What Is Old Skool Music And How Did It Take Over The 90s

Old school rap music has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that the genre started to become more mainstream, blending with the sounds of hip hop.


Old skool music is a genre of music that was popular in the 1990s and early 2000s, with artists such as Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Ice Cube dominating the soundwaves with an exciting new genre that came to define the 90s.

But just what is old skool music, and how did it develop? Let’s take a closer look.

Old school rap music has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the late 1980s and early 1990s that the genre started to become more mainstream, blending with the sounds of hip hop.

This new wave of rappers was influenced by old-school rappers like Grandmaster Flash, KRS-One, Rakim, and Run DMC, who took their style from the older generation of rappers and added their own twist to it. They also brought back some elements of funk into hip hop, which had been missing since the 1970s.

A History of Hip Hop

Hip hop started out as an underground movement in New York City during the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, the first major record label, Def Jam Recordings, was founded.

Released from his self-titled debut album in 1980, rapper Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” became the first certified gold rap song. After this success, a variety of labels began to release albums by rappers, and by the end of the decade, hip hop had become a huge phenomenon and was being played everywhere.

Rap Music Influences

Hip-hop music has always been about self-expression, and artists have used their lyrics to express themselves and what they think about life, love, politics, religion, and everything else.

Some of these topics are controversial and can be very offensive to people who don’t agree with them, and there are several subjects, including violence and sex, that can make hip hop unpopular with some listeners. 

In many cases, however, hip-hop artists will use their lyrics to put across important political or social messages, and this can be a very powerful medium.

Styles of Old Skool Music

There are several different styles of old skool music, and each one has its unique sound and feel. One of the most well-known old-school genres is gangsta rap, which is often associated with violent crime and drug dealing. Other genres include:

East Coast Rap

This is a subgenre of hip hop that originated in the Bronx area of New York City. Artists like Nas, Jay Z, Big Daddy Kane, and others helped bring this style to prominence.

West Coast Rap

This is another subgenre of hip hop music that originated in California. Artists like Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Too $hort helped bring this style to popularity.

Dirty South Hip Hop

This is a subgenre of hip hop that originated from southern states like Texas and Louisiana. Artists like Lil Wayne, T.I., Gucci Mane, and Young Jeezy were instrumental in bringing this style to fame.

Southern Hip Hop

This is another subgenre of old-school hip hop that originated in Atlanta, Georgia. Artists like Outkast, Goodie Mob, and Ludacris helped bring this style to the forefront.

West Coast Ghetto Rappers

These are rappers from the west coast who grew up in poor neighbourhoods and learned how to survive in those areas. Their lyrics reflect the harsh realities of living in poverty.

East Coast Ghetto Rappers (Gangsta)

These are rappers from east coast boroughs such as Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island. Their lyrics focus on the dangers of gangs and drugs, and can often be quite political.

Why Was Old Skool Music So Popular In The '90s?

So, just why did this type of music see such a rise in popularity in the ‘90s? There are a number of possible reasons, and a key element is that old skool music became a way for young people to express themselves in a safe way.

Many of the songs were about real issues that teenagers faced at the time, and this made the music relatable and easy to access and understand. In addition, many of the beats were simple and repetitive, making them easy to dance to. These factors combined to create a genre that was popular among teens and young adults.

The Rise Of Gangsta Rap

One of the biggest influences on the development of old skool music was the rise of gangsta rap. This genre of hip hop began to become more popular around 1990 when artists like Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. started rapping about street life and gang culture.

At first, this kind of music was only heard by older audiences, but over time it gained a large following among younger people. By the early 2000s, gangsta rap had become so popular that it was being played on mainstream radio stations all over America.

Final Thoughts

Old skool music is a genre that dominated the ‘90s – but that does not mean it is not still popular today. New artists and individuals are still being inspired by the classic vibe of old skool sounds that were produced by the celebrated performers of decades past.

Why not see for yourself when you party at our old skool brunch in London for that authentic old skool vibe in the modern world?