Back in 1857, a man named Leon Scott invented the phonoautograph, the first device to record sound. He was followed shortly by Thomas Edison's phonogaphic cylinder which first allowed for playback of recorded sounds. The first audio radio broadcast came in 1906, and the first ever disc-jockey took his place in history in 1909. Ray Newby of California was only 16 at the time, and he played records from a small transmitter while he was a student in college. By 1910, radio broadcasting had become a normal, yet still exciting part of life.

The term disc jockey wasn't coined until the 1930's. The World's first DJ dance party was thrown by Jimmy Savile in 1943, who played jazz records for his guests. A few years later, Savile became the first man to use turntables to keep the music in continuous play. The first discoteque opened in Paris, Whiskey A Go-Go, in 1947.

THE DISCO: 1950'S - 1960'S

In the 1950's, radio djs would appear in person to host sock hops for kids all over the country. In Kingston, Jamaica, promoters calling themselves DJs would throw gaint dance parties in the streets, and djs would blast their beats from huge PA systems. Jamaicans called these party entrepenuers Sound Systems.

Discoteques continued to spawn themselves throughout the United States and Europe. New equipment hit the market, such as the mixer, allowing djs to have more control over their tunes. In 1969, a dj by the name of Francis Grasso began popularizing beatmatching, seamlessly mixing his songs so the dancing never had to stop. But the popularity of djs in clubs began to slump in the late sixties, and the party was moved to the streets.

THE STREETS: 1960'S - 1970'S

The buroughs of New York City became the breeding ground for experimentation. In 1973, DJ Kool Herc made a name for himself as the "father of hip-hop," laying down the jams for huge block-parties, mainly in the Bronx. It was Kool Herc who started mixing two identical records together, at the same time, extending the parts of the records he thought had the best booty-shakin' beats. This technique was called "break."

This was the time when turntablism really grew into it's own. No longer were djs simply picking out songs and playing them. They were now artists and musicians of their own, manipulating songs to create new and exciting beats for people to enjoy for hours. Bands were formed who produced their music electronically from beginning to end, a totally new concept.

Hip-hop and electronic music blended, bringing in the disco era of the 1970's. These new dance clubs were pioneers in that they did away with live acts completely, leaving djs to do their thing all night.

In 1975, a hip-hop DJ called Grand Wizard Theodore accidentaly discovered the scratching technique, when a dj manually moves the record up and down on the needle, warping the sound.


In the early 80's, a club in Chicago called The Warehouse opened up, and the djs that spun there began to create a whole new sound. It was called house music, after the club, and was disco-inspired and heavily electronic. Resident dj was Frankie Knuckles. House music remaisn today one of the biggest and brightest genres of electronic dance music. It usually keeps it simple with a 4/4 beat, and heavy use of drum machines and samplers, and of course, a solid heavy bassline.

Not to be outdone, Detroit began creating a sound of it's own, known to us all by now as straight techno. Techno is different from house music in that it takes the disco out of itself almost completely, leaving the listener to enjoy pure electronic noise.

In 1985, the Winter Music Conference formed in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, becoming a mecca of sorts for djs of all kinds and styles to come together and compare techniques. To this day the conference is a week of ongoing parties, culminating in the 2-day Ultra Music Festival held in Miami. There's really nothing like it.


By the early 90's, rave was the scene and acid house was the dance music of choice. Acid house is quite like house music, but with a lot of emphasis on repetetive hooks and trance-like sounds. The popularity of the rave scene, especially in Europe, brought djs into celebrity status.

Digital music was expanding. CDs became quiet popular in the 90's, which in turn led to the creation of the mp3 format. Internet radio found it's start in this decade as well. Electronic music began to bleed into other genres, and it became common place for rock bands to haev their own dj member on the 1s and 2s.

In 1998, a program called Final Scrath was released, which allowed djs to work with mp3 files on their turntables by using special coded vynils. Although it took some time for djs to adapt to the new technology, this jump would become a revolutionizing moment for dance music lovers of all kinds.


A program called Serato Scratch Live hit the stage in 2004, and has sense become the standard for turntable djs who want to blend their vynil collection with their extensive mp3s. in 2006 the program came out with it's own mixer to make the process even smoother. There is even a plug-in for the program that allows djs to manipulate music videos the same way they work their records!

But you don't even need to work the old turntables anymore if you don't want to. Many djs work their music by mp3 alone, with special electronic tables that are worked and manuevured just like real recors, only there isn't anything on them.

Dance music continues to evolve it's sound. These days house music djs are experimenting with different filters and effects to create jarring, noisy dance beats. Mash-up is hitting the scene hard as well, in which a dj will mix two songs together, the beat from one and the vocal track from another most often, to create a catchy new sound. And now, with DJ Hero hitting shelves of game stores everywhere, it seems the world of djs will never stop growing.

The beginnings of House music

It all started in Chicago’s Southside in 1977, when a new kind of club opened. This new Chicago club called The Warehouse gave House music its name. Frankie Knuckles, who opened The Warehouse, mixed old disco classics and new Eurobeat pop. It was at this legendary club where many of the experiments were tried. It was also where Acid House got its start.

House was the first direct descendant of disco. In comparison with disco, House was "deeper", "rawer", and more designed to make people dance. Disco had already produced the first records to be aimed specifically at DJs with extended 12" versions that included long percussion breaks for mixing purposes. The early 80s proved a vital turning point. Sinnamon’s "Thanks To You", D-Train’s "You're The One For Me", and The Peech Boys "Don’t Make Me Wait", a record that has been continually sampled over the last decade, took things in a different direction with their sparse, synthesised sounds that introduced dub effects and drop-outs that had never been heard before.

House music did not have its origins just in American music. The popularity of European music, specifically English electronic pop like Depeche Mode and Soft Cell and the earlier, more disco-based sounds of Giorgio Moroder, Klein & MBO, as well as Italian productions, they all gave rise to House music. Two clubs, the already mentioned Chicago’s Warehouse and New York’s Paradise Garage, which promoted European music, had at the same time broken the barriers of race and sexual preference (for House music was in part targeted at the gay community). Before The Warehouse opened, there had been clubs strictly designed to segregate race. However, The Warehouse did not make any difference between Blacks, Hispanics, or Whites; the main interest was simply music. And the music was as diverse as the clients.


People who influenced House

Frankie Knuckles

One of the leading DJs at that time was New York born Frankie Knuckles, also called the Godfather of House. Indeed, he was more than a DJ; he was an architect of sound, who experimented with sounds and thus added a new dimension to the art of mixing. In fact, he took the raw material of the disco he spun and added pre-programmed drum tracks to create a constant 4/4 tempo. He played eight to ten hours a night, and the dancers came home exhausted. Thanks to him The Warehouse was regarded as the most atmospheric place in Chicago. The uniqueness of this club lay in a simple mixing of old Philly classics by Harold Melvin, Billy Paul and The O’Jays with disco hits like Martin Circus’ "Disco Circus" and imported European pop music by synthesiser groups like Kraftwerk and Telex.


Frankie said, "When we first opened in 1977, I was playing a lot of the East Coast records, the Philly stuff, Salsoul. By ‘80/81, when that stuff was all over with, I started working a lot of the soul that was coming out. I had to re-construct the records to work for my dancefloor, to keep the dancefloor happy, as there was no dance music coming out! I’d take the existing songs, change the tempo, layer different bits of percussion over them, to make them more conductive for the dance floor.”


Frankie’s friend Larry Levan was a black teenager from Brooklyn like Frankie. In fact, it was Larry who first suggested opening The Warehouse in Chicago. However, things took a different turn, and in the end Larry Levan spun in New York’s Paradise Garage. Larry Levan and Frankie Knuckles were indeed two very important figures in the development of House music and the modern dance scene. Perhaps there would have been no fame for the two without the producer, DJ and devoted lover of dance and music, David Mancuso, and his dance parties for gays called Loft parties. "The Loft" was a house party intended for a very black and a very gay crowd.Larry and Frankie attended the Loft parties regularly. It was not only a place of joy but also a place where they became acquainted for the first time with the techniques of House music. Mancuso taught them about creating a perfect House music: about sound, lighting, production, music and DJ techniques.


By the mid 80s House had emerged in Chicago as a fully developed musical genre through the efforts of Knuckles and those inspired by him like DJ Ron Hardy of Music Box fame. Ron Hardy was another DJ from the gay scene. The sounds they produced differed in that the basis of Knuckle’s sound was still disco, whereas Hardy was the DJ that chose the rawest and wildest rhythm tracks he could find.

Besides Frankie Knuckles, Larry Levan, and Ron Hardy, there were other important figures in the development of House music such as Steve "Silk" Hurley, DJ Pierre, Larry Heard, Adonis, Marshall Jefferson and Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, who was a Chicago DJ and producer, as well as a creator of the first international House hit, "Love Can’t Turn Around". DJ Pierre, on the other hand, contributed to the development of Acid House. As a result, a track called "Acid Trax" was produced.


The creators of House music

There have been various views of who is the inventor of House music. For example, Leonard Remix RRoy asserted that he had given birth to House in May 1981. LRRoy was a remarkable and much respected DJ. He also claimed that he had invented the term "House music" in the spring of 1981.

A person who regarded himself as a creator of House music in March of 1985 was Chip E. Yet, there remains a third founder, for he produced "Love Can’t Turn Around", one of the biggest selling "House" records. His name is Farley "Jackmaster" Funk. In fact, this big House "cross-over" hit was written, produced and arranged by Jesse Saunders. Jesse, however, did not call himself the creator of House music, but rather used the term "originator", which did not mean that he had invented or created the genre of House music. By "originator" he meant that he "started and/or fused a sound with a lot of different ingredients". Generally speaking, one can say, that there was not just one creator or inventor; on the contrary, House music evolved through the means of collaborative efforts of a few people like Frankie Knuckles, Vince Lawrence, Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, as well as the promoters and labels that made easy the distribution of early House.

The original disco-mixer Walter Gibbons, a white DJ, had a new and immediate impact on the development of Chicago House music. His independent 12" record called "Set It Off" immediately became an underground club anthem. The "Set It Off" sound was primitive House, haunting, repetitive beats ideal for mixing and extending.


The roots of House music

House music was created in and by the African American community. Musically, House music evolved in Chicago and New York from African-American musical traditions like gospel, soul, jazz and funk as well as Latin salsa. Spiritually and aesthetically, it developed in the U.S. out of the need of oppressed people, African Americans, gays and Latinos, to build a community through dance , and later in the UK, out of the need of young people dissatisfied with the meaningless materialism of Thatcher’s England, to build an alternative community of music and dance via Acid House. From a different point of view, House music in the U.S. was associated with black people, with gay clubs, basically with things that white America would not even acknowledge.

House was just perceived as "gay" music for blacks and thus scorned by whites, although its aim was to unify people of all races, backgrounds and sexual orientations. According to Frankie Knuckles, many people could not and still cannot deal with the fact that House music started in gay clubs. Thus, narrow-mindedness, racism, and even corporate music politics played an important role in preventing House music from flourishing in the U.S. in the eighties.

House music had its origins in gospel, soul and funk rather than in commercial disco music. Furthermore, Chicago jazz, blues and soul had an immense influence on the creation of House music. There were significant Midwestern musical influences that led to the creation of the Chicago flavour of House music. No doubt, the Midwest had its own tradition of African American music. Thus, blues and jazz presented a part of the mix. To sum up, the soul music produced in Chicago, Detroit and Memphis certainly had an impact on Chicago house.


Early DJ techniques

In the early seventies the DJs’ tools began to improve as the market for dance music began to expand. Yet, the beginnings were hard, for there were only two types of records available, 45s and 33 1/3 LPs, which had "A" sides and "B" sides, and different songs were recorded on both sides. A record which allowed more creativity, namely 12" dance mixes specifically intended for DJs, had not yet appeared on the market. DJs had to manage without basic equipment such as DJ mixers or headphones. What is more, the turntables ran only at two speeds, 45 RPMs and 33 1/3 RPMs. It was impossible to vary the speed, so the turntable moved continuously. In practice, it could be described as follows: DJs started to play one record. Then they took it off the turntable, prepared another record, put this one on and played it. In reality, "putting on and taking off" the record cannot be called mixing. As expected, DJs needed time to change the vinyl disc and thus dancers had to wait between the records.

There was, however, one way that helped DJs overcome these technical problems. This method was called slip-cueing. The main part of the trick consisted in a duplication of records. In other words, the record collection needed to be copied. DJs had two good turntables at their disposal. They rigged the two tables with a switch into the amplifier so they could move from one to the other. Then they put the same recording on each turntable, to try to extend the mix somehow. The least DJs could do was play the same record twice in pretty rapid succession, which was better than making the dancer wait until they changed the record. Instead of playing the record twice, there was yet another possibility, namely to build the mix by isolating various instrumental, vocal and drum segments and extend them by jumping from record to record.

This technique was probably invented - or at least given currency - by DJ Francis Grosso and widely used by radio station DJs. It required much practice with individual recordings, great agility, and nerves of steel. Great turntablists of the seventies like Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash developed such techniques into an art form.


The success of House in the U.K.

music first came to England in the late eighties via the party island of Ibiza. In the summer of 1986 three House records appeared in the top ten: Farley’s "Jackmaster" Funk "Love Can’t Turn Around", Raze’s "Jack The Groove", and Steve "Silk" Hurley’s "Jack Your Body". It is said that House music was popularised by the British who invented Acid House and then brought this modified version of House back to the United States. Acid House was perceived differently and that was probably one of the reasons why it attracted the attention of the mainstream. In this way, House music became acceptable dance music also for white folks.


Acid House

In reality, Acid House had already started in Chicago in 1985. DJ Pierre and some friends pushed a button on their Roland 303 and found that that Acid sound was already in it. They produced a track called "Acid Trax" which, they allege, was stolen by Ron Hardy and delivered as "Ron Hardy’s Acid Trax".

As Pierre once said, "Phuture was me and two other guys, Spanky and Herbert J. We had this Roland 303, which was a bassline machine, and we were trying to figure out how to use it. When we switched it on, that acid sound was already in it and we liked the sound of it so we decided to add some drums and make a track with it. We gave it to Ron Hardy who started playing it straight away. In fact, the first time he played it, he played it four times in one night! The first time people were like, ‘what the fuck is it?’ but by the fourth they loved it. Then I started to hear that Ron was playing some new thing they were calling ‘Ron Hardy’s Acid Trax’, and everybody thought it was something he’d made himself. Eventually we found out that it was our track so we called it ‘Acid Trax’. I think we may have made it as early as 1985, but Ron was playing it for a long time before it came out."

There have been various explanations for the term ‘Acid’. The most popular was that acid used to be put in the water at the Music Box. Pierre though, emphasises that Phuture was always anti-drugs, and cites a track about a cocaine nightmare, "Your only friend" that was on the same EP as "Acid Trax". "Acid Trax" came out in 1986 but did not prove to be successful outside Chicago. The first Acid track to make it to vinyl was called "I’ve Lost Control" which was made by Adonis and Marshall Jefferson.


Mixing in the history of House

Scratching in 1937? Believe it or not, sound mixing was not born in the 1980’s. Take a look at the important dates and recordings that have defined music mixing.


Artist and experimental musician John Cage discusses the merits of sound manipulation using the phonograph.


French avant-garde composer Pierre Schaffer champions turntable-based music.


Bronx DJ Kool Herc originates hip-hop by DJ’ing with two turntables and extending beats by "looping".


Grand Wizard Theodore invents "scratching" by rocking a record back and forth while the needle was resting on it.


Herbie Hancock’s hit-record "Rockit" features scratching by Zulu DJ Grandmaster D.S.T..


The first Disco Mix Club World Battle (DMC) is held, establishing DJ competitions world-wide.


"Beat Juggling" is pioneered by Steve D. and introduced at the New Music Seminar.


Rocksteady DJs pioneered crew routines at the 1992 DMC.


Legendary battle between the X-Men and the Inivisbl Skratch Piklz


Mix Terms

If you want to learn to style with the best of them, you have to know the difference between a "tear scratch" and a "chirp scratch". Here are mixology words that will help you get your "act" together.

Baby scratch: Simple pushing and pulling of the record back and forth under the needle in a rhythmic manner. This scratch is the basis for all othe scratches.

Breakdown: A basic beat juggling technique consisting of a manual slowdown of the beat by using the hand to rhythmically pause the record on every beat count.

Chirp scratch: Pulling the record backwards with the crossfader on, turning it off at the end of the sound, and turning it back on as the forward stroke is initiated.

Crab scratch: Popularised by DJ Q-Bert, this is a three-click flare scratch using a drumming motion of four fingers on the crossfader to create faster, syncopated sound.

Drag: A slow, long pushing or pulling of the record.

Fills: A basic beat juggling technique performed by playing one record and cutting in a sound element from the second, such as a snare or bass drum. For example, the kick drum of the second record is used to double or triple the kick drum of the first record.

Flare scratch: A scratch consisting of turning the fader on, moving the record forward while turning the crossfader off and on in a quick rhythm, then moving the record back to the start of the sound in two stages while still moving the crossfader back and forth in a rhythm. This complex scratch has many variations.

Forward scratch: The record is pushed forward with the crossfader on, playing a sound, then cut off with the crossfader, rewound to the beginning of the sound silently and played again.

Hydroplane: A scratch performed by pushing the record in any direction with one hand while applying counter pressure with a finger from the opposite hand. The finger should bounce along the record surface, creating a "bubbly" sound.

Looping: A basic beat juggling technique. The DJ plays one section of a record and then switches over to the same beat on another copy of the record while rewinding the first record, then switches back to the first record while rewinding the second one.

Orbit: A term used to descrie any scratch that can be performed forward and backward.

Rub: Similar to a hydroplane, except the forward and/or background strokes are slowed down as if the sound is decelerating.

Scribble: A very fast, vibrating sound created by holding the record idle and tensing the muscles in the arm, causing the record to move back and forth very quickly over a small distance.

Stab scratch: Similar to forward scratch, but the sound is cut off and repeated faster.

Tear: A tear is performed by moving forward or backward with pauses between strokes, all within a single sound or sample on the record. A two forward tear would be forward, pause, forward, pause creating the sound "ahh, hhh, hhh".

Transformer: A scratch performed by moving the crossfader to a rhythm while dragging the record back and forth or letting it play by itself.


How to Mix

It is all about technique. That is what separates the players from the posers in the world of DJ mixing. Check out the essential scratches every mix master should know.


Baby scratch

Creator: Grandwizard Theodore

Style: Push and pull the record back and forth in a rhythmic motion at a slow speed. This is the foundation for all scratching.



Creator: DJ Flare

Style: Turn on the fader, move the sound forward, then turn the fader off and on. Continue moving the record forward and back while turning the sound off and on quickly.



Creator: Unknown

Style: Move the record forward or backwards while creating pauses. Keep your hand placed on the record at all times.



Creator: Spinbad

Style: Move the crossfader to a rhythm while dragging the record back and forth.



Creator: Unknown

Style: Start with your fader open, pull the sound backward, close the fader, open the fader and push the sound forward. Your hands should move together at the same time.




When hip hop music first developed in the late 1970s, not many people knew about it. It was created in the poorest districts of New York City by African American and Latino teenagers as part of a hip hop scene that also produced breakdancing and graffiti art. Many of these young people were unemployed, but some found work as DJs in discos where they learned deejaying techniques like how to use two turntables and a DJ mixer to play records non-stop. Sometimes they'd also deejay at free block parties in their neighbourhoods where they'd play funk and disco tracks non-stop and ask a friend to act as their MC. The MC would introduce the DJ and encourage everyone to dance and have a good time. Some MCs tried to be more entertaining by talking in time to the beat of the music and using rhymes, and by doing this they invented rapping


Old School Hip Hop

As rapping became more popular, more DJ and MC duos formed. As the competition grew, DJs began improving their beats by using techniques like sampling short drum breaks and scratching. MCs also began improving their raps by using more complex rhymes and by developing flow, or the ability to rap with a good sense of rhythm and a natural flowing style. Hip hop music was only performed live at first, but in 1979 a hip hop single called Rapper's Delight by The Sugarhill Gang was released, and to everyone's surprise it became a top-ten hit worldwide.

After the success of Rapper's Delight, many other hip hop records were released like Kurtis Blow's The Breaks and Afrika Bambaataa's Planet Rock. Most of these songs were about having fun, but in 1982 Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five released The Message, an early example of socially-conscious hip hop. It had a slow funk groove with melodic synthesizer riffs and the raps were about social issues like poverty, crime and the stress of living in a dangerous city


Hip Hop's Golden Age

In the mid-80s, rappers like LL Cool J began creating hip hop singles with catchy melodic hooks. New York duo Run DMC also used hooks in their songs but added hard-rock guitar to create a popular style called rap rock, and their 1986 album Raising Hell became hip hop's first top-ten album. When punk rock group Beastie Boys began shouting raps instead of singing, their style also became very popular and their debut album Licensed To Ill became hip hop's first number-one album.


By the late 80s, many hip hop beats were being made in a studio with drum machines, synthesizers and samples from old funk and disco records. In 1987, New York duo Eric B. & Rakim released Paid In Full, one of hip hop's finest albums on which Rakim raps over Eric's sample-heavy beats. In the late 80s, a new style of political hip hop developed when groups like Public Enemy began demanding political change and an end to injustice and racism.

In the early 90s, producers began using audio editing software and digital effects to create new styles of alternative hip hop such as jazz rap in which groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest added jazz and R&B samples to their beats. The Fugees used elements of reggae and soul to create their own new style, and all-girl group Salt-N-Pepa created a fun new style of hip hop pop. Later in the 90s, rappers like Common, Mos Def and Talib Kweli created a new style of socially-conscious hip hop when they began rapping about political and social issues over breakbeat grooves played by jazz and funk musicians. Common's album Like Water for Chocolate and Mos and Talib's album Black Star are fine examples of this style.


Hardcore, Gangsta and G-Funk

The most successful styles of the 90s were the hardcore rap of New York and the gangsta rap and G-Funk of Los Angeles. New York's Wu-Tang Clan created one of the first hardcore styles when they rapped about gangster life over swinging hip hop beats with samples from martial-arts movies. In 1994 a young rapper named Nas released his first album Illmatic. Its loose mid-tempo beats, jazzy samples and Nas' poetic rapping made Illmatic one of hip hop's greatest albums. Other popular hardcore rappers include Puff Daddy, The Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z and 50 Cent.

Los Angeles' gangsta rap developed from the rap music of artists like Ice-T and NWA. Ice-T began by sampling funk rhythms and rapping about the dangers of drugs, crime and dropping out of school in tracks like 1990s You Played Yourself. The members of NWA were from Compton, one of LA's poorest and most violent districts, and they rapped about the injustice and police violence in their neighbourhood. Their angry raps included a lot of explicit language, and the media attention this created helped their albums reach the top of the charts. Former NWA member Ice Cube released his classic gangsta album Death Certificate in 1991, and Tupac Shakur, or 2Pac, released his own classic album All Eyez on Me before being killed in 1996.

When Dr Dre, another former NWA member, released his album The Chronic in 1991, G-Funk was heard for the first time. G-Funk producers often sampled funk grooves by George Clinton's P-Funk groups Parliament and Funkadelic and slowed them down to create relaxed beats with funky bass lines, electronic effects and female backing vocals. G-Funk rappers also rapped about gangsta-rap topics, but they focused on partying, drugs and sex more than violence, crime and guns. Classic G-Funk albums include DJ Quik's Quik Is the Name and Snoop Dog's Doggystyle. Hardcore, gangsta and G-Funk rappers often adopted gangster images and their explicit language and the way they rapped about women upset many people. But many others, especially teenage boys, loved these styles and helped them become the sound of mainstream hip hop


Hip Hop in the 21st Century

Hip hop became a major genre of popular music in the 21st century, with hip hop singles and albums topping the charts worldwide. Local hip hop scenes developed in many countries and produced successful artists like the UK's Dizzee Rascal and Canada's Drake. Many female rappers also became successful, including Missy Elliott, Lil' Kim, Lauren Hill and Nicki Minaj. Hip hop has had a strong influence on 21st-century pop music, with many pop songs including elements of hip hop. Pop singers and rappers often collaborate to produce tracks with catchy pop choruses and rapped verses like the single See You Again, a collaboration between pop singer Charlie Puth and rapper Wiz Khalifa that topped the charts in 96 countries in 2015.

In the 1990s, most major artists were from New York or Los Angeles, but artists from the South became popular after 2000. They included the duo Outkast who combined Southern-soul grooves and riffs with clever, entertaining raps. Other popular artists from the South include Usher, T.I., Ludacris and B.o.B. from Atlanta, Three 6 Mafia from Memphis, Bun B from Texas, and Lil Wayne from New Orleans. More recently, Southern artists like Future and Young Thug have been creating exciting new styles of alternative hip hop.

Midwestern artists also became popular at this time. Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem, was surrounded by hip hop culture in the poor Detroit neighbourhood in which he grew up. As a teenager he won local rapping competitions, one of the first white rappers to do so. His natural flow and the honesty and humour of his raps won over the crowds, but because he wasn't a gangsta rapper he couldn't get a record contract. After struggling for many years, he finally got a record deal. Nearly all of his albums have topped the charts worldwide and he's now one of the best-selling artists of all-time.

Another major artist from the Midwest is Chicago's Kanye West. In 2004 he released The College Dropout, the first of a series of chart-topping alternative hip hop albums that helped change the direction of hip hop music. Kanye and Eminem proved that rappers didn't have to make gangsta rap records to succeed, and alternative hip hop soon replaced gangsta rap as the genre's most popular style. While most hip hop artists are either producers or rappers, Kanye is regarded as a master of both. His sample-heavy tracks have used elements of classical music, gospel, jazz and soul as well as rock and R&B, and he uses many rapping styles, from slow and relaxed to fast and aggressive. He's often called the most influential hip hop artist of the 21st century because of his role in changing hip hop's direction and because of the number of styles he's helped to create like the electronic rap of Black Skinhead and the gospel-influenced hip hop of Jesus WalksSince 2010, new styles of alternative hip hop and underground rap have been created by independent artists who've begun their careers by releasing free mixtapes and relying on Twitter, Facebook and other social media to build followings. Some of the best albums and mixtapes by these artists include Earl Sweatshirt's Doris, Chance the Rapper's mixtape Acid Rap, YG's My Krazy Life, Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's Piñata, Run the Jewels' Run the Jewels 2, Young Thug & Bloody Jay's mixtape Black Portland and Kendrick Lamar's highly-praised album To Pimp a Butterfly.