How Hip Hop and Classical Music Have Influenced Each Other

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A look at how the two genres have influenced each other over the years, and how they continue to do so today.

Classical Music’s Influence on Hip Hop

When most people think of hip hop, they think of rap music and the culture that surrounds it. However, what they may not know is that classical music has had a significant influence on the development of hip hop. In this article, we’ll explore how classical music has influenced hip hop and how the two genres have borrowing from each other.

The Birth of Hip Hop

In the late 1960s, a new style of music was born in the Bronx, New York. This new style would come to be known as hip hop. While hip hop would eventually grow to become one of the most popular genres in the world, it had very humble beginnings.

Hip hop was born out of a need for self-expression by a group of young people who felt that they were not being heard. At the time, the Bronx was a breeding ground for crime and poverty. It was also a place where many different cultures and races lived side by side. This diversity can be heard in the early days of hip hop.

The first recorded instance of hip hop is often credited to DJ Kool Herc, who is considered to be the father of hip hop. In 1973, Herc threw a party in the Bronx where he played records and used two turntables to extend the instrumental break in each song. This technique, which came to be known as “breaking,” would become an integral part of hip hop music.

As hip hop continued to grow in popularity, it began to influence other genres of music. Hip hop has been particularly influential on pop music. In the 1980s, artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson began incorporating elements of hip hop into their songs. This trend has continued in recent years with artists like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, and Bruno Mars all incorporating aspects of hip hop into their music.

Whilehip hop has had a significant impact on pop music, it has also been influenced by other genres of music; including classical music.

The Golden Age of Hip Hop

The Golden Age of Hip Hop was a time in the 1980s and early 1990s when hip hop culture came to prominence in mainstream America. This is when hip hop music first began to be commercially successful, and when the first rap records were released. The Golden Age is often considered to have ended around 1993, when gangsta rap became more popular.

During the Golden Age, rap music was influenced by disco and pop music, as well as by other genres such as jazz, rock, and Latin music. Hip hop music was also strongly influenced by classical music during this time. Some of the most famous and iconic hip hop songs from the Golden Age sample classical music, or feature classical-style melodies.

One of the most famous examples of classical music being used in hip hop is “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang. This song samples the opening bars of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Girl from Ipanema”, which is a bossa nova song that was popular in the 1960s. Other examples include Doug E. Fresh’s “The Show” (which samples Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik”), LL Cool J’s “I Can’t Live Without My Radio” (which samples Beethoven’s “Für Elise”), and Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” (which samples Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D minor”).

The use of classical music in hip hop has continued into the 21st century. In 2006, rapper Jay-Z released an entire album called “Classical Homicide”, which featured him rapping over various classical pieces including Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9”, Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture”, and Johann Strauss II’s “Blue Danube Waltz”. In 2016, Kanye West caused controversy when he used a sample of Bach’s “Cantata No. 140” in his song “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2”.

The Evolution of Hip Hop

What we know as hip hop today has undergone a dramatic evolution since its humble beginnings in the South Bronx in the 1970s. Rap, the vocal style central to hip hop, originated in the African American community as a way of verbal expression and storytelling. The earliest known recordings of rap date back to 1979, but it was not until the 1980s that rap music began to achieve mainstream success. In 1986, Run-DMC’s album Raising Hell topped the Billboard 200 chart, making them the first hip hop group to achieve this level of commercial success. Since then, hip hop has continued to grow in popularity, with artists such as Outkast, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar achieving mainstream success.

While hip hop has always been a largely African American genre, it has also been heavily influenced by other genres of music, including classical. Classical music has often been sampled by hip hop artists, particularly in the early days of the genre when sampling was more expensive and difficult to do. As technology has progressed, it has become easier for artists to sample classical music, and we have seen a resurgence of classical influence in hip hop in recent years. Kendrick Lamar’s song “DNA” samples Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” and Chance the Rapper’s song “No Problem” samples Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.”

The influence of classical music on hip hop is not limited to sampling; many hip hop artists have cited classical composers as influences on their work. Kanye West has said that Beethoven is one of his favorite composers, and he has even performed with a symphony orchestra. Jay-Z’s album 4:44 features samples from several classical composers, including Mozart and Tchaikovsky. It is clear that classical music has had a significant impact on the evolution of hip hop, and it will continue to be an important influence in the genre for years to come.

Hip Hop’s Influence on Classical Music

Classical music and Hip Hop often seem like two totally different worlds. One is seen as highbrow and elite, the other as lowbrow and countercultural. But these two genres have actually influenced each other quite a bit. In this article, we’ll explore how Hip Hop has had an impact on classical music.

The Birth of Classical Music

Classical music has been around for centuries, with the earliest examples dating back to the 9th century. However, it wasn’t until the late 18th century that it began to take on its modern form. This was a time of great change in music, with new styles and genres emerging and evolving. One of the most important figures in this period was composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who helped to define the classical style.

During the 19th century, classical music continued to develop and change. Important composers such as Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert and Frederic Chopin helped to shape the sound of classical music. This period also saw the rise of the symphony orchestra, which became an important part of classical music.

The 20th century was another period of change for classical music. New composers such as Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg pushed the boundaries of what was considered acceptable, while others such as Gustav Mahler and Dmitri Shostakovich brought a more emotional edge to the genre. In the 21st century, classical music is still evolving, with new composers and performers taking it in fresh directions.

The Golden Age of Classical Music

The Golden Age of Classical Music was a time when composers were able to express themselves freely and explore new sounds and techniques. This period saw the birth of some of the most famous and influential pieces of classical music, including Mozart’s Symphony No. 40, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, and Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier.

During this time, classical music was also influenced by other genres, such as folk music and popular music. This can be seen in the work of composers like Brahms, who incorporated folk melodies into his work, and Tchaikovsky, who used popular melodies in his ballets.

Hip hop is a genre that developed in the 1970s in the United States. It is a style of music that is characterized by its use of rhyming lyrics, MCing (rapping), DJing, breaking (dancing), and graffiti writing. Hip hop has its roots in African American culture, but it has also been influenced by other cultures, such as Puerto Rican culture.

Hip hop has had a significant impact on classical music. Composers like Tan Dun and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart have used hip hop elements in their work. In particular, Tan Dun’s opera The First Emperor uses rap lyrics to tell the story of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi. And Mozart’s opera Così fan tutte includes a character who speaks in a rap style.

Other classical composers who have been influenced by hip hop include John Adams, George Benjamin, Gerald Barry, and Errollyn Wallen.

The Evolution of Classical Music

It is safe to say that hip hop and classical music have had a tumultuous relationship. Classical music is often seen as elitist and inaccessible, while hip hop is seen as vulgar and unrefined. However, these two genres have actually had a significant impact on each other, both in terms of musical influence and cultural impact.

Hip hop began to emerge in the early 1970s, with artists like DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash pioneering the genre. Hip hop was initially seen as a way to provide an escape from the violence and poverty of inner-city life. However, it quickly evolved into something much more than that. Hip hop became a way to express the anger, frustration, and joy of a whole generation of young people who felt like they had been left behind by society.

As hip hop began to gain popularity, it started to influence other genres of music. One of the most significant ways it did this was through the use of samples. Hip hop producers would often sample pieces of classical music, or create new beats by manipulating classical recordings. This led to a new appreciation for classical music among many young people who might not have otherwise been exposed to it.

In addition to its musical influence, hip hop has also had a profound cultural impact on classical music. This is most apparent in the way that classical musicians have begun to dress and present themselves. In the past, classical musicians were often seen as stuffy and out of touch with popular culture. However, in recent years, many classical musicians have adopted a more casual style of dress, and some have even incorporated elements of hip hop into their performances. This has helped to make classical music more accessible and appealing to young people who might otherwise be turned off by its traditional image.

It is clear that hip hop and classical music have had a complex relationship over the years. However, there is no doubt that they have both played a significant role in shaping each other’s evolution.

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