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Whether you trace it to New York’s South Bronx or the villages of West Africa, hip-hop has become the voice of a generation demanding to be heard. Hip hop is a form of musical expression and urban culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. It refers to both culture and music that stems forth from that culture.



Hip-Hop extends to various art forms such as MCeeing, dancing, street art and fashion. According to DJ Afrika Bambaataa, the hip-hop culture consists of five basic elements which are MCeeing, DJing, breaking, graffiti writing and beatboxing. Hip-Hop music first emerged with disc jockeys, creating rhythmic beats by looping breaks (small portions of songs with an emphasis on a percussive pattern) on two turntables. This is more commonly referred to as Sampling. This was later accompanied by “rap”, a rhythmic style of chanting presented in 16 bar measures or timeframes and beatboxing.

The link between graffiti and hip-hop culture arise from the appearance of new and increasingly elaborate and pervasive forms of the practice in areas where other elements of hip-hop were evolving as art forms. Today, graffiti remains part of hip-hop, while crossing into the mainstream art world with renowned exhibits in galleries throughout the world.

The various art forms that have been extended from Hip-Hop are:


DJing or also known as turntablism

DJing: Djing or also known as turntablism is the art of manipulating sounds and creating music using photograph turntables and a DJ mixer.

MCing: MCing or also known as emceeing refers to “spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a strong rhythmic accompaniment. It can be classified into different components, such as “content”, “flow” and “delivery.” Such element is distinct from the recitation of poetry in that it is performed in time to the beat of the music.

Hip Hop Dance



Breaking: Breaking or also called B-boying or breakdancing is a dynamic style of dance which developed as part of the hip-hop culture. It is one of the major elements of Hip-hop culture. Breakdance was highly influenced by many cultures, including street dancing in the 1930s, Afro-Brazilian, Asian martial arts, Russian folk dance and the dance moves of celebrities such as James Brown and Michael Jackson.


Beatboxing: Beatboxing is the vocal percussion of hip-hop culture. It is the art of creating beats, rhythms and melodies using the mouth. The term beatboxing is derived from the mimicry of first generation drum machines which used to be known as beatboxes.

Hip-Hop Fashion

Typical Hip-Hop Fashion

Fashion: Fashion is fickle – Styles come and go and come back again. This is no exception to Hip-Hop fashion. In the beginning, DJs were the leaders of the Hip-Hop style. Many took fashion cues from the club styles surrounding them, while others developed styles of their own. As graffitti and breaking combined with music to create the beginnings of a cultural movement, the focus went from DJs to MCs and breakers. Initially, most breakers dressed for comfort and practicality with loose-fitting pants, comfortable sneakers and colour t-shirts. It was not until the 1990s when prominent brands such as Ecko, Converse and Von Dutch began to produce “gangsta-inspired” clothing, stemming from the influence of how MCs and breakers dressed. Today, a somewhat stereotypical Hip-Hop outfit would include oversized t-shirts or jerseys, bandanas or caps, loose-fitting pants, a pair of sneakers (more often than not with huge logos such as Reebok, the Nike swosh symbol or Adidas) and of course, some sparkly bling-blings.



Graffiti: A form of street art that has been influenced by the Hip-Hop culture

Graffiti: With the use of spray paints, marker pens and stencils, graffiti is often associated with the Hip-Hop movement. Some of the most common graffiti styles have their own names. A “tag” is the most basic writing of an artist’s name and it is simply a hand-written style. A graffiti writer’s tag is usually his or her signature. Another form is the “throw up” or also known as “bombing” which is usually painted very quickly with two or three more elaborate representation of the artist’s name, incorporating more stylised letters. A more complex style is known as the “wildstyle”. It is a form of graffiti usually involving interlocking letters and connecting points. These pieces are often harder to read.