Monday, 30 November 2015


For years, the debate has ensued about what exactly the difference is between rap music and hip hop music, and the main crux of the argument centers around the type of culture that each type of music personifies. Other factors, though, are also included, such as: how the music is produced, the elements associated with the sound of the music, and what each genre tries to get across in its central message.

Historically, Hip Hop comprises 4 elements, 1 of which is rap, as outlined by DJ Afrikaa Bambaataa. The four elements of Hip Hop are DJing, MCing (a.k.a. rapping), B-Boying (a.k.a. break-dancing) and graffiti writing.

Ask any two artists, fans, or other assorted members of the rap/hip-hop community to explain the precise difference between the two terms, and odds are you'll get different answers. Even so, most would probably agree that rap describes a type of music while hip-hop refers to a cultural phenomenon that includes graffiti, breakdancing, and fashion in addition to music -- or as rapper social theorist KRS-One says, "Rap is something you do, hip-hop is something you live." Musically, the only difference between the two is that rap always contains the vocal element of rhythmically spoken rhymes while hip-hop can be purely instrumental in nature. Rap in its earliest stages consisted of DJs mixing records and juggling beats and breaks for block parties while emcees rhymed over the rhythms. This practice of adapting, dissecting, and transforming pre-recorded music to create new songs could be hip-hop's most significant contribution to modern music.

Hip hop culture is defined by the late '70s, early '80s beat-box style of music where groups like Sugarhill Gang, Fab 5 Freddy, and Kurtis Blow. These artists, and many more just like them, sang in upbeat tones that told people to get off their seats and dance to the music. Their message was more of a positive, brighter future type of ballad. Rap, o­n the other hand, is more concerned with what is going o­n in popular culture. Current rap stars like Eminem, 50 Cent, and Lil' Wayne frequently rap about the prevalence of drug dealing where they are from, political issues that they disagree with, or general elements of impropriety amongst the perceived leaders of this nation.

Whereas hip hop strives to push its listeners to look forward to a better tomorrow, rap music is all about "telling it like it is" in the here and now. o­ne of the greatest rap groups of all-time, N.W.A., sang of their hardcore lifestyle which was the o­nly way to survive where they were from. They were often ostracized in popular music circles, but they were simply rapping about the current day's conditions. o­n the other hand, a song like "Rapper's Delight" from The Sugarhill Gang encouraged people to have a good time with their lives and stressed that o­nly good things were going to happen in the future.

While it is true that rap music tends to have a more depressive outlook than hip hop music, the two terms get interchanged so much in the current day and age that it becomes difficult to decipher what the real difference is. While it would be impossible to pinpoint o­ne particular difference that shows us unequivocally what the difference is between rap and hip hop, our perceived notions of what separates the two will continue the great debate about what is the true difference between these two types of music.

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