The Evolution of Rap Music: From Old School to New School

1. Introduction

Rap is a music genre that appeared in African American communities in the 1970s and became widely popular in the 1980s. Rap is characterized by rhythm and energy, and it often conveys a message through rhyming lyrics.

The old school of rap preferred peaceful themes and melodic tunes; the greater part of songs was optimistic and was aimed at the attraction of the audience’s attention. The new school of rap, which emerged in the 1990s, focused on more explicit topics such as gangs, violence, and sex.

2. Old School of Rap: Songs’ Themes and Melodic Tunes

2.1 Peaceful Themes

One of the defining characteristics of old school rap is that it generally avoided controversial or violent topics. Instead, rappers focused on more positive themes such as having fun, dancing, and parties. In many ways, this reflected the feeling of hope and possibility that was in the air during the early days of hip-hop. As Afrika Bambaataa, one of the pioneers of rap music, said: “Hip-hop is about peace, love, unity, and having fun.”

2. 2 Optimistic Attitude

This optimistic attitude is also reflected in old-school rap songs' melodies, which are often catchy and upbeat. This is in contrast to the new school of rap, which often features dark or ominous beats. Rappers in the old school also tended to use simpler lyrics than their successors; they focused on telling stories about everyday life rather than using complicated metaphors or schemes.

2. 3 Melodic Tunes

One of the most distinctive features of old-school rap is its use of melody. Many early rap songs featured catchy hooks that were sung or chanted rather than rapped. This use of melody helped to make rap music more accessible to a wider audience; it also made it easier for rappers to connect with their listeners emotionally.

3. The New School of Rap: gangs, violence, and Sex

3.1 Gangs and Violence

In the early 1990s, a new style of rap emerged that was characterized by its focus on explicit topics such as gangs, violence, and sex. This new school of rap was often referred to as “gangsta rap.” Gangsta rap was partly a product of the growing popularity of hip-hop culture in the inner city; it was also influenced by movies such as "Boyz n the Hood" and "New Jack City," which glamorized gang life.

Gangsta rap often glorified the lifestyle of gangs and drug dealers. It also frequently depicted women in a highly sexualized manner. This new style of rap was controversial, and it provoked criticism from many people who felt that it promoted negative stereotypes about African Americans.

3. 2 Sex

Another controversial topic that became commonplace in rap music during the 1990s was sex. Rappers began to sing increasingly explicit lyrics about their sexual conquests and fantasies. This change was partly a result of the growing acceptance of profanity in popular culture; it was also due to the fact that many young people found the frank discussion of sex to be empowering and liberating.

4. Conclusion

Rap music has undergone a significant evolution since its inception in the 1970s. The old school of rap focused on positive themes and melodies, while the new school often focuses on more explicit topics such as gangs, violence, and sex. The change in rap’s subject matter has been controversial, but it has also helped to broaden the appeal of the genre and make it more accessible to a wider audience.


The defining characteristics of old school rap are its heavy use of funk and soul samples, its focus on party-oriented themes, and its simple, repetitive song structures.

Old school rap differed from other genres of music at the time in its focus on street culture and its use of explicit lyrics.

Common themes in old school rap songs include partying, drugs, violence, and sex.

The melodies and tunes of old school rap evolved over time to become more complex and experimental.

Old school rap had a significant impact on subsequent generations of rappers and hip hop artists, who often cite it as an influence.