MUSC 2150 Chapter Notes - Chapter 12: Ice-T, Professional Agrologist, Queen Latifah
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CHAPTER 12: Heavy Metal, Rap, and the Rise of Alternative Rock
- Two underground scenes, Rap and Heavy Metal, emerged in the 80s.
- These two genres had their roots in earlier music styles and drew upon earlier musical
- MTV played crucial role in exposing the music to listeners, and these styles
increasingly adopted central positions in popular music in the latter half of the decade.
Heavy Metal in the 80s:
- Heavy metal music developed from the harder, more aggressive aspects of late
60s/early 70s rock music.
- Early metalists adopted aspects of music from Black Sabbath, with their driving riffs,
dark themes, and extended guitar solos, and also from bands such as Led Zeppelin,
Deep Purple, Alice Cooper and Kiss.
- Heavy metal as a separate genre emerged in the early 80s with bands beginning to
break out of their underground venues with the help of successful albums and tours.
- Heavy metal was considered music for blue-collar whites, and was thought to be simple
minded and unsophisticated by the masses.
- Fans were referred to as head bangers due to their tendency to bang they heads in the
air at live performances.
- Negative aspects of the metal head stereotype included ignorance, vulgarity and
- The metal bands adopted a ragged image to oppose the status quo, and the rejection of
the commercial status quo was seen as a mark of authenticity. Metal was a gesture of
- Heavy metal began to increase in popularity in Britain. Ozzy Osbourne left Black
Sabbath to pursue a successful solo career.
- Other metal bands including Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard also emerged
and were known collectively as the “new wave of British heavy metal”.
- These bands continued to sell records and tour throughout the 80s, using the Black
Sabbath/Deep Purple model with pyrotechnics and heavy drumbeats.
- Most of the action, however, was occurring in Los Angeles at the time. This was the
place to “make it” in the music business, thus, musicians from all walks of life
migrated to California seeking stardom and fame.
- Van Halen had worked their way through the LA scene to enjoy several successful
albums, while other bands such as Quiet Riot, Slade, Ratt and Twisted Sister also drew
- Mötley Crue was a good example of pop-oriented metal that came out of LA, with
vocals that are high pitched almost screaming, while the drumming is loud and
- Although the British and LA metal bands enjoyed commercial success in the first half
of the decade, there was a lack of a true metal “superstar”.
- In the second half of the 80s, the first metal band to achieve superstar status was Bon
Jovi with hits such as `You Give Love a Bad Name` and `Livin on a Prayer`.
- Nevertheless, metal enthusiasts considered him to be too pop-oriented to be considered
true metal. Despite this, it was this pop style of play that allowed Bon Jovi to remain
relevant throughout the 90s.
- Guns n`Roses were the next band to achieve superstardom with hits such as `Welcome
To the Jungle` and `Sweet Child of Mine``, however tensions between band-members
eventually led to the demise of the band.
- By the end of the decade, many heavy metal bands were referred to as “hair” bands for
the employment of makeup and costumes as a way of enhancing visual image.
- Bands such as Motley Crue often wore makeup, outrageous clothing and
- The band Poison, was so glamorous in fact, that the members of the band were often
mistakened as women. This band began to attract a female audience, a phenomenon
that was uncommon amongst the metal scene. Part of their act included the “Power
Ballad” in which Bret Michaels, the vocalist, would display his sensitive side in a quiet
manner during a song prior to the onset of heavy guitar and drums.
- In contrast, one of the most serious minded and earnest metal bands from this decade
was Metallica, a band originating in LA, but based in San Francisco.
- Considered speed metal, Metallica songs were characterized by fast tempos and fast
guitar passages, yet displayed a wide variety of textures.
- Metallica possessed extremely ambitious practitioners that could play technically
- In a way, technically oriented metal continues the propagation of the hippie aesthetic
with its elevation of classical-music models, extended forms, virtuosic solos and
concept albums devoted to serious minded issues
The Emergence of Rap:
- Rap music had its origins in New York’s urban black communities as an element of hip-
- Other hip hop cultural elements that came before rap included break dancing and
graffiti, thus the origins of rap are understood within a mix of urban art, dance, and
- The first hip-hop DJs played at neighbourhood parties, using their own sound systems
and employing MCs to comment on the music and encourage partygoers.
- The MCs would eventually develop into rappers, blending the original role of the MC
with the music of black radio DJs.
- Early influences in rap include the DJs Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash for their
innovations in mixing.
- Using a pair of turntables, they were able to transition from one record to the next
seamlessly, employing a mixing board to fade the volume of one record while
increasing the volume of the next.
- They also developed the “break spinning” technique, where they would take the
catchiest instrumental breaks from songs, and used two copies of the same record to
prolong the section, playing the music break over and over between the turntables.