Psychedelic Rock’s Influence on Old School Hip Hop

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Psychedelic rock music had a significant influence on the development of old school hip hop. The genre’s trippy, mind-expanding soundscapes provided the perfect backdrop for the emerging hip hop scene of the 1970s. Many of the genre’s biggest stars, including Jimi Hendrix and The Doors, were huge influences on early hip hop pioneers like Afrika Bambaataa and Kool Herc.

Psychedelic Rock’s Influence on Old School Hip Hop

Psychedelic rock, also known as simply psych rock or garage rock, is a style of rock that was popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The sound is characterized by distorted guitars, mind-altering lyrics, and trippy sound effects. Hip hop, on the other hand, is a genre of music that developed in the late 1970s. It is a style of music that is characterized by rap lyrics and a repetitive beat.

The Beatles

The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. With members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, they became widely regarded as the foremost and most influential music band in history. Rooted in skiffle, beat and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented with several musical styles, ranging from pop ballads and Indian music to psychedelia and hard rock, often incorporating classical elements and unconventional recording techniques in innovative ways. In 1963, their enormous popularity first emerged as “Beatlemania”; as the group’s music grew in sophistication in subsequent years, led by primary songwriters Lennon and McCartney, they came to be perceived as an embodiment of the ideals shared by the era’s sociocultural revolutions.–>
The Beatles are primarily responsible for introducing psychedelic rock into old school hip hop. Their influence can be heard in the music of artists like Afrika Bambaataa, De La Soul, Beastie Boys, and Public Enemy.

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead’s long, improvisational live performances influenced many subsequent jam bands such as Phish and the Spin Doctors. They also had a big influence on the development of both old-school hip hop and acid house; their 1974 track “U.S. Blues” was sampled by Grandmaster Flash for his 1982 track “The Message”, while their 1968 single “Dark Star” was sampled by the Beastie Boys for their 1989 track “Shadrach”.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd is an English rock band formed in London in 1965. They achieved international acclaim with their progressive and psychedelic music. The band initially consisted of Syd Barrett on lead vocals and guitar, Nick Mason on drums, Roger Waters on bass and lead vocals, and Richard Wright on keyboards and lead vocals. Barrett was replaced by guitarist and vocalist David Gilmour in 1968.

The group’s primary songwriter, Roger Waters, left the band in 1985 after a long dispute with Pink Floyd’s management over money, creative differences, and the personal lives of the band members. He was replaced by bassist and singer Billy Shepherd (later known as “Guy Pratt”). Since 1985, Pink Floyd have been guitarist Gilmour, drummer Mason, keyboardist Wright (who died in 2008), and Pratt on bass.

The Birth of Hip Hop

In the early 1970s, an underground music scene was developing in the Bronx, New York that would go on to change the course of popular music. This music was a product of its environment, a melting pot of cultures brought together by poverty and crime. It was loud, aggressive, and often violent. It was also the perfect outlet for the frustration and anger of a generation of young people who felt like they had no voice. This music was Hip Hop.

DJ Kool Herc

DJ Kool Herc is a Jamaican-American DJ who is credited with helping to create hip hop music in the early 1970s. His style of playing two records at the same time, which he called “the Merry-Go-Round,” was influential in the development of hip hop’s musical style. He is also credited with inventing the break beat, a musical technique that is still used by DJs and producers today.

Afrika Bambaataa

Bambaataa was born in the Bronx to a single mother on April 17, 1957, and raised in the east Bronx River Projects, Castle Hill. His father, Lance Taylor Sr., abandoned the family when Bambaataa was five years old, and his mother worked long hours to support the family. As a child, he was often left home alone with little supervision, and he turned to television and science fiction for entertainment. He was an avid fan of comic books—particularly those featuring Superman and Batman—and later cited them as major influences on his musical career. Bambaataa used to write his name as “Zulu” until he realized that it sounded too much like “sudo,” which means “I am King” in Zulu. Instead he chose the name “Afrika” because of his love for Africa; and “Bambaataa” after a Swahili warrior chief of Zulu descent who led his people against European colonial forces in the early 1800s.

Grandmaster Flash

Grandmaster Flash is a true pioneer of hip hop. He was one of the first DJs to use two turntables to extend the breaks in songs, which created a whole new way of listening to music. His innovative style influenced many of the early hip hop artists and helped to shape the sound of the genre.

Flash was born in Barbados and raised in the Bronx, New York. He began his DJ career in the early 1970s, inspired by the Jamaican sound system parties he attended as a teenager. His first big break came when he won a DJ battle against another up-and-coming DJ, Kool Herc.

Flashʼs biggest influence was Psychedelic Rock, which he would often sample and incorporate into his sets. He was particularly fond of Jimi Hendrix and Creedence Clearwater Revival. The hippie culture of the 1960s also had a big impact on Flash and his music. He was known for his peace signs and love beads, which he would often wear while performing.

Flash continued to be a major force in hip hop throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007, honoring his significant contribution to music history.

How Psychedelic Rock Influenced Hip Hop

Psychedelic rock, also known as “acid rock”, had a big influence on early hip hop. Artists like Jimi Hendrix and Cream were some of the first psychedelic rockers, and their music had a big impact on the early hip hop scene. Psychedelic rock is known for its trippy, mind-bending sounds, and early hip hop artists took inspiration from this to create their own unique sound.

The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”

The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” is often cited as one of the first examples of psychedelic rock, and its influence on hip hop is undeniable. The album was released in 1967, at the height of the counterculture movement, and its Sgt. Pepper character seemed to represent everything that was cool and rebellious about the time period. The album’s colorful packaging and mind-bending soundscapes were a far cry from anything that had been heard before, and they perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the day.

The Beatles’68 White Album was another touchstone of the psychedelic era, and its impact on hip hop is also significant. The opening track, “Revolution 9,” is a chaotic collage of sounds that includes backwards drumming, spoken word samples, and random noises. It’s an avant-garde masterpiece that would go on to influence countless hip hop producers. The album’s other tracks are equally groundbreaking, and they showed the world that popular music could be anything that you wanted it to be.

The Beatles may not have been the first artists to experiment with psychedelic sounds, but they were undoubtedly the most popular and influential band of their generation. Their willingness to push boundaries and chart new sonic territory inspired a whole generation of musicians, including many who would go on to create some of the most important music in hip hop history.

The Grateful Dead’s “Dark Star”

While the Grateful Dead’s influence is often cited in connection with the spread of counterculture values across the United States, their music also played an important role in the evolution of hip hop. In particular, the Dead’s 1968 instrumental track “Dark Star” served as a key inspiration for early hip hop producers.

First released on the band’s second studio album, Anthem of the Sun, “Dark Star” is a sprawling, atmospheric jam that features extended solos from guitarist Jerry Garcia and keyboardist Ron McKernan. The track would go on to become one of the Dead’s most popular live songs, and its unique sound would prove to be a major influence on several early hip hop tracks.

One of the first known instances of “Dark Star” being sampled in a hip hop song is Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force’s 1982 track “Planet Rock.” An undisputed classic of early hip hop, “Planet Rock” helped to popularize electronic dance music and spawned a number of subsequent remixes andCover versions. The track’s opening samples several seconds of “Dark Star,” instantly setting the song’s spacey, futuristic tone.

Bambaataa later recalled being introduced to the Grateful Dead by way of another seminal hip hop track, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s 1981 single “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel.” Flash’s groundbreaking turntablism work would also go on to inspire subsequent generations of hip hop DJs and producers.

Though it was released almost 15 years before “Planet Rock,” “Dark Star” remains an influential track in both the Grateful Dead’s catalogue and the history of hip hop. Its slow build and atmospheric jamming continued to be an inspiration for future generations of musicians, helping to shape both hippie culture and hip hop in profound ways.

Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”

“The Wall” is the eleventh studio album by English rock band Pink Floyd, released on 30 November 1979. A concept album, its story explores Pink, a jaded rockstar whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society is symbolised by a wall. The record was a commercial success, topping the US charts for 15 weeks, and reaching number three in the UK.

The Legacy of Psychedelic Rock in Hip Hop

Psychedelic rock first gained notoriety in the 1960s with bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones experimenting with the genre. However, it wasn’t until the late 1970s and early 1980s that hip hop artists began to sample psychedelic rock in their music. This new sound helped to define the golden age of hip hop and shaped the sound of the genre for years to come.

The Beastie Boys

The Beastie Boys were an American hip hop trio from New York City, formed in 1981. The group consisted of Michael “Mike D” Diamond (vocals, drums), Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz (vocals, guitar) and Adam “MCA” Yauch (vocals, bass). They are credited with helping to pioneer the hip hop genre and leading the way for white rappers to achieve mainstream success.

The Beastie Boys were influenced by a wide range of music, including punk rock, hip hop, and disco. Their debut album Licensed to Ill (1986) was a huge success, thanks in part to the single “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”, which became an anthem for teenage rebellion. The album helped to popularize hip hop among white audiences and introduced elements of the genre into pop culture.

The group’s subsequent albums explored different styles and genres, including alternative rock (Paul’s Boutique, 1989), funk (Check Your Head, 1992), experimental hip hop (Ill Communication, 1994) and electronica (Hello Nasty, 1998). The Beastie Boys were one of the most commercially successful and critically acclaimed bands of their era, selling over 26 million albums in the United States alone. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

Public Enemy

Public Enemy is a group that is often cited as one of the most influential hip hop groups of all time. They are known for their politically charged lyrics and their revolutionary sound. The group’s debut album, Yo! Bum Rush the Show, was released in 1987 to critical acclaim. Public Enemy’s music has been described as a mix of James Brown’s funk, George Clinton’s P-Funk, and sociopolitical commentary.

Psychedelic rock is a genre of rock music that emerged in the mid-1960s. Psychedelic rock music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs such as LSD and psilocybin mushrooms. Psychedelic rock grew out of the already existing genres of blues rock and garage rock. Musicians began incorporating elements of psychedelia into their music in order to create a more mind-altering sound.

Psychedelic rock had a significant influence on Public Enemy’s music. The group has sampled psychedelic rock songs on several occasions, most notably on their song “Bring the Noise.” Public Enemy has also been compared to psychedelic rock bands such as Pink Floyd and The Who.

A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest was an American hip hop group consisting of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad. The group was founded in 1985 and disbanded in 1998. They released their debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, in 1990. The album was widely acclaimed and established the group as icons in the hip hop community.

Psychedelic rock’s impact on hip hop is evident in the music of A Tribe Called Quest. The group sampled heavily from psychedelic rock bands such as Jimi Hendrix, Funkadelic, and Cream. They also incorporated elements of jazz into their music, which was influenced by Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Their unique fusion of styles made them one of the most innovative and influential groups in hip hop history.

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