Traditionally, a DJ will use two turntables simultaneously. These are connected to a DJ mixer, an amplifier, speakers, and various other pieces of electronic music equipment. The DJ will then perform various tricks between the two albums currently in rotation using the above listed methods. The result is a unique sound created by the seemingly combined sound of two separate songs into one song. A DJ should not be confused with a producer of a music track (though there is considerable overlap between the two roles).
In the early years of hip hop, the DJs were the stars, but their limelight has been taken by MCs since 1978, thanks largely to Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash's crew, the Furious Five. However, a number of DJs have gained stardom nonetheless in recent years. Famous DJs include Grandmaster Flash, Mr. Magic, DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Scratch from EPMD, DJ Premier from Gang Starr, DJ Scott La Rock from Boogie Down Productions, DJ Pete Rock of Pete Rock & CL Smooth, DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill, Jam Master Jay from Run-DMC, Eric B., Funkmaster Flex, Tony Touch, DJ Clue, DJ Q-Bert. The underground movement of turntablism has also emerged to focus on the skills of the DJ.
The relationship between graffiti and hip hop culture arises both from early graffiti artists practicing other aspects of hip hop, and its being practiced in areas where other elements of hip hop were evolving as art forms. Graffiti is recognized as a visual expression of rap music, just as breakdancing is viewed as a physical expression. 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 hip hop graffiti.
B-boying, also known as breaking or B-girling (for women) by its practitioners and followers, is a dynamic style of dance. Breaking began to take form in the South Bronx alongside the other elements of hip hop. The "B" in B-boy stands for break, as in break-boy (or girl).The term "B-boy" originated 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. 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. The Zulu Kings are believed to be earliest B-Boy "crew."
BBoying 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 1960s 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 bboy show for a large audience.
The art form enjoyed a strong presence in the '80s with artists like the Darren "Buffy, the Human Beat Box" Robinson of the Fat Boys and Biz Markie showing their beatboxing skills. Beatboxing declined in popularity along with break dancing 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).
As it grew and developed into a multi-billion 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 hip hop fashion, hip hop slang, street knowledge, and street entrepreneurship. He also suggests that hip hop is a cultural movement and that the word itself had to reflect this. He spells it Hiphop (one word, capital "h") and this is reflected in his Temple of Hiphop.
People live in an age where the media, particularly from the United States, greatly impacts and influences people's thoughts around the world. People's ideas are heavily inspired by movies, books, articles, but one form of mass communication that deeply influences people around the world in particular is hip hop music. One person that helps describe the phenomenon of how hip hop spread rapidly around the world and diffusion of Global Culture is Orlando Patterson, a sociology professor at Harvard University. Professor Patterson argues that mass communication is controlled by the wealthy, government, and businesses in Third World nations and countries around the world.
Professor Patterson believes that mass communication created a global cultural hip hop scene. As a result, the youth absorb and are influenced by the American hip hop scene and start their own form of hip hop. Professor Patterson believes that revitalization of hip hop music will occur around the world as traditional values are mixed with American hip hop musical forms, and ultimately a global exchange process will develop that brings youth around the world to listen to a common musical form known as hip hop.
Sometimes, terms like what the dilly, yo are popularized by a single song (in this case, "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See" by Busta Rhymes) and are only used briefly. Of special importance is the rule-based slang of Snoop Dogg and E-40, who add -izz to the middle of words so that shit becomes shizznit (the addition of the n occurs occasionally as well). This practice, with origins in Frankie Smith's nonsensical language from his 1980 single "Double Dutch Bus", has spread to even non-hip hop fans, who may be unaware of its derivation. As a genre of music popular all over the world, World hip hop, in which African-American English is not the dialect used, is as prevalent as ever.
Hip hop has probably encountered more problems with censorship than any other form of popular music in recent years, due to the frequency of expletives used in lyrics. It also receives flak for being anti-establishment, and many of its songs depict wars and coup d'états that in the end overthrow the government. For example, Public Enemy's "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need" was edited without their permission, removing the words "free Mumia".
After the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, Oakland, California group The Coup was under fire for the cover art on their Party Music, which featured the group's two members holding a detonator as the Twin Towers exploded behind them. Ironically, this art was created months before the actual event. The group, having politically radical and Marxist lyrical content, said the cover meant to symbolize the destruction of capitalism. Their record label pulled the album until a new cover could be designed.
The use of profanity as well as graphic depictions of violence and sex creates challenges in the broadcast of such material both on television stations such as MTV, in music video form, and on radio. As a result, many hip hop recordings are broadcast in censored form, with offending language "bleeped" or blanked out of the soundtrack (though usually leaving the backing music intact), or even replaced with "clean" lyrics. The result – which sometimes renders the remaining lyrics unintelligible or contradictory to the original recording – has become almost as widely identified with the genre as any other aspect of the music, and has been parodied in films such as Austin Powers in Goldmember, in which Mike Myers' character Dr. Evil – performing in a parody of a hip hop music video ("Hard Knock Life" by Jay-Z) – performs an entire verse that is blanked out. In 1995 Roger Ebert wrote:
Rap has a bad reputation in white circles, where many people believe it consists of obscene and violent anti-white and anti-female guttural. Some of it does. Most does not. Most white listeners don't care; they hear black voices in a litany of discontent, and tune out. Yet rap plays the same role today as Bob Dylan did in 1960, giving voice to the hopes and angers of a generation, and a lot of rap is powerful writing."
In a way to circumvent broadcasting regulations BET has created a late-night segment called "Uncut" to air uncensored videos. Not only has this translated into greater sales for mainstream artists, it has also provided an outlet for undiscovered artists to grab the spotlight with graphic but low production quality videos, often made cheaply by non-professionals. Perhaps the most notorious video aired, which for many came to exemplify BET's program Uncut, was "Tip Drill" by Nelly. While no more explicit than other videos, its exploitative depiction of women, particularly of a man swiping a credit card between a stripper's buttocks, was seized upon by many social activists for condemnation. The segment was discontinued in mid 2006.
The symbiotic relationship has also stretched to include car manufacturers, clothing designers and sneaker companies, and many other companies have used the hip-hop community to make their name or to give the credibility. One such beneficiary was Jacob the Jeweler, a diamond merchant from New York, Jacob Arabo's clientèle included Sean Combs, Lil Kim and Nas. He created jewelry pieces from precious metals that were heavily loaded with diamond and gemstones. As his name was mentioned in the song lyrics of his hip hop customers, his profile quickly rose. Arabo expanded his brand to include gem-encrusted watches that retail for hundreds of thousands of dollars, gaining so much attention that Cartier filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against him for putting diamonds on the faces of their watches and reselling them without permission. Arabo's profile increased steadily until his June, 2006 arrest by the FBI on money laundering charges.
While some brands welcome the support of the hip-hop community, one brand that did not was Cristal champagne maker Louis Roederer. A 2006 article from The Economist magazine featured remarks from managing director Frederic Rouzaud about whether the brand's identification with rap stars could affect their company negatively. His answer was dismissive in tone: "That's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Pérignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business." In retaliation, many hip hop icons such as Jay-Z and Sean Combs who previous included references to "Cris", ceased all mentions and purchases of the champagne.
Hip hop films have been related since hip-hop's conception and have become even more related in the 21st century. During the early 1990s, African-Americans experienced a film renassiance, sparked by the popularity of hood films, in-depth looks at urban life, focusing on violence, family, friends and hip-hop. There have also been a number of hip hop films, movies which focused on hip-hop as a subject.
Hip hop magazines have a large place in hip hop culture, including Hip Hop Connection, XXL, Scratch, The Source and Vibe. Many individual cities have produced their own local hip hop newsletters, while hip hop magazines with national distribution are found in a few other countries. The 21st century also ushered in the rise of online media, and hip hop fan sites now offer comprehensive hip hop coverage on a daily basis.
Hip hop has spawned dozens of sub-genres which incorporate a style of production or rapping which dominates their music. Though it began a stereotypically African American music, it has since spread to all people of the world.
Hip-hop influences people in many different ways, such as the vocabulary people use (Slang words), the way people dress, and the way they carry themselves, at times people are influenced so much that they will do a lot of things their favorite rappers are doing, sort of idolizing them, there are cases where fans get tattoos that their favorite rappers have. Hip-Hop has now expanded and gone on a global scale, millions of rap albums are sold in foreign countries, some are not English speaking countries, yet people go out of their way and purchase these albums even thought they don’t understand the message the song carries, and manage to memorize the lyrics and sing along not knowing what they are saying. In foreign countries Hip-Hop has influenced natives to pursue rap careers and do what is being done in the United States such as following the trends, in their country. This is a product of globalization and it explains how popular culture can be interwoven with the everyday life of individuals that follow it, and how it can affect them in many ways. Like jazz, hip-hop is one of the few musical genres seen as thoroughly, entirely American. With its popularization all over the world, however, it is now an international, rather than American, genre of music. Here, it is important to note the varying social influences that affect hip-hop's message in different nations. Frequently a musical response to political and/or social injustices, the face of hip-hop varies greatly from nation to nation.
Author Wayne Marshall argues that "Hip hop, as with any number of African-American cultural forms before it, offers a range of compelling and contradictory significations to Jamaican artist and audiences. From "modern blackness" to foreign mind," transnational cosmopolitanism to militant pan-Africanism, radical remixology to outright mimicry, hip-hop in Jamaica embodies the myriad ways that Jamaicans embrace, reject, and incorporate foreign yet familiar forms."
The Nation of Gods and Earths gained a significant presence in hip hop with the emergence of the Wu-Tang Clan. All nine members, with the exception of Ghostface Killah, a Sunni Muslim, and several affiliates, are affiliated with the nation, as are other artists such as Eric B. and Rakim, Jadakiss, Nas, and Big Daddy Kane. The Wu-Tang often drop references to the nation's teachings in their lyrics. RZA even published a book "The Wu-Tang Manual" which in part, explained these references. The entire Brand Nubian group lineup are members of The Nation; also, Lord Jamar of Brand Nubian, released an album in 2006 entitled The 5% Album. Tupac Shakur was a member of the Nation, but he had never described himself as either a muslim or a christian. There is even a whole subgenre in rap music called muslim rap,but Islam has affected the evolution of hip hop because of the number of rappers who have been Muslim. Some Muslim rappers wear the kufi cap.
Having its roots from reggae , disco , funk, hip hop has since exponentially expanded into a widely accepted form of representation world wide. It expansion includes events like Afrika Bambaataa releasing "Planet Rock" in 1982 which tried to establish a more global harmony in hip hop. In the 1990s MC Solaar became an international hit that was not from America, the first of his kind. From the 80's onward, television became the major source of widespread outsourcing of hip hop to the global world. From YO! MTV Raps, a television show that was shown in many countries to Public enemies world tour, Hip Hop spread further to Latin America and became highly mainstream. Ranging from countries like France, Spain, England, the US and many many other countries world wide, voices want to be heard, and hip hop allows them to do so. As such, hip hop has been cut mixed and changed to the areas that adapt to it.
Early hip hop has often been credited with helping to reduce inner-city gang violence by replacing physical violence with hip hop battles of dance and artwork. However, with the emergence of commercial and crime-related rap during the early 1990s, an emphasis on violence was incorporated, with many rappers boasting about drugs, weapons, misogyny, and violence. While hip hop music now appeals to a broader demographic, media critics argue that socially and politically conscious hip hop has long been disregarded by mainstream America in favor of its media-baiting sibling, gangsta rap.
Many artists are now considered to be alternative/underground hip hop when they attempt to reflect what they believe to be the original elements of the culture. Artists/groups such as Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Dilated Peoples, dead prez, Blackalicious, and Jurassic 5 may emphasize messages of verbal skill, unity, or activism instead of messages of violence, material wealth, and misogyny.
Authenticity is often a serious debate within hip hop culture. Dating back to its origins in the 1970’s in the Bronx, hip hop revolved around a culture of protest and freedom of expression in the wake of oppression. As hip hop has become less of an underground culture, it is subject to debate whether or not the spirit of hip hop is embodied in protest, or whether it can evolve to exist in a marketable integrated version. In “Authenticity Within Hip-Hop and Other Cultures Threatened with Assimilation,” Commentator Kembrew McLeod argues that hip hop culture is actually threatened with assimilation by a larger, mainstream culture. In accordance with McLeod's position, Greg Tate an editor of the Village Voice also voices that hip hop is slowly losing its edge due to the genre's involvement in the mainstream, hyper-capitalist world. Believing that hip hop should be utilized as a voice for social justice, Tate points out that in the marketable version of hip hop, there isn't a role for this evolved genre in context of the original theme hip hop originated from (freedom from oppression). The problem with Black progressive political organizing isn't that hip hop, but that the No. 1 issue on the table needs to be poverty, and nobody knows how to make poverty sexy. Tate discusses how the dynamic of progressive Black politics cannot apply to the genre of hip hop in the current state today due to the genre's heavy involvement in the market. In his article he discusses Hip Hop's 30th birthday and it's evolution has been a devolution due to its capitalistic endeavors. Both Tate and McLeod argue that hip hop has lost its authenticity due to its losing sight of the revolutionary theme and humble "folksy" beginnings the music originated from. “This is the first time artists from around the world will be performing in an international context. The ones that are coming are considered to be the key members of the contemporary underground hip-hop movement." This is how the music landscape has broadened around the world over the last ten years. The maturation of Hip Hop has gotten older with the genres age, but the initial reasoning of why Hip Hop has started will always be intact. Expression and oppression will always be at the root of any Hip Hop movement.
Though born in the United States, the reach of hip hop is global. Youth culture and opinion is meted out in both Israeli hip hop and Palestinian hip hop, while France, Germany, the U.K., Africa and the Caribbean have long-established hip hop followings. According to the U.S. Department of State, hip hop is "now the center of a mega music and fashion industry around the world," that crosses social barriers and cuts across racial lines. National Geographic recognizes hip hop as "the world's favorite youth culture" in which "just about every country on the planet seems to have developed its own local rap scene."