um Nellie's Country Grammar also sort of used that like playground chant the like down down baby thing and like which was also familiar to kids so I thought that was an interesting like sort of thing to pinpoint of like okay yeah like it's really like not just targeting specific areas or audiences like this is ready to move into the pop mainstream go ahead uh I just got it really quick and then come to your memory but like that playground that kid Dimension to it right and that element of how hip-hop has always been in some respects super accessible and in some other respects inaccessible right in terms of the content but on the accessible end of the spectrum sorry I adore Run DMC is like some of their early songs like here we go or some of them they literally are like a Dr Seuss you know book for Better or For Worse right and it's like but it's authentic it's like and Method Man will always grab like catchphrases from everywhere in the world and like nothing is sacred nothing's off limits like there's a playfulness to hip-hop that will like literally anything into it right and like repurpose it for its own usage but on to one's memory originally thought that the first hip hop CD I got was Will Smith big Willy style but you actually helped me unlock something my first technically rap CD was uh Space Jam yeah like the mon stars like all that whole thing like now that I'm thinking about it that's the first time I heard LL Cool J that was I think Redman was on that too like I have to like revisit but yeah like it is a very interesting thing totally video right I mean video was another way that that you got introduced to hip-hop whether it was through a movie like Space Jam or the Judgment Night soundtrack or you know I mean there's there's so many of these um and then MTV obviously you know MTV in the 90s same timing you know about when The Chronic came out look at all of the videos that came out of that West like that those are ingrained in my memory if you know I I remember the the look and the style and the vibe um you know that that's a real standout kind of MTV hip-hop moment for me yeah and I mean Chuck D famously has said that you know hip-hop is the CNN for Black America right and so which is so it's like profound and it's true like so much underrepresentation was made visible right and given a loud speaker and given a platform and the the visual component right it only augmented that and broadened it and gave people more perspective on it and you know sometimes in ways that weren't maybe you know true to life like Dr Dre videos but it was also capturing a slice of American life that was totally foreign to a lot of people like the the inherent form where there's so many dimensions are they inherent foreign foreign-ness and the rebelliousness that's built into rap was the very thing that Drew you know people that are clearly Outsiders like myself to it it's like that foreignness is appealing and interesting right like the same way that Elvis Presley was foreign and appealing and interesting and dangerous like it's there's an appealingness to that of wanting to understand and and somehow witness in and have a a flavor of that you know yeah and Eric just posted a com a comment as well talking about you know the crossover designation being applied to race and and you know that there's also the socio economic side of it and again to you like I you know for us we're trying to hone in on these like Breakthrough moments where like and it really just depends on when you were coming up right like for me as a as an 80s kid you know kind of coming into my own in in the 90s like where I was first hearing that um and certainly there was there was a lot of that happening before um like the message here that was was noted by Eric tell me tell me where you feel like I've been so candid of how I feel like the punch points for for hip-hop punching through the mainstream were what's your take on it Juan I mean I'm curious in both of yours but one I know you're you're also a dedicated hip-hop listener and student so yeah I mean so my main experience is mostly in the 90s right right uh so Biggie and Tupac passing was something that I was in sixth grade at the time their music wasn't something that I was General less necessarily listening to right I wasn't necessarily allowed to but the the story behind it the media presence behind it it made it inescapable um so from sixth grade I knew who Tupac and Biggie was I could recognize some of the songs from the you know the radio necessarily but I would say that that like put hip-hop on a platform where it was being talked about more you know when you think about the music that really breaks through like boundaries they're always it's always a music that is talked about the most when Rock was doing its thing back in the 40s and 50s it scared a lot of people and it made it something that was topical and people talked about it talked about it talked about talked about it until wow now we're looking at rock and roll like what 80 years after and we're like wow look at the the the diaspora of different like flavors we have of that right so um to that point uh yeah that was a super important time and then literally the late 90s early odds implementing that very pop and almost EDM quality right like will I am with like uh you know uh Black Eyed Peas adding that EDM thing and also puffy not necessarily at the same time but almost kind of like feeding into it with all the remixes right making things that were dancing and fun again um that really changed the trajectory of where in the I mean the late 90s you had things like DMX you had Jay-Z you had uh Ja Rule and it was all kind of tough they're all necessarily tough and you were starting to see the softening of it which I think is what necessarily made it from something that was Urban which I don't necessarily agree with that term but something that it was just Global and I guess you could say Suburban right something that you know your mom can listen to Pitbull and she's just like yeah I love Pitbull and I love Flo Rida right maybe she's not a huge fan of you know the baby or you know Gunner or something like that but I think that's the that's the really that's really where the breaking point is is that though the early Arts of how this music just became so explosive and I'll stop talking now sorry no I I agree I actually in prepping for this reviewed spotify's playlist um they have the I love my like 90s hip-hop and I love my 2000s hip-hop and just for like cultural reference of like I wanted to see you know how many songs I recognized of the 90s and how much of the 2000 2000s and part of that is aged of course um but the other part like stylistically you can really see um the like the the crossover nature having more collaborations um in the 2000s having that like there would be like um there's a there's more melodic and more like sung choruses or elements like that that I think contribute to the radio friendliness and like the pop movement side of it as well so I thought that was really interesting yeah that that obser that obser sorry about the Sun choruses and things like that is is such an astute observation because there is such a correlation I feel like between the Sun choruses and the melodic qualities and the poppiness of it where you know it used to be laughable or highly unusual for a rapper to ever sing like bismarcky or whatever you know or in the case of Ghostface he's singing off key because it's like you know I don't give a but you know with um sorry it's a hip-hop show I cussed anyways but you know then you have rappers like 50 where his courses and stuff like is he singing well not literally but there's the Cadence to it right where it's got a very lyrical quality exactly what you said in like Eminem I actually don't like the way Eminem sings it really grates on me but he made a normal thing with his hits starting in the early 2000s of he would sing in octaves for his choruses right and like there's that melodic Dimension and so whereas you know hip hop and it's quote Pure or raw or original form was like you know the absence of Melody which was often used against it like it can't be music and I'm seriously because it it because it prioritizes Rhythm as opposed to prioritizing Harmony or excuse me Melody but then you get this melodic push which also and black eyed peas are a perfect example right like they embedded Melody into their hip-hop songs to they were probably the fourth punch into the mainstream to be honest yeah they they were a gigantic they were a big push I mean to that time there wasn't really anything like Black Eyed Peas um where it was fully encapsulating the pop nature of it with Fergie and then bringing in the element of hip-hop but then the underlying the rhythmic base was more EDM than hip-hop but skirting that line it was just like one of those things where at the you know the turn of 2000 like wow that's a refreshing sound to listen to um but back to Claire's points about the uh like the uh the collaborations right there's something about the lineage from Mary J Blige uh uh Method Man's 9-1-1 right all the way down to like you know Ashanti and Ja Rule like you know geez Ja Rule actually owned that whole thing he did even like uh what do you call it uh JLo you know but the one record that I felt was just like something that was kind of like wow this is interesting this is the turn was Ghetto Superstar I don't know if you guys were familiar with that song how that song Exploded ODB wasn't necessarily A family-friendly rapper right and really improz wasn't necessarily a rapper that was at the esteem of why clef right where it was more of a household name so to have that track go as hard as it did with Maya which much respect to Maya but Maya out of the Brandy the Monica and all of those like r b Stars was the Lesser known but to have that hit the at around the same time as you know Claire was saying with the you know uh Jay-Z's uh hard knock life that all that stuff was really pushing hip-hop further into the pop sphere yeah what was that accessibility along the sampling and yeah it just goes a long way and what you see is this you know tidal wave where the pop-driven hip-hop it like Rises all Tides if you will where now in the 2010s you saw not only pop oriented hip hop starting to penetrate massively on the pop charts the pop charts or the billboard you know Hot 100 charts you see like straight up hip hop acts like the baby like it's you know it really took honestly for better for worse and there could be some naysayers that were like I don't ever want to hear a song hip-hop song with a chorus but like I think the true hip-hop fans recognize that these you know pop hip-hop artists right that they helped to move it forward right and that the other more like hardcore rappers or those that were more in the older vein right like they it gave them a bigger platform too well like I said it's tough to talk about oh go for it one go for it I will say though the thing about hip-hop that I love so much is that one doesn't exist without the other you need the underground in order to influence that pop and what's and I'm not gonna go down this Rabbit Hole I could but trap is the literal answer to that you know it's a form of hip-hop that you know had trap or drill or any of those they have a very gritty past from not that long ago but utilizing that changing that aspect giving it into a popular view not only highlights those players that are you know like Chief Keef all those guys are you know speaking from the CNN from the street right but then you're having these other people that are talking about a whole other different lexicon of things from like you know uh Megan the stallion or you know sweetie you know so it's it's one of those things that's so important that the two of them exist and that's why this genre is so uh dynamic and now stopped and it's and it's overflowed and it's musically enriched like it's watered plants that are way outside of the hip-hop space I mean what you just said is it's become the water that Wells up or the musical bad metaphor but it like overflows Way Beyond right where now we have what we call post-genre Pop where it's like the different you know dimensions of certain genres or styles are so much cross-pollinated and one of the biggest cross pollinators in pop music for the last 20 years it's inarguable that hip-hop's been one of the biggest to cross you know to to to to flourish these new Styles and elements right much more I mean what you said Juan is completely on point I'd also say it's an interesting context too in comparison with country of like there's or there's less debate I think or a little bit more like welcomedness of like sure that can be hip-hop now whereas like the conversation in country keeps coming back to like well is that country or not and Hip-Hop kind of just like lets it happen and grow and like is is less trying to Define itself so rigidly and I think like that's what allows the the creativity and stuff to flourish as well well son come a long way from two turntables and a microphone you know well said well I don't think it could end it any better than that but again I will say it's tough to talk about 50 years of hip-hop in 20 minutes um so please stay tuned uh again we're the we're the team at feed Media Group and spend most of our time curating music for business purposes and we talk all things music curation here on inside music curation we're back the first Wednesday of every month and we do plan a couple more uh celebratory 50 years of hip-hop nods throughout the summer so stay tuned we hope to uh see you back here and uh talk a little bit more about hip-hop and and other things in music thanks yes thank you thank you