What’s Hip Hop Music?

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


What’s Hip Hop Music? is a question that gets asked a lot. There is no one answer to this question, as Hip Hop music is a genre that is constantly evolving. However, there are some key elements that are typically found in Hip Hop music, such as rhyming, sampling, and scratching. If you’re curious about what Hip Hop music is, or want to learn more about it, check out this blog post!


Hip hop music, also called rap music, is a music genre that originated in the United States in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted.

African American culture

African American culture, also known as black culture, is the dominant cultural group in the United States. It is based on a set of shared values, experiences, and beliefs that have been passed down through generations. African American culture is often reflects the struggles and triumphs of the black community in America.

Music is an important part of African American culture. Hip hop, R&B, gospel, and jazz are all genres that have been influenced by African American culture. African American musicians have helped to shape these genres and make them popular around the world.

Other aspects of African American culture include traditional foods like soul food and southern food, uniquestyles of dress, and the way that people speak. African American English, or Ebonics, is a distinctive way of speaking that includes elements from both standard English and black vernacular English.

DJing and MCing

DJing and MCing are the two main pillars of hip hop music. DJing is the art of playing recorded music, usually on vinyl records, in a way that is creative and entertaining. MCing is the art of rhyming over a beat in a way that is creative and entertaining.


When discussing the commercialization of hip hop, many people believe that it has lost its originality and is no longer “true” hip hop. However, commercialization can be seen as a good thing, as it has allowed hip hop to reach a wider audience and has helped to make it more mainstream.

Rap music

Rap music is a type of popular music that came out of the hip hop subculture in the United States in the 1970s. It typically consists of a spoken rhyme over a backing track, and has been a part of American pop culture since the 1980s. The term “rap” can refer to either the musical genre or the act of speaking rhythmically over a beat.

In its earliest form, rap music was often used by African American artists as a way to express their social and political opinions, and to tell stories about their lives. As the genre developed, it began to be adopted by other cultures around the world. Today, rap music is one of the most popular genres in the world, and artists like Eminem, Jay-Z, and Kendrick Lamar have helped bring it into the mainstream.

Hip hop fashion

While the African American community is commonly associated with hip hop, people of all cultures and races have embraced the culture. The evolution of hip hop fashion has been heavily influenced by rappers and producers in the music industry, as well as by celebrities, athletes, and mainstream fashion designers.

One of the most identifiable aspects of hip hop fashion is the “bling” or “flashy” jewelry worn by many rappers and fans of the genre. This style is often characterized by oversized gold or diamond rings, chains, and pendants. Another trademark of hip hop fashion is “throwback jerseys.” These are retro sports jerseys that are often worn oversized and baggy.

Hip hop fashion has also been popularized by mainstream fashion designers such as Marc Jacobs, Tommy Hilfiger,Baby Phat, Akademiks, Sean John, and Ralph Lauren. These designers have included hip hop-inspired elements in their runway shows and collections. In recent years, there has also been a growing trend of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton collaborating withhip hop artists on limited edition products.

Hip hop dance

In the 1970s, young people in New York City created a new style of dance called “breaking” or “b-boying.” Powerful and athletic, it was featured in movies like “Flashdance” and TV shows like “Soul Train.” But it was in the early 1990s that hip hop dance really exploded in popularity, thanks to the popular television show “In Living Color.” The show featured a dance troupe called the Fly Girls, who performed high-energy routines set to hip hop music.


The globalization of hip hop music has allowed for the spread of the genre around the world. This has been helped by the internet and social media, which have made it easier for people to access music from other cultures. Globalization has also allowed for the exchange of ideas between different cultures, which has led to the evolution of the genre.

Hip hop in the United States

Hip hop music first gained mainstream popularity in the United States with the release of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979. His 1978 song “Christmas in Hollis”, from the album A Very Special Christmas, is often played on American radio stations during the holiday season. In the 1980s, hip hop culture became associated with a subculture known as b-boys or break-dancers. DJ Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term to describe the music and culture that surrounded him at block parties in New York City.

In the late 1980s, gangsta rap became widely popular with groups such as N.W.A and Ice Cube. Hip hop peaked in mainstream popularity beginning in 1995 with hits such as “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio, followed by another period of mainstream success from 1998–1999 marked by songs like “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot and “California Love” by 2Pac featuring Roger Troutman. After a decline in mainstream popularity around 2006–2007, new genres such as alternative hip hop and trap music began to gain popularity; trap reached mainstream success with hits like “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap and “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)” by Silentó in 2015–2016 respectively. In 2018, Billboard reported that hip hop was the biggest music genre of the previous decade.

Hip hop in the United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, hip hop developed in the 1980s, primarily amongst second and third generation black youths from Caribbean backgrounds. The influence of US rap music was initially most apparent in London’s inner city districts such as Brixton, Hackney and Lambeth. Prominent British rappers include Lethal Bizzle, Dizzee Rascal, Wiley, JME and Chip. Hip hop producers such as Goldie introduced the breakbeat to a wider audience by fusing it with elements from other genres including rock and roll and drum and bass. This resulted in what has been termed “jungle music”.160 UK garage also evolved within the underground rave scene towards the late 1990s; it was characterised by sub-bass16’1 basslines co-produced with two step rhythms at around 140 bpm.

In contrast to US rap music, British hip hop has focused on issues of race and racism, rather than those of class and post-industrialism. Prominent themes in British hip hop include urban regeneration policy, poverty and crime.

Hip hop in Japan

During the 1980s, hip hop culture in Japan was heavily influenced by African American culture and music, particularly that of Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions. Japanese hip hop generally has a reputation as being a more commercially viable form of rap, and is known for its blend of East Coast and West Coast rap styles. Japanese hip hop is sometimes referred to as J-rap.

During the 1990s, the mainstreamJapanese music industry embraced hip hop, with groups such as East End X Yuri becoming popular. Hip hop became increasingly popular in Japan during the late 1990s and 2000s, with artists such as Kreva, Rhymester, Seeda, Twigy and Zeebra becoming household names. In 2011, two Japanese hip hop acts Chart Data released albums that peaked at number one on the Billboard Japan Top Albums chart: Macka-Chin’s Firstonics and DJ Mitsu the Beats’ Unified Physics.

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