This article is about hip hop culture. For the music genre, see Hip hop music.

Hip hop

A party in 1982 demonstrating the four elements of hip hop

Hip hop
 is a cultural movement that started in New York in the mid-1970s that is recognised by four main elements: rapping or MCing, turntablism or DJing, breaking and graffiti. Despite their contrasting methods of execution, they each find unity in their common association to the poverty and violence underlying the historial context that birthed the culture. The term "hip hop" was coined in 1978 by Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins, a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

The origin of the culture stems from the block parties of the Ghetto Brothers, who plugged their amps for their instruments and speakers into the lampposts on 163rd Street and Prospect Avenue, and DJ Kool Herc who hosted block parties in the recreation room of 1520 Sedgwick Avenue and would mix samples of existing records with his own shouts to the crowd and dancers. Kool Herc is credited as the "father" of hip hop. Afrika Bambaataa coined the elements of "MCing", "DJing", "b-boying", and "graffiti writing", as well as creating the hip hop awareness group Zulu Nation. Since the creation of hip hop culture in the South Bronx, it has spread to both urban and suburban communities throughout the world.

The elementsEdit

DJing, MCing, breaking and graffiti are the creative outlets of hip hop culture. Like punk and the blues, these arts allowed people to make a statement, whether it was political or emotional. These practices spread globally during the 1980s as fans could make their own music and express themselves in new and creative ways.


DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist performing live

DJing and turntablism are the techniques of manipulating sounds and creating music using phonograph turntables and a DJ mixer. One of the first hip hop DJs was Kool DJ Herc, who created hip hop through the isolation of "breaks", the part of a song where it becomes a drum beat. DJs Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flowers, Grandmaster Flash, Grand Wizzard Theodore and Grandmaster Caz made further innovations while developing Herc's techniques.

Traditionally, a DJ uses two turntables simultaneously and mixes between them. These are connected to a DJ mixer, an amplifier, speakers and additional electronic music equipment such as a microphone. While mixing, the DJ performs tricks between the two songs in rotation utilising the crossfader on the mixer or by scratching. The result is a blend of the two songs to either serve as a transition, song extension or combination of the two songs. New turntablism techniques, such as beatmatching, influenced the development of DJing. The capabilities of the Technics SL-1200 MK 2, first sold in 1978, were a major factor in the progression of DJing and continue to be used to date.

The DJs were the stars in the early years of hip hop but that role was gradually taken over by the rise of MCs. DJs often serve in a background capacity while performing alongside an MC. The underground movement of turntablism has emerged to focus on the skills of the DJ. A DJ does not serve the role of a producer of a song although there is a considerable overlap between the two roles.

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