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A Brief History of Hip-Hop

By

2009 VH1 Hip Hop Honors
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

What is Hip-Hop?

Hip-hop is a form of popular music that's comprised mainly of four elements: emceeing, deejaying, graffiti and breakdancing. As hip-hop evolves into big business, new elements are constantly being added to the culture. Today, hip-hop is also a cultural lifestyle that impacts fashion trends, lingo, trends, and attitudes.

Rap Vs. Hip-Hop:

Rap is a form of music that originated 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 #36 on the Billboard Hot 100 (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 is a musical melting pot. It's an amalgamation of sounds that includes elements of soul, jazz, gospel, rock and live instrumentation. The likes of De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and, most recently, Kanye West are recognized for championing the "soulful rap" movement. Others like Azealia Banks and Goldlink tend to blend hip-hop with elements of dance music.

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