Hip-Hop Subculture

Hip-Hop Subculture


Hip-Hop Subculture


Observation paper

Hip hop is a culture developed in the late 1970s in The Bronx New York city. In the research I have conducted the term hip hop is used in reference to hip hop music; however, I have come to realize that hip hop entails a culture that has its own unique slang, dressing and dancing style. I remember the first time I got connect to Hip pop, and it was on TV in china. Since the reform and opening up, many great changes have taken place in China includes Hip hop. Hip hop is basically made of African Americans who have their own specific rules that are applicable within the culture. It is made up of nine elements four of which are the basic elements of hip hop. I really don’t know when do I start want to know this culture. In 2012, it’s my first time to fly to USA for studying. I went to the NYC Time square, and I saw a lot of singers and dancers wearing special clothes and selling some CDs. We know that Time Square is a major commercial intersection, entertainment center and neighborhood in the middle of Manhattan section of NYC. Obviously, Time Square is surrounded by buildings and screens. Street artists may dance, sing and play for tourists. There is one group of people, and they are different than others. Most of them try to sell their CDs to tourists. They keeping saying: “ my music, my music, 20 dollars for 3 CDs.” One guy walked to me ,and He asked: “ where you from? Lady.”

I answered: “ China.”

He told me: “My music just 20 dollars, and it’s just music.”

I gave him 20 box and asked him to sign his name on CDs, I don’t know why did I buy those CDS at that time, but I know they are hip hop men, and they are part of hip hop culture. I want to get some information from them. So, I asked him about himself, those CD sellers and some street dancers. Jackson, 29-year-old from the Bronx, emulates the streetwise raps of hip hop stars such as 10 dollars. He hawks his own CDs with his friends in Time Square four days a week.

“I’ve been doing music since I was 12 years old,” Jackson said.

Jackson worked at a T.J. maxx department store in Harlem. “I haven’t had a job since 2005,” he said. “now I sell my own CDs.” People like him make from 30-200 a day in Time square. I think they are very lucky that they can live and play what they like at the same time.

I do listened those CDs after home. I did some research from youtube and online. I found that the four elements are requisites for one to fully identify hip hop musically because they are the pillars of the musical element of hip hop culture and they include; rapping which is a rhythmic vocal style, Djing which involves making music using record players and Deejay mixers who help in bringing out the unique rhythm and beats in hip hop music, breakdancing; it is an art of dancing which is athletic and energetic form of dance categorized under street dance. The dancers are known as B-boys for males, B-girls for females or breakers (Orejula, 2015). Graffiti art is another element of hip hop music which involves scribbling and writing of words or carving out art mostly in public view. Graffiti is not used in hip hop alone because it has its roots in ancient Egypt and Greek, since hip hop is a modern culture they graffiti by use of spray paints and inks on walls, this distinguishes it from ancient Greek graffiti which involved elaborate carvings on walls.

Hip hop culture is made up of a unique slang, unique dancing style which is mostly known as break dancing and a unique dress code.

Dress code says a lot about the culture of a person. People identify themselves to different cultures through their dresscode, because each culture has its own unique dress code and hip hop culture is no exception. By looking at a person it is difficult to tell which culture they belong to; however every culture has a unique dress code that makes it easier for people to identify its participants. In hip hop the culture has adopted a freestyle way of dressing. I am amazed by the unique dresscode in hip hop culture which is the preference for oversized clothes mostly t-shirts, shorts and trousers. Sometimes the dress code is accessorized by oversized necklaces around their neck and hats most of which have graffiti and sneakers are their go to shoes. In my analysis hip hop culture has a preference for sneakers, boots and rubbers, basically low heeled shoes (Turney, 2018).

I have come to the realization that every culture has its own unique way of communicating within the culture; hip hop has a unique slang. Sometimes the slang can be too complex that only the native members understand it. In every culture there are the newbies and the elders. This passage of knowledge and tradition is what amazes me, the newbies respect the elders. In this culture the elders are masters of the cultures slang, cultures rules and most of the time they function as a learning tool for the newbies. They teach the newbies the rules of the culture and the slang appropriate for the culture. The amazing thing about hip hop slang is it is only used by its members and I have now known that it is an offense for someone who is not a member of the culture to use the hip hop slang (Orejuela, 2015). The level of obedience to the hip hop slang rules and culture is mesmerizing try using their slang and you are not a member of the culture you are in for a rude shock, making friends will be impossible for you.

I love hip hop culture. It is what distinguishes their culture. Dancing is the core of hip hop culture. Hip hop dancers use a freestyle form of dancing whereby they come up with dance moves unique to each one of them. The interesting part is the ability to integrate these unique moves into one synchronized dance such that each person is dancing individually but harmonizing e dancing, I know we all love dancing; however, dance is a very important aspect and element of the h as a group. I enjoy watching a hip hop dance, the moves are uniquely synchronized in such a way that you have to be extremely keen to realize that each dancer is performing a different dance move. Hip hop dance is a major source of income for most participants because of the competitions organized by hip hop culture pioneers and other sponsors with the aim of promoting the culture (Gonzales, 2016).

Learning hip hop dance I have realized it has a variety of styles with older versions and more recent ones. The older versions were created in the 1970s when the culture was taking root and they include funk styles, uprock and breaking. Breaking was developed in the Bronx and it incorporates dances popular in the 1960s and 1970s among the Latinos and African Americans. The older version of breaking is performed as the dancers are standing unlike the newer version of break dance which is floor oriented. Uprock is a Brooklyn creation; it is an aggressive form of dance that is performed by partners unlike breaking where each person takes turn in dancing. Funk styles are an incorporation of several street dances created in California in the 1970s. Funk styles include dance styles such as; bopping, roboting, locking, hitting, popping, bustin’, strutting, electric boogaloo, dime stopping and sac-ing.

In funk styles boogaloo is the oldest form of funk style which later developed into electric boogaloo and later led to the rise of a music genre Latin boogaloo. Locking and popping are the most practiced funk style dances in the hip hop culture. Funk style is adapted into the hip hop culture as a result of media coverage. It has so many similarities with other dancing styles performed in hip hop (Orijuela, 2015).

In my conclusion hip hop culture has grown and is still growing immensely all over the world. Hip hop dressing is used as an inspiration for today’s fashion. Hip hop music has been incorporated into the music industry. Hip hop artist have made it big in the music industry thereby promoting the hip hop culture. Hip hop dancing is also a big win in the promotion of the hip hop culture. Currently hip hop is not only restricted to African- American but anyone from any part of the world can be a hip hop dancer. The media is constantly promoting this culture through hip hop dancing shows, movies and competitions (Orijuela, 2015).


González, M. R. (2016). Social Trend of Hip Hop Dance: As Identity and Cultural Practices in Youth. American International Journal of Social Science5, 61-71.

Orejuela, F. (2015). Rap and hip hop culture. Oxford University Press.

Turney, J. (2018). Fashion crimes: dressing for deviance. IB Tauris.

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