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A Brief History of Hip-Hop and Rap

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A Brief History of Hip-Hop and Rap

KRS-One

© Getty Images

Hip-Hop Defined:

Hip-hop is a form of popular music that's comprised mainly of emceeing and deejaying. The other two components that complete the four elements of hip-hop are graffiti and breakdancing. As hip-hop evolves into big business, the four elements (emceeing, deejaying, graffiti, and breakdancing) are constantly being merged with others like clothing trends, slang, and general mindset.

Rap Vs. Hip-Hop:

Rap is a form of music that stemmed from hip-hop culture. Hip hop is a lifestyle with its own lingo, dress code, etc. In the words of KRS-One, "hip-hop is something you live, rap is something you do."

Hip-Hop Started in the Bronx:

A product of cross-cultural integration, rap is deeply rooted within ancient African culture and oral tradition. Hip-hop is believed to have originated in the Bronx by a Jamaican DJ named Kool Herc. Herc's style of deejaying involved reciting rhymes over instrumentals. At house parties, Herc would rap with the microphone, using a myriad of in-house references. Duplicates of Herc's house parties soon drifted through Brooklyn, Manhattan. Herc and other block party DJs helped spread the message of hip-hop around town and spawned tons of followers.

Humble Beginnings:

Some of the earliest rap songs ever recorded include "King Tim III (Personality Jock)" by Fatback Band and "Rapper’s Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang. The latter reached the #36 spot on the Billboard charts (a huge feat by 1970's standards), thus demonstrating hip-hop's ability to draw commercial appeal.

Hip-Hop As a Melting Pot:

Hip-hop as a musical melting pot is still evolving. It has become more eclectic, borrowing from soul, jazz and live instrumentations with the likes of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and most recently Kanye West championing the ‘soulful rap’ movement.

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