How Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture Have Changed Over the Years

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


How rap music and hip hop culture have changed over the years and the impact it has had on society.


Rap music and hip hop culture have changed a lot since they first emerged in the 1970s and 1980s. In the early days, rap music was all about rhyming and MCing over breaks in disco and funk songs. Hip hop culture was all about partying and having a good time. There wasn’t much focus on social issues or politics.

The Origins of Rap and Hip Hop

Rap music and hip hop culture originated in the 1970s in the Bronx, New York. Hip hop is a style of music that is characterized by rhyming lyrics, often accompanied by a beat. Rap music emerged from a combination of several different genres, including soul, funk, and disco.

The first rap song to gain mainstream success was “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, which was released in 1979. The popularity of rap music continued to grow throughout the 1980s, with artists such as Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, and Public Enemy becoming some of the most successful and well-known rappers of the time.

Rap music underwent a significant change in the 1990s, with the advent of gangsta rap. Gangsta rap is a subgenre of rap that focuses on themes of violence, drug use, and crime. Some of the most popular gangsta rap artists of the 1990s include Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur.

In the 2000s and 2010s, rap music has continued to evolve and be repopularized by artists such as Eminem, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Kendrick Lamar. The success of these artists has led to a renewed interest in rap music and hip hop culture around the world.

The Golden Age of Rap and Hip Hop

The Golden Age of Rap and Hip Hop was a time when the music and culture were fresh and new. It was a time of innovation and creativity, when artists were pushing the boundaries of what was possible. This was the era of classic albums like “The Sugarhill Gang” and “N.W.A.”, when rap and hip hop were first starting to make their mark on the world.

Unfortunately, the Golden Age didn’t last forever. As the years went by, rap and hip hop became more commercialized and mainstream. The music became less about expression and more about making money. This led to a decline in quality, as artists began pandering to the lowest common denominator instead of challenging themselves creatively.

Thankfully, there has been a recent resurgence in quality rap and hip hop music. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper are leading the charge, making music that is both creative and commercially successful. Let’s hope that this new Golden Age can last longer than the last one.


Hip hop music originated in the 1970s in New York City, but it didn’t become mainstream until the 1990s. In the 1990s, rap music and hip hop culture became more popular with the help of music videos on television and the release of mainstream rap albums. The popularity of rap music and hip hop culture continued to grow in the 2000s and 2010s.

The Rise of Gangsta Rap

The early 1990s saw the rise of gangsta rap, a subgenre of hip hop music that reflected the tough, inner-city conditions of its African-American creators. Gangsta rap artists such as Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur often glorified illegal activities such as drug dealing and violence in their lyrics, and their music was frequently criticized for its negative portrayal of black culture.

Despite the criticism, gangsta rap remained extremely popular throughout the 1990s, and its influence can still be felt in hip hop today. Many modern artists have been influenced by the gangsta rap style, and the genre has also had an impact on fashion, film and other aspects of popular culture.

The Commercialization of Rap and Hip Hop

In the 1980s, rap and hip hop music were first introduced to mainstream America. Though it was initially met with some resistance and was considered by some to be a passing fad, rap and hip hop soon became cemented as a mainstay in American popular culture. In the 1990s, rap and hip hop underwent a major transformation as it became increasingly commercialized. This commercialization led to the introduction of new subgenres, such as gangsta rap, and the rise of many commercially successful artists, such as Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. The 1990s also saw the launch of numerous record labels devoted specifically to rap and hip hop music, further spurring on the genre’s commercial success.


The early 2000s were a pivotal time for rap music and hip hop culture. At the turn of the millennium, the genre was on the cusp of mainstream success. But, what made the early 2000s so special for rap music? In this article, we’ll take a look at how rap music and hip hop culture have changed over the years.

The Decline of Gangsta Rap

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, gangsta rap became the most commercially viable form of hip hop. Artists such as Dr. Dre, The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Busta Rhymes became some of the biggest names in music. They celebrated gang violence, drug use, and sexual promiscuity in their lyrics, and their albums were often banned from stores or censored by radio stations.

However, by the mid-2000s, gangsta rap’s popularity had begun to decline. Many artists began to distance themselves from the genre, opting for a more positive or conscious approach to their music. At the same time, a new generation of rappers was coming up who were more interested in trap music and mumble rap. As a result, gangsta rap has become something of a niche genre in recent years.

The Resurgence of Hip Hop

The early 2000s saw a resurgence in the popularity of rap music and hip hop culture. This was due in part to the success of mainstream artists like Outkast, Eminem, and 50 Cent, who brought the genre to a wider audience. But it was also due to the rise of underground artists like MF DOOM and El-P, who created a new sound that was darker and more experimental. These artists helped to make hip hop more popular than ever before.


The 2010s have seen a lot of changes in rap music and hip hop culture. Rappers are now rapping about different topics than they were in the past. Social media has also changed the game, with rappers now able to reach a larger audience than ever before. Let’s take a look at how rap music and hip hop culture have changed in the 2010s.

The New Age of Rap and Hip Hop

In the 2010s, rap music and hip hop culture underwent a major transformation. With the rise of streaming services like Spotify and Soundcloud, artists were no longer limited to releasing their music through traditional channels like record labels. This gave rise to a new generation of independent artists who were able to build careers without the backing of a major label.

One of the most significant changes in rap music was the introduction of trap music. Trap is a subgenre of hip hop that originated in the early 2000s in Atlanta, Georgia. It is characterized by its heavy use of bass and drums, as well as its often violent or sexual lyrical content. Trap music quickly rose to popularity in the 2010s, with artists like Lil Wayne,Future, and Migos becoming some of the biggest names in the genre.

As trap became more popular, it began to influence other genres of music as well. For example, EDM (electronic dance music) producers began incorporating trap elements into their songs, resulting in a new subgenre known as “trap EDM” or “trapstep.” In addition, trap has also had an impact on fashion, with many young people adopting the style of dress associated with the genre (e.g., baggy clothes, designer sneakers, etc.).

Overall, the 2010s have been a decade of great change for rap music and hip hop culture. With the advent of new technology and shifting societal norms, these genres have evolved in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

The Mainstreaming of Rap and Hip Hop

In the 2010s, rap and hip hop finally reached the mainstream in a big way. Commercial radio began playing more rap and hip hop songs, and mainstream music festivals such as Coachella, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo started booking more rappers and hip hop artists. This increased visibility led to even more people becoming interested in rap and hip hop, which in turn led to even more mainstream success.

This mainstream success also led to some changes in the way that rap and hip hop were perceived by the general public. In the past, rap and hip hop were seen as being primarily for African American audiences, but in the 2010s, these genres became much more diverse. White audiences began to embrace rap and hip hop, and artists of all races found success in these genres.

Additionally, women began to make waves in the world of rap and hip hop. In the past, these genres had been dominated by men, but in the 2010s, female rappers such as Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Missy Elliott began to achieve great commercial and critical success. These women helped to change the landscape of rap and hip hop forever and proved that female artists could be just as successful as their male counterparts.

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