Alternative hip hop  

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Alternative hip hop (also known as alternative rap) is a subgenre of hip hop music that encompasses the wide range of styles that are not typically identified as mainstream.

Alternative hip hop developed in the late 1980s and experienced a degree of mainstream recognition during the early-to-mid 1990s. While some groups such as Arrested Development and The Fugees managed to achieve commercial success before breaking up, most alternative rap acts tended to be embraced largely by alternative rock listeners rather than hip-hop or pop audiences. The commercial and cultural momentum was impeded by the then also emerging, significantly harder-edged West Coast gangsta rap. A resurgence came about in the late 1990s and early 2000s at the dawn of the digital era with a rejuvenated interest in independent music by the general public.

During the 2000s, alternative hip hop reattained its place within the mainstream, due to the declining commercial viability of gangsta rap as well as the crossover success of artists such as OutKast and Kanye West. The alternative hip hop movement has expanded beyond the United States to include the Somali-Canadian poet K'naan, Japanese rapper Shing02, and English artist M.I.A. Alternative hip hop acts have attained much critical acclaim, but receive relatively little exposure through radio and other media outlets.

Abstract hip hop

Abstract hip hop is a subgenre of alternative hip hop that differs from other hip hop music largely in the content of the lyrics. In stark contrast to gangsta rap, which generally deals with living in poor urban neighborhoods and real or imagined aspects of gang life, abstract hip hop deals with topics that aren't immediately associated with hip hop culture.

Lyrics typically express themes of isolation, social critique, spirituality, and existentialism. For example, Angel of Solitude by Alias is a hypothetical first-person narrative from Death. For these reasons, abstract hip hop is often regarded as the most experimental sub-genre in hip hop music.

Instrumentally, abstract hip hop is often lo-fi and incorporates a variety of jazz samples and esoteric noise effects, often mixed with reverberation effects and musique concrete. Drum beats may range anywhere from downtempo to frantic, with the lyricist's enthusiasm complementing the respective speed.

Due to a lack of commercialization, abstract hip hop is largely unknown outside the alternative hip hop scene. However, critics outside the hip hop community often see abstract hip hop as an overwhelmingly positive influence, generally lacking the perceived misogyny and violence popularized in gangsta rap.

Examples of such artists include: MF Doom, Aesop Rock, Company Flow, Deltron 3030, Madlib, and Flying Lotus. Some abstract hip hop labels well-known in the underground scene are Definitive Jux, anticon., Ninja Tune, Stones Throw and Rhymesayers. Many underground artists produce some, but not exclusively, abstract tracks; for example 3 Melancholy Gypsies's songs like "Armageddon", "Chant", and "Landing", "Must Not Sleep" by self, P.O.S. and almost all of Eyedea & Abilities's First Born album (especially "...Powdered Water Too (Part 1)"). Some artists who have experimented in abstract hip hop instrumentals include DJ Shadow, DJ Cam, DJ Kid Koala, and DJ Krush, all of whom have combined jazz/funk loops with abstract samples, giving such works a very downtempo feel.

See also

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