Trip Hop

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Originating out of the House, and the Electronic Dance Music, market, also combining elements of contemporary R 'n' B, plus Dub, Jazz, and Hip Hop, plus lots of influence from Ambient.
Trip Hop also took elements of Psychedelic Rock.
Trip Hop grew out of Bristol in the UK during the early 1990s.

Trip Hop the term was first used by the British music media and press as a way to describe more experimental styles of Breakbeat which contained to be an influence on some of the world of Soul, Funk and Jazz world.


Trip hop originated in and around the city of Bristol UK during a time when American Hip Hop, House, and Electronic Dance Music had begun to increase in popularity.

According to the Dictionary, the term "trip-hop" was coined in 1989, but its earliest use in print was in June 1994, by Andy Pemberton, a music journalist writing for Mixmag, he used it to describe Mo Wax Records single by; R.P.M and DJ Shadow "In/Flux".

In Bristol, which is among Britain's most racially diverse cities, Hip Hop had began to make its way into the consciousness of a subculture, many of which were already well-schooled in Jamaican music. DJs, MCs, and graffiti artists grouped together into "Sound system". Like the pioneering Bronx crews of DJs Kool Herc, Afrika Bambataa and Grandmaster Flash, the soundsystems provided party music for public spaces, often in the economically deprived council estates from which some of their members originated. Bristol's soundsystem DJs, drew heavily on Jamaican Dub music, typically using a laid-back, slow and heavy drum beat.

Bristol's The Wild Bunch sound system crew were one of the soundsystems to put a local spin on this international phenomenon, helping to birth Bristol's signature sound of Trip Hop. The Wild Bunch and its associates included at various times in its existence the musician MC Adrian "Tricky Kid" Thaws, the graffiti artist and lyricist Robert "3D" Del Naja, producer Jonny Dollar and the DJs Nellee Hooper, Andrew "Mushroom" Vowles and Grant "Daddy G" Marshall. As the Hip Hop scene matured in Bristol and musical trends evolved further toward Acid Jazz and House in the late '80s, the golden era of the soundsystem was ending. The Wild Bunch signed a record deal and evolved into Massive Attack, a core collective of 3D, Mushroom and Daddy G, with significant contributions from Tricky Kid soon shortened to Tricky, Jonny Dollar and Hooper on production duties, along with a rotating cast of other vocalists.

Another influence was Gary Clail's Tackhead soundsystem. Clail often worked with former "The Pop Group" singer Mark Stewart. The latter experimented with his band Mark Stewart & The Maffia which consisted of New York session musicians Skip McDonald, Doug Wimbish, and Keith LeBlanc, who had been a part of the house band for the Sugar Hill Records, "The Sugarhill Gang. A lot of the production was by Adrian Sherwood, the music combined Hip Hop with Experimental Rock and Dub and sounded like a premature version of what later became Trip Hop.

Early to mid-1990s

Massive Attack's first album "Blue Lines" was released in 1991 to huge success in the UK. "Blue Lines" was seen widely as the first major manifestation of a uniquely British Hip Hop movement, but the album's hit single "Unfinished Sympathy" and several other tracks, while their rhythms were largely sample-based, were not seen as Hip Hop songs in any conventional sense. Produced by Jonny Dollar, Shara Nelson (an R 'n' B singer) featured on the orchestral "Unfinished," and Jamaican dance hall star Horace Andy provided vocals on several other tracks, as he would throughout Massive Attack's career. Massive Attack released their second album entitled Protection in 1994. Although Tricky stayed on in a lesser role, and Hooper again produced, the fertile dance music scene of the early '90s had informed the record, and it was seen as an even more significant shift away from the Wild Bunch era.

1994 and 1995 saw Trip Hop near the peak of its popularity, with artists such as Howie B, Naked Funk and Earthling making significant contributions. Those years also marked the rise of London band Red Snapper, the independent record label, Ninja Tunes, founded by the duo "Coldcut, which would significantly influence the Trip Hop sound in London and beyond with breakthrough artists DJ Food, 9 Lazy 9, Up, Bustle & Out, Funki Porcini and The Herbaliser, among others.

In 1994 Portishead released their debut album, "Dummy", this was a trio fronted by singer Beth Gibbons, they also included sonic manipulators Geoff Barrow and Adrian Utley. Their background differed from Massive Attack in many ways: one of Portishead's primary influences was 1960s and '70s film soundtrack LPs. Nevertheless, Portishead shared the scratchy, jazz-sample-based aesthetic of early Massive Attack, and the sullen, fragile vocal style of Gibbons also brought them wide acclaim. In 1995, "Dummy" was awarded the Mercury Music Prize for the best British album of the year, giving Trip Hop as a genre its greatest exposure to date. Portishead's music, seen as cutting edge in its film noir feel and stylish, yet emotional appropriations of past sounds, was also widely imitated, causing the band to recoil from the trip-hop label they had inadvertently helped popularize.

Tricky also released his debut solo album, "Maxinquaye, in 1995 - to great critical acclaim. Tricky employed whispered, often abstract stream-of-consciousness murmuring, remote from the Gangsta Rap Braggadocio of the mid '90s US Hip Hop scene. Even more unusually, however, many of the solo songs on Maxinquaye featured little of Tricky's own voice: his then-lover, Martina Topley-Bird, sang them, including her reimagining of Public Enemy's militant 1988 rap "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos", while other songs were male-female duets dealing with sex and love in oblique ways, over beds of sometimes dissonant samples. Within a year Tricky had released two more full-length albums which were considered even more challenging, without finding the same popularity as his Bristol contemporaries Massive Attack and Portishead. Through his brief collaborations with Björk, however, he also exerted influence closer to the Pop and Alternative Rock mainstream, and he developed a large cult fan-base.

Musician Poe released her 1995 debut "Hello", an album that featured Trip-Hop elements, to critical praise.

The London-based band Archive began as Trip Hop, before developing into Progressive Rock, employing elements of both Hip Hop and Classical with the album "Controlling Crowds".

Although not as popular in the United States bands like Portishead and Sneaker Pimps saw moderate air play on Alternative Rock stations across the country.

Post-trip hop

After the initial success of Trip Hop in the mid-1990s, a new generation of Trip Hop artists emerged with a more standardised sound. Notable artists include "Esthero", "Morcheeba", "Sneaker Pimps", "Anomie Belle", "Alpha", "Jaianto", "Mudville", "Cibo Matto", "Turbulent Soundscape" and "Lamb". These artists incorporated Trip Hop into other genres, including Ambient, Soul, Electronic Dance Music, Industrial, Breakbeat, Drum n Bass, Acid Jazz, Rock and Classical.

Trip Hop has also been heard being used by other artists in other genres, including Gorillaz, Nine Inch Nails, Travis, Beth Orton, The Flaming Lips, and even Kylie Minogue.

Trip hop in the 2000s

Trip Hop continued to influence notable artists in the 2000s, from atmospheric Rock act "Antimatter", who included some trip hop elements in their first two albums. In 2006, Gotye debuted his first album "Like Drawing Blood". The songs on the album featured down-tempo Hip Hop beats and Dub style bass reminiscent of Trip Hop. Norwegian singer and songwriter, Kate Havnevik, is a classically trained musician, but also incorporates trip hop into her work.

Trip hop in the 2010s

Major notable releases include Massive Attack's "Heligoland".

How to Destroy Angels self-titled EP in 2010, and a full album "Welcome Oblivion" in 2013.

DJ Shadow's "The Less You Know, The Better" was released in 2011.

Lana Del Rey released her second album, "Born to Die" in 2012, which contained a string of Trip Hop ballads, which topped the charts in eleven countries, including Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom; and sold over 3.4 million copies worldwide as of 2013.

Tricky released his tenth studio album 'False Idols' on 23 May 2013.

British trip hop trio "London Grammar" released their debut album "If You Wait" on 9 September 2013 and set platinum certification by BPI.

Singer "FKA Twigs", often cited as a Trip Hop musician, was nominated for BBC's Sound of 2014 prize and chosen by Spotify for their Spotlight on 2014 list.

Musical elements

Trip hop is also known for its melancholy. This may be partly due to the fact that several acts were inspired by Post Punk bands. Tricky and Massive Attack both covered and sampled songs of Siouxsie & the Banshees. Tricky covered "Tattoo", (a song by Siouxsie & the Banshees from 1983) for the opening track of his second album "Nearly God" in 1996. Massive Attack sampled & covered "Metal Postcard" of Siouxsie & the Banshees in 1997 on the movie soundtrack for "The Jackal".

Trip hop tracks often sample "Rhodes" piano's, saxophones, trumpets, and flutes. Trip hop differs from Hip Hop in theme and overall tone. Instead of "Gangsta" style Rap with its hard-hitting lyrics, Trip Hop offers more aural atmospherics with instrumental Hip Hop, turntable scratching, and Breakbeat rhythms. Regarded in some ways as a 90s update of fusion, Trip Hop may be said to 'transcend' the "Hardcore" Rap styles and lyrics with atmospheric overtones to create a more mellow tempo.

Some Trip Hop Artists


Massive Attack


Thievery Corporation


Sneaker Pimps


Zero 7



DJ Shadow


Nightmares on Wax



Amon Tobin

DJ Krush


Bene Dico

Kid Loco


DJ Spooky

Supreme Beings of Leisure

Howie B

Shana Halligan


External links