Old school hip hop

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Old school hip hop (also spelled "old skool") describes the earliest commercially recorded hip hop music (approximately from 1979–1984),[1] and the music in the period preceding it from which it was directly descended (see Roots of hip hop). Old school hip hop is said to end around 1983 or 1984 with the emergence of Run–D.M.C., the first new school hip hop group.[2] However, some old school rap stations cover 1980s hip hop in general, occasionally extending even into the 1990s.

The image, styles and sounds of the old school were exemplified by figures like Afrika Bambaataa, The Sugarhill Gang, Spoonie Gee, Treacherous Three, Funky Four Plus One, Kurtis Blow, Fab Five Freddy, Busy Bee Starski, Lovebug Starski, Doug E. Fresh, The Fat Boys, The Cold Crush Brothers and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five[2], and it is characterized by the simpler rapping techniques of the time and the general focus on party related subject matter[2].

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Musical characteristics and themes

Old school hip hop is noted for its relatively simple rapping techniques compared to later hip-hop music.[2] Artists such as Melle Mel would use relatively few syllables per bar of music,[3] with relatively simple rhythms.[2][3]

Much of the subject matter of old school hip hop centers around partying and having a good time.[2] One notable exception is the song "The Message", which was written by Melle Mel for his hip hop group, Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five.[2] Immortal Technique explains how party content played a big part in old school hip hop, in the book How to Rap: "hip-hop was born in an era of social turmoil... in the same way that slaves used to sing songs on a plantation... that's the party songs that we used to have".[4]

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