From the Blues to Hip Hop: How African American Music Changed U.S. Culture and Moved the World

Posted: October 26, 2012 in Ethan Goffman, History

Author: Ethan Goffman

Source: Proquest Discovery Guides, November 2010


Satirist Ishmael Reed captures the infectious nature of African American music, which has ap-peared in a bewildering variety of styles since at least the 1890s. These have spread through the American public in seemingly inexplicable waves, entities that, without an understanding of their cultural context, seemingly “just grew” from out of nowhere. The major styles can be classified as blues, ragtime, jazz, rhythm and blues, soul, and rap. While each is unique, they have certain elements in common. Each blends African and European musical ideas, always with a strong rhythmic element. Often, outside the culture that creates these styles, they are at first looked down upon as strange, ugly, not really music. Yet repeatedly, they break through the boundaries in which they originated, moving into mainstream America and, ultimately, dispersing around the globe.”


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