Free Essay: Hip-Hop and Its Popularity

Published: 2023-03-05
Free Essay: Hip-Hop and Its Popularity
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Music Culture Media
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1756 words
15 min read

Hip-hop is a popular culture that was started by African Americans in the United States in the 1980s. The culture includes rap music and graffiti art (Collins Dictionary). Rap is a musical style that incorporates rhythmic and rhyming speech, and it is hip hop's most influential form of art. Due to rap music's popularity and influence in the hip hop culture, it is often referred to as hip hop (Tate & Light). With technology advancement, one of the popular modes of music consumption is through streaming. As a result of the streaming's reach, hip hop has become dominant among other music genres, and in 2018, it became the most famous music in the United States, and it is projected to gain more fans in the future (McIntyre). According to a report published by Nielsen Music in 2017, hip hop represented more than 24% of all music consumption in the U.S, making it the most famous music for the first calendar year. It was followed by Rock music, which had a little above 20% (O'Connor).

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Since the emergence of hip hop culture, there has been many prominent artists. In the 21st century, the following artists have been prominent in hip hop culture. Jay-Z, Eminem, and Kanye West. Jay-Z, whose real name is Shawn Corey Carter, is often regarded as the most talented rapper alive. He has been in the hip hop industry since the 1990s and has sold millions of albums (The Guardian). Marshall Bruce Mathews III, popularly known as Eminem, is also an American rapper who is regarded as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. Another prominent hip hop artist is Kanye Omari West. He is also an entrepreneur and fashion designer. West was the highest-paid hip hop artist earning an estimated $150 million in 2019 (Warren).


In the 1930s, the first electric guitar was developed in California. It consisted of a hollow-bodied instrument with a magnetic pickup feature ("The Rise of the Electric Guitar"). The magnetic pickup was and is still the feature that revolutionized the guitar's construction. The pickup captures vibrations and converts them into an electric signal which can be amplified and recorded. In the 1940s, several improvements were made, including the introduction of the solid-body guitar, which created new sounds. With the higher volume and ability to cut through ensembles, the guitar became more prominent and gradually changed its role. New music styles dependent on the electric guitar gradually developed. Notable styles developed post-electric guitar include urban blues of the 1940s and rock 'n' roll from the mid-1950s ("The Rise of the Electric Guitar").

Today, the electric guitar is the most popular musical instrument in the world. However, that has not always been the case as, before the emergence of the electric guitar, it was a minor instrument (Hunter). In rock 'n' roll, the electric guitar is iconic, especially the Fender Stratocaster. It featured a design that allowed musicians to play higher notes by reaching higher on the fingerboard; it had three pickups allowing a more excellent range of sounds and had a system that allowed players to raise or lower pitch of the strings (Smith). The features were essential for the development of rock 'n' roll music. Examples of notable guitarists include Buddy Holly, Eric Clapton, and Bonnie Raitt (Smith).


Popular music is any commercially available music that is intended to be received and appreciated by a broad audience. Popular music is created by professional individuals and does not evolve through oral transmission like folk songs (Encyclopaedia Britannica). For many years, music has been a fundamental part of human life, and it is said to have a rare ability to speak to human beings and cause different emotions. Like man has changed over time, so has music. Music has changed in the way it is produced, distributed and accessed, changes that have been attributed to technology advancement (Deaux). Popular music is hugely dependent on modern technology such that most modes of music production and consumption would not exist without the use of technology (Wilson). For a better understanding of how technology has impacted music, different periods will be discussed.

The 1960s.In the 1960s, many technological advancements changed music production and consumption. One notable technology is the introduction of multitrack recording. Although the technology had been around since the 1930s, its commercialization was made available in the U.S in the 1960s. The technology allows the infusion of multiple simultaneous playing tracks into one storage medium (Henry). During this period, portable stereos were also introduced. The first portable stereo had a record player, an amplifier, and two speakers, which all folded into a suitcase and was a significant step towards the development of portable music (Henry). The beginning of a new era was also experienced during the 1960s when the cassette tape was introduced. After their introduction in 1964, the sales had gone up to 2.4 million in 4 years and technology changed the way people listened to music (Henry). Although the cassette players had the required size, the music quality was poor, and this prompted the development of technology that could reduce the noise and increase the quality of sound. Besides these technologies, consumers felt the need to have more portable devices, and this led to more developments in the future such as the Walkman released in 1979 by Sony (Henry).

The 1980s.In the late 1970s and 1980s, popular music development was hugely impacted by technology advancement. The most significant change was impacted by the emergence of digital recording and the introduction of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). The MIDI technology allowed differing pieces of musical technology to communicate and synchronize (National Museum Liverpool). This technology increased the usage of sequencing technology as it made it easier to use and lowered its price, eventually leading to its usage in many different types of recordings. (National Museum Liverpool). Through MIDI, many recordings shifted from real-time recording to integration of pre-programmed MIDI-controlled parts as major music components. The technology has revolutionized the music world in that the computers are digitally able to control electronic music instruments, and the eventual result is improved music quality.

The 2000s. In the last decade, the music industry has seen a significant change. A notable change has been in the way popular music is consumed. For instance, in the U.K., more than 130 million CDs were sold in 2008, while only 30 million were sold ten years later (Cole). Spotify, a paid subscription site, had 30 million subscribers in 2016, and by 2019, the subscribers were more than 100 million (Cole). The availability of mobile devices and an internet connection has impacted the mode of consumption. A few years ago, people would share music from one mobile device to another, but that has changed, and people access music through paid subscriptions and online streaming, which have made millions of songs accessible through a mobile device and an internet connection.

Many current subscriptions or streaming sites use machine learning, which can determine the music preferences and listening habits of their users, and it has been used to create preferable music as well as enhancing the modes of consumption (Cole). The emergence of social media has also impacted the music production and consumption. For instance, famous musicians have opened social media accounts where they can interact one on one with their fans receiving sentiments which can be used to improve some music aspects. Before the 2000s, social media was not existent and getting feedback from music consumers was not easy.


Hip hop culture was started in the U.S. by African Americans in the 1980s and has gained much popularity over the years. By 2017, Rap music, often referred to as hip hop was the most famous music genre in the United States. Its popularity has been impacted by famous rap artists such as Jay-Z, Eminem, and Kanye West. In the development of popular music, many instruments are used such as the electric guitar. This instrument has been used since the 1930s, and it is significant in the creation of rock 'n' roll music genre. The electric guitar has also been used in other musical genres and has impacted the music industry significantly. Besides the electric guitar, for many years, there have been other technological implementations that have changed music development and consumption. Examples include MIDI, cassette tape, streaming sites, and compact disks. However, technology continues to advance, and the mode of music production and consumption could change in the future.

Works Cited

Collins Dictionary. "Hip-Hop Definition and Meaning: Collins English Dictionary." Hip-Hop Definition and Meaning | Collins English Dictionary,

Deaux, John. "The Impact of Technology on the Music Industry." All About the Rock, 23 Oct. 2018,

Encyclopaedia Britannica. "Popular Music." Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 25 Feb. 2019,

Henry, Alfred. "Audio Technology of the 1960's.", 9 Dec. 2015,

Hunter, Dave. "How the Electric Guitar Changed the World." Dummies,

McIntyre, Hugh. "Hip-Hop Exploded In Popularity In 2017 Thanks To Massive Gains In Streaming." Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 4 Jan. 2018,

National Museums Liverpool. "The 1980s and New Recording Techniques." National Museums Liverpool,

O'Connor, Roisin. "Rap Has Overtaken Rock as the Most Popular Genre in the US." The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 4 Jan. 2018,

Smith, Monica M. "Louder! History of the Electric Guitar.", Houston Chronicle, 9 Feb. 2015,

Tate, Greg, and Alan Light. "Hip-Hop." Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 13 Sept. 2019,

The Guardian. "The 10 Best Hip-Hop Artists - in Pictures." The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 20 Nov. 2011,

"The Rise of the Electric Guitar." National Museums Liverpool,

Warren, Katie. "Kanye West Just Called Himself a 'Billionaire,' but Forbes Puts His Net Worth at $240 Million. Here's a Look at How the Hip-Hop Artist Built and Spends His Fortune." Business Insider, Business Insider, 7 Nov. 2019,

Wilson, Natalie. "How Technology Has Impacted The Way We Experience Music." Work in Entertainment, 2017,

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