FORTY YEARS ago, hip-hop was little known outside its birthplace., New York - until the Sugarhill Gang to record their rhymes, launching the genre's rise as a dominant cultural and commercial force.

Once an underground style, centered on live performance  in New York's Bronx borough, rap and hip-hop are the most influential; styles in the contemporary music today.

To mark the hip-hop's big anniversary, a pop up museum has been established in the U.S. capital through mid-February.

''I never thought it would reach these proportions,'' said Grandmaster Caz, an icon of early hip hop who wrote parts of ''Rapper's Delught''.

''Back in the day we were discouraged from doing hip-hop - nobody respected it''. But the track found runaway success, becoming a global sensation and selling million of copies.

In 2011. ''Rapper's Delight'' was even added to the to the prestigious National registry at the Library of Congress - a nod to its role in ushering in a brand new genre.

At the beginning making music wasn't necessarily Master Gee's end goal.''I just wanted to get a date,'' he said. The rap pioneer, now 57, was than in his last year of high school, and performed at neighborhood parties.

''All the lyrics I wrote were in the effort for people to know which one I was out of the three,'' in the band, he said.

In those days, hip-hop was a fledgling cultural movement that evolved around four elements, dance, graffiti, vocals - known ass ''MCing'' and controlling the turntables, ''DJing'' were primarily on stage to support the DJs.

But they actually became the true stars of the game.

Early rap and hip-hop were focused on the principles ''peace, love, unity and having fun'' - a cocktail that blended that blended a festive atmosphere, with a medium used by black people to express themselves.

''It's a release, it's self-expression,'' said Grandmaster Caz, who at 57 will proudly wear blinghy chains. ''It was a fun and a new way to express yourself.''

Taking on social ills became signature to rap - a musical revolution that, like hip-hop's rise to commercial fame, happened at first by accident.

Melle Mel said he was just trying to ''do something different, to write outside the box from the basics of hip-hop rhymes - when you rap about how good you can rap, or about a girl. ''I was just trying to change my style and write a different concept.''

Today he considers the song ''the most important hip-hop record ever made'' but at the time of its release, it was barely a hit.

''Nobody really believed in the record,'' Melle Mel said. ''I didn't think it was going to be popular or a commercial success, because it was serious.

But the record proved a sensation, and in 2007, the group became the first rap artists, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the pantheon of popular American music. [Agencies]


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