What Is Hip Hop?

Hip Hop is a culture like any other encompassing language, dance, it is the music. Such as everything alive, it is ever growing, ever evolving, ever changing. So much so that it’s a debate to determine which songs belong in the category. “That’s not MY Hip Hop, though. Chill.”
So how do we actually decide?

After a recent discussion about the  difference between “rap” and “hip hop”, the final overall consensus was as follows:

Hip Hop encompasses the following elements:

  • Rap; the verbal language, lingo
  • DJ; the music
  • Bboy; the dance
  • Graffiti; style of written language

The elements of Hip Hop are the foundation created only during my parents generation. Technically, that’s not too long ago for the evolution of an entire culture. An obvious sign that it was exploited, ripped from its roots almost from the very beginning. You should also note that Hip Hop was created by young black men in the hoods of America- Let that sink in. But, I digress. Sort of.

Affecting all evolution, it seems, is the evolution itself of technology. Replacing actual DJ’s and turntables, are complex studio engineering stuff that I am unable to elaborate on. But some musical geniuses can make some dope beats. Amazing beats. And DJ’s don’t scratch. Strange.
Changing the beat means changing the dance. I know maybe 2 people who break dance. But everybody is twerking. Fucking everybody. So, ok.
And the language. Words, phrases, slang, lingo. Whatever seems to catch and is accepted in today’s “Hip Hop” is what it will be.

This is starting to sound trashy.

And that’s what happens when a culture is exploited, maximized for profits by, let’s be honest, the White man. And the Black man selling himself for the White man’s dollar. Oh, how history repeats itself. When will we learn? Again, I digress.

The point I’m eventually making is to truly get the heart and soul of the culture, you have to start at the beginning. Where did it come from? Why was it created? What are they saying?

Just because a music is using rap over a beat doesn’t make it Hip Hop. Just because someone is break dancing doesn’t make it Hip Hop. Turntables? You prob got yourself some Hip Hop, though that isn’t guaranteed either. And graffiti has evolved into a culture all of its own competing with street art for respect and glorification.

But real Hip Hop is feel good music. Barbeque, get together, reunion music. Positive and vibrant. Kool and the Gang, Slick Rick, Dana Dane all had a way of telling fun stories about everyday life, and it made you move. They had DJ’s and break dancers, graffiti- it’s Hip Hop.

Always the philosophers, the thinkers, revolutionaries; mos Def, Common, Lauren Hill spitting knowledge, soul and gold on the beats  ❤

And stories colder, more painful. Stories about crime and drugs and crooked cops. And we lived that. Hip Hop was about our lives, our struggles, our people. The Notorious, Jadakiss, Jay Z, Nas and that’s only cuz I’m from the East Coast. But they tug at my heart.

Tupac, NWA and others held down the West Coast, bringing imagery of their own struggles through Hip Hop.

When you grow up in it, it’s natural. It’s easy to point out and realize what’s real. Hip Hop isn’t something you learn. Hip Hop is what you feel.

Here is one of my most favorite pieces of Hip Hop of all time, and when you’re done, play it again: https://vimeo.com/58775546


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