Two hip hop DJs creating new music by mixing tracks from multiple record players. Pictured are DJ Hypnotize (left) and Baby Cee (right)
MC Hero performing rhythmic rhyming known as rapping in Huntsville, Alabama.
Hip hop-style graffiti showing stylized, elaborate lettering and colorful cartoons.
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. 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, of which only four elements are considered essential to understand hip hop musically. The main elements of hip hop consist of four main pillars. Afrika Bambaataa of the hip hop collective Zulu Nation outlined the pillars of hip hop culture, coining the terms: "rapping" (also called MC or Microphone Commander), 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 fifth element is commonly considered either street knowledge, hip hop fashion, or beatboxing; however, it is often debated.
The Bronx hip hop scene emerged in the mid-1970s from neighborhood block parties thrown by the Black Spades, an African-American group that has been described as being a gang, a club, and a music group. 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 1990, while working with the rap group Snap!, Ronald "Bee-Stinger" Savage, a former member of the Zulu Nation, is credited for coining the term "Six elements of the Hip Hop Movement" by being inspired by Public Enemy's recordings. The "Six Elements Of The Hip Hop Movement" 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.
Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins, a member of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, has been credited with coining the term in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just joined the US Army by scat singing the made-up words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers. Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into his stage performance. The group frequently performed with disco artists who would refer to this new type of music by calling them "hip hoppers." The name was originally meant as a sign of disrespect but soon came to identify this new music and culture.
The song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang, released in 1979, begins with the phrase "I said a hip, hop the hippie the hippie to the hip hip hop, and you don't stop".Lovebug Starski — a Bronx DJ who put out a single called "The Positive Life" in 1981 — and DJ Hollywood then began using the term when referring to this new disco rap music. Bill Alder, an independent consultant, once said, "There was hardly ever a moment when rap music was underground, one of the very first so-called rap records, was a monster hit ("Rapper's Delight" by the Sugar Hill Gang on Sugarhill Records). Hip hop pioneer and South Bronx community leader Afrika Bambaataa also credits Lovebug Starski as the first to use the term "hip hop" as it relates to the culture. Bambaataa, former leader of the Black Spades, also did much to further popularize the term. The words "hip hop" first appeared in print on September 21, 1982, in The Village Voice in a profile of Bambaataa written by Steven Hager, who also published the first comprehensive history of the culture with St. Martins' Press.