The paper 'Soul and Hip Hop Music' is a great example of a music essay. Various types or genres of music always have distinctive features with which they can be categorized. It is the distinctive characteristic that gives a lifeline to any given genre. A case in point is the musical categorization of soul and hip hop songs. The soul and the hip hop genres differ in terms of history, composition, flow, instrumental accompaniment, and even the lyrical content. Discussing these song types along with these criteria clearly brings out their differences. Though they both originate in the United States of America, soul music and hip hop came out at different times.
While the birth of the soul can be traced to the 1950s, the onset of hip hop is dated between the mid-1960s and early 1970s. Soul, therefore, flourished at the height of the civil rights movement in the US; hip hop, on the other hand, was more of a post-civil rights movement’ s reality. The historical setting of the songs greatly affected their lyrical content as we shall see shortly. In terms of composition, the two genres can be said to be both fission but of different musical ingredients.
The soul is a mixture of rhythm and blues, jazz and gospel music; while hip hop comprises rapping, Dee-Jaying, beat manipulation and song sampling or synthesis. These combinations, in turn, affect the musical flow of the two genres. Soul music always has a smooth flow with a soothing effect as opposed to hip hop music whose tempo is faster; mostly ascribing to the 4/4 time signature. Instrumentation and accompaniments also contrast the soul from hip hop music.
Soul music has basically relied upon the traditional instruments namely guitars, piano, bass keyboard, organs, and drums. Hip hop, on the other hand, heavily depends on drum machines, turntables, and synthesizers for its success. As such, hip hop is characterized by the DJ’ s isolation of the percussion breaks of dominant songs, sometimes by use of double turntables to expand the breaks. Other turntable methods such as beat mixing, beat juggling, beat matching and scratching are also common with hip hop. Soul artists, on their part, typically employ instrumental breaks – parts of the music in which different instruments take turns at improvising the melody.
Unlike hip hop that may have complex high-pitched tunes, souls are always characterized by uncomplicated bass lines that follow the bass structure. Lastly, the horn which is quite instrumental in producing most soul music does not play a central role in the hip hop category. In terms of lyrical content, soul and hip hop are worlds apart. Let’ s refer to the top hits by current pop singers of soul and hip hop namely Tamar Braxton and Kanye West respectively.
Braxton’ s soul song “ Love and War” is contrasted with West’ s hip hop “ Jesus Walks. ” Soul music as the name suggests appeals to the matters of the heart while hip hop’ s success lies in the ability to hook the audience to the music. Braxton’ s award-winning soul cited above talks about the highs and lows of a love affair or a marriage. These lines from the song illustrate this point: Sometimes you are my general … /Sometimes you are my enemy… Hate and love are presented as two sides of a coin; thus the song captures a basic human trait very well.
West’ s most popular hip hop “ Jesus Walks” narrates the experiences of African Americans in a low-end suburb (a pertinent issue) but the song is choreographed such that the audience is hooked to the song in the hook (chorus): “ Jesus walks” . For instance, before the hook, the rapper prepares the audience thus: But I'll be gone 'til November I got packs to move I Hope (Jesus walks) Next time I'm in the club everybody screaming out (Jesus walks) These two examples demonstrate that while the soul addresses social issues in a deeper sense, hip hops give issues a choral solution which is often a phrase or a line.
Choruses of souls are normally longer than those of hip hops. In conclusion, it can be seen from the foregoing, that soul and hip hop music can be differentiated on the basis of their history, composition, instrumentation and lyrical content among other criteria. It should also be noted that the same distinctive features for the songs are also their common grounds. For instance, the two genres originated as underground songs in the African American neighborhoods.
Secondly, they have a composite structure, instrumentation and genre fission. The difference in these genres, like the devil – as the saying goes, is in the detail.