Hip-hop is a genre of music that usually has a powerful, rhythmic beat and a rap vocal recording. It is one of the most popular music genres in the U.S. The genre started in New York in the 1970s as a cultural interchange between the Black, Latino, and Caribbean. The four basic foundations of hip-hop culture are DJing, rapping (also known as MCing), breakdancing (also known as b-boying), and graffiti.

Origin of Hip Hop

The Bronx neighborhood of New York was the birthplace of early hip-hop music in the 1970s. It began as a cooperative effort by overlapping Black, Latino, and Caribbean American youth groups during block parties. At these neighborhood events, D.J. played soul and funk music. Longer percussive breaks (also known as “breakbeats” or simply “the breaks”), turntable tricks, scratching, freestyle, and improvised vocals based on Jamaican “toasting” were some of the new techniques that N.Y.C. D.J.s like Grand Wizard Theodore, DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa started experimenting with during parties.

Sugarhill Gang’s song – Rapper’s Delight, is the first hip-hop hit and established hip-hop as a legitimate genre. The song peaked at number 40 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1979. Hip-hop became trendy in the 1980s. Numerous musicians started introducing fresh concepts to the genre. New ideas then emerged, including using drum kits—especially the 808—more complex sampling techniques and metaphoric rap lyrics. Also, more extensive collaboration with different genres, including electro music.

How Hip-Hop Gained Popularity

Hip-hop also gained popularity abroad in the 1980s, particularly in the U.K., Japan, and Australia. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message” were notable tracks. Hip-hop’s golden era was in the late 1980s and early 1990s when several artists achieved enormous popular success. They made significant breakthroughs with each new record they released.

Snoop Dogg, Notorious B.I.G., MC Hammer, Boogie Down Productions, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, and Big Daddy Kane were notable musicians. Public Enemy, Tupac Shakur, and Public Enemy are also among the biggest hip-hop stars. Gangsta rap is a subgenre that focuses specifically on the way of life of inner-city adolescents. Performers like Schoolly D, Ice-T, and N.W.A popularized it. Hip-hop gained popularity in the late 1990s and gave rise to several well-known performers, like Jay-Z, Ja Rule, D.M.X., Eminem, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne, Timbaland, Nelly, and Puff Daddy. The Grammys introduced the Best Rap Album award in  1995, and Naughty by Nature was the first winner.


Hip-hop generally has a steady beat that unifies the song. This beat moves the piece along smoothly and provides a backdrop for the vocal line, whether it’s quick and aggressive or slower and laid-back. Most hip-hop beats aren’t just straightforward drum beats; beat-making is a complex and diversified art form that gives rise to other songs and sounds. Rapping is the primary vocal technique used in most hip-hop songs; it is a rhythmic, typically rhymed chant that interacts with the beat. The spoken word, singing, autotune, and ad-libs are additional vocal techniques.

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