Black college bands began salting their repertory of marches and alma mater songs with radio hits in the 1960s, even adapting Motown dance routines. That trend escalated in the 1970s, the prime years of Stevie Wonder and Earth, Wind and Fire. Later the bands covered hip-hop songs, their versions dominated by sousaphones and bass drums, their movements sometimes echoing popular dances from videos.
But especially since Southern hip-hop blew up commercially around 2001, the influence has started to go the other way. Now popular culture seems to be feeding off marching bands. In the last few years, especially, dozens of rappers and pop performers, including Kanye West, OutKast and the Ying Yang Twins, have recorded or performed with H.B.C.U. marching bands.
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