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Genre-Blending: Good or Bad?

Christian Hundley

Music Industry Monday

In 2020 it’s not that odd to see artists from all walks of life blending genres into something new. But some artists prefer to keep it simple & stick to their genre. This is a problem that permeates itself through all major genres in music from hip-hop to EDM and everything in between. What do you think? Is genre-blending good or bad?

The two genres that tend to mix it up the most are Hip-Hop & EDM. Both of these genres stem from the revolution of disco music into hip-hop & eventually into electronic. It’s no surprise that a genre that came from another isn’t afraid to break the rules.

But what if you create music in one of the more static genres like rock or even jazz? What if the rules that define your style of music prevent you from reaching too far outside the box of conventionality? Let’s take a little trip & talk about the pros and cons of genre-blending.

The History of Genre Blending

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of my opinion, I feel it necessary to explain a brief history of genre-blending. It’s hard to pin down an exact time and place that “genre-blending” became popular. So I will start with the birth of hip-hop.

Hip-Hop was birthed in the South Bronx of New York City sometime in the late 1970s. Part of the hip-hop hype was the use of DJ’s and MC’s, primarily recognized for scratching records on turntables & rapping lyrics over the beats that were created. Some of the pioneers of Hip-Hop include DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa & Grandmaster Flash.

Throughout the 70s & 80s, the art form called Hip-Hop began to take flight. It was these pioneers who took old disco records and converted them into the beats that would become the basis for modern rap music. These old school hip-hop artists changed the way the world viewed music & in the mid-1980s these artists would pass the mantle on to some of the greatest names in music history.

New School Rappers

Enter Run-D.M.C., a trio of rappers that took hard rock elements and fused them hip-hop & rap. Sound familiar? This was one of the first deliberate efforts to blend two genres that were worlds apart. Def Jam Records would go on to sign artists like LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, & Public Enemy. All completely different artists who did something unique for the art form.

In the late 80s and early 90s, even more innovation was made in the Hip-Hop genre. We see the rise of Queen Latifa, Will Smith, & M.C. Hammer to name a few. These artists took the genre & blended it with the pop ideology to create some of the most memorable songs of the time.

Then came the gangsta rap group N.W.A from Compton, California. The west coast began feeling the influence of rap music far and wide. Death Row Records grew to prominence at the time & pushed out rappers that, to this day, have large footholds on the industry.

By the late 1990s, rap music had taken over the world. Becoming the most popular genre of music sold in the United States alone. Moving into the 21st-century rap continued its meteoric rise & to this day still maintains itself in the top charts around the world.

But what about other genres?

Well, rap was notorious for taking genres and blending them into their own. So naturally, it became common-place for other genres to take their ideas. In the 21st century, we begin seeing country artists bringing rappers, pop artists & rockers into the mainstream. Think of people like Kid Rock, Florida Georgia Line, & Aerosmith.

In 2020, it’s almost impossible to find a Billboard top song without multiple genre influences. I think that it is safe to say blending genres is the way of the future. What started as an outlet for young men and women in the Bronx has truly turned into a revolution of gigantic proportions.

Music Industry Monday

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