American music history is considered as one which has undergone tremendous transformation. In other words, what is being seen as the American music today is totally different and not close to what used to be American music. The question which many people ask is the vents which led to such intensive change. This essay focuses on American music genre Jazz rap which has engulfed the original culture of America into a concoction which nobody can describe its composition. To achieve this objective, the history and development of Jazz has been covered with special attention given to particular music artists in American history who contributed to the exponential spread of Jazz rap in America. The essay concludes by addressing the future of American music which many people project an extended transformation of the current culture.
It is clear that Jazz-Rap was an attempt to merge the African-American past music culture with the newly adopted music culture and lifestyle. Jazz-Rap rhythms emanated from hip hop while other music textures were borrowed from hard bop, cool jazz and soul-jazz. This combination was more cerebral than styles like hip hp since many performers demonstrated African political awareness that was aimed at complementing style’s earlier consciousness. Since Jazz-rap had an intellectual bent because of accessibility of education which was promoted by policies like the affirmative action, it’s not shocking this fusion never found its place on the American streets. It never belonged to the streets like during former days of jazz. This fusion of music was styled in a positive manner that made it overtake rap in early ‘90s (Keyes 245). With its objective being to spread hip hop to funs that were not in a position to acknowledge the aggressive nature of the changing music culture in the urban. Jazz-rap found significant audience in institutions of higher learning like campuses and in colleges. It was also acceptable by its critics and white people who were mainly rock fans. There were several groups which had remarkable force in the jazz-rap music. These included but not limited to Quest, Jungle Brothers and De La Soul. It is important to recognize Gang Starr and Digable Planets as key artists in the history of jazz-Rap.
Jazz found its way in the U.S early 20th century and it’s believed that it originated in the South in the 19th century with the emergence of the Atlantic Slave trade. It was during this time that thousands of Africans were moving to America with music influences from their native countries. These cultures got assimilated in American music leading to the shading of the original U.S. An early combination which emerged was the Cakewalk which was a blend of syncopation and harmony and was most preferred during minstrel shows among white folk (A Brief History of Jazz).
One of the reasons why Black Americans preferred ragtime was as a result of low education levels among black people resulting from discrimination and social injustices which characterized the American society. Abolition of slavery opened a new chapter in American culture. It is worth noting that most of what is seen as the current America was a result of ending slavery which cost many people to lose their lives and suffer because of the resistance which existed from anti- slavery groups and individuals. There were very few jobs for black Americans rendering majority of them jobless. This situation was an opportunity for black people who were talented in music to take up music as their full time career performing in clubs, bars and in organized minstrel shows. Ragtime had its base in dangerous districts of New Orleans (A Brief History of Jazz). This was a revision of the march that was mainly characterized by syncopation and polyrhythms. The music was received to be upbeat and quite compatible for dancing.
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Ernest Hogan, a black music entertainer and sing writer, recorded his first ragtime in 1895. This turned out to popular throughout America with white musicians adopting it not only in America but also in Europe. It is today considered as the first Jazz music in the history of American culture which set the pace for massive transformation of the culture. As a genre which had gained popularity in America and beyond borders, ragtime crossed over to the 20th century. Several musicians and entertainers organized themselves in groups which began to travel all over America to perform in concerts, bars and parties (A Brief History of Jazz). These traveling and live performance of Jazz groups promoted the spread of Jazz music from coast to coast.
Jazz significantly gained popularity becoming the most dominant genre in the U.S in 1920’s. This music was associated with parties, spendthrift behavior and substance abuse like alcohol drinking. It continued to gain popularity until 1933, a period dubbed “Jazz Age” a time when moral decay in America hit its peak. The genre had lost its supremacy by the time the Jazz Age was ending forcing musicians to strategize their way forward in maintaining the world of music in the United States. This led to the birth of an exaggerated of the original Jazz music called swing jazz or Big Band. Glenn Miller and Duke Ellington are considered to be famous swing jazz leaders. The instruments which were used composed of mainly brass and reed instruments before vocals and string section were introduced in 1940’s. One of the development and boost which favored jazz music was the advancement and growth of the media industry. These songs were played over the radio and anybody from any destination in the country (A Brief History of Jazz). As a result, many people got influenced by this music including both young people and adults.
Because of the conservation atmosphere in the 1950s, cool jazz was adopted where the band generally reduced in terms of sound and size. An important point observed is that many cultures begun influencing the jazz culture. For instance, there was the introduction of Latin culture of rock and soul. Concoctions of Jazz continued with soul-jazz being formed in 1970s. This was a mixture of gospel, blues and soul music. The only unique thing which was observed in the soul-jazz was the introduction of a new organ instrument. This continued leading to the rise of rock and roll in 1970s. There was a fusion between Jazz and Rock resulting into Jazz-Jazz infusion which was promoted by Jimmy Hendrix (A Brief History of Jazz). Although Jazz continued to dominate the world of music in America, it has been overtaken by other subgenres which have been promoted by a number of factors.
Rap began in the 1970s when the fusion of jazz with other cultures was at its peak. It is therefore clear that rap music was also born on the streets of New York City among Black-Americans. It realized the power of DJs in pulling crowds and the term found its realistic application in the culture. Rap also led to the introduction of MCs in the music whose role was among others, to introduce DJs, to introduce rap performers and ensuring that funs who attended rap performing functions. The history of rap therefore emanated from humble beginnings which saw the emerging of DJs and MCs who assumed significant roles in promoting the culture. Rap music continued to influence many youths especially by its use of vulgar language, promotion of violence and sex. Many rappers focus on their lives and events within their environment with break dancing being common.
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With hip hop which has jazz and rap elements dominating in America and beyond, the question has always been the possibility of a new genre coming to birth. Many people argue that this would transform American music culture which has been linked with moral degradation. Although the history of rap music in American history seems new, its influence remains paramount. Both rap and jazz have the potential for defining the future music culture of America. Whether a new genre comes up or not elements of rap and jazz are likely to feature prominently
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