When Did Rap Music Come Out?

by Patria

Rap Music has undeniably become a global phenomenon, with its roots deeply embedded in the rich history of American music. This genre, known for its powerful storytelling, rhythmic flow, and captivating beats, has taken the world by storm since its inception. But when exactly did rap music come out? To answer this question comprehensively, we need to delve into the historical, cultural, and artistic aspects of this captivating genre. This article explores the fascinating journey of rap music from its early origins to the present day, shedding light on the pivotal moments and key figures that have shaped its development.

The Birth of Rap Music: Early Origins

To understand when rap music came out, we must first trace its roots back to the early 1970s in the South Bronx, New York. During this period, a subculture was emerging in the urban streets, driven by marginalized communities seeking creative outlets for their struggles and aspirations. This gave birth to what we now know as rap music.

One of the foundational elements of rap music is spoken word and oral traditions, which can be traced back centuries in various cultures worldwide. The use of words, rhythm, and storytelling as a form of expression was not a novel concept, but in the context of the South Bronx, it evolved into something distinctive. The early rap music pioneers drew inspiration from African and Caribbean traditions, which involved chanting, storytelling, and rhythmic expression. This cultural fusion laid the groundwork for what was to come.

Rap Music in the 1970s: Birth of Hip-Hop Culture

The term “hip-hop” is often used interchangeably with rap music, but it is essential to distinguish the two. Rap music is a component of hip-hop culture, which encompasses other elements such as graffiti art, breakdancing, and DJing. In the early 1970s, the South Bronx was bubbling with creative energy, leading to the emergence of the hip-hop culture.

A pivotal moment in the history of rap music came when Clive Campbell, known as DJ Kool Herc, hosted a party in 1973. During this event, he utilized two turntables to extend instrumental breaks in songs, allowing people to dance and groove for more extended periods. This technique, which is now a fundamental aspect of rap music, came to be known as “breakbeats.”

Around the same time, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five introduced the concept of mixing and scratching, contributing to the evolution of rap music. These innovations played a crucial role in the genre’s early development and set the stage for the emergence of talented rap music artists.

The First Rap Music Records: Sugarhill Gang and “Rapper’s Delight”

Although rap music had been evolving in the streets and house parties of the South Bronx, it wasn’t until 1979 that it made its official debut on the music scene with the release of “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. This groundbreaking track marked a significant moment in the history of rap music, as it was the first rap music record to achieve commercial success.

“Rapper’s Delight” was a catchy, seven-minute-long track that showcased the lyrical prowess of Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike, and Master Gee. Its success not only introduced rap music to a broader audience but also opened the doors for more artists to express themselves through this new form of musical storytelling.

This event marked a shift in the perception of rap music, moving it from the streets to the mainstream. The catchy rhymes and danceable beats of “Rapper’s Delight” struck a chord with audiences, and soon, rap music was on its way to becoming a dominant force in the music industry.

The 1980s: The Golden Era of Rap Music and Its Expansion

The 1980s was a pivotal decade for rap music. The genre continued to evolve and diversify, with artists exploring various themes and styles. One of the essential factors contributing to the expansion of rap music was the rise of record labels dedicated to the genre.

In 1984, Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin founded Def Jam Recordings, a label that played a significant role in rap music’s growth. Def Jam signed artists like LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys, who became iconic figures in the rap music industry.

During this period, rap music also saw the emergence of socially conscious and politically driven lyrics. Artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five addressed issues such as poverty, inequality, and violence in their songs. This socio-political dimension of rap music set it apart as a genre that could both entertain and enlighten.

Additionally, the 1980s saw the popularization of rap battles, where rap music artists engaged in lyrical competitions to showcase their skills and assert their dominance. These battles not only elevated the status of rap music artists but also kept the genre competitive and fresh.

The 1990s: The Rise of Gangsta Rap and Mainstream Success

The 1990s witnessed the continued growth of rap music, with a particular focus on gangsta rap. Artists like N.W.A. and Dr. Dre brought a gritty, street-level reality to their lyrics, addressing issues of violence, crime, and socio-economic struggles in their communities. While controversial, gangsta rap resonated with many listeners, shedding light on the harsh realities of urban life.

One of the most significant moments in the history of rap music during this decade was the emergence of West Coast and East Coast rivalries. The feud between Tupac Shakur (representing the West Coast) and The Notorious B.I.G. (representing the East Coast) captivated the rap music world and led to the release of some of the most iconic and influential tracks in the genre’s history.

Meanwhile, artists like MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice achieved massive commercial success, further solidifying rap music’s presence in the mainstream. Their contributions to rap music demonstrated its versatility and broad appeal.

The 2000s: Rap Music Goes Global

The new millennium brought even more international recognition for rap music. Artists from all corners of the globe embraced the genre, infusing it with their cultural elements and perspectives. This globalization of rap music resulted in an eclectic mix of sounds and styles, pushing the genre in new and exciting directions.

Eminem, a white rapper from Detroit, became one of the most influential figures in rap music during this era. His storytelling abilities and lyrical prowess set a new standard for rap music, proving that talent could transcend racial and cultural boundaries.

In addition to Eminem, the 2000s saw the rise of artists like Jay-Z, 50 Cent, and Kanye West, who pushed the boundaries of rap music with innovative production techniques and lyrical creativity. These artists not only achieved commercial success but also contributed to the evolution of the genre.

The 2010s and Beyond: The Digital Revolution and Rap Music

The 2010s marked a new chapter in the history of rap music, driven by the digital revolution and the widespread availability of streaming platforms. The internet allowed independent rap music artists to share their work with a global audience, democratizing the music industry.

Streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music became the primary means of music consumption, allowing fans to discover new rap music artists and tracks easily. This shift in the music landscape empowered a new generation of rap music artists, who were no longer dependent on traditional record labels for exposure.

The 2010s also witnessed the rise of sub-genres within rap music, such as mumble rap and trap. These sub-genres introduced new vocal styles and production techniques, pushing the boundaries of what rap music could sound like.

One of the most notable developments in recent rap music history is the genre’s increasing influence on popular culture. Rap music is not confined to the music industry; it has permeated fashion, sports, and even politics. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Cardi B have used their platforms to address social issues and advocate for change, solidifying rap music’s role as a cultural and political force.


In conclusion, the question of when rap music came out leads us on a journey through time, culture, and artistic expression. Rap music emerged in the South Bronx in the early 1970s, drawing inspiration from oral traditions, African and Caribbean influences, and the creative energy of marginalized communities. It reached a significant milestone in 1979 with the release of “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang, marking its official entry into the music scene.

Throughout the decades, rap music has evolved, diversified, and expanded, becoming a global cultural force. The 1980s saw the rise of hip-hop culture, while the 1990s witnessed the dominance of gangsta rap and East Coast-West Coast rivalries. The 2000s brought globalization and the success of artists like Eminem, and the 2010s ushered in the digital age, democratizing the music industry and allowing for the emergence of new sub-genres.

Today, rap music continues to thrive, impacting not only the music industry but also popular culture, politics, and social movements. Its ability to convey stories, express emotions, and address social issues has solidified its place as one of the most influential and enduring musical genres of our time.

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