September 30, 2008

Is Rap Music Killing Hip-Hop Culture?

On a fairly consistent basis I am asked by people a simple yet slippery question, "what is the difference between Hip-hop and rap"?

I normally give this short answer; Hip-hop encompasses an entire culture where as rap is the act of rapping or making words rhyme in the Hip-hop form. I also go on to clarify that rap music and Hip-hop music are not necessarily the same thing. For example, a McDonald's TV commercial comes on and there are two kids with baseball caps tilted to the side rapping about french fries and chicken McNuggets, is this Hip-hop music? I would definitely say No. Is it rap? Well, yes....they're rapping. This is my short answer to the difference between Hip-hop and rap.

Going a bit deeper into the question "what is the difference between Hip-hop and rap", I find it important to define what I mean by Hip-hop. In recent years different organizations have added to and adjusted the traditional four pillars of Hip-hop, and you may find different definitions online as to what constitutes Hip-hop culture. But traditionally (and what I follow) Hip-hop is made up of four main pillars; DJing, Grafitti Art, Breakdancing and Hip-hop Music aka Rapping. When speaking about Hip-hop and its culture this is the foundation I adhere to and when speaking about Hip-hop music I am referring to the music that was born out of this culture.

Over the last decade a gray area between true Hip-hop based art and corporate America has come into play and it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish the creative growth of the culture from the appetite of corporate America and it's search for easy money off of hit song's and breakaway artist's. Corportate interest in Hip-hop has definitely aided the popularity of the culture, pushing it into living rooms across the nation and around the world, but it is also responsible for making everything on the radio sound the same and for a limited amount of major label artist to have full (exclusive) access to all mainstream media resources.

Has the infiltration of big business into Hip-hop culture wrestled control of the culture itself away from the Hip-hop community and into the hands of company CEO's? Do the decision's that these CEO's make in reference to the music that they release and push to the public non-stop through all mainstream media channels, actually control Hip-hop? Is rap music killing Hip-hop culture? Voice your opinion!

Cristopolis Dieguez

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