Musical Elements Of Hip Hop Music

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History & Elements

Lana Jackson


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Hip hop is both a culture and a lifestyle. As a musical genre it is characterized by its hard hitting beats and rhythms and expressive spoken word lyrics that address topics ranging from economic disparity and inequality, to gun violence and gang affiliated activity. Though the genre emerged with greater popularity in the 1970’s, the musical elements involved and utilized have been around for many years. In this paper, we will cover the history and
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Breakdancing, a form of dance that combines acrobatics with dance, also came originated in block parties and house parties. B-Boys, as well as B-Girls, would dance to the breaks in the music, hence the name.
Graffiti is an art form that was bred from the rebellion of youths. The first sighting of graffiti was seen on subways, and other impoverished areas around New York. This form involved what is called tagging , where the artist signs his or her name, nickname, or group name, on the side of a building or other surface. It is well known for its bold, colorful presence and intricate script. It is still prominent and visible in those areas of the Bronx today.
MCing, which stands for “master of ceremonies,” spawned the beginning of rap. In early hip hop music their presence within various works wasn’t the focal point. Early hip hop was focused more on rhythm and beat than vocals. Later, as the genre evolved, MC’s used their voices not solely to rouse the crowd and introduce house musical acts and house guests, but also to supplement the music. Many MC’s would utilize a Jamaican technique called toasting . MC’s would also vocally mimic and create their own beats to the music. The technique, as we know it today, is called beat boxing
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Rapping is simply a single element of hip hop music. Flava Flav of the group Public Enemy, speculates that rap and hip hop are sometimes differentiated by tempo.
"I think the element of hip-hop left when rap music started being created on a slow tempo...It just stayed there for years. Right now, a lot of rap music today is being created at very low tempos. There 's no more of that 'wave your hands in the air like you just don 't care ' - you know, something that makes you want to get out there and breakdance...Rap music has lost that element right now, mainly over in America. There’s not too many great hip-hop records out there, but there are some great rap records.” (“The Difference Between Rap & Hip-Hop,”

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