Hip hop

Hip hop
Graffiti of "hip hop" in Eugene, Oregon

Hip hop is a form of musical expression and artistic culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx.[1][2][3] DJ Afrika Bambaataa outlined the four pillars of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti writing.[4][5][6][7] Other elements include beatboxing.[8]

Since its emergence in the South Bronx, hip hop culture has spread around the world.[9] Hip hop music first emerged with disc jockeys creating rhythmic beats by looping breaks (small portions of songs emphasizing a percussive pattern) on two turntables, more commonly referred to as sampling. This was later accompanied by "rap", a rhythmic style of chanting or poetry presented in 16 bar measures or time frames, and beatboxing, a vocal technique mainly used to imitate percussive elements of the music and various technical effects of hip hop DJ's. An original form of dancing and particular styles of dress arose among fans of this new music. These elements experienced considerable refinement and development over the course of the history of the culture. Some Hip-Hop music makes political statements.

The relationship between graffiti and hip hop culture arises from the appearance of new and increasingly elaborate and pervasive forms of the practice in areas where other elements of hip hop were evolving as art forms, with a heavy overlap between those who wrote graffiti and those who practiced other elements of the culture. Today, graffiti remains part of hip hop, while crossing into the mainstream art world with renowned exhibits in galleries throughout the world.



The phrase hip hop is a combination of two separate slang terms—"hip", used in African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as early as 1898, meaning current or in the know, and "hop", for the hopping movement.

Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins, a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, has been credited with coining the term hip hop in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just joined the US Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers.[10] Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his stage performance.[11] The group frequently performed with disco artists who would refer to this new type of MC/DJ-produced music by calling them "hip hoppers". The name was originally meant as a sign of disrespect, but soon came to identify this new music and culture.

The opening of the song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang, a 15-minute long song in addition to the verse on Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's own "Superrappin'", were both released in 1979. Lovebug Starski, a Bronx DJ who put out a single called "The Positive Life" in 1981, and DJ Hollywood then began using the term when referring to this new disco rap music. Hip hop pioneer and South Bronx community leader Afrika Bambaataa also credits Lovebug Starski as the first to use the term "Hip Hop", as it relates to the culture. Bambaataa, former leader of the Black Spades gang, also did much to further popularize the term.[11][12][13]


Jamaican born DJ Clive "Kool Herc" Campbell is credited as being highly influential in the pioneering stage of hip hop music,[14] in the Bronx, after moving to New York at the age of thirteen. Herc created the blueprint for hip hop music and culture by building upon the Jamaican tradition of toasting—impromptu, boastful poetry and speech over music—which he witnessed as a youth in Jamaica.[15]

Herc and other DJs would tap into the power lines to connect their equipment and perform at venues such as public basketball courts and at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Bronx, New York, a historic building "where hip hop was born".[16] Their equipment was composed of numerous speakers, turntables, and one or more microphones.[17] By using this technique DJs could create a variety of music. According to Rap Attack by David Toop “At its worst the technique could turn the night into one endless and inevitably boring song” (12).[18] In late 1979, Debbie Harry of Blondie took Nile Rodgers of Chic to such an event, as the main backing track used was the break from Chic's "Good Times".[19]

DJ Kool Herc is credited as being highly influential in the pioneering stage of hip hop music.

Herc was also the developer of break-beat deejaying,[20] where the breaks of funk songs—the part most suited to dance, usually percussion-based—were isolated and repeated for the purpose of all-night dance parties. This form of music playback, using hard funk, rock, and records with Latin percussion, formed the basis of hip hop music. Campbell's announcements and exhortations to dancers would lead to the syncopated, rhymed spoken accompaniment now known as rapping. He dubbed his dancers break-boys and break-girls, or simply b-boys and b-girls. According to Herc, "breaking" was also street slang for "getting excited" and "acting energetically".[21] Herc's terms b-boy, b-girl and breaking became part of the lexicon of hip hop culture, before that culture itself had developed a name.[citation needed]

Later DJs such as Grand Wizard Theodore, Grandmaster Flash and Jazzy Jay refined and developed the use of breakbeats, including cutting and scratching.[22] The approach used by Herc was soon widely copied, and by the late 1970s DJs were releasing 12" records where they would rap to the beat. Popular tunes included Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks" and The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight".[19]

Emceeing is the rhythmic spoken delivery of rhymes and wordplay, delivered over a beat or without accompaniment. Rapping is derived from the griots (folk poets) of West Africa, and Jamaican-style toasting. Rap developed both inside and outside of hip hop culture, and began with the street parties thrown in the Bronx neighborhood of New York in the 1970s by Kool Herc and others. It originated as MCs would talk over the music to promote their DJ, promote other dance parties, take light-hearted jabs at other lyricists, or talk about problems in their areas and issues facing the community as a whole.[citation needed] Melle Mel, a rapper/lyricist with The Furious Five, is often credited with being the first rap lyricist to call himself an "MC".[23]

In the late 1970s an underground urban movement known as "hip hop" began to develop in the South Bronx area of New York City. Encompassing graffiti art, bboying, rap music, and fashion, hip hop became the dominant cultural movement of the minority populated urban communities in the 1980s. Graffiti, rapping, and bboying were all artistic variations on the competition and one-upmanship of street gangs. Sensing that gang members' often violent urges could be turned into creative ones, Afrika Bambaataa founded the Zulu Nation, a loose confederation of street-dance crews, graffiti artists, and rap musicians. By the late 1970s, the culture had gained media attention, with Billboard magazine printing an article titled "B Beats Bombarding Bronx", commenting on the local phenomenon and mentioning influential figures such as Kool Herc.[24]

Hip hop as a culture was further defined in 1982, when Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force released the seminal electro-funk track "Planet Rock". Instead of simply rapping over disco beats, Bambaataa created an electronic sound, taking advantage of the rapidly improving drum machine Roland TB-303 synthesizer technology, as well as sampling from Kraftwerk.[25]

The appearance of music videos changed entertainment: they often glorified urban neighborhoods.[26] The music video for "Planet Rock" showcased the subculture of hip hop musicians, graffiti artists, and b-boys/b-girls. Many hip hop-related films were released between 1982 and 1985, among them Wild Style, Beat Street, Krush Groove, Breakin, and the documentary Style Wars. These films expanded the appeal of hip hop beyond the boundaries of New York. By 1985, youth worldwide were embracing the hip hop culture. The hip hop artwork and "slang" of US urban communities quickly found its way to Europe, as the culture's global appeal took root.

The 1980s also saw many artists make social statements through hip hop. In 1982, Melle Mel and Duke Bootee recorded "The Message" (officially credited to Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five),[27] a song that foreshadowed the socially conscious statements of Run-DMC's "It's like That" and Public Enemy's "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos".[28]

During the 1980s, hip hop also embraced the creation of rhythm by using the human body, via the vocal percussion technique of beatboxing. Pioneers such as Doug E. Fresh,[29] Biz Markie and Buffy from the Fat Boys made beats, rhythm, and musical sounds using their mouth, lips, tongue, voice, and other body parts. "Human Beatbox" artists would also sing or imitate turntablism scratching or other instrument sounds.

American society

In the early 1970s, DJ Kool Herc began organizing dance parties in his home in the Bronx. The parties became so popular they were moved to outdoor venues to accommodate more people. City teenagers, after years of gang violence, were looking for new ways to express themselves.[30] These outdoor parties, hosted in parks, became a means of expression and an outlet for teenagers, where "instead of getting into trouble on the streets, teens now had a place to expend their pent-up energy."[31]

Afrika Bambaataa with DJ Yutaka of Universal Zulu Nation Japan, 2004

Tony Tone, a member of the pioneering rap group the Cold Crush Brothers, noted that "hip hop saved a lot of lives".[31] Hip hop culture became a way of dealing with the hardships of life as minorities within America, and an outlet to deal with violence and gang culture. MC Kid Lucky mentions that "people used to break-dance against each other instead of fighting".[32][broken citation] Inspired by DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa created a street organization called Universal Zulu Nation, centered around hip hop, as a means to draw teenagers out of gang life and violence.[31]

The lyrical content of many early rap groups concentrated on social issues, most notably in the seminal track "The Message", which discussed the realities of life in the housing projects.[33] "Young black Americans coming out of the civil rights movement have used hip hop culture in the 1980s and 1990s to show the limitations of the movement."[34] Hip hop gave young African Americans a voice to let their issues be heard; "Like rock-and-roll, hip hop is vigorously opposed by conservatives because it romanticises violence, law-breaking, and gangs".[34] It also gave young blacks a chance for financial gain by "reducing the rest of the world to consumers of its social concerns."[34]

With the commercial success of gangsta rap in the early 1990s, however, emphasis shifted from social issues to drugs, violence, and misogyny. Early proponents of gangsta rap included groups and artists such as Ice-T, who recorded what some consider to be the first gangsta rap record, 6 in the Mornin’[35], and N.W.A. whose second album Efil4zaggin became the first gangsta rap album to enter the charts at number one[36]. Gangsta rap also played an important part in hip hop becoming a mainstream commodity. The fact that albums such as N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton, Eazy-E’s Eazy-Duz-It, and Ice Cube’s America’s Most Wanted were selling in such high numbers meant that black teens were no longer hip hop’s sole buying audience[37]. As a result, gangsta rap became a platform for artists who chose to use their music to spread politic and social messages to parts of the country that were previously unaware of what went on in the ghettos of place like Los Angeles and New York[38]. While hip hop music now appeals to a broader demographic, media critics argue that socially and politically conscious hip hop has been largely disregarded by mainstream America.[39]

Global innovations

Though created in the United States by African-Americans (some with Jamaican heritage), hip hop culture and music is now global in scope. Asia, The Middle East, Africa, Australia, and the Caribbean have long-established hip hop followings. According to the U.S. Department of State, hip hop is "now the center of a mega music and fashion industry around the world," that crosses social barriers and cuts across racial lines.[40] National Geographic recognizes hip hop as "the world's favorite youth culture" in which "just about every country on the planet seems to have developed its own local rap scene."[41] Through its international travels, hip hop is now considered a “global musical epidemic,”[42] and has diverged from its ethnic roots by way of globalization and localization.

Although some non-American rappers may still relate with young urban Americans, hip hop now transcends its original culture, and is appealing because it is “custom-made to combat the anomie that preys on adolescents wherever nobody knows their name.”[43] Hip hop is attractive in its ability to give a voice to disenfranchised youth in any country, and as music with a message, it is a form available to all societies worldwide.

From its early spread to Europe to an almost worldwide acceptance through Asia and South American countries such as Brazil, the musical influence has been global. Hip hop sounds and styles differ from region to region, but there is also a lot of crossbreeding. Unlike the old genres, which popularized throughout the nation via radio, hip hop tends to hold on to its regional identity.[44] Regardless of where it is found, the music often targets local disaffected youth.[45]

Hip hop has given people a voice to express themselves, from the "Bronx to Beirut, Kazakhstan to Cali, Hokkaido to Harare, Hip Hop is the new sound of a disaffected global youth culture."[45] Though on the global scale there is a heavy influence from US culture, different cultures worldwide have transformed hip hop with their own traditions and beliefs. "Global Hip Hop succeeds best when it showcases ... cultures that reside outside the main arteries of the African Diaspora."[45] Not all countries have embraced hip hop, where "as can be expected in countries with strong local culture, the interloping wildstyle of hip hop is not always welcomed".[46]

As hip hop becomes globally available, it is not a one-sided process that eradicates local cultures. Instead, global hip hop styles are often synthesized with local styles. Hartwig Vens argues that hip hop can also be viewed as a global learning experience.[47] Hip hop from countries outside the United States is often labeled "world music" for the American consumer. Author Jeff Chang argues that "the essence of hip hop is the cipher, born in the Bronx, where competition and community feed each other."[48]

Hip hop has impacted many different countries culturally and socially in positive ways. "Thousands of organizers from Cape Town to Paris use hip hop in their communities to address environmental justice, policing and prisons, media justice, and education."[49]

While hip hop music has been criticized as a music which creates a divide between western music and music from the rest of the world, a musical "cross pollination" has taken place, which strengthens the power of hip hop to influence different communities.[50] Hip hop's impact as a "world music" is also due to its translatability among different cultures in the world. Hip hop's messages allow the under-privileged and the mistreated to be heard.[47] These cultural translations cross borders.[49] While the music may be from a foreign country, the message is something that many people can relate to- something not "foreign" at all.[51]

Even when hip hop is transplanted to other countries, it often retains its "vital progressive agenda that challenges the status quo."[49] Global hip hop is the meeting ground for progressive local activism, as many organizers use hip hop in their communities to address environmental injustice, policing and prisons, media justice, and education. In Gothenburg, Sweden, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) incorporate graffiti and dance to engage disaffected immigrant and working class youths. Indigenous youths in countries as disparate as Bolivia,[52] Chile, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Norway use hip hop to advance new forms of identity.[citation needed]

Hip hop has played a small but distinct role as the musical face of revolution in the Arab Spring, one example being an anonymous Libyan musician, Ibn Thabit whose anti-government songs fuels the rebellion.[53]


Even in the face of growing global popularity, or perhaps because of it, hip hop has come under fire for being too commercial, too commodified. While this of course stirs up controversy, a documentary called The Commodification of Hip Hop directed by Brooke Daniel interviews students at Satellite Academy in New York City. One girl talks about the epidemic of crime that she sees in urban minority communities, relating it directly to the hip hop industry saying “When they can’t afford these kind of things, these things that celebrities have like jewelry and clothes and all that, they’ll go and sell drugs, some people will steal it...”[54] Many students see this as a negative side effect of the hip hop industry, and indeed, hip hop has been widely criticized for inciting notions of crime, violence, and American ideals of consumerism although much of the hip hop dancing community still chooses to refer back to more "oldschool" types of hip hop music that does not preach violence and drugs.

In an article for Village Voice, Greg Tate argues that the commercialization of hip hop is a negative and pervasive phenomenon, writing that "what we call hiphop is now inseparable from what we call the hip hop industry, in which the nouveau riche and the super-rich employers get richer".[34] Ironically, this commercialization coincides with a decline in rap sales and pressure from critics of the genre.[55] Even other musicians, like Nas and KRS-ONE have claimed "hip hop is dead" in that it has changed so much over the years to cater to the consumer that it has lost the essence for which it was originally created. However, in his book In Search Of Africa, Manthia Diawara explains that hip hop is really a voice of people who are down and out in modern society. He argues that the "worldwide spread of hip hop as a market revolution" is actually global "expression of poor people’s desire for the good life," and that this struggle aligns with "the nationalist struggle for citizenship and belonging, but also reveals the need to go beyond such struggles and celebrate the redemption of the black individual through tradition."A style of popular music of US black and Hispanic origin, featuring rap with an electronic backing This connection to "tradition" however, is something that may be lacking according to one Satellite Academy staff member who says that in all of the focus on materialism, the hip hop community is “not leaving anything for the next generation, we’re not building.HipHop is kinda like R&B in a way you just got listen to it and put your mind to it in some kind of way As the hip hop genre turns 30, a deeper analysis of the music’s impact is taking place. It has been viewed as a cultural sensation which changed the music industry around the world, but some believe commercialization and mass production have given it a darker side. Tate has described its recent manifestations as a marriage of “New World African ingenuity and that trick of the devil known as global-hypercapitalism”,[56] arguing it has joined the “mainstream that had once excluded its originators.”[56] While hip hop's values may have changed over time, the music continues to offer its followers and originators a shared identity which is instantly recognizable and much imitated around the world.

Cultural pillars


DJ Hypnotize and Baby Cee, two Disc jockeys

Turntablism refers to the extended boundaries and techniques of normal DJing innovated by hip hop. One of the few first hip hop DJ's was Kool DJ Herc, who created hip hop through the isolation of "breaks" (the parts of albums that focused solely on the beat). In addition to developing Herc's techniques, DJs Grandmaster Flowers, Grandmaster Flash, Grand Wizard Theodore, and Grandmaster Caz made further innovations with the introduction of scratching.

Traditionally, a DJ will use two turntables simultaneously. These are connected to a DJ mixer, an amplifier, speakers, and various other pieces of electronic music equipment. The DJ will then perform various tricks between the two albums currently in rotation using the above listed methods. The result is a unique sound created by the seemingly combined sound of two separate songs into one song. Although there is considerable overlap between the two roles, a DJ is not the same as a producer of a music track.[57]

In the early years of hip hop, the DJs were the stars, but their limelight[citation needed] has been taken by MCs since 1978, thanks largely to Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash's crew, the Furious Five. However, a number of DJs have gained stardom nonetheless in recent years. Famous DJs include Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Mr. Magic, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Scratch from EPMD, DJ Premier from Gang Starr, DJ Scott La Rock from Boogie Down Productions, DJ Pete Rock of Pete Rock & CL Smooth, DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill, Jam Master Jay from Run-DMC, Eric B., DJ Screw from the Screwed Up Click and the inventor of the Chopped & Screwed style of mixing music, Funkmaster Flex, Tony Touch, DJ Clue, and DJ Q-Bert. The underground movement of turntablism has also emerged to focus on the skills of the DJ.

Mixtape DJs have also emerged creating mixtapes with different artists and getting exclusive songs and putting them on one disc, such as DJ White Owl, DJ Skee, DJ Drama and DJ Whoo Kid, DJ Scholar.


Rapper Busta Rhymes performs in Las Vegas for a BET party.

Rapping (also known as emceeing,[58] MCing,[58] spitting (bars),[59] or just rhyming[60]) refers to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a strong rhythmic accompaniment".[61] It can be broken down into different components, such as “content”, “flow” (rhythm and rhyme), and “delivery”.[62] Rapping is distinct from spoken word poetry in that is it performed in time to the beat of the music.[63][64][65] The use of the word "rap" to describe quick and slangy speech or repartee long predates the musical form.[66]


An aerosol paint can, a common tool used in modern graffiti

In America around the late 1960s, graffiti was used as a form of expression by political activists, and also by gangs such as the Savage Skulls, La Familia, and Savage Nomads to mark territory. Towards the end of the 1960s, the signatures—tags—of Philadelphia graffiti writers Top Cat,[67] Cool Earl and Cornbread started to appear.[68] Around 1970–71, the center of graffiti innovation moved to New York City where writers following in the wake of TAKI 183 and Tracy 168 would add their street number to their nickname, "bomb" a train with their work, and let the subway take it—and their fame, if it was impressive, or simply pervasive, enough—"all city". Bubble lettering held sway initially among writers from the Bronx, though the elaborate Brooklyn style Tracy 168 dubbed "wildstyle" would come to define the art.[67][69] The early trendsetters were joined in the 70s by artists like Dondi, Futura 2000, Daze, Blade, Lee, Fab Five Freddy, Zephyr, Rammellzee, Crash, Kel, NOC 167 and Lady Pink.[67]

The relationship between graffiti and hip hop culture arises both from early graffiti artists practicing other aspects of hip hop,[70] and its being practiced in areas where other elements of hip hop were evolving as art forms. Graffiti is recognized as a visual expression of rap music, just as breaking is viewed as a physical expression. The movie "Wild Style" is widely regarded as the first hip hop motion picture, featured prominent figures from lates 70's and early 1980s hip hop culture engaging in activities such as graffiti, MCing, turntablism and bboying; the four pillars of hip hop culture. The book Subway Art (New York: Henry Holt & Co, 1984) and the TV program Style Wars (first shown on the PBS channel in 1984) were also among the first ways the mainstream public were introduced to hip hop graffiti.


Breaking, an early form of hip hop dance, often involves battles, showing off technical skills as well as displaying tongue-in-cheek bravado

Breaking, also called B-boying or breakdancing, is a dynamic style of dance which developed as part of the hip hop culture. Breaking is one of the major elements of hip hop culture. Like many aspects of Hip hop culture, breakdance borrows heavily from many cultures, including 1930's-era street dancing,[71][72] Afro-Brazilian and Asian Martial arts, Russian folk dance,[73] and the dance moves of James Brown, Michael Jackson, and California Funk styles. Breaking took form in the South Bronx alongside the other elements of hip hop. According to the documentary film The Freshest Kids: A History of the B-Boy, DJ Kool Herc describes the "B" in B-boy as short for breaking which at the time was slang for "going off", also one of the original names for the dance. However, early on the dance was known as the "boing" (the sound a spring makes). Dancers at DJ Kool Herc's parties, who saved their best dance moves for the break section of the song, getting in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive, frenetic style. The "B" in B-boy also stands simply for break, as in break-boy (or girl). Breaking was documented in Style Wars, and was later given more focus in fictional films such as Wild Style and Beat Street. Early acts include the Rock Steady Crew and New York City Breakers.


Beatbox, popularized by Doug E. Fresh,[74] is the vocal percussion of hip hop culture. It is primarily concerned with the art of creating beats, rhythms, and melodies using the human mouth.[75] The term beatboxing is derived from the mimicry of the first generation of drum machines, then known as beatboxes. As it is a way of creating hip hop music, it can be categorized under the production element of hip hop, though it does sometimes include a type of rapping intersected with the human-created beat.

The art was quite popular in the 1980s with artists like the Darren "Buffy, the Human Beat Box" Robinson of the Fat Boys and Biz Markie displaying their skills in beatboxing. It declined in popularity along with bboying in the late '80s, but has undergone a resurgence since the late '90s, marked by the release of "Make the Music 2000." by Rahzel of The Roots.

Social impact


A b-boy performing in San Francisco, California

Hip hop has made a considerable social impact since its inception in the 1970s. Orlando Patterson, a sociology professor at Harvard University helps describe the phenomenon of how Hip Hop spread rapidly around the world. Professor Patterson argues that mass communication is controlled by the wealthy, government, and businesses in Third World nations and countries around the world.[76] He also credits mass communication with creating a global cultural hip hop scene. As a result, the youth absorb and are influenced by the American hip hop scene and start their own form of hip hop. Patterson believes that revitalization of hip hop music will occur around the world as traditional values are mixed with American hip hop musical forms,[76] and ultimately a global exchange process will develop that brings youth around the world to listen to a common musical form known as hip hop. It has also been argued that rap music formed as a "cultural response to historic oppression and racism, a system for communication among black communities throughout the United States".[77] This is due to the fact that the culture reflected the social, economic and political realities of the disenfranchised youth.[78] In the current Arab Spring hip hop is playing a significant role in providing a channel for the youth to express their ideas.[79]


The development of Hip Hop linguistics is complex. Source material include the spirituals of slaves arriving in the new world, Jamaican dub music, the laments of jazz and blues singers, patterned cockney slang and radio deejays hyping their audience in rhyme.[80]

Hip Hop has a distinctive associated slang.[81] It is also known by alternate names, such as "Black English", or "Ebonics". Academics suggest its development stems from a rejection of the racial hierarchy of language, which held "White English" as the superior form of educated speech.[82] Due to hip hop's commercial success in the late nineties and early 21st century, many of these words have been assimilated into the cultural discourse of several different dialects across America and the world and even to non-hip hop fans. The word dis for example is particularly prolific. There are also a number of words which predate hip hop but are often associated with the culture, with homie being a notable example.

Sometimes, terms like what the dilly, yo are popularized by a single song (in this case, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" by Busta Rhymes) and are only used briefly. One particular example is the rule-based slang of Snoop Dogg and E-40, who -izzle add -izz to the middle of words.

Hip Hop lyricism has gained a measure of legitimacy in academic and literary circles. Studies of Hip Hop linguistics are now offered at institutions such as the University of Toronto, where poet and author George Eliot Clarke has (in the past) taught the potential power of hip hop music to promote social change.[80] Greg Thomas of the University of Miami offers courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level studying the feminist and assertive nature of Li'l Kim's lyrics.[83]

Some academics, including Ernest Morrell and Jeffery Duncan Andrade compare hip hop to the satirical works of great “canon” poets of the modern era, who use imagery and mood to directly criticize society. As quoted in their seminal work; "Promoting Academic Literacy with Urban Youth Through Engaging Hip Hop Culture":

Hip hop texts are rich in imagery and metaphor and can be used to teach irony, tone, diction, and point of view. Hip hop texts can be analyzed for theme, motif, plot, and character development. Both Grand Master Flash and T.S. Eliot gazed out into their rapidly deteriorating societies and saw a "wasteland." Both poets were essentially apocalyptic in nature as they witnessed death, disease, and decay.”[84]


A graffiti artist uses his artwork to make a satirical social statement on censorship: "Don't blame yourself... blame hip hop."

Hip hop has been met with significant problems in regards to censorship due to the explicit nature of certain genres, and some songs have been criticized for allegedly anti-establishment sentiment. For example, Public Enemy's "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need" was censored on MTV, removing the words "free Mumia".[85]

After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Oakland, California group The Coup was under fire for the cover art on their Party Music, which featured the group's two members holding a detonator as the Twin Towers exploded behind them. Ironically, this art was created months before the actual event. The group, having politically radical and Marxist lyrical content, said the cover meant to symbolize the destruction of capitalism. Their record label pulled the album until a new cover could be designed.

The use of profanity as well as graphic depictions of violence and sex creates challenges in the broadcast of such material both on television stations such as MTV, in music video form, and on radio. As a result, many hip hop recordings are broadcast in censored form, with offending language "bleeped" or blanked out of the soundtrack, or replaced with "clean" lyrics. The result – which sometimes renders the remaining lyrics unintelligible or contradictory to the original recording – has become almost as widely identified with the genre as any other aspect of the music, and has been parodied in films such as Austin Powers in Goldmember, in which Mike Myers' character Dr. Evil – performing in a parody of a hip hop music video ("Hard Knock Life" by Jay-Z) – performs an entire verse that is blanked out. In 1995 Roger Ebert wrote:[86]

Rap has a bad reputation in white circles, where many people believe it consists of obscene and violent anti-white and anti-female guttural. Some of it does. Most does not. Most white listeners don't care; they hear black voices in a litany of discontent, and tune out. Yet rap plays the same role today as Bob Dylan did in 1960, giving voice to the hopes and angers of a generation, and a lot of rap is powerful writing.

In 1990, Luther Campbell and his group 2 Live Crew filed a lawsuit against Broward County Sheriff Nick Navarro, because Navarro wanted to prosecute stores that sold the groups album "As Nasty As They Wanna Be" because of its obscene and vulgar lyrics. In June 1990, U.S. district court judge labeled the album obscene and illegal to sell. However, in 1992, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned the obscenity ruling.

Until it's discontinuation on July 8, 2006, BET ran a late-night segment titled BET: Uncut to air nearly-uncensored videos. The show was exemplified by music videos such as "Tip Drill" by Nelly which was critisized for what many viewed as an exploitative depiction of women, particularly images of a man swiping a credit card between a stripper's buttocks.

Product placement

Potato chip packages featuring hip hop-design images

Critics such as Businessweek's David Kiley argue that the discussion of many products within hip hop music and culture may actually be the result of undisclosed product placement deals.[87] Such critics allege that shilling or product placement takes place in commercial rap music, and that lyrical references to products are actually paid endorsements.[87] In 2005, a proposed plan by McDonalds, which would have paid rappers to advertise McDonalds food in their music, was leaked to the press.[87] After Russell Simmons made a deal with Courvoisier to promote the brand among hip hop fans, Busta Rhymes recorded the song "Pass The Courvoisier".[87] Simmons insists that no money changed hands in the deal.[87]

The symbiotic relationship has also stretched to include car manufacturers, clothing designers and sneaker companies,[88] and many other companies have used the hip hop community to make their name or to give them credibility. One such beneficiary was Jacob the Jeweler, a diamond merchant from New York, Jacob Arabo's clientele included Sean Combs, Lil Kim and Nas. He created jewelry pieces from precious metals that were heavily loaded with diamond and gemstones. As his name was mentioned in the song lyrics of his hip hop customers, his profile quickly rose. Arabo expanded his brand to include gem-encrusted watches that retail for hundreds of thousands of dollars, gaining so much attention that Cartier filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against him for putting diamonds on the faces of their watches and reselling them without permission.[89] Arabo's profile increased steadily until his June, 2006 arrest by the FBI on money laundering charges.[90]

While some brands welcome the support of the hip hop community, one brand that did not was Cristal champagne maker Louis Roederer. A 2006 article from The Economist magazine featured remarks from managing director Frederic Rouzaud about whether the brand's identification with rap stars could affect their company negatively. His answer was dismissive in tone: "That's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business." In retaliation, many hip hop icons such as Jay-Z and Sean Combs, who previously included references to "Cris", ceased all mentions and purchases of the champagne.


Hip hop culture has had extensive coverage in the media, especially in relation to television; there have been a number of television shows devoted to or about hip hop. For a long time, BET was the only television channel likely to play much hip hop, but in recent years the mainstream channels VH1 and MTV have added a significant amount of hip hop to their play list. Run DMC became the first trio of African Americans to turn the hip hop world upside down by being the first African-American group to appear on MTV.[91][92] With the emergence of the Internet a number of online sites began to offer Hip Hop related video content.

Hip hop films have been related since hip hop's conception and have become even more related in the 21st century. During the early 1990s, African-Americans experienced a film renaissance, sparked by the popularity of hood films, in-depth looks at urban life, focusing on violence, family, friends and hip hop. There have also been a number of hip hop films, movies which focused on hip hop as a subject.

Hip Hop magazines have a large place in hip hop lifestyle and history, including the first ever published Hip Hop publication The Hip Hop Hit List, which also contained the very first rap music record chart ever. It was the first form of media to introduce hip hop as a culture. Published in the early 80s by two brothers out of Newark, New Jersey Vincent and Charles Carroll. They introduced it as a DJ record chart and tip sheet that was distributed through record stores throughout the New York City Tri-State area. ["Back then, all DJ's came into New York City to buy their records but most of them did not know what was hot enough to spend money on so we charted it." – Charles Carroll."] This magazine's role in Hip Hop History was very significant and was also instrumental in the early commercial success of rap music. It was known for spreading the news about music and the culture internationally and was loaded with ads from all the early record companies. Later other publications spawned up including; Hip Hop Connection, XXL, Scratch, The Source and Vibe.[93] Many individual cities have also produced their own local hip hop newsletters, while hip hop magazines with national distribution are found in a few other countries. The 21st century also ushered in the rise of online media, and hip hop fan sites now offer comprehensive hip hop coverage on a daily basis.


Breaking in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Hip hop has spawned dozens of sub-genres which incorporate a domineering style of music production or rapping, and it exhibits elements of trifunctionalism.[citation needed]After the Black Americans started Hip hop, other ethnic groups began to contribute to the development of the cultural movement.

Hip hop has now expanded and gone on a global scale, with millions of rap albums sold in foreign countries, some of which are not English-speaking. Hip hop has influenced natives of foreign countries to pursue rap careers and do what is being done in the United States, including following the trends, in their country. This is a product of globalization and it explains how popular culture can be interwoven with the everyday life of individuals that follow it, and how it can affect them in many ways.

Like jazz, hip hop is one of the few musical genres that scholars see as entirely American.[citation needed] There are many varying social influences that affect hip hop's message in different nations. It is frequently used as a musical response to perceived political and/or social injustices. In South Africa the largest form of hip hop is called Kwaito, which has had a growth similar to American hip hop. Kwaito is a direct reflection of a post apartheid South Africa and is a voice for the voiceless; a term that U.S. hip hop is often referred to. Kwaito is even perceived as a lifestyle, encompassing many aspects of life, including language and fashion.[94] Kwaito is a political and party-driven genre, as performers use the music to express their political views, and also to express their desire to have a good time. Kwaito is a music that came from a once hated and oppressed people, but it is now sweeping the nation. The main consumers of Kwaito are adolescents and half of the South African population is under 21. Some of the large Kwaito artists have sold over 100,000 albums, and in an industry where 25,000 albums sold is considered a gold record, those are impressive numbers.[95] Kwaito allows the participation and creative engagement of otherwise socially excluded peoples in the generation of popular media.[96] South African Hip Hop is more diverse lately and there are Hip Hop acts in South Africa that have made an impact and continue making impact worldwide. These include Tumi, Ben Sharpa, HipHop Pantsula, Tuks Senganga.[97][citation needed]

In Jamaica, the sounds of hip hop are derived from American and Jamaican influences. Jamaican hip hop is defined both through dancehall and Reggae music. Jamaican Kool Herc brought the sound systems, technology, and techniques of Reggae music to New York during the 1970s. Jamaican hip hop artists often rap in both Brooklyn and Jamaican accents. Jamaican hip hop subject matter is often influenced by outside and internal forces. Outside forces such as the bling-bling era of today's modern hip hop and internal influences coming from the use of anti colonialism and marijuana or "Ganja" references which Rastafarians believe bring them closer to God.[98][99][100]

Author Wayne Marshall argues that "Hip hop, as with any number of African-American cultural forms before it, offers a range of compelling and contradictory significations to Jamaican artist and audiences. From "modern blackness" to foreign mind", transnational cosmopolitanism to militant pan-Africanism, radical remixology to outright mimicry, hip hop in Jamaica embodies the myriad ways that Jamaicans embrace, reject, and incorporate foreign yet familiar forms."[101]

In the developing world hip hop has made a considerable impact in the social context. Despite the lack of resources, hip hop has made considerable inroads.[46] Due to limited funds, hip hop artists are forced to use very basic tools, and even graffiti, an important aspect of the hip hop culture, is constrained due to its unavailability to the average person. Many hip hop artists that make it out of the developing world come to places like the United States in hopes of improving their situations. Maya Arulpragasm is a Sri Lankan born hip hop artist in this situation. She claims, "I'm just trying to build some sort of bridge, I'm trying to create a third place, somewhere in between the developed world and the developing world."[102]

In Sabah North Borneo, AtamaKatama (rapper & beatmaker) fused Sumazau a tribal music of the Dusun people with hiphop beats & rhymes. This new sound later became known as SumazauHipHop. This music contains samples of gong beats, sompoton, togunggu, bungkau & 'rinaits' – chants of Bobohizan priestess.


Many organizations and facilities are providing spaces and programs for communities to explore making and learning about hip hop. A noteworthy example is the IMP Labs in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Many dance studios and colleges now offer lessons in Hip Hop alongside Tap and Ballet. As well as KRS-ONE teaching hip hop lectures at Harvard University.

Hip Hop producer 9th Wonder and former rapper/actor Christopher "Play" Martin from the Hip Hop group Kid-n-Play have both taught Hip Hop history classes at North Carolina Central University[103] and 9th Wonder has also taught a "Hip Hop Sampling Soul" class at Duke University.[104]


Having its roots in reggae, disco and funk, hip hop has since exponentially expanded into a widely accepted form of representation world wide. It expansion includes events like Afrika Bambaataa releasing "Planet Rock" in 1982, which tried to establish a more global harmony in hip hop. In the 1990s, the French MC Solaar became the first international hit Hip Hop artist not native to America. From the 80s onward, television became the major source of widespread outsourcing of hip hop to the global world. From Yo! MTV Raps (a television show that was shown in many countries) to Public Enemy's world tour, hip hop spread further to Latin America and became highly mainstream. Ranging from countries like France, Spain, England, the US and many other countries world wide, voices want to be heard, and hip hop allows them to do so. As such, hip hop has been cut mixed and changed to the areas that adapt to it.[45][105][unreliable source?]

Early hip hop has often been credited with helping to reduce inner-city gang violence by replacing physical violence with hip hop battles of dance and artwork. However, with the emergence of commercial and crime-related rap during the early 1990s, an emphasis on violence was incorporated, with many rappers boasting about drugs, weapons, misogyny, and violence. While hip hop music now appeals to a broader demographic, media critics argue that socially and politically conscious hip hop has long been disregarded by mainstream America in favor of its media-baiting sibling, gangsta rap.[106]

Many artists are now considered to be alternative/underground hip hop when they attempt to reflect what they believe to be the original elements of the culture. Artists/groups such as Lupe Fiasco, J. Cole, The Roots, Shing02, Jay Electronica, Nas, Kanye West, Common, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Dilated Peoples, Dead Prez, Blackalicious, Joe Budden, Jurassic 5, Kendrick Lamar, Gangstarr, KRS-One and hundreds more emphasize messages of verbal skill, internal/external conflicts, life lessons, unity, social issues, or activism instead of messages of violence, material wealth, and misogyny.[citation needed]


Authenticity is often a serious debate within hip hop culture. Dating back to its origins in the 1970s in the Bronx, hip hop revolved around a culture of protest and freedom of expression in the wake of oppression suffered by African-Americans . As hip hop has become less of an underground culture, it is subject to debate whether or not the spirit of hip hop is embodied in protest, or whether it can evolve to exist in a marketable integrated version.[107] In "Authenticity Within Hip Hop and Other Cultures Threatened with Assimilation," Commentator Kembrew McLeod argues that hip hop culture is actually threatened with assimilation by a larger, mainstream culture.[108] In support of this position, editors of magazines such as the Village Voice have said that hip hop is slowly losing its edge due to the genre's involvement in the mainstream, hyper-capitalist world.[not in citation given] Believing that hip hop should be utilized as a voice for social justice, Tate points out that in the marketable version of hip hop, there isn't a role for this evolved genre in context of the original theme hip hop originated from (freedom from oppression). The problem with Black progressive political organizing isn't that hip hop, but that the No. 1 issue on the table needs to be poverty, and nobody knows how to make poverty sexy.[109] Tate discusses how the dynamic of progressive Black politics cannot apply to the genre of hip hop in the current state today due to the genre's heavy involvement in the market. In his article he discusses hip hop's 30th birthday and how its evolution has become more of a devolution due to its capitalistic endeavors. Both Tate and McLeod argue that hip hop has lost its authenticity due to its losing sight of the revolutionary theme and humble "folksy" beginnings the music originated from. "This is the first time artists from around the world will be performing in an international context. The ones that are coming are considered to be the key members of the contemporary underground hip hop movement." This is how the music landscape has broadened around the world over the last ten years. The maturation of hip hop has gotten older with the genres age, but the initial reasoning of why hip hop has started will always be intact.

See also



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  • Hip hop —  Ne doit pas être confondu avec Rap. Le hip hop est un mouvement culturel et artistique qui est apparu aux États Unis d Amérique dans le Bronx à New York au début des années 1970 qui mêle des aspects festifs et revendicatifs. Originaire des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hip Hop — Musik [ɦip ̟ɦɑp] (Existenz von verschiedenen Schreibweisen) hat ihre Wurzeln in der schwarzen Funk und Soul Musik. Der Rap (Sprechgesang), der aus der jamaikanischen Tradition des Toasting entstand, das Samplen und das Scratchen sind weitere… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hip-Hop — Musik (Existenz von verschiedenen Schreibweisen) hat ihre Wurzeln in der schwarzen Funk und Soul Musik. Der Rap (Sprechgesang), der aus der jamaikanischen Tradition des Toasting entstand, das Samplen und das Scratchen sind weitere Merkmale dieser …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • hip-hop — /hip hop /, Slang. n. 1. the popular subculture of big city teenagers, which includes rap music, break dancing, and graffiti art. 2. See rap music. adj. 3. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of this subculture: the hip hop generation. [1985 90] …   Universalium

  • Hip hop 50 — Genre Emission musicale Présentation 2009 à 2010 : Stanislas Dutilleux Ancienne présentation 2006 à 2007 : Valérie Turbillon 2008 à 2009 : Olia Ougrik Pays …   Wikipédia en Français

  • hip-hop — [ ipɔp ] n. m. inv. et adj. inv. • 1986; mot angl. amér., p. ê. de hip « dans le vent, branché » et to hop « sauter » ♦ Mouvement culturel d origine nord américaine se manifestant par des formes artistiques variées (rap, smurf puis danse… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Hip Hop Na — Hip Hop Na, literally meaning My Hip Hop in Arabic, is a popular hip hop talent huting programme currently airing on MTV Arabia. It is hosted by ‘Fredwreck’ Nassar Qusai Khidr . External links * [http://www.coxwashington.com/hp/content/reporters/s… …   Wikipedia

  • hip hop — also hip hop, music style, first recorded 1982. Reduplication with vowel variation (e.g. tip top, sing song); OED reports use of hip hop with a sense of “successive hopping motion” dating back to 1670s. The term in its modern sense comes from …   Etymology dictionary

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