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The History Hip-Hop Culture

Executive Summary

Hip-Hop culture emerged in the Bronx, in New York City some 30 years ago. It is the subculture that has been involved with four elements, rap, graffiti, break dancing, and disk jockey. Most of the historical studies prove the fact that Hip-Hop was the contribution of the low class, who occupied the empty buildings which were deserted by the middle class. Though different names have been heard associated with the origin of this culture, most believe that the seven boys of Bronx called “Savage Seven” as the inventors of this stream. Some also believe that it was Kool DJ Herc who migrated to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, and settled in the West Bronx of New York. Different factors have helped in the development of this culture.

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The telecast of Hip-Hop dance and music on the television and the radio could create a stir in the minds of the audience and made many fans of this culture, especially music and dance. From the Bronx, it moved to a different part of the world. As African youngsters were the chief followers of this culture, it was coarse and aggressive at the beginning, but later it attracted the attention of many, including Fidel Castro, who appreciated it and commented that it is capable of producing enjoyment. Hip-Hop has exerted its influence in business life also. Now a day those who are in this fielded regard it as the most profitable field that offers monetary rewards as well as popularity to them.


Hip-Hop is an art form involved with various art forms that have overpowered the minds of people for a long time. Within the very limited period of its debut, it could exert its predominant place in the world of art and be capable of raising the aesthetic level of its different viewers. As it has become the part of daily life, later it has been named as the Hip-Hop culture or “the genre that emerged from basement parties in the Sedgwick Avenue apartment building of The Bronx, in New York City some 30 years ago, has ripened to a social, cultural and corporate phenomenon.”

(Robinson 2009). To study culture is somewhat difficult particularly when it is involved with various sections and various aspects and has exerted its great influence in the later history of the African American cultures. Even an onlooker is capable of realizing the magnificent effect of this culture in the social and cultural life of the African, American people. The beginning era of the Hip-Hop culture is marked with presentations of one’s innate qualities; his musical or lyrical qualities, dancing, and it was a podium for presenting a community’s struggles and shortcomings. A historical analysis will reveal the reality that Hip-Hop with the bundle of art, dance, culture, language, and fashion spread in the areas of the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia. It is much later, as one can see, it developed in the U.S. and swelled in American cities. This report, with help of secondary research analyses the historical evolution of Hip-Hop culture; Hip-Hop music, dance, art, culture, language, and fashion. For better results of the report, web articles, books, journals, etc. are analyzed and evaluated.


Hip-Hop culture cannot claim the history of many years. The breaking and the original happy mood make it quite different in style. Improvisational nature, the cultural influence of African American and Hispanic groups, the music to which they danced are the surrounding elements of Hip hop. In the 1980s Hip-Hop music has changed and formed and established a new dance form. The new form was designed with lots of jumping instead of traditional dance steps with the number of ground steps. After the analysis of the steps of hip hop, one can easily find the strong influence of fad dance. Three major events took place in the city of the Bronx and these events led to the birth of the hop subculture.

One of the major events is that the replacement of the middle-class German, Irish, and Italians in the city of Bronx. It was replaced by poor Blacks and Hispanic groups. In his journal article entitled The Evolution of Rap Music in the United States, Henry A. Rhodes states that: “As a result, the middle-class Italian, German, Irish, and Jewish neighborhoods disappeared overnight. In addition, businesses and factories relocated and left this borough.” (Rhodes 2009). The migration of middle-class people from Bronx city to well-known apartments caused the formation of several empty buildings. The third and immediate cause for the formation of Hip-Hop culture is the emergence of a group of seven teenage boys who began to concentrate on the Southeast Bronx with the nickname ‘Savage Seven’ (Rhodes 2009). When analyzing the history of Hip-Hop subculture, one can find that the chief exponents of this movement were the members of different groups.

From the analysis of different historical studies, it is understood that the Hip-Hop genre emerged in the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, and Asia and later it spread almost all parts of the world, especially in America. Historical evidence shows that Hip-Hop genre began in the streets of New York for thirty years and has been subjected to various changes in the long run. Hip-Hop is comprised of four elements; rap, graffiti, break-dancing, and disc jockey.

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Most of the studies prove that the Hip-Hop culture appeared first in “1970s upon the arrival of a one Kool DJ Herc. The chief proponent of this genre was Kool DJ Herc migrated to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, and settled in the West Bronx of New York.” (Alexander). Kool DJ Herc was a disc jockey who tried to apply his Jamaican style of music in disc jockeying. The disc jockeying of that time involved reciting improvised rhymes over reggae records. As he was not much interested in reggae, he tried his luck in other sounds that could please the audience. It is this attempt that led him to be the founder of one of the most popular genres of modern times, Hip-Hop genre. He invented by using an audio mixer and attempted to play any sound segment over and over and thus by extending the one segment of the entire song.

It created a stir in the urban community of New York, and many people were attracted to it and they felt it as a system that knew no boundaries. One of the main features that attracted them was it had no hard and fast rules, except with the rhyme and the beat of the music. One could sing of the issues that are related to one’s life of very simple things. As the popularity of Hip-Hop increased, many were attracted to it, and a lot of improvisations and techniques like “cutting” (moving between tracks exactly on the beat), “back spinning” (manually turning records to repeat brief snippets of sound), and “phasing” (manipulating turntable speeds), etc. have been attempted on it.

There had formed different rapper groups and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, Sugar Hill Gangs were some of them. The rappers brought themes from ordinary life and expressed the hard realities of life in the ghetto. It may be assumed that the portrayal of real-life contributed that much popularity to the Hip-Hop culture. By the 1980s, as the historical evidence show, its popularity rocketed and many people began to recognize the profitability of this growing field. The television broadcast of Hip Hop, through channels like MTV (Music Television), brought its popularity even among the suburban people. From the Bronx, its popularity spread out to Los Angels and California. Even radio stations were being established in recognition of their vast popularity. Different rapper groups conducted various tour programs that attracted the attention of the main audience and it gained many fans.

Now one can see the influence of Hip-Hop in various parts of the world and it has become the language of the youth. Most of the third world countries have recognized it as a means to express resistance once. Some of the countries regard it as the voice of the oppressed people. In his article, “The Genre and the Rest of the World” Desi K. Robinson comments about the vast influence of this genre in the different parts of the world and makes the following comments. When he views Cuba, he remarks that in “Cuba, Hip-Hop was initially viewed with suspicion, not just by the government, but by many in the community as well.” (Robinson 2009). He continues to say that the Hip-Hop culture was just another American cultural invasion that caused violence and problems in the street. But later the concept changed and even Fidel Castro regarded it as a suitable revolutionary art form. The rap scene in Australia was somewhat different compared to other nations as it is involved with the continuous quest for identity in post-colonial and post-war Australia. It is Africa and the Caribbean that celebrated the international impact of Hip-Hop and they propounded a new style called “rapso” in Trinidad. When evaluating the rap scenes in Africa, Robinson comments that Hip-Hop had tremendous influence in Senegal, South Africa, and Tanzania. By quoting the words of the U.S. Department of State, Robinson writes, “now the center of a mega music and fashion industry around the world that crosses social barriers and cuts across racial lines.” (Robinson 2009).

Key Artists & Musical Works

It is difficult to put together a list of all-time greats in Hip-Hop primarily due to the personal likes and dislikes of individual music lovers. In such a situation, it is better to rely on reliable sources that have access to and compiled a list of artists from the preferences of a large number of music lovers. This is what is proposed in this section. According to America Online, the following artists are among all-time greats of Hip-Hop music. The top ten according to a web publication by AOL include “Soulja Boy Tell Em, T.I., Eminem, Kanye West, 50 Cent, Plies, Flo Rida, Bow Wow, Gucci Mane, and 2Pac.” (Hip-Hop artists 2009). The above list is ranked by their current popularity and standings. But it should be noted that this list could change since the popularity in the music world is fickle and also very difficult to maintain. But it is proposed to have a brief review of the above ten since they are among all-time greats of this form of music. Hip-Hop is essentially an evolution of rap music as is seen from the biography of the individuals or groups mentioned above.

Soulja Boy Tell Em whose real name is DeAndre Ramone Way is now only nineteen years old. This is an indication that Hip-Hop is more of youth music when compared to older musical styles such as jazz, blues, or even rap. All these forms of music have been around for some time. In a sense, this form of music is very young in terms of its popularity and its stars. “T.I. is a Southern-based rapper from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Known for his rapid-fire delivery of lyrics, he is known as the “King Of The South”. He is also known as T.I.P. or The Rubberband Man.” (T.I: biography 2007). So, Hip-Hop requires athleticism and rhythm even though the melody is not seen as a requirement in this genre of music. Eminem is also classified as a rap cum Hip-Hop artiste. Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, has to his credit Academy and Grammy awards apart from a host of other recognitions. He must be among the older hip-hop artists since he is around twenty-seven years of age. Kanye West is more than a singer or rapper. His talent covers producing apart from being a rapper and hip-hop artist. The metal chin to replace the damage caused in a car accident while returning from a late-night recording adds to his allure as a musician. His debut album sold nearly half a million copies, and it speaks volumes of his talent in this genre. Curtis James Jackson calls himself 50 cents in his life as a hip-hop artist and rapper.

A boxer turned musician, he did not have any great initial successes like Kanye West and came up the hard way. So far, a majority of top artists in the Hip-Hop genre are colored which speaks about the musical and rhythmic talent that is seen in this community. It is no wonder that this community has been able to popularize other genres of music like jazz and blues. Hip Hopper whose real name is Algernon Lanier Washington is again a colored artist who has been able to make a name for himself in the world of American popular music. His elder brother was also a musician and helped him in his early years. He was a musician who tasted success with his debut album ‘Shawty’. Flo Rida born Tramar Dillard is again an African American like the majority of Hip-Hop rap artists mentioned above. “Through the music industry relationships he cultivated, Flo Rida met DeVante Swing of the group Jodeci and headed west to Los Angeles, California to pursue a music career.” (Lamp 2009). Flo Rida joins a group of young hip-hop artists who became famous with their debut albums. He started his career as a teenager and toured with his with 2 Live Crew’s Fresh Kid Ice and is popping up on high profiles. Bow Vow is one of the notable artists who gained popularity with his rap debut on Beware of Dog (2000).

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Though he faced difficulties at the beginning of his career, he managed to overcome them and now towers over other Hip-Hop artists by acquiring the eighth rank. He is now growing as a mature artist with his various albums. The Notorious B.I.G is an American rapper, one of the greatest rappers of America who became very popular in the world of rappers with his notable albums. Ready to Die is his debut studio album that was released on 13th September 1994. Hardcore Hip-Hop is his partly autobiographical album that tells his own story as a young criminal. He refers to himself in the album as “the black Frank White”. It gained him much popularity as a rapper and it gained strong reviews and great commercial success. Ready to Die is one of the top hip-hop albums of all time. In this album, Biggie tells about everyday struggles and the hardships of coming up in B K. It contains much charisma, in-depth storytelling, and tricky word-play. Interestingly the production matched his grimy voice. So it attracts the listener on the very first listening. This is not exclusively for Hip-Hop fans but for all types of listeners who like music.

Business Influence

When looking at the business side of Hip-Hop one can see that it has now become one of the most profitable fields of the modern world. The participants and the practitioners of Hip-Hop music and Hip-Hop dance are now paid well and many youngsters come to this field attracted with the payment. An analysis will reveal the reality that Hip-Hop is the field that acquires more money than the traditional music genres like pop, rock, and country. These traditional music genres make money by selling albums and touring. But hip-hop has spawned an impressive cadre of musicians-cum-entrepreneurs who have parlayed their fame into profitable entertainment empires. The most famous name in rap is that of Russell Simmons. He is considered as the “Godfather of Hip-Hop.” He’s the businessman who took hip-hop music from the inner-city streets of New York to the shopping malls of Middle America. Eighty percent of the hip-hop audience is white and they have made it a ten billion dollar industry.


From the various researches conducted for the study, the researcher has concluded that Hip-Hop culture has been deeply rooted in the modern world. Hip-Hop culture is comprised of music, dance, art, and language. It is the field that attracts the attention of the youngsters who are bewitched by the sudden popularity and the monetary benefits. Though it originated in The Bronx, in New York City, later it emerged as a dominating culture that could exert its influence in various parts of one’s life.


Alexander, Bey, Hip Hop’s musical evolution of rap, Born and Raised in the New York City, Web.

Hip-Hop artists: hot Hip-Hop artists 2009, AOL Music, Web.

Lamp, Bill 2009, Flo rida: return to Florida, Top40/Pop, Web.

Robinson, Desi K 2009, The genre and the rest of the world, NB The New Black Magazine, Web.

Rhodes, Henry A 2009, The evolution of rap music in the United States, Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, Web.

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T.I: biography 2007, Hip-Hop Galaxy, Web.

2pac biography 2009, AOL Music, Web.

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