Latest news about hip hop, a music genre that features rhythmic and sometimes rhyming speech sung over a musical backing. Rappers are among the most popular musicians today.
From Megan Thee Stallion’s emotional testimony to a shocking twist in Tory Lanez’s trial, here’s the latest from the hip-hop world.
What is Hip-Hop?
Hip hop is a culture that includes music, dance, clothing, graffiti and other forms of visual art. Its earliest roots can be traced to the 1970s when DJs in New York began mixing rhythm and blues and other genres of music. The Sugarhill Gang’s 1979 hit “Rapper’s Delight” launched hip hop to mass popularity and created a whole generation of artists that pushed the genre forward in different directions. Artists like Run-D.M.C brought hip hop to the mainstream with MTV performances, The Beastie Boys pushed deejaying further with digital sampling, and LL Cool J and Public Enemy used rap to push forward political ideology.
The most famous element of hip hop is rapping. Also known as MCing, it is the rhythmic, rhymed type of vocal chant that interplays with the beat of a hip hop song. Hip hop lyrics are often socio-political and use slang that reflects the experiences of marginalized communities. This grew into protest rap or conscious rap with the 1980s rise of groups such as Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, LL Cool J and Eazy-E.
In addition to rapping, hip hop includes breakdancing and graffiti. Breakdancing is a style of dance that involves improvisation and freestyle moves to the music. It is often performed in crews and there are major breaking competitions held yearly around the world. Graffiti is a form of street art that uses spray paint and other mediums to create images or messages on surfaces such as walls.
The late 1980s saw a major commercialization of hip hop as it became one of the most popular music genres in the United States. It has since become a global phenomenon with different regional styles emerging, including West Coast hip hop and gangsta rap. It has also spawned numerous high-profile artists, such as Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Nas. Many contemporary hip hop artists are more experimental and include influences from other genres such as punk, jazz, indie rock, and electronic music. However, some critics see this as a departure from the original hip hop movement and consider it to be alternative or post-hip hop.
The culture of Hip Hop developed in the early 1970s in New York among African American and Latino communities. It grew from a culture of work-with-what-you-have to become one of the world’s largest music genres. Hip hop is more than music, however – it encompasses several other forms of art, with four main pillars that characterize the culture: DJing/turntablism, MCing/rapping, B-boying/breaking, and visual/graffiti art.
The first step toward what would become Hip Hop was the formation of rap groups. These groups used their musical talents to both entertain and spread a message about the challenges of life in urban communities. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five were one of the earliest groups to achieve significant success using this style of expression.
In the later part of the decade, artists like Run-D.M.C, LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and A Tribe Called Quest began to gain a wide following. This period is known as the golden age of Hip Hop because of the large amount of mainstream success enjoyed by many of the genre’s top artists.
As a result, hip hop music started to branch out into different styles such as West Coast Hip Hop, Gangsta rap, and Rap Rock. The 1990s also saw the rise of graffiti art. Artists would often use blank walls or even entire train cars as their canvasses and they were not afraid to push the boundaries of style, size, complexity, and color.
As the movement evolved it became more and more global. Hip hop has now reached all corners of the world and has influenced musicians worldwide. The roots of the culture remain strong, however, with hip hop’s four core pillars still at its heart: DJing/turntablism, rapping/MCing, breaking/b-boying, and visual/graffiti art. These pillars are all interconnected and they all work together to form the culture of Hip Hop. As long as these elements continue to be in play, the culture of Hip Hop will be present and vibrant.
Hip-Hop in Education
Hip Hop can be an effective tool for learning in a variety of subjects. It can inspire students to think critically about the world around them and encourage them to express themselves creatively. Hip Hop music can also help students to connect with their culture and heritage. In addition, it can help students to develop literacy skills, such as reading and writing.
Hip hop is tied to social justice movements and many of its songs are rallying calls for people to rise up and take action. It can also be used to teach students about the struggles and hardships that many African Americans face on a daily basis.
The recent Black Lives Matter protests evoke the same messages of truth to power and challenging the status-quo that have been at the heart of hip hop since its beginnings. Educators can use hip-hop to engage students and stimulate discussion about topics such as race, poverty, identity, family, hate, and anger.
Many educators are reluctant to include hip hop in their classrooms because of its explicit lyrics and violence. However, there are ways to safely incorporate hip hop in the classroom. For example, a teacher can play music without the profanity and violence, or she can have students rap their own versions of songs. She can also encourage students to write their own lyrics.
Some teachers are using hip-hop to make connections between contemporary music/poetry and the classics. For example, a teacher can have her students read Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130 while listening to Nas’s “Long Way To Go.” This allows them to see how the themes of love, family, and honor in the poem are similar to those in the song.
Other teachers are using hip-hop to teach basic academic skills, such as citation. Libby Gorman, a library media specialist at Edgewood Middle School in Maryland, uses hip-hop examples to get her students interested in citing their work. She even incentivizes proper citation by giving students a point each time they cite correctly.
Some scholars have raised concerns that using hip-hop in education may reinforce negative stereotypes about black culture. However, others argue that hip-hop can be a positive tool for educational reform. For example, hip-hop producers Dre and Jimmy Iovine are planning to open a high school that will focus on teaching students entrepreneurialism. This will encourage students to use their knowledge to make positive changes in their community.
Hip-Hop in Science
Hip Hop in science is a growing trend, with many educators leveraging the music and culture to connect with students who are typically disengaged from classroom learning. In a New York City classroom, for example, students participating in the first ever Science Genius rap battles were encouraged to display their passion for hip-hop culture and their curiosity about scientific subjects like sexual reproduction and kinetic energy. Afterward, top performers were given the chance to perform their raps for the class, and a panel of judges assessed them on both their performance and the content of their raps. USC Rossier professor and researcher Chris Emdin explains that the goal of his program is to meet youth on their cultural turf and inspire an interest in STEM topics using a medium they are already passionate about.
Similarly, CEE alumnus Maynard Okereke—better known as Hip Hop MD—has merged his civil engineering background with a love for entertainment to create an approach to science communication that is both entertaining and inclusive. In addition to his popular Instagram videos, he often discusses complex scientific topics using familiar language, for example, by comparing them to pop culture icons or viral video clips. For instance, he recently used a drag racing fail video to explain forces like drag and lift.
It’s not just Black and Latinx youth who benefit from this type of approach to science teaching, however. According to research, a majority of the general public also responds well to science lessons delivered through popular forms of media and music that they are familiar with, including rap and hip-hop.
Hip-hop’s origins in social justice and protest has made it an important tool for engaging with diverse audiences, and the genre continues to shape our culture and influence musicians from all genres. Scientists and educators who are able to recognize the power of hip-hop to reach their target audiences and promote their work should be celebrated for their contributions to our society. As the world is becoming more diverse, it is more important than ever that we encourage diversity in STEM fields and beyond.