Back To Profile

Beats Bars and Breakthroughs: Honoring 50 years of Hip-Hop in Dayton

By Alicia Payne, Contributing Writer 


In the vibrant city of Dayton, Ohio, music lovers were blessed with a cultural phenomenon that would forever change the course of musical history. While Dayton may have been overshadowed by larger cities in terms of its influences on mainstream music, it was within its boundaries that a powerful musical fusion was born. Rooted in irresistible grooves and infectious rhythms of funk, Dayton became the unseen catalyst that birthed the transformative art form we know as hip-hop. As the funk-infused beats of classic Dayton artists filled the airwaves, a new generation of rhythm innovators emerged, taking up the mantle and paving the way for the rise of rap.


We recently set off, for a fantastic voyage, to explore Dayton’s contributions to hip-hop. Our encounters will be presented in two captivating articles that leave no stone unturned. From the funk-filled roots that laid the foundation to the dynamic DJs and passionate artists who brought the genre to life, each piece delves deep into unique stories and pivotal moments that have shaped Dayton’s hip-hop culture.

In this unique two-part series of articles, we will unveil past moments and discuss the future that has shaped Dayton’s hip-hop legacy. Discover fascinating connections between Dayton’s funk heritage and the emergence of hip-hop, and gain insights from the influential figures who have propelled the local scene forward. We invite you to visit our website to submit your personal experiences or to tell us of the people or places we may have overlooked.




In the first installment, we will have the privilege of hearing from David Webb, founder of the renowned "The Funk Music Hall of Fame Exhibition Center," as he takes us on a captivating journey through the connections between Dayton’s funk roots and the birth of hip-hop. Prepare to be enlightened as Webb shares his insights, personal experiences, and invaluable knowledge of the local music scene.


In the second part of our series, we have DJ SKNO, pronounced (SKA-NO), a legendary DJ in Dayton’s hip-hop community. From his early beginnings as a pioneer DJ to his role in shaping the local funk, hip-hop, and gospel culture, DJ SKNO has witnessed and contributed to the evolution of hip-hop in Dayton. Join us as we uncover his inspirations and explore his contributions to the art form.

As we celebrate 50 years of hip-hop in Dayton, let us pay homage to the pioneers who laid the groundwork, to the funky beats that continue to rumble through our speakers, and to the endless possibilities that await the next generation of hip-hop music. Beats bars, the rhythmic backbone of hip-hop tracks, have changed over the years, serving as the driving force behind the innovation and creativity of artists. The beat bars provide the structure and canvas for artists to express themselves and captivate audiences.


Get ready to feed your soul and ignite your passion for hip-hop as we unravel the mysteries of Dayton’s musical legacy. This two-part series promises to be an immersive experience for all hip-hop enthusiasts. It is impossible to ignore the undeniable influence of the illustrious funk music scene that birthed hip-hop. You won’t want to miss a beat!


This article originally appeared on Dayton Weekly News and republished through its partnership with Elevate Dayton.

More Community Insights