What is Hip Hop?

Hip hop is the product of inner-city African-American, Caribbean and Latino communities that were plagued by poverty, community decay, and the proliferation of drugs and gang violence in the 1960s and early 1970s.

When was hip hop used to describe the subculture?
What are the 4 elements of hip hop?

  • Tagging/Writing (graffiti)
  • B-boying (breakin’)
  • DJing
  • MCing

Proto-Hip Hop
City Contsruction Cooridnator Robert Moses builds                   through South Bronx
When was the truce made for South Bronx Gangs?
1971 (Truce of 1971)

The Ghetto Brothers were:

  1. Gang
  2. Community Organization
  3. Cult
  4. Club

Community Organization
a loosely organized group of individuals who collaborate together for social reasons. Some collaborate together for anti-social reasons.
Three R’s of Gang Culture

  • Reputation
  • Respect
  • Retaliation/Revenge

Leadership in a gang

  • Prez
  • V-P
  • Warload- sergeant at arms
  • Masher- best streetfighter
  • Peacekeeper- negotiated ways to avoid rumbles

  • Named himself after a Zulu chief in 1964 movie ZULU
  • High ranking member of Black Spades
  • Influenced by the ideology of the Black Panther Party

Afrika Bamaataa
Afrika Bambaataa created this organization in the Bronx
Universal Zulu Nation
Pre-teen and teenaged kids            for creating, producing, and supporting the products that are now called hip hop
were responsible
an unauthorized inscription or drawing made on some public surface
Graffiti’s first roots were found in what city?
A graffiti writer’s personalized signature or logo
Who made tagging famous at age 15?
Taki 183
Ex-Vandals (Experienced Vandals)

Earliest writing organizations
Founded in Erasumus High School, Brooklyn
A non-violent street gang


Phase 2, S. Bronx Prez

Phase 2 (Graffiti)

President of the Bronx chapter


formed a new crew called THE INDEPENDENT WRITERS

Complicated construction of interlocking letters
Wild Style
All city
Tagging trains because they travel from one end of town to the other
A graffiti artist in the hip hop tradition
an inexperienced writer or one who lacks skill
“toy” (also a scribbler)
tag-name painted large with style and mulit-colors; short for masterpiece
Diversity in graffiti
Zephyr: well known graffiti artist that was white
Lee Quinones

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Born in Puerto Rico, 1960

Lee Quinones is considered one of  the grand expressionist of the New York Graffiti Art Movement from the South Bronx tradition

Chemical Wash program
program by the NYC Transit Authority to wash off all the graffiti on trains, costing the city millions of dollars
Who was a “King” of the 2nd wave of graffiti?
Lee Quinones
Fab 5 Freddy
Fred Braithwaite, part of the Fabulous 5 graffiti group
Keith Haring
graffiti artist (also white)
a small group with high level of intimacy
community (a.k.a folk group)
Theory of Individual Origins and Communal [Re]creation

One inventor of an item of lore, but that item is repeatedly made over as it is transmitted by word of mouth or action


Communal Theory

Contends that the community composed the tradition or traditions as a group effort COMMUNAL AUTHORSHIP


the body of traditional art, literature, knowledge, and practice that is disseminated largely through oral communication and behavioral example
explores the role of music in human life, analyzes relationships between music and culture, and studies music cross culturally.

tradition is a model of the past and is inseparable from the interpretation of tradition in the present 

{Cf “the Changing Same”}


Kool Herc

First party hosted by his sister Cindy Campbell
Summer 1973
Throws parties at the Community Center on 1520 Sedgwick Avenue


Urban Dance style, based on a polyrhythmic “groove”


Incredible Bongo Band “Apache” (1972)
Favored funk, but
Herc “Toasts”

The DJs role is to rock the crowd

But also to appeal to the crowd, and eventually CONTROL the crowd usually by way of talking over the music 

Jamaican Toasting tradition

“chanting ‘pon the mike”
1960-1970s outdoor parties 
Upsetters dub of Heptones song “Sufferer’s Time” (1976)
DJs would talk over recorded music, inserting catchy words and phrases on top of the rhythm
Style borrowed from Black radio DJs in the USA, like

Douglas “Jocko” Henderson

Jockey Jack Gibson

Dr.  Hep Cat


  • Used as a response to an insult or reprimand
  • going crazy
  • the section on a musical recording where the percussive rhythms were most aggressive and hard driving.
  • The dance (B-Boying)
  • Note: BREAKDANCING was coined by the media 


  • wild style of dancing
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfMmYXaoRd0

Top Rocking

  • Born from Brooklyn Uprocking
  • Puerto Rican Youth

Electric Boogaloo

Roots Electric Boogie: DOC BOOGALOO “My culture is Cuban/ Boricua…”






Pioneer:  Don Campbell[lock]

Popularizers: the Lockers (1973)


Kool Herc

  • supplies the sounds and aesthetic for this nascent youth music scene
  • The break= most percussive, rhythmic section in a song
  • B-beat music= Herc’s brand of music (also called Merry Go-Round technique)
  • “Breakin” or “B-Boyin’-KOOL HERC’S USE OF B-BOY

Herc takes his jams out into the park
b-boy crews emerge
shift from gangs to crews
dance offs
Crazy Legs (Rock Steady Crew)

ca.1977. Invents continuous backspin (windmill), giving “birth” to the new “power moves” in the 80s.


Rock Steady Crew
B-boying group
Herc provides the blueprints

  • 2 turntables
  • b-beat music
  • toasting
  • No violence
  • Dress code

Afrika Bambaataa

  • controls the west
  • Master of Records
  • unifier 

Grandmaster Flash

Flash’s brand of music
“zugga zugga and cuttin’”
Master: DJ technique [turntablism]
Clock Theory: marking the album’s label like a clock for accurate needle-dropping
Quick Mix Theory: Better known as “backspinning”


3rd “founding father”

Main sources for DJs

  • funk and r&b
  • FUNK(ca 1970s)
    Urban dance style, based on a poly rhythmic “groove”
    Rock orientation with Big Band Brass & Percussion
    Jimmy Castor’s “It’s Just Begun” (1970)


Gospel-influenced African American popular music style that began to emerge in the late 1950s and peaked in 1960s.

James Brown “Say it Loud” 



a category of 1970s dance music, derived from the abbreviation of discoteque, the main venue of consumption. 
Van McCoy “The Hustle” 

Final definition of Funk
Urban Dance style, based on a polyrhythmic “groove,” that became popular in the 1970s.
Grand Wizard Theodore

1975 invented the scratch technique (consider “Individual [Re]Creation Theory”)


Though it was  Grandmaster Flash who popularizedand mastered it (consider “Communal Theory”



creates a rhythmic/percussive piece into the music by cutting the needle back and forth on the record

Digging (“Digging the crates”)

  • finding beats 
  • Find the latest beats
  • Collect the most obscure beats

Resources for beats

  • Thrift shops
  • Major record stores
  • Mom & Pop record shops

Strategies for beats

  • Secrecy; remove labels (Don’t give info away)
  • Practice fitting in the new beats into your set

DJs add MCs

w~1975-1976: Coke La Rock and Clark Kent (aka Klark Kent) and Timmy Tim formed the first emcee team.
wToasting or talking more then emceeing
wFamous for the  slogans
They became known as Kool Herc and the Herculords/Herculoids
Talking more than MCing—Kevie Kev


“They rapped,  but not on the beat”—Melle Mel (p.36 YYYall)

Objective of MC

  • Control the crowd so that DJ can be creative
  • the MC to put a little extra on it
  • to brag about the DJ and boast about the crew
  • DJ is[was] in Control 
  • DJs produced the show


performing rhymes with a friend or circle of friends; practicing rhymes in an informal setting, such as freestyling with another playing off each others words

Grandmaster Caz (Grandmaster Casanova Fly)

  • Cold Crush Brothers
  • “When you are an MC for a DJ or crew you represent everyone, you are the voice of the group. There is no way you are going to let anyone sound better than you are. The game was to be the best.“

1979 South Bronx High School performance of DJ Charlie Chase and the Cold Crush Brothers




Example of a Party Shout out

Call and Response

  • –   alternation between leader and chorus (cf. antiphony)

    Example: Fantastic Five from Intro to battle

Blackout of 1977

NYC, & parts of Westchester County, were powerless for over a day in the sweltering heart of the summer.

Subways were stuck, mobs set fires and stores were looted. 

CITY depression, repression, agitation, frustration made it worse


NOTE: The 2003 blackout was uncomfortable and inconvenient but not scary at all. Blackouts are more isolated today. 


objectives of the MC

  • act as ambassadors
  •  bringing their signature brand of hip-hop to the different hoods and boroughs.
  • Praise your DJ & Crew
  • Fame came by local, live performances and audience support