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Not Merely Music: The Phenomenon of Hip-Hop

It seems that hip-hop music is ubiquitous1 these days, from popular radio to TV commercials. Whatever your opinion of hip-hop music may be, there is no denying it has impacted pop culture around the world, and shows no signs of slowing down.

Hip-hop brings with it its own unique terminology. “Rap” is the literal action of speaking over a beat. “Hip-hop” is both a kind of music and a culture, which includes four main elements: “emceeing” (rapping over a beat), “deejaying” (spinning records and mixing samples), “breaking” (an acrobatic form of dance), and “graffiti art”. Along with these are other distinctive.htmects of hip-hop culture such as language and fashion.

Hip-hop has its roots in the African traditions of percussion and oral storytelling. Its modern origins, however, can be found in New York City’s crime-ridden South Bronx in the early 1970s. Fed up with the insipid2 disco of the times, youth who were short on money but rich in ingenuity3 created a new, dynamic art form: verbally competing and chronicling life in the ghetto by rapping poetry over a beat.

The person regarded as the father of hip-hop is Kool Herc, a Jamaican who immigrated to New York at age 12. Around 1973, he began deejaying at house parties in the Bronx. To his infectious4 playlist of R&B, soul, and funk he added the Jamaican customs of “toasting” (talking to the crowd) and “dub talk” (speaking rhythmically over a beat). 

Hip-hop culture’s positive energy was fostered5 by Afrika Bambaataa, a former gang leader and dj who is regarded as the godfather of hip-hop. His efforts brought together the burgeoning6 hip-hop community and inspired gangs to battle creatively through rapping and breaking rather than through violence.

In the 1980s, as hip-hop became more popular, new offshoots developed. East Coast styles were generally hard-core,7 with rappers espousing political and social ideals, often from an afro-centric perspective. West Coast hip-hop was heavy on gangster rap, filled with references to gangs, guns, and the inescapability of street life. The West Coast style caught the larger public’s imagination, and became wildly popular in urban and suburban areas alike.

While some fans complain that today’s hip-hop has lost its edge and political message, the genre continues to expand, innovate, and influence. Through its brief history, hip-hop has gone from just two turntables8 to samplers and live musicians; from rapping on a four count to increasingly complex verbal gymnastics; and from its roots in the South Bronx to the four corners of the world.

“Run” of the East Coast hip-hop band Run DMC once said that when people called hip-hop a fad, they had no idea of the passion that lay behind it. Once considered a flash in the pan, hip-hop is set to continue its path of creation and celebration, bringing more and more converts along for the ride.

1. ubiquitous a. 无所不在的
2. insipid a. 枯燥乏味的
3. ingenuity n. 发明的才能
4. infectious a. 易传染的
5. foster v. 助长,培育
6. burgeon v. 萌芽,迅速发展
7. hard-core a. 核心的
8. turntable n. 转盘




被公认为嘻哈之父的库尔·贺克是牙买加人,他是12岁移民到纽约的。1973年左右,他开始在布朗克斯区的家庭宴会中担任DJ。在他主持的节奏布鲁斯、灵歌和方克舞等极富感染力的节目里,他还加入了“toasting”(对群众说话)和“dub talk”(跟着拍子有节奏地讲话)等牙买加风俗节目。




东岸嘻哈乐团“Run DMC”中的“Run”曾说:在有些人称嘻哈只是一种时尚时,他们根本不了解它背后的热情。一度被视为昙花一现的嘻哈风,却决心继续走他的创造与赞美之路,带领更多的归附者上路。

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