Hip Hop is a musical culture that also includes dance elements and art elements. Specifically known as a subculture, Hip Hop was born during the 1970s, and it evolved from African American influences. In time, Latin American influences also became components of Hip Hop. Believed to have originated in New York City’s Bronx area, Hip Hop is all about music, dance, rapping, DJing, break dancing and graffiti. These classic Hip Hop elements remain powerful influences on modern American culture, and they have also spread to other countries.
The first Hip Hop performances probably happened at get-togethers known as block parties. One of the “inventors” of Hip Hop is DJ Kool Here, who created samples of music, along with his own vocal embellishments, such as yells that were directed at party-goers. Later on, a DJ, Afrika Bambaataa, who worked with a group known as the Zulu Nation, detailed the most important players in Hip Hop subculture, by offering definitions of MCing, DJing, B-boying and graffiti creation.
Hip Hop music may be rap or MC music. Rap is all about talking over music and/or beats and loops. An MC is someone who hosts a party and adds rhymes over a microphone. Whereas a rapper is a performer, a MC is a master of ceremonies. Examples of famous rappers include Tupac Shakur and Eminem. MC Lyte is a famous MC.
The Evolution of Hip Hop
After its birth in the Big Apple’s Bronx area, Hip Hop began to intrigue the members of other American communities. This type of music, dance and art became as popular in the suburbs as it was in densely-populated, urban areas. Background music for Hip Hop is characterized by “beats”. Then, looped “breaks” are added, which are bits and pieces of other songs. On top of these percussive beats and looped breaks, rapping or chanting is used to create songs that fit in the Hip Hop genre. Influences for Hip Hop music commonly include blues, jazz, rock, and R & B.
Hip Hop Energizes Youth and Gives them a Voice
For many young people in impoverished, inner-city communities, Hip Hop subculture provides a sense of hope and belonging. Making it as a DJ, rapper or dancer, or earning renown for graffiti work, offers potential to those who embrace this new style of music/dance/art.
However, Hip Hop culture is also the target of critics and detractors, who deride the sexism and crudeness of certain raps, as well as the utilization of other people’s music. Many Hip Hop songs also focus on money and the things that it can buy. Those who disapprove of Hip Hop feel that is provokes too much materialism, and that it promotes all of the wrong values, thereby corrupting young people through its influence.
Hip Hop Graffiti
During the 1980s, graffiti art became a more powerful and respected type of art. Also originating in the South Bronx, this staple of hip hop culture was showcased on the city streets, as well as in certain art galleries, such as the Fashion/Moda, which opened its doors in 1978. One of the most famous Hip Hop graffiti artists was Keith Haring, whose experimental style gained widespread acclaim. Hop Hop graffiti ranges from basic “tags” that identify the artist’s street name, to art that features characters and scenes. Typically, Hip Hop graffiti art is bold, colorful and expressive.
This type of art has a rebellious element that appeals to many young people. Since conventional graffiti is regarded as vandalism by authorities and by the “establishment”, those who dislike these entities tend to embrace the covert nature of the art form.
Hip Hop Dance
This dance style is usually performed while Hip Hop music is playing. The very first type of Hip Hop dancing was break dancing. This type of dance is made up of special moves that are performed very close to the floor. Break dancing contrasts other forms of Hip Hop dancing, which generally are done while standing up.
Elements of Hip Hop dance may be traced back to different, earlier dance styles, such as jazz, rock, tap and Latin styles. However, the unique music and culture of Hip Hop create a unique signature that is unmistakable. Typical dance steps for Hip Hop dancing include breaking, popping and locking.