# Articles

History - break beats

This started back in 70s with legendary artist such as The Sugar Hill Gang, Grand Master Flash, Melle Mel, Furious Five, Dougy Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew. The culture was first created by poor ghetto kids who could not afford music lessons or tuition fees to develope their talents. So the record player took the form of an instrument, which ridged to a lamp post gave birth to street parties. Vinyl records were borrowed from parents and used to cut from one record to another, today known as turntable to turntable technique, which also gave birth to scratching and mixing. The break beat in middle to end of the record is the part that was used by DJs simply coz it had no vocal, and MCs could rap over the vocal less elements, this part of the recording would be known as ....

I would love to cover each and every track in my record collection, which goes into the thousands and even stream the tracks, but I would have to do this full time, and also gain permission from the copyright holders, this would take alot of time, and I would rather spend more time on my own recordings.

Break beat covers several different types of music, the most common being HIP HOP.

Just before the birth of HIP HOP, came a sound called ELECTRO, which listening back to those tracks, didnt actually use breaks, instead the Roland 808 Drum Machine was the base of every track. With BPMs (Beats Per Minute) being around 120. Artists such as Ice T (Warner Bros) spring to mind.

The first I can remember are the above artists, soon after the SUGAR HILL GANG, came artists such as ROXANNE SHANTE, UTFO, THE REAL ROXANNE, HOWIE T, MANTRONIX (Virgin Records) KRS1 and Scott La Rock of BDP(Jive Records) to name but afew. The above would take up battle live on stage, FREESTYLING (which refers to making your lyrics as you go along.) This was kinda like a boxing bout, MC would put down other MCs and the crowd would choose the winner. This lead to them being offered recording contracts ROXANNE SHANTE (COLD CHILLIN) LL COOL J (DEF JAM). DEF JAM and COLD CHILLIN Records in their time were like a MOTOWN of the 80s but DEF JAM came before COLD CHILLIN.

But in my opinion DEF JAM RECORDINGS were the founders and the original urban label after SUGAR HILL GANG, but the first to break into the mainstream. I can remember a movie (cant remember the name) back in the 80s which showed how DEF JAM RECORDS came about. There were several low bugdet movies around in the 80s (STREETDANCE) whose sound tracks reached the national charts, all about urban life and culture.

In the mid to late 80s artist were looking for the next new sound, the next step after hip hop, artist such as RUN DMC and LL COOL J had broken new ground by reaching Top 10 national chart status, and Artist such as PUBLIC ENEMY signed to DEF JAM RECORDS (Hank Shocklee and Russell Simmons being the inhouse producers, Runs older brother from RUN DMC.) , moved towards politics and political correctness took HIP HOP to a new level, with album sales reaching the millions. The next group I have to mention is NWA, today known as DR DRE (Eminem and 50 Cent producer interscope records), who along with ICE CUBE(now a movie star), EASY E(died afew years ago), brought about a new feel to HIP HOP, which spoke about black on black crime and gangster rap. Most of their lyrics can only be listened to in your bedrooms, as the word EXPLICIT springs to mind. But however they reached millions of sales over a very short period of time.

By the end of the 80s, producers mixed break beats with all different forms of music, including RAGGA (a mixture of reggea and Hip Hop Cutty Ranks springs to mind), Ragga House (Daddy Freddie springs to mind), SOUL, which became SwingBeat (Teddy Riley springs to mind), now known as R n B, indie (Happy Mondays, Stone Roses using Bobby Birds - Hot Pants), POP (Duran Duran, copying WHITELINES by Grandmaster Flash) George Micheal using (Patrice Rushens - Forget Me Nots). Towards the mid to late 90's, a new form of sound came about incorporating break beats called DRUM N BASS. The drum n bass sound simply speeded up hip hop samples and breaks to a fast 160 plus BPM pace. The first name given to Drum N Bass was Jungle, which combined Hip Hop samples with Ragga Lyrics (General Levi springs to mind). General Levi reaching the national charts, but this was by no means the first drum n Bass track, infact jungle had been around for a good few years in underground clubs, kinda like Hip Hop was in the 70s.

I personally think that people like Mohammed Ali, who would make short rhymes like : If he Gives Me Any Jive, Ill Take Him In Five, lead kids back in 70s to create their own rhymes, which lead to them rhyming over breaks in their bedrooms that lead to the birth of break beats, which in turn lead to the Sugar Hill Gang. Years before the Sugar Hill Gang first released a track called RAPPERS DELIGHT, which I think was the first ever Hip Hop record, kids were already well and truly creating these sounds in their bedrooms, using their parents old records and turntables. Sugar Hill Gang then saw the massive interest in a sound which quiet clearly was very popular, and took the sound to the next level and that was to actually realease it on vinyl. Rappers Delight is a massive 13 minutes track, which in the 70s was like play a album, as most records were around 3 minutes. I can remember playing Rappers Delight on my radio show everytime the phone rang, as I new it would never run out, and I had a whole 13 minutes to chat, so it always stayed qued on my 3rd spear turntable.

Infact the first break beat ever used was a track called APACHE by The INCREADABLE BONGO BAND, which was used by the Sugar Hill Gang. They also made their own version of that track. And not the AMEN break, like so many people seem to think. AMEN would get the credit for being the most used.

I could go on and on, but this is a very brief history of the style known as Break Beat Music. Alot of people, believe it or not have come to this site and asked me what a Break Beat is.

So heres the answer.

Date Added : 2009-05-28 17:41:13


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