Hip hop or hip-hop is a subculture and art movement developed in The Bronx in New York City during the late 1970s. The origins of the word are often disputed. Some believe that the word was invented by Keith Cowboy of The Furious Five. Others believe it was a derogatory name for the people who practise the art and wear the relative clothing. It is also argued as to whether hip hop started in the South or West Bronx. While the term hip hop is often used to refer exclusively to hip hop music (also called rap), hip hop is characterized by nine elements, however only four elements are considered most necessary to understand hip-hop musically. The main elements of hip-hop consist of four main pillars. The 5th element is commonly considered either street knowledge, hip hop fashion or beatboxing however it is often debated.
Afrika Bambaataa of the hip hop collective Zulu Nation outlined the pillars of hip hop culture, coining the terms: “rapping” (also called MCing or emceeing), a rhythmic vocal rhyming style (orality); DJing (and turntablism), which is making music with record players and DJ mixers (aural/sound and music creation); b-boying/b-girling/breakdancing (movement/dance); and graffiti art. Other elements of hip hop subculture and arts movements beyond the main four are: hip hop culture and historical knowledge of the movement (intellectual/philosophical); beatboxing, a percussive vocal style; street entrepreneurship; hip hop language; and hip hop fashion and style, among others.
The Bronx hip hop scene emerged in the mid-1970s from neighborhood block parties thrown by the Ghetto Brothers, a Puerto Rican group that has been described as being a gang, a club, and a music group. Members of the scene plugged in the amplifiers for their instruments and PA speakers into the lampposts on 163rd Street and Prospect Avenue and used their live music events to break down racial barriers between African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, Whites and other ethnic groups. Jamaican immigrant DJ Kool Herc also played a key role in developing hip hop music. At 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, Herc mixed samples of existing records and deejayed percussion “breaks”, mixing this music with his own Jamaican-style “toasting” (a style of chanting and boastful talking over a microphone) to rev up the crowd and dancers. Kool Herc is credited as the “father” of hip hop for developing the key DJ techniques that, along with rapping, founded the hip hop music style by creating rhythmic beats by looping “breaks” (small portions of songs emphasizing a percussive pattern) on two turntables. This was later accompanied by “rapping” or “MCing” and beatboxing. An original form of dancing called breakdancing, which later became accompanied by popping, locking and other dance styles, which was done to the accompaniment of hip hop songs played on boom boxes and particular fashion styles also developed.
Art historian Robert Farris Thompson describes the youth from the South Bronx in the early 1970s as “English-speaking blacks from Barbados” like Grandmaster Flash, “black Jamaicans” like DJ Kool Herc who introduced the rhythms from salsa music, as well as Afro conga and bongo drums, as well as many who emulated the sounds of Tito Puente and Willie Colón. These youths mixed these influences with existing musical styles associated with African-Americans prior to the 1970s, from jazz to funk. Hip hop music became popular outside of the African-American community in the late-1980s, with the mainstream commercial success of Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and then emerging hip hop movements such as the Native Tongues, Daisy Age and then later (in the early 1990s) gangsta rap. Critic Greg Tate described the hip hop movement as “the only avant-garde still around, still delivering shock” of newness to the wealthy bourgeoisie. Ronald Savage, known by the nickname Bee-Stinger, who was a former member of the Zulu Nation, coined the term “six elements of the hip hop movement”. The “six elements of the hip hop novement” are: Consciousness awareness, civil rights awareness, activism awareness, justice, political awareness, and community awareness in music. Ronald Savage is known as the Son of The Hip Hop Movement.
Hip hop culture has spread to both urban and suburban communities throughout the United States and subsequently the world. These elements were adapted and developed considerably, particularly as the art forms spread to new continents and merged with local styles in the 1990s and subsequent decades. Even as the movement continues to expand globally and explore myriad styles and art forms, including hip hop theater and hip hop film, the four foundational elements provide coherence and a strong foundation for hip hop culture. Hip hop is simultaneously a new and old phenomenon; the importance of sampling tracks, beats and basslines from old records to the art form means that much of the culture has revolved around the idea of updating classic recordings, attitudes, and experiences for modern audiences. Sampling older culture and reusing it in a new context or a new format is called “flipping” in hip hop culture. Hip hop music follows in the footsteps of earlier African-American-rooted musical genres such as blues, jazz, rag-time, funk, and disco to become one of the most practiced genres worldwide. It is the language of urban environments and the youth around the world. According to KRS-One, “Hip hop is the only place where you see Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have A Dream Speech’ in real life”. He also notes that hip hop is beyond something as race, gender or nationality, it belongs to the world.
In the 2000s, with the rise of new media platforms and Web 2.0, fans discovered and downloaded or streamed hip hop music through social networking sites (SNS) beginning with Myspace, as well as from websites like YouTube, Worldstarhiphop, SoundCloud, and Spotify