Old School Hip Hop Records

old school hip hopMost music historians and hip hop fans consider hip hop records produced between 1979 and 1985 ‘Old School Hip Hop.’ In its infancy, this fascinating and ever-changing genre relied heavily on the expertise of DJs mixing the right beats to keep the party going all night long.

Hip hop began at block parties and neighborhood events in US cities like New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. But it wasn’t long before the music made its way around the world. Today, there are many forms of hip hop, including alternative hip hop, crunk, grime, and industrial hip hop. But old school hip hop remains in the hearts and souls of many hip hop fans.

Entertaining the Crowds

In the beginning, it was the hip hop DJs that brought hip hop music to life. By combining different beats from multiple records, DJs had to develop an ear for piecing together various beats and rhythms to create unique sounds that people could dance and listen to. This meant hours of beat sampling, determining the precise moment to switch records, and putting together a routine that would last for hours at a time.

Along with the DJs, break dancers and MCs were responsible for providing additional entertainment and words – which later morphed into rap music. MCs added spoken words and phrases to DJ beats, which eventually became lyrics.

With the success of Sugar Hill Gang’s ‘Rappers Delight’ in 1979, hip hop officially began its journey from inner city neighborhoods to the rest of the US and eventually to other countries including the UK.

Famous US/UK Hip Hop Artists

During the age of ‘Old School Hip Hop,’ many artists emerged who contributed to the increased popularity of hip hop music. Artists like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Malcolm McLaren, DJ Richie Rich, and Kinetic Effect helped turn hip hop from an underground musical form into something far more main stream. Old school hip hop music provided a little something for everyone – interesting beats and musical pairings, provocative lyrics, political commentary, dancing, graffiti art and beat boxing.

Social Commentary

In addition to providing great sounds for parties and other social events, old school hip hop also provided an outlet for people fed up with social problems including poverty, class wars, unfair laws, and mistreatment of people. It was during this time when many countries, including the US and UK, were in the midst of social and economic change. Hip hop music helped give a voice to those that didn’t think they were being heard by the rest of society. Through rebellious beats, lyrics, and social gatherings were people could talk amongst themselves, the music allowed people to express feelings of anger, fear, and disenchantment with political and societal norms.

Collecting Old School Hip Hop Records

With many emerging artists and bands producing music during this time period, you can easily start an eclectic collection of old school hip hop records. You can find these records online, or by visiting local book or used record shops. You can also meet fellow collectors at online or traditional auctions, estate sales, garage sales or other events where people sell records and other memorabilia.

Alternative Hip Hop

alternative hip hop

Alternative hip hop, also known as underground hip hop, hit the US/UK music scene in the late 80’s. This form of hip hop continued to grow throughout the 90’s and still exists today. US Groups such as Digital Underground, The Fugees, A Tribe Called Quest, Stereo MC’s and UK artists such as The Streets, Skinnyman, Braintax all work within this intriguing genre to create music that’s new, fresh, and original.

Often filled with political undertones, social commentary, and personal affirmations, alternative hip hop artists strive to create music that’s  forward thinking.

The Appeal of Alternative Hip Hop

Hip hop fans and music critics alike enjoy listening to alternative hip hop music for many of the same reasons. In addition to being easy to dance to or play at a party, the music is also different from other forms of hip hop because artists frequently take risks; for example, mixing disco with rap and country music. Furthermore, alternative hiphop lyrics can be seen as a form of poetry. Artists like Braintax like to tell stories through their rapping, and his lyrics form imagery, as well as making the listener think about some serious topics. For those looking for more than lyrics about bitches, guns and money,  this form of hip hop is very appealing.

And since  indie music in general has become more popular over the years, a new generation of music lovers has discovered the exploratory and intriguing beats and deep lyrics of alternative hip hop.

Collecting Hip Hop Records

With the on-going popularity of hip hop records (and record collecting in general), it shouldn’t be too difficult for those looking for alternative hip hop albums to find some in the stacks at local record shops or online. Given the fact that many alternative hip hop acts such as Digital Underground and The Fugees seldom perform, these albums may be worth more than others.

When collecting alternative hip hop albums, look for acts like Arrested Development, Jungle Brothers, Outkast or UK artists like Contact Play and Jam Baxter. With so many talented artists producing a wide variety of music, you can build an eclectic collection of old and new artists.

As with all ‘alternative’ music,  alternative hiphop’s limited exposure could be just down to a lack of marketing, or a lack of appreciation for creativity and serious lyrics in the mass market. One thing is for sure though – if you can get past your prejudices of rap and hiphop music, and take some time to listen to some alternative hiphop artists, even the most adverse of us may be pleasantly surprised.

The Return of Vinyl

One could say that alternative music and vinyl records go hand in hand, since they are both out of the mainstream.

And although vinyl will never catch up with digital downloads,  it is starting to appeal to a wider audience again, which now includes a bigger reach to a younger generation. To reach out to this new, expanding market, hip hop and other musical artists have started releasing singles as well as entire albums on vinyl again. Collectors should also check book shops, consignment shops, and junk shops as many of these outlets sell vinyl.