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January 6, 2022
Hip-Hop History

Explore Music History: Hip-Hop -- How Technology Shaped an Entire Movement

From its inception -- be it with spoken-word poets preaching against injustice, Jamaican ex-pats sowing the seeds of rap by "toasting" during instrumental breaks in DJ sets, or producers taking go-go, funk, and disco tracks to 12-inch lengths -- the hip-hop genre has been built on hard work, dedication and a need to create change.

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From Sampling to Beat Production
What was once an underground phenomenon shaped itself into a multi-billion-dollar industry, alongside the rise of modern rhythm machines and computer-based production tools. When early rap pioneers relied heavily on sampling pre-recorded tracks, huge sampling keyboards, rigid drum machines and steady DJ turntables were a must. Somewhere down the line -- be it by copyright lawyers demanding royalties, or artists simply wanting to create their own rhythm tracks -- hip-hop production changed course.

Today's producers use controllers to trigger sounds and lay down the rhythm patterns they have in mind -- whether on a computer or a standalone sampling workstation. Sampling itself has become an even more advanced art form. Detailed splicing and cutting is more intuitive than ever, with samplers and arrangers like the ones below!

What About Turntables?
It used to be that all a hip-hop DJ could do was take some records and either mix or scratch them. Forget about easily setting up a bangin' playlist. Back in the day, your precious vinyl had to be physically marked with tape so you could remember your cue points, and "playlist creation" meant a notepad with your sequence. And if that's not enough of a chore, don't forget about carting around heavy crates of fragile, expensive records.

With digital DJ formats and current DJ controllers/audio interfaces, it's easy to call up some tracks from your digital music library, set your cue points with your mouse, and sequence your mix how you want it. Perhaps most importantly, you can save your screen-sets, playlists, and cue points -- allowing you to set up quickly and start playing music nearly instantly.
Hip-Hop Has Arrived
When you've got people in far-flung reaches of the world diligently using their phones or computers to lay down their own unique beats and rhymes -- just like their favorite rappers -- you have to know that hip-hop has arrived. zZounds celebrates the evolution of the genre along with the evolution of the gear that helped make the music.