Though they are undoubtedly major musical pioneers of 1970's and 80's Rap, the likes of King Tim III, NWA, Sugarhill Gang, Jam Master Jay, Run DMC, The Treachorous Three, LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash (and many more as unable to be listed here) are not the origins of this African-American dominated musical empire.
The roots of story, sattire and political commentary through rap/spoken word/scat as set to instrumentation can be traced back to the griot's (also known as jeli's/jali's/guewel's and gawlo's) of West Africa. These important village members were [are] the historians, advisors, arbitrators, praise singers and storytellers of thier communities and date back thousands of years.
The Rap & Hiphop of today has branched into many styles including Conscious, Battle, Gangster/Underground, Mainstream (Radio), Crunk, East and West Coast and many more as it continues to encompass new elements and influences. Hiphop has also been a major part of the evolution of rap and in the 1980's became a culture all in its own; encompassing dj's break dancing, graffiti and mc'ing into not only a music genre but a way of life.