20 October 2010
The evolution of African American Music
The sky poured gallons of rain outside but it didn’t matter to me; I sat on the couch in tune with Rapper Common’s single “I Have a Dream”. I felt lifted, unstoppable, and determined by the words. Through his words my ancestors spoke, “In between Lean and the fiens, hustle and the schemes, I put together pieces of a dream I still have one.” I began to think of the messages that are entwined in the music I listen to, and how they not only uplift me, but the people who listen and invest in their meaning. I have written multiple papers on the history of the Rap and hip hop music and how it has evolved but never have investigated the many different genres of African American music that led to its eventual emergence. My wonders led me to research the various forms of African American music that have paved the groundwork for rap, and hip hop through its styles, overcoming of racism and discrimination and finally messages that still hold meaning in the modern 21st Century.
During the 1800’s Africans were taken from their loved ones, dragged from their homes, forced onto overly crowded boats and transported to America in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Much of the African population, although mostly from West Africa, brought a variety of ethnic backgrounds, each engraved with distinctive and cultivated musical traditions. Through times of turmoil and anguish, rhythms, beats, and lyrics of African folklore blended with new American culture creating the base too many genres of African American music.
Music is universal in the fact that most withhold a message of some kind. For example, country music is known for its stories of love or life lost, Rock music for its rebellious lyrics of self-glory and gospel for it praise to a religious leader. The oldest form of African American music known as “The Negro Spiritual” for instance, was not simply a transformation of...