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Alternative hip hop (also known as alternative rap and experimental hip hop) is a subgenre of hip hop music that encompasses a wide range of styles that are not typically identified as mainstream. AllMusic defines it as comprising "hip hop groups that refuse to conform to any of the traditional stereotypes of rap, such as gangsta, bass, hardcore, and party rap. Instead, they blur genres drawing equally from funk and pop/rock, as well as jazz, soul, reggae, and even folk."
|Alternative hip hop|
|Cultural origins||Late 1980s, United States|
Alternative hip hop developed in the late 1980s and experienced a degree of mainstream recognition during the early-to-mid 1990s. While some groups such as Arrested Development and The Fugees managed to achieve commercial success before breaking up, many alternative rap acts tend to be embraced by alternative rock listeners rather than hip-hop or pop audiences. The commercial and cultural momentum was impeded by the simultaneous emergence of significantly harder-edged West Coast gangsta rap. A resurgence came about in the late 1990s and early 2000s at the dawn of the digital era with a rejuvenated interest in independent music by the general public.
During the 2000s, alternative hip hop reattained its place within the mainstream due to the declining commercial viability of gangsta rap as well as the crossover success of artists such as Outkast and Kanye West. The alternative hip hop movement has expanded beyond the United States to include the Somali-Canadian poet K'naan, and English artist M.I.A. Alternative hip hop acts have attained much critical acclaim, but receive relatively little exposure through radio and other media outlets. The most prominent alternative hip hop acts include A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Hieroglyphics, The Pharcyde, Digable Planets and Black Sheep.