It’s a fact – we are flooded with elements, subcultures and influences of Hip Hop. We might not realize it, but a majority of our urban cultures derives from the original 4 elements of Hip Hop, which have been mixed, mashed and changed into something completely different.
Hip Hop was originally created in the South Bronx and Harlem by troubled youth. It derived from poverty and a pure revolt towards society, but nowadays it is the center of luxury and extravagance in the modern entertainment industries.
Also known as Emceeing, Rapping or Rhyming, this element became out of spoken poetry. It includes content, flow and delivery. The MCs rap over a beat, but there was way more to it. Every word, every line, and rhyme was their way of coping with their struggles. These social and racial minorities were shunned by the society, pushed around, and they were constantly fighting for their rights. No matter how hard they tried, they would eventually be pushed back to their Ghetto. Hip Hop, and especially Rapping, was their way of speaking out, even if no one was listening…
Today, those roots have almost been forgotten. The music industry took a big part of hip hop and changed it to their benefits. It was changed into RnB and even Pop. Although there are some old-schoolers left, the majority of today’s Rappers are comfortably snuggled in their “bling”, the cars, the mansions, and the record labels. The key to profiting from Rap was to commercialize it as much as possible and to sing about what people want to hear and not about what you want to say.
Turntablism (or DJing) is the art of creating beat-filled music using a turntable and a DJ mixer. It was originally performed with a few techniques: beat mixing, scratching and beat juggling. The performers have always strived towards improvisation in order to have themselves recognized as traditional musicians. A DJ used to be a performer who manipulates sounds by touching and moving and not just playing the records.
Since the technology changed a lot, so did this technique, and it has been made too easy. Nowadays, it isn’t about mixing and mashing, it is mostly about creating a playlist and playing it. Turntablism is almost dead, but there are its descendants still living and passing the DJ name on.
Originally called Braking and B-boying (later became Breakdancing) is a style of street dance. As all the other elements of hip hop, it was created in New York by the African-American and Puerto Rican youth. Breaking was fast-growing, and soon it was widespread across the world. It consists of four basic movements: top rock, bottom rock, power moves and freezes, and it was performed to hip hop music but mostly to breakbeats. Although times have changed, this is one of the few elements that have stayed close to its original form. Of course, it was made commercial by the dance industry and started appearing in numerous music videos of all genres.
Breakdancing was just the beginning of Hip Hop dances. Combining it with funk dances and mixing its styles was a birthplace of incredible amounts of various street dances. B-Boying Battles became Hip hop competitions, and soon it was one of the most popular dance styles worldwide. Hip Hop Dance branch extended and became a whole new subculture.
4. Graffiti Art
Graffiti art includes writing or drawing on walls, often in public places. It is often considered vandalism since it is done on properties without an owner’s consent. It is done usually by spray-paint, but when it was created, the artists used to steal the paint since they couldn’t afford it, hence making it even more illegal.
Nowadays, Graffiti art is striving towards becoming legal. There are more and more places that allow these artists to draw freely; therefore, they don’t need to break the law and spoil public property. Still, there are some that consider graffiti to be real and true only when done illegally. These artists still steal paint even if they can afford it because, as they say, that is the only right way to do it.