Hip Hop culture comprises mainly of four elements: emceeing (MC-ing), deejaying (DJ-ing), Breakdancing (breaking) and graffiti. There also other fringe elements associated with Hip Hop culture such as the trends in the clothing styles, the particular slang, rap music, and the over-all mind-set and attitude.
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New York City, especially the Bronx area, is associated with the rise and proliferation of the Hip Hop culture as a sub-cultural offshoot of the African-American and Latin-American cultures in the early seventies. The music and dancing were first performed at the block and house parties, on schoolyards, and later in clubs, by existing and former gang members belonging to the marginal communities who made use of their talents to change their angst and resentment into creative and meaningful social and cultural experiences. It is commonly believed that MCs were recruited as an alternative to coin-operated jukeboxes to play the records or discs with some conversations and dialogues included as live entertainment.
Deejaying first began as a type of mixing music using two turntables and generating beats and rhythms by ‘looping breaks’ that is made by short segments of the songs in a percussion pattern. This is done by the ‘disc jockeys’ or the DJs, for short. Later, rap songs became popular. These songs follow the similar rhythmic techniques as the DJs as the accompaniment and consist of 16 bar measured poetical stanzas, and delivered by the MCs or rappers using beat-boxing technique that imitates the DJ’s beats. The words of the songs were of local slang used in this area, but later on, as the rap music developed, new words or new meanings of words were derived by the rap artists.
In a similar development, breakdancing developed from the dancing girls and boys during the ‘breaks’ in the music. This later evolved into an original form of dancing along with its own dress styles, music and language. This dress and language styles are adopted even by the fans and the audience. The distinctive ground fighting movements like windmills, caterpillar-rolls, worms and kip-ups of the Breakers developed into an original dancing art form.
The Graffiti is also considered as a disputed concept because it involves vandalism. Graffiti are paintings that are made using spray-cans on other people’s walls. The paintings are not permanent as others keep adding or over-painting. The paintings are also not the product of a single artist but by a group of them, each with his own style and ability.
There is a view that the Hip Hop culture is dominated by anti-social elements such as drugs, violence and even sexual discrimination. This ‘gangsta’ rap style is popular among some sections of the public. However, the Hip Hop culture can also be seen as a medium of expression for the minority communities to air their views regarding social issues like civil rights and discrimination.
The Hip Hop culture has now become a multi-million dollar commercial business with consumers spread across the world for its music, dancing and other elements. And, the popular rappers like Ice-T, Ice-cube, and N.W.A. are idolized by teens everywhere.
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