From Gangsta Rap to Conscious Hip Hop: A History of the Genre's Different Sub-Styles

Hip hop is a genre of music that has given birth to various sub-styles over the years. From gangsta rap to conscious hip hop, the genre has evolved to encompass different sounds and messages that have resonated with different audiences around the world.

Starting with the roots of hip hop in the Bronx during the early 1970s, the genre has come a long way to reach the heights of popularity it enjoys today. With its beginnings in house parties and block parties, hip hop was a way for people to express themselves through music and dance amid the challenges of living in tough inner city neighborhoods.

As the genre grew in popularity, it started branching out into different sub-styles that showcased different sounds, messages, and personalities. Gangsta rap emerged in the late 1980s as a sub-genre of hip hop that was characterized by its gritty lyrics, street tales, and often violent imagery. It was a reflection of the harsh realities of life in the inner city, with rappers telling stories about drugs, gang violence, and police brutality. Artists like N.W.A and Tupac Shakur became household names, and the sub-genre gained widespread attention.

While gangsta rap was highly controversial for its explicit content and controversial lyrics, it provided a platform for artists to voice their opinions and experiences. However, it also attracted criticism from social and political activists, who accused the sub-genre of perpetuating negative stereotypes about the inner city.

Conscious hip hop emerged in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a counter-movement to gangsta rap. It was characterized by its socially conscious lyrics about issues that were important to the African American community, such as poverty, racism, and inequality. Artists like Public Enemy and KRS-One became synonymous with the sub-genre, and their messages of empowerment and social justice resonated with a generation of young people.

In addition to its socially conscious messages, conscious hip hop also showcased a more positive and optimistic message than its gangsta rap counterpart. It celebrated the cultural identity of African Americans, and its artists were often seen as role models for their ability to rise above their circumstances and inspire others.

As time went on, hip hop continued to evolve and produce new sub-styles. Alternative hip hop emerged in the late 1990s as a more experimental and avant-garde sub-genre that challenged traditional hip hop sounds and styles. It introduced new elements like jazz, funk, and rock, and its artists like Outkast and The Roots became known for their innovative approach to the genre.

Another sub-genre that emerged in the late 1990s was southern hip hop. It was characterized by its distinct country-flavored sound and its focus on regional identity. Southern rappers like Lil Wayne and T.I. gained widespread popularity, and southern hip hop became a force to be reckoned with in the hip hop world.

Recently, trap music has emerged as one of the most popular sub-styles of hip hop. It originated in the southern United States, and is characterized by its trap beats, heavy basslines, and lyrics that often glorify drug use and violence. It has gained widespread popularity, with artists like Future and Migos becoming household names.

In conclusion, hip hop has proven to be one of the most versatile and influential genres of music. From its early beginnings in the Bronx in the 1970s, hip hop has evolved to encompass different sounds, styles, and messages that have resonated with audiences around the world. While gangsta rap and conscious hip hop have been two of the most influential sub-styles, new sub-genres like alternative hip hop and trap music have emerged to challenge traditional hip hop sounds and styles. The genre continues to evolve, and it will be exciting to see what the future holds for hip hop.