Hip hop music is part of hip hop culture predominately among African Americans and Latinos (the other two elements are graffiti art and breakdancing). The reasons for the rise in hip hop music are found in the changing urban culture in the United States in the 1970’s. Beginning in the 1980’s, hip hop culture began its spread across the world. By taking the time to explain a fertile culture expression, students of hip hop music place at our disposal some of the most intriguing investigations of a powerful art form.
More than a musical style, hip-hop is a history of American culture, and a testimony by its artists of their life experiences. In 1985, when Run-DMC ordained themselves the “Kings of Rock,” in their lyrics of their hit song of the same name, they probably never imagined that one day they would be recognized as such. As the pioneers of hip-hop music, they convinced the world to dance to poetry with a beatbox. They invited anyone who would listen to “Walk This Way” in “My Adidas,” all the way to the top of VH1’s list of the “50 Greatest Hip-Hop Artists.” And in the words of the great Run-DMC themselves, “It’s like that! And that’s the way it is! Huh!”
VH1’s “50 Greatest Hip-Hop Artists” serves as a platform for hip-hop music’s superstars of the past, present and future to acknowledge their hip-hop peers. Proof that hip-hop music has woven itself into the fabric of American music and culture.
“50 Greatest Hip-Hop Artists” features archival clips, classic performances and exclusive interviews with the some of the world’s greatest entertainers. It also represents VH1’s recognition of hip-hop music as a significant music form and the integration of the genre into our music programming repertoire.
The lyrics found in hip hop music are expressions that are linked with cultural and societal feelings of an individual. Hip hop lyrics are known for their conversational quality. Hip hop lyrics are used to teach stylistic features, imagery, assonance, alliteration, rhythmic structure and rhyme are taught while basic literacy (vowels, consonants, blends, syllables and spelling) is embedded.
Hip hop lyrics typically employ inner-city slang with poetic devices such as alliteration, assonance and rhyme. The slang of hip hop lyrics may include words like, yo, dis, flow, phat and homie. Hip hop lyrics have been likened to what rock music lyrics used to be, and in some cases have taken the place of rock and folk songs within the culture. Hip hop lyrics contain many references that the listeners can relate to. Hip hop lyrics that tell of excess wealth and luxury of artists may connect to a group of individuals with such dreams.
As in the language, hip hop lyrics are poetry, but poetry with something more added to it. Some hip hop lyrics are extremely articulate in that they express a certain subject in a different form. Though it is true that many hip hop lyrics are slang it is also true that much of our commonly spoken language is slang and sometimes vulgar. Hence, allowing us to see that there is a difference between descriptive and prescriptive language.
Adding to the hip hop music and song lyrics, dancing is another element of the hip hop culture better known as the hip hop dance style. Hip hop dance is a collaborative movement that continually grows and evolves through individual improvisation. Hip hop dance is an art form that has the nation and world trying to one-two step or breakdance to krumping.
Hip hop music and dancing, or breaking, rose in the 1970’s and 1980’s, centered on urban communities of young dancers and musicians and their popular culture.
Hip hop dancing continues to evolve into many different forms today, heavily influenced by the evolution of music and its popularity in the media.
Hip-hop is a strenuous dance style that involves using the entire body to create sharp, expressive movements. As in all dance forms, hip hop dance is a technique with defined steps and movements that must be learned and practiced.