Forum: General / Hip Hop / Hip Hop

Explanation of the elements and why they are important to you-it's more than just "dance"!!!!!!! (karma: 1)
By tappingangel
On Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:39 AM
Edited by tappingangel (63958) on 2009-07-21 00:41:48 ahaha oops..spelling error
Bumped by Theresa (28613) on 2009-10-04 10:49:25

Okay, so after getting in an EXTREMELY heated debate about this today, I figured I'd create a post on here (thanks Invent for the inspiration with your wonderful history posts!!) about the elements and why you need to know about them in order to be true to your element.


So firstly:

What the heck are "elements" of hip-hop?!?!?!


Elements are what created hip-hop in the first place. There are many, many things involved; many styles, many people, many places; however, the main elements you will hear mentioned consist of emceeing, graffiti art, djing, and b-boying. I won't get too much into the history of b-boying, since the history has already been posted a couple times and I don't want to be repetitive. So anyways:

Why is djing considered an element of hip-hop?

Djing is the entire reason you HAVE music to dance to that corresponds to the type of "hip-hop" that you do. Take for instance the man who named b-boys-DJ Kool Herc. While spinning at a block party in the early 70s, he began to notice that when he would loop a "break" in the music (where the lyrics stop and the music takes over), some of the people there would then take over the dance floor. He then coined the term for these dancers "break boys" and "break girls" which was later shortened to "b-boys" and "b-boys." He found a way to lengthen the breaks even longer, creating music for the b-boys and b-girls, and a new style of djing which many more dj's would pick up on. Without djs taking over the scene and using this element of hip-hop to their advantage, you would not have much of the music that is used today in the non-"studio hip-hop" dance world.



Okay so..what about emceeing? That has nothing to do with dance, right? Why is it an element?

Wrong. Emceeing is one of the most important elements of hip-hop..at least in this hip-hop head's opinion ;]. Emceeing is what most people consider "rapping." HOWEVER, emceeing is more than just that. It is supposed to be about things that have meaning...not about what you hear in mainstream music. If you go back and take a look at history, compared to what the media has turned hip-hop into, you will see quite a difference in the music. Namely, studio hip-hop, which unfortunately most of you do, uses what is called "meainstream" music. Okay, so question answered:

What the heck is "mainstream"?!

Mainstream music is what most people here would think of when considering "hip-hop music." You turn on the radio, and suddenly you hear something along the lines of Fergie, or Flo Rida; Lil' Jon, or even Beyonce. You go to hip-hop class, and you dance to the latest number one hit off the Billboard charts, with choreography handed to you by your teacher for you to copy and use as your own style. Most hip-hop heads argue strongly against mainstream music, and I am a full supporter of this argument, personally..just to throw in a little spice from my own opinions haha.



So back to the explanation at hand: emceeing. Why is this any different from mainstream?

Because mainstream music has "ruined" hip-hop. If you listen to a song written by an emcee as opposed to a rap artist of the mainstream world, you will hear a HUGE difference. Not necessarily in the beat used, but in the lyrics themselves. This is what emceeing is about: expressing yourself lyrically, about issues that matter.


Prime example of what I'm attempting to show you:

Lil' Wayne...any of his songs...versus Atmosphere's "Guarantees." While Lil' Wayne will rap about anything from degrading women in an explicit way (I tried to word that nicely, since some younger members read this, but I'm sure most of you know what I mean) and encouraging the use of alcohol, and putting rims on cars, and the like; Atmosphere's song "Guarantees" is talking about how drugs can effect a life.

*******WARNING: Guarantees can be looked up on youtube, but this is my disclaimer, because it isn't "edited" and is a bit harsh for younger readers at some points...PLEASE make sure it is okay to look that song up with your parents before actually doing so, to avoid being in trouble.*******

Emceeing is a way of using lyrics to make changes. Check out some of the "underground hip-hop" that us hip-hop heads rant and rave about- you will definately notice a huge difference.



Alright, alright, I get the emceeing, and the djing. But graffiti "art"? Why do you call it art?

Because this is what graffiti is about. It isn't about running around, writing your initials or gang symbols on walls of buildings. It isn't about drawing obscenities on walls. Graffiti ART is also about expression. It is about making pictures of your feelings, or about different issues you believe strongly in. It is ART, and it is time to stop accepting graffiti for what gang members and people who are bored are making it out to be.

Example of a great piece of graffiti art:

purpleslinky.com . . .



Now, while these pictures are most likely random art pieces, some graffiti will have a cultural impact. Do you see the difference in "graffiti" and graffiti art? I hope so. There is alot of great work out there, and it's time those artists receive the credit they are due.


*******DISCLAIMER TWO******* Please do not go out, buy spray paint, and attempt a painting on your garage wall or any other wall. Graffiti artists make sure to obtain permission from whoever OWNS the wall they are turning into a piece of artwork, or whatever other surface they are choosing to use. If you choose to attempt a graffiti piece, please just use some colored pens or pencils and a sheet of paper from a notebook, so that you don't get into legal trouble.*******



Alright. Now that those are explained, you're probably wondering how this all ties into the dance form of hip-hop. Keep in mind hip-hop is a lifestyle for us hip-hop heads. All of these elements effect us day in, day out. We eat it, drink it, sleep it, breathe it, and dream it; we are also fighting for our hip-hop to be what it used to be, and not what the media created. "Hip-hop" is an umbrella term...and each element involved is a form of expression. Dance is just ONE of the elements of hip-hop, and each element is just as important. I hope this brings some helpful information to all of you, and I hope maybe this will one day be a sticky to use as a reference tool when needed!! Haha.




*******Last disclaimer: Much of this information is simply from my OWN experience. Every hip-hop head has their own experience in the elements, and their own definitions; this is my own. To the hip-hop heads out there, please feel free to correct as you feel needed, and if you find that something up there isn't right please PM me and I'll credit you and fix it right away. Oh, and I know Atmosphere pushes the lines of mainstream and underground, however he was the first one to come to mind (I've been listening to him for years) and I didn't think Jedi Mind Tricks or Demigodz was especially appropriate...haha!! Any suggestions of other music to check out is totally welcomed).*******

4 Replies to Explanation of the elements and why they are important to you-it's more than just "dance"!!!!!!!

re: Explanation of the elements and why they are important to you-it's more than just "dance"!!!!!!!
By BgirlDoesBallet
On Tue Jul 21, 2009 06:14 PM
I already knew most of this but it's still an awesome post none the less- loads of good information for the people just starting out (or the people that have been bboying for awhile and are just ignorant to the other elements). Hopefully it'll help them develop an appreciation for all elements of hip hop and not just the dance.

Also, I'm glad you brought up the difference between mainstream music and real hip hop. So many people think that Lil Wayne and the like are hip hop artists. That is completely false- they are pop "singers" (is it really even singing if your voice is completely computerized?). Emcees are the real hip hop artists.

Real graffiti is an art. Spray painting your initials on a brick wall is not art and therefore not real graffiti.

So yeah, once again, awesome post- hopefully it spreads the word that the other elements are just as important.
re: Explanation of the elements and why they are important to you-it's more than just "dance"!!!!!!!
By tappingangel
On Tue Jul 21, 2009 06:48 PM
Haha thank you. I do agree. I just figured to avoid those heated debates like I had (which okay..maybe I was a little overheated..lol) I'd throw some information out there that would help anyone, just starting out or otherwise. I hope this helps everyone!!
re: Explanation of the elements and why they are important to you-it's more than just "dance"!!!!!!!
By BgirlDoesBallet
On Tue Jul 21, 2009 08:28 PM
It's funny because this all made perfect sense to me when I first heard it- hip hop is a culture and every culture has its language (emceeing), music (DJ-ing), art (graffiti), and movement (bboying). I never would have thought that it doesn't make sense to some people up until recently when my teacher starting bringing it up. She wants to set up a workshop that'll expose us to all the elements, not just the dance. Some of the kids in my class just couldn't understand why we would be learning about graffiti at a dance workshop (even though the whole point was that it was a hip hop workshop not a dance workshop). The emceeing and the DJ-ing made sense to them since it's music and you dance to music but they just couldn't grasp the graffiti aspect. So yeah, I'm sure this post will help the people that think the same way as the girls in my class.
re: Explanation of the elements and why they are important to you-it's more than just "dance"!!!!!!!
By tappingangel
On Wed Jul 22, 2009 11:04 PM
Alot of people don't realize that graffiti is a huge aspect of this. I actually used to know an emcee (never recorded, just did some battles and stuff for fun, he was more into other things) that would spit about the stories behind different pieces of graffiti he saw. When I explain it THAT way, it starts to make sense. It's really all about the expression..hip-hop is a lifestyle, and one about expressing yourself.

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