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Rockin' the Schools: 5-8/9-12 "The Message": The Birth of Hip-Hop Culture



"The Message": The Birth of Hip-Hop Culture

Suggested Grade Level: 5-8 / 9-12

This research guide serves as a resource for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Education Department course, "The Message": The Birth of Hip-Hop. For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see

In the early 1970s the Bronx borough of New York City was home to the beginning of hip-hop culture.  This class examines how young people responded to the social and economic crisis of the Bronx by creating hip-hop.  By the 1980s, rap recordings took the voices of inner-city life into the mainstream, spreading it around the United States.  Since then, parts of hip-hop culture - including the MC, the DJ, the graffiti writer and the break dancer – have become some of the most important forms of expression for young people on the planet.  In this class, students will learn about this history, along with the musical tracks and vocal raps of “old school” artists such as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Afrika Bambaataa, the Treacherous Three, the Funky Four Plus One and Run-D.M.C. – musicians who sent a message to American audiences about what life was like in inner-city communities.  Explore the history of the sound that changed American popular music forever.

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These research databases can be accessed within the Library and Archives.

Rock Hall Video: Interviews

Funkmaster Flex

Rev Run

Rock Hall Video: Behind the Scenes/Artifact Spotlight

Behind the Scenes (Artifact Spotlight) - Snoop Dogg's Shoes


These resources, pulled from class discussion and selected from the Library and Archives' collections, will help you to:

  • Analyze and evaluate lyrics in order to comprehend themes related to inner city life and hip-hop culture.
  • Describe how social events influenced the development of hip-hop culture.
  • Explain how hip-hop artists innovated technology to change and challenge traditional musical and rhythmic composition.




Archival Resources

New to Archives? Check out:

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Video

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five accept and perform at the Rock Hall Induction Ceremony, 2007

YouTube Videos

Hank Shocklee (Bomb Squad)

A Taste of Honey, "Rescue Me"

Sugarhill Gang, "Rapper's Delight"

Positive K, "I Got A Man"
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