Hip hop originated when DJs obtained turntables and a mixer to merge records and create new sounds through breaks and scratching. These neighbourhood parties soon developed into people rapping over the music, often improvised, and culminated in the aptly named first big hit at the end of the decade, Rapper's Delight by Sugarhill Gang. Other early pioneers of the movement included Grandmaster Flash and DJ Kool.
In the 1980s rap music began to gain wider popularity, with the likes of LL Cool J, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul leading the way, recording stories from the streets that hit hard but were accessible to mainstream culture. Alongside this came a more aggressive form of rap music by acts such as NWA, who were led by Ice Cube and Dr Dre, and spat violent and controversial lyrics from their tough Los Angeles backgrounds. This was the start of gangsta rap, which despite or possibly because of its content, still infiltrated the mainstream.
Through the nineties, a rap battle broke out between America's East Coast and West Coast. This was epitomised by NY's Notorious BIG and LA's Tupac Shakur, which ended notoriously tragically when both were killed in separate anonymous drive by shootings. Conversely to the danger that rap music brought, this decade also saw it crossing over into pop and topping with acts such as MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice.
Other music genres were also incorporating raps into their songs, from mergers like Aerosmith and Run DMC's Walk This Way, through metal bands like Limp Bizkit, to artists like Blondie adding rap sections. It also crossed cultures, as white rappers such as The Beastie Boys and Eminem appeared.
Since the millennium, rap music has become a giant commercial attraction and rappers hit charts with boasts of their material wealth and riches, whilst a more thoughtful alternative hip hop runs alongside this. Jay Z and Kanye West spearheaded the genre's rise through this era, as producers and world famous rappers and celebrities, whose songs and albums sell millions. The genre of rap music is as successful as it's ever been and shows no signs of diminishing.