Hip Hop Wiki

Hip hop music, also known as hip-hoprap music, or hip-hop music, is a music genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as a part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching, b-boying, and graffiti writing. Other additional elements include sampling, beatboxing, and knowledge. 

While often used to refer to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing and scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.

Origin of the term[]


Cowboy performing in the 1980s.

The term "hip hop" is credited to Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins, a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. It is believed that Wiggins coined the term when he was teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of soldiers marching. Wiggins worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his live stage performances, which was later used by other artists such as The Sugarhill Gang on their song "Rapper's Delight".

In the early years of the subculture, the movement went untitled until Universal Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa began using "hip hop" to describe the subculture in which the music belonged.




Hip hop as music and culture formed during the early 1970s when block parties became increasingly popular among African-American youth living in the Bronx. Block parties incorporated DJs, who played popular genres of music, especially funk and soul music. Due to the positive reception, DJs began isolating the percussive breaks of popular songs (known as the "breaks"). Because of the short percussive breaks, DJs began using two turntables to extend the breaks. This method of isolating the percussive breaks was then common in Jamaican dub music and was largely introduced into New York by immigrants from Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean. DJ Kool Herc was one of these immigrants, and he is generally called the father of hip hop. It was at one of his block parties on the 11th of August 1973 at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue that hip hop was born, as agreed on by most hip hop fans.

Hip hop's early evolution into a form distinct from R&B also, not coincidentally, occurred around the time that sampling technology and drum machines became widely available to the general public at a cost that was affordable to the average consumer and not just professional studios. Drum machines and samplers were combined in machines that came to be known as "MPC"s (an acronym of Music Production Center).

Turntablist techniques - such as scratching (attributed to Grand Wizzard Theodore), beat mixing/matching, and beat juggling - eventually developed along with the breaks, creating a base that could be rapped over, in a manner similar to signifying, as well as the art of toasting, another influence found in Jamaican dub music.

Introduction of rapping[]

Rapping, also referred to as MCing or emceeing, is a vocal style in which the artist speaks lyrically, in verse and often rhyme, generally to an instrumental beat. Beats, almost always in 4/4 time signature, can be created by sampling and/or sequencing portions of other songs by a producer. The producer may also incorporate synthesizers, drum machines, and live instrumentation. Rappers may write, memorize or improvise their lyrics and perform their works a capella or to a beat.

The roots of rapping are found in African-American music and ultimately African music, particularly that of the griots of West African culture. The African-American traditions of signifyin', the dozens and jazz poetry have all had influences on rap, as well as the call and response patterns of African-American religious ceremonies. Within New York City, performances of spoken word poetry and music by artists such as The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, and Jalal Mansur Nuriddin had a significant impact on the post-civil rights era culture of the 1960s and 1970s, and thus the social environment in which hip hop music was created.

DJ Kool Herc and his MC Coke La Rock provided an influence on the vocal style of rapping by delivering simple poetry verses over funk music breaks. DJs and MCs would often add call and response chants to their routines, often consisting of a basic chorus to allow the performer to gather his thoughts. Later, the MCs grew more varied in their vocal and rhythmic delivery, incorporating brief rhymes, often with a sexual or scatological theme, in an effort to differentiate themselves and to entertain the audience. These early raps incorporated the dozens, a product of African-American culture. Kool Herc and his group Herculoids were the first hip hop group to gain recognition in New York, but the number of MC teams increased over time.

Influence of disco[]

Hip hop music was both influenced by disco music and backlashed against it. According to Kurtis Blow, the early days of hip hop were characterized by division between fans and detractors of disco music. Hip hop music emerged during the peak of disco, and, as both primarily African-American genres, was perhaps created to serve as a better representation of lower-class African-American communities. However, by 1979, disco instrumental loops had become the basis of much hip hop music. For example, "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang, generally accepted as the first hip hop song released commercially, samples the disco song "Good Times" by Chic. Ironically, hip hop music was partly responsible for the eventual decline in disco popularity.

Early hip hop DJs such as Pete DJ Jones, DJ Hollywood, Eddie Cheeba and Lovebug Starski were influenced by disco. Later DJs such as Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, and DJ Jazzy Jay tended to be more influenced by funk music.

In Washington, D.C., go-go emerged as a reaction against disco and eventually incorporated characteristics of hip hop during the early 1980s. The genre of electronic music behaved similarly, eventually evolving into what is known as house music in Chicago and techno in Detroit.

Transition to recording[]

Prior to 1979, recorded hip hop music consisted mainly of PA system recordings of parties and early hip hop mixtapes by DJs. DJ Disco Wiz is created as the first hip hop DJ to create a "mixed plate" when he combined sound bites, special effects and paused beats to technically produce a sound recording in 1977.

The first hip hop record is widely regarded to be The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" in 1979. However, much controversy surrounds this assertion as some regard "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" by The Fatback Band, which was released a few weeks before "Rapper's Delight", as a rep record. There are various other claimants for the title of the first hip hop record.

By the early 1980s, all of the major elements and techniques of the hip hop genre were formed, and by 1982, the electronic (electro) sound had become the trend on the street and in dance clubs. Though not yet mainstream, hip hop had begun to permeate the music scene outside of New York City; it could be found in cities as diverse as Atlanta, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, San Antonio, Miami, Seattle, St. Louis, New Orleans, Houston, and Toronto. The second single released by Sugar Hill Records, 1979's "Funk You Up", was recorded by The Sequence, an all-female hip hop group from Columbia, South Carolina.

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