Learn The Culture 9/10: 5 Rap Subgenres That Have Cult-Like Followers

From Gen X and Millenials to Gen Z and Alpha, Rap has taken over the world and created enough subgenres to exist as an industry on its own. What began as an act of rebellion against the rigid social norms became a world-leading culture, trend, lifestyle. As long as there’s oppression in the world, there will be a market for Rap music. Read on to discover 5 astounding Rap subgenres that are standing the test of time and continuously amass new fans.

5. Boom Bap Rap

Boom bap first came to the limelight on the East Coast during the golden age of Hip Hop from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. While some aficionados will get in their feelings at us using Hip Hop and Rap interchangeably, a plethora of Hip Hop heads also claim dominion over Rap music so you’ll have to just deal with it.

The subgenre’s name comes from the very two instruments used to create the unmistakable sound: bass (kick) drum and the snare drum. Wikipedia states the following accepted definition for the sound’s particularities: “The style is usually recognized by a main drum loop that uses a hard-hitting, acoustic bass drum sample on the downbeats, a snappy acoustic snare drum sample on the upbeats, and an “in your face” audio mix emphasizing the drum loop, and the kick-snare combination in particular.

Many of today’s legends first started out rapping on Boom Bap music so the subgenre continues to live on and influence an increasing number of new-age artists. Notorious names associated with Boom Bap are:  Craig Mack, Run-DMC, Nas, LL Cool J, Gang Starr, KRS-One, Mobb Deep, Boot Camp Clik, Griselda, Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, and others.

4. Jazz Rap

Obviously rooted in Hip Hop yet elevated by the organic sounds of the trumpet, saxophone, piano, trombone, and other Jazz-specific instruments, Jazz Rap is often consumed by a very intellectual crowd. It’s almost the go-to genre for being badass but keeping a touch of classy. Ask any guy/gal you know who loves museums, art, and hipster movies, what they listen to and watch one of the following names pop up: A Tribe Called Quest, Digable Planets, De La Soul, Gang Starr, The Roots, Jungle Brothers, and Dream Warriors.

During the 1970s, The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron layered spoken word and rhymed poetry over jazz backing instrumentals. There are also parallels between jazz and the improvised phrasings of freestyle rap. Despite the two major components being consolidated with each other repeatedly, jazz rap did not coalesce as a genre until the late 1980s. A more modern representative of Jazz Rap is Masego.

3. Rock Rap

Everyone else on the internet calls this genre Rap Rock instead. Why though? If the main genre is Rap then the Rock placed in the front becomes the adjective so grammatically, according to our knowledge, it is much more accurate to name it Rock Rap if the primary genre is Rap.

Rock Rap is defined by heavy influences from Funk music and secondarily from Rock itself. In simple terms: aggressive music that is Rock or sounds like Rock layered with Rap bars. 1984 is viewed as the breakthrough year for the genre. Run–D.M.C.’s debut album featured the song Rock Box which included a rock guitar riff played by Eddie Martinez thus legitimizing Rock Rap as a stand-alone genre.

Today’s mainstream does not include this magnificent genre but even amongst the young minds, you will find plenty of Limp Bizkit fans.

2. Horrorcore

Otherwise known as Horror Rap, is pretty self-explanatory as a genre. It is based on horror-themed and often darkly transgressive lyrical content and visuals. Unlike street rap/ trap, Horrorcore artists push for violence to the point they well surpass drug dealing and are more into pulling out teeth from dead bodies. NOT for the faint of heart or lovers of My Little Pony.

The genre is so controversial that it’s been directly accused of having created/supported real-life criminal activities such as the Columbine High School massacre, the Red Lake high school massacre, the Farmville murders.

The first recorded horrorcore song was the violent horror-influenced track Assassins off The Geto Boys’ debut album, Making Trouble.

1. Opera Rap

Or the so-called Hip Hopera, is inarguably the least popular genre of the 5 but it’s the one we’re willing to bet the most money on because it still has to have its peak artists and representation on a global scale. If Horrorcore and Rap Rock already had their wave and turned listeners into cult followers for decades, Opera Rap has yet to achieve that but there is most obviously space for it on the music market.

The use of Opera Rap in popular culture began in 1997 when The Fugees and Bounty Killer collaborated on Hip-Hopera. In 2001, the film Carmen: A Hip Hopera, a modern rendition of Georges Bizet’s 1875 opera Carmen aired on MTV, also dubbed as the first hip hop musical. Rome & Jewel, a 2006 Rennie Harris film is another Hip Hop rendition of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

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