Hip hop culture
Learn more about Hip hop culture
Hip hop is a cultural movement that began among African American and Latino communities in the South Bronx in the late 1970s. Portions of the culture began spreading into the mainstream during the early 1980s; by the 1990s, hip hop culture had spread all over the world. The movement is said to have begun with the work of DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaattaa and Disco King Mario. These days the underground hip hop community is a growing force online, led by social network video sites like RapSpace.TV
The four main aspects, or "elements," of hip hop culture are MCing (rapping), DJing, urban inspired art (notably graffiti), and hip hop dance (notably breakdancing). Most consider knowledge, or "droppin' science," as the fifth element, while others consider beatboxing instead. Others might add political activism, hip hop fashion, hip hop slang, double dutching (an urban form of rope skipping), or other elements as important facets of hip hop. In mainstream spheres, the term "hip hop" typically refers only to hip hop music (or rap music), the music produced by the MCing and DJing aspects of hip hop culture.
Beatboxing, popularized by Doug E. Fresh, considered by many to be the "fifth element" of hip hop, is the vocal percussion of hip hop culture. It is primarily concerned with the art of creating beats, rhythms, and melodies using the human mouth. The term 'beatboxing' is derived from the mimicry of the first generation of drum machines, then known as beatboxes.
The art form enjoyed a strong presence in the '80s with artists like the Fat Boys and Biz Markie showing their beatboxing skills. Beatboxing declined in popularity along with breakdancing in the late '80s, and almost slipped even deeper than the underground. Beatboxing has been enjoying a resurgence since the late '90s, marked by the release of "Make the Music 2000." by Rahzel of The Roots (known for even singing while beatboxing) The Internet has greatly aided the rebirth of modern beatboxing—on a global level never seen before—with thousands of beatboxers from over a dozen countries interacting on the UK's Humanbeatbox.com.
Beatboxing has also recently branched beyond its traditional scope (mimicry of "beat boxes" to create hip hop beats) to several new stand alone forms. It is now widely practiced as a form of human Drum and Bass, a style of heavy electronic music. The range of sounds that can be reproduced by the human vocal cords is staggering to many unfamiliar with this musical practice.
 Graffiti art
An age old practice, graffiti holds special significance as one of the elements of hip hop culture. Graffiti as an urban art form has existed since at least the 1950s, but began developing in earnest in the late 1960s, and flourished during the 1970s.
Graffiti in hiphop began as a way of "tagging" for one's crew/gang, and developed during the 1970s on the subways of New York, and later expanded to the city walls themselves. This movement from trains to walls was encouraged by the efforts of New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to eradicate graffiti on their property (the M.T.A. officially declared the transit graffiti-free in 1989).
The first forms of subway graffiti were quick spray-painted or marker signatures ("tags"), which quickly evolved into large elaborate calligraphy, complete with color effects, shading, and more. As time went by, graffiti artistically developed and began to greatly define the aesthetic of urban areas. Many hip hop crews have made a name for themselves through their graffiti such as Afrika Bambaataa's Black Spades. By 1976, graffiti artists like Lee Quinones began painting entire murals using advanced techniques.
The book Subway Art (New York: Henry Holt & Co, 1984) and the TV program Style Wars (first shown on the PBS channel in 1984) were among the first ways the mainstream public were introduced to graffiti. Quickly, the rest of the globe imitated and adapted hip hop graffiti. Today, there are also strong scenes in Europe, South America, Australia and Japan.
Graffiti has long been villainized by those in authority, although very little graffiti has anything to do with gangs, violence and drugs. In most jurisdictions, creating graffiti art on public property without permission is a criminal offense punishable by fines and incarceration.
Breakdancing, also known as breaking, b-boying, or B-girling by its practitioners and followers, is a dynamic style of dance. The term "B-boy" originates from the dancers at DJ Kool Herc's parties, who saved their best dance moves for the break section of the song, getting in front of the audience to dance in a distinctive, frenetic style. Hence the "B" stands for break-boy (or girl). According to the documentary film The Freshest Kids, a history of the b-boy; DJ Kool Herc describes the b in b-boy as short for breaking which at the time was slang for "going off" also one of the original names for the dance. However early on the dance was known as the "boiong" (the sound a spring makes). Breaking was briefly documented for release to a world wide audience for the first time in Style Wars, and was later given a little more focus in the fictional film Beat Street. It was then documented properly in the critically acclaimed documentary feature film; The Freshest Kids, a history of the b-boy. (released in 2002).
B-boying is one of the major elements of hip hop culture, commonly associated with, but distinct from, "popping," "locking," "hitting," "ticking," "boogaloo," and other funk styles that evolved independently during the late 1960's in California. It was common during the 1980s to see a group of people with a radio on a playground, basketball court, or sidewalk performing a breakdancing show for a large audience.
Breaking began to take form in the South Bronx alongside the other elements of hip hop. A "burn" is when you humiliate your opponent. The name of the first B-Boy crew was The Zulu Kings.
"Hip-hop" as a form of dance is becoming more popular. Hip hop dance comes from breakdancing, but does not consist wholly of breakdancing moves. Unlike most other forms of dance, which are often at least moderately structured, hip hop dance has few (if any) limitations on positions or steps.
The entire history of b-boying has been documented in an outstanding, entertaining and inspiring film entitled; The Freshest Kids, a history of the b-boy. The film was produced and directed by Israel and was released in 2002 by Image Entertainment. The film chronicles the birth of b-boying and traces its evolution up until present day. The film features many early pioneers including Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Caz, The Nigger Twinz, The Bronx Boys, The Rock Steady Crew, New York City Breakers and a crop of today's most important b-boys such as Stylelements and also features members of the Electric Boogaloos and the important L.A. based Air Force Crew.
 'Other elements'
As it grew and developed into a multi million dollar industry, the scope of hip hop culture grew beyond the boundaries of its traditional four elements. KRS-ONE, a rapper from the golden age of hip hop, names nine elements of hip hop culture: the traditional four and beatboxing, plus street fashion, street language, street knowledge, and street entrepreneurism. He also suggests that hip hop is a cultural movement the word itself had to reflect this. He spells it Hiphop (one word, capital "h") and this is reflected in his Temple of Hiphop. KRS-One's philosophy of slightly more progressive in some ways compared to his contemporaries and isn't necessarily right nor wrong, however he is one of strongest leaders championing hip hop's (Hiphop's) place in the world.
 External links
- BBoy Zone Breakdance Community - Includes music directory with tons of hip hop songs!
- Freestyle Session - Biggest online community for Bboy Related events.
 See also
- (1999) Light, Alan, ed. The VIBE History of Hip-Hop. New York: Three Rivers Press.als:Hip-Hop
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