How Did the Music of Africa Influence Hip Hop?

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


A discussion on how the music of Africa has influenced the development of hip hop music and culture.

Defining African music

African music is a broad term used to describe the traditional music of the African continent. The music varies from region to region and has been influenced by the region’s history, culture, and geography. African music is often characterized by its use of rhythm and percussion instruments, and its call-and-response vocal style.

The role of rhythm in African music

In African music, rhythm is everything. It’s the heartbeat of the culture, and it’s what makes African music so unique and so powerful. Rhythm is what drives the music, and it’s what makes people want to dance.

African music is all about the interlocking of rhythms, and it’s this intricate weaving of rhythms that gives the music its energy and its power. African musicians often use drums to create these complex rhythms, and they’ll often use their hands, feet, and even their bodies to keep time. This is why African music is often so physical, and why it can be so mesmerizing to watch.

African music has been a major influence on many other genres of music, including hip hop. Hip hop was born in the 1970s in the Bronx, New York, but it was deeply influenced by the sounds coming out of Africa at that time. Many of the early hip hop pioneers were avid listeners of African music, and they used that music to help create their own sound.

The use of call and response in African music

One of the most distinctive and widely-known elements of African music is the use of call and response. This is where one person or group sings or plays a phrase, and then another person or group responds with either the same phrase or a different one. This back-and-forth can go on for quite some time, and often the responses become more elaborate as the conversation progresses.

This call and response pattern is found in music all over Africa, from traditional folk songs to modern pop hits. It’s also a key element in hip hop, which has its roots in African-American culture. Many of the earliest hip hop tracks were built around samples of existing African-American music, which often featured call and response vocals. Today, you can hear call and response in all sorts of hip hop songs, from mainstream hits to underground tracks.

Defining Hip Hop

Hip hop is a style of music that was created in the 1970s by African American youth. It is a mix of rap, jazz, and R&B. Hip hop is a very popular genre of music today, but it would not be where it is without the influence of African music.

The elements of Hip Hop

Hip hop is a musical genre that emerged in the late 1970s from the Bronx in New York City. It is defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, “hip hop” more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music first appeared in print with the release of Robert Hills’ book Rappin’ and Scratchin’ and Lovebug Starski’s Single ‘Potatoes and Beans’ in 1979.

Hip hop arose during a time of significant social and economic turmoil in the United States. New York City was particularly hard hit by these conditions, resulting in a large demographic shift as residents moved from the economically depressed boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx into Manhattan. This migration created an enormous market for music, as well as a unique culture defined by its embrace of violence, drug use, and hedonism.

The origins of Hip Hop

The music of Africa was brought to the Americas by African slaves. This music then mixed with the music of the Native Americans and the music of Europe to create a new type of music: Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a type of music that is made by mixing together these different types of music. It is also a type of dance that is done to this type of music.

The influence of African music on Hip Hop

The music of Africa has been a great source of inspiration for Hip Hop artists all over the world. The rhythmic patterns and beats of African music have helped to shape the sound of Hip Hop. African music is also known for its call and response style, which is often used in Hip Hop songs.

The use of rhythm in Hip Hop

Hip hop is a music genre that emerged in the early 1970s in New York City. It is characterized by four elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Hip hop music is part of culture, which includes style of dress, language (slang), and attitudes.

African music was a major influence on the early development of hip hop. The use of rhythm in hip hop comes from the rhythmic elements found in African music. This can be seen in the way that hip hop artists use drum patterns and percussion instruments to create a steady beat. African music is also characterized by call and response vocals, which are often used in rap songs.

The African musical tradition has also influenced the way that hip hop artists use samples to create new tracks. Sampling is the process of taking a section of one track and using it in another track. This allows artists to create new tracks by combining different elements from other tracks. Hip hop artists often sample elements from African tracks, such as drums and percussion, to create new tracks with a unique sound.

The use of call and response in Hip Hop

Call and response is a musical form that was brought to the United States by African slaves. It is a form of music that is still used in many African countries today. The call and response form consists of a leader singing or chanting a phrase and the audience responding with either the same phrase or a different one. This back-and-forth between the leader and the audience creates a sense of community and togetherness.

The use of call and response can be seen in many Hip Hop songs. For example, in the song “Get Money” by Junior M.A.F.I.A., Biggie Smalls chants the phrase “Get Money” and the background singers respond with “Money, money, money.” This back-and-forth creates a sense of energy and excitement that is unique to Hip Hop music.

The use of call and response is just one way that African music has influenced Hip Hop. Other elements of African music, such as the use of percussion instruments and polyrhythms, have also been adopted by Hip Hop artists.

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