Hip Hop and Technology: From Turntables to Computers

Introduction: Hip Hop and Technology. What forms of technology are used in hip-hop music? How have these technologies evolved? Is there a need for DJ’s since most of them now use computers, and do not use turntables or records anymore?

  1. History of Hip Hop:

What did music sound like before hip-hop?

Race music: Billie Holiday “Strange Fruit”

1960 events: free love, Civil Rights, Vietnam, drug culture, Baby Boomers

Where did hip-hop originate?

-The Bronx

1970s: Hip Hop begins to spread beyond the Bronx, but disco still dominates the radio and club scene

Was hip-hop limited to one area?

The Dirty South



The East coast


LL Cool J

Public Enemy

The West coast

Ice T


Tupac Shakur

How did other countries influence hip -hop, such as Jamaica, Latin America, and Africa?

Who are the founding fathers of hip-hop?

DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash

What are the four main elements of hip-hop, such as the MC, the Deejay, break dancing (expressing the way the music sounds), and graffiti (the visual element)?

  1. Masculine Expressivity in Hip Hop:

How are men portrayed in hip-hop? “The Thug/Gangsta” and “The Player”

Acting tough, taking up space, talking about how bad you are, talking about your possessions

Respect, social identity, and street code

The authenticity aspect of the artists (did you actually live what you are rapping about)

The sincerity of the artists (the topic is not fiction, but fiction for the artists)

What affect does this have on young men and society?

Stereotypes of African-American men

  1. Women in Hip Hop:

How are women portrayed in hip-hop?

The Categories of Women in Hip Hop

  1. Queen Mother example Queen Latifah
  2. Fly Girl example Salt N Pepa
  3. Sista with Attitude example Lauryn Hill

Do women have a place in hip-hop?

Who are influential female rappers?

  1. The Art of Turntablism

The turntables have been around since the 1940s and 1950s

The term ‘turntablism’ was created in the 1990s

DJ’s began to scratch the records back and forth on the turntable creating a scratching noise

The role and evolution of the Disk Jockey or DJ (play records on the turntable, mixing in one track after the other)

  1. The Evolution of Technology of Hip Hop

Hip-hop music mainly consisted of recordings of block parties, but DJ Disco Wiz was the first hip-hop DJ to create a “mixed plate”

-The drumbeat is the backbone of hip-hop music

– With the use of electronic technology it evolves

– The use of layering sounds and beats

-The sound of hip-hop is distinct from other music genres

The technology that are known for producing hip-hop’s distinct sound:

-The turntable

-The synthesizer used for melody and basslines

-The drum machine offered a variety of drum sounds, and creating the bass sound in hip- hop

-The sampler (using an element of someone else’s song and making it in the artists own)

Recording in the studio (using a condenser microphone or dynamic microphone)

Cassette tapes, CDs, and Digital music (iTunes, Sound Cloud, Spotify, YouTube, and Pandora)




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