Urban music and working class origin in the UK: evolution from the 50s to the 80s.
For the first time in the 50s (rather since the end of the 40s, with the teddy boys in the United Kingdom and Rock & Roll in the USA), youth movements are beginning to emerge in which adolescents stand out as a group, with their own subcultures and values: this will have fundamental repercussions on music, cinema, commerce, socialization and, ultimately, the way of understanding and seeing youth. Hence the phrase of the song “My generation” by The Who (1965): it is “The Song” par excellence of the time, the one that best represented for these young people what the Mod movement meant for them.
These mods were joined by a special interest in aesthetics (based on a look of a proletarian but administrative worker, very clean and elegant, with a special predilection for tailor-made Italian-style suits), and for American black musical styles, such as Modern Jazz (hence the name “Mod”) or Rhythm and Blues. As the movement developed and expanded, the spectrum it encompassed also opened up, with new styles such as Soul or Jamaican Ska.
In 1962, Jamaica achieved independence from the United Kingdom; the soundtrack of
this independence (or at least, the music that had the most boom) was Ska. This is clearly seen in, for example, Derrick Morgan's song from 1962 "Forward March”, which dedicates it exclusively to this new situation in the Caribbean country ("Sing it well, sing a song, sing a song, we're independent").
We could define Ska as an evolution of Mento (traditional Jamaican music that had the influences of music that came from the US such as Rhythm & Blues, Rock or Soul). It arose on the island when trying to make versions of the best-known themes of these American styles, but with a slower and more marked rhythm. This is how Ska was born, with a very hard bass line, known as “Walking Bass”, and generally with an important horn section (sax, trumpet, etc.). This style began to be very successful among the mods of the mid-60s. The importation of this music in the United Kingdom goes hand in hand with the Jamaican emigration to the Anglo-Saxon country, which began in 1945, but is especially pressing in the 60s: these young Jamaican émigrés are the ones who will introduce the movement of the rude boys. Willing to imitate everything that came from the great world power, they began to adopt this musical style and create their own albums, yes: introducing their Caribbean musical roots (such as Mento), which gave rise to the birth of Ska.
Ska evolved towards Rocksteady (name taken from the song of the same name by Alton Ellis), a style that was based on slowing down the ska to obtain a slower rhythm. It was practiced by Jamaican vocal groups such as The Gaylads, The Maytals or The Paragons. There are several legends about this, from those who think that 1966 was one of the hottest years on the island (which caused the artists who played to be exhausted by the heat and therefore slow down the rhythm), to more realistic versions that They defend that it was only an evolution, and that it was because the rudies preferred to dance slower songs. This fondness for quiet dances caused it to become fashionable to listen to Ska vinyl at half speed, until it ended up creating its own specific style.
El Rocksteady It differs from Ska not only because of the speed of its themes, but also because of the absence of the characteristic winds of the predecessor style and the predominance of vocal ensembles. Rocksteady's first international hit was Johnny Nash's Hold Me Tight (1968). (“let's think about tomorrow girl, our future's bright”).
During the 70s (especially at the end), new styles emerged as a reaction to the Hippie movement, with its long songs: it was at this time that Punk emerged. This new movement is musically characterized by its descendants from Rock, but with a more independent and less professional attitude, giving more importance to substance than to form. It is a simple music, with little duration and without worrying much about the details.
Through this music, with new groups like The Sex Pistols o The Clash, and mixing it with certain influences (not only musical, but also stylistic and social positioning) of Mod and Glam, the Hi!.
Named like this by Sounds magazine in 1980, as a tribute to the interjection used by Skinty Turner to introduce the songs of his band, the Cokney Rejects (it can be translated by a simple "hey!"), we could define it as a similar musical genre to Punk, but faster and more radical, directly related to the Skinhead movement in the late 70s/early 80s. The songs belonging to this young genre spoke of social problems: unemployment, police and government harassment, oppression and human rights. from the workers.
Despite the common and most widespread social ideology, none of the bands associated with this movement promoted racism in their lyrics (for example, groups like The Oppressed, The Burial showed precisely their opposition to racism regardless of political option).
How have we evolved from this base of music that emerges as a pure vindication and social positioning of the community to what we know today as urban, with styles on the rise such as trap or reggaeton? Will follow!
….TO BE CONTINUED!