Hip Hop: A Culture of Vision and Voice


Hip Hop: A Culture of Vision and Voice

Hip hop is global, lapping on every shore and landing at every airport. But what does hip hop mean? Is it the music with a chest-thumping beat? The rapid-fire lyrics rapped into a handheld mic? Gravity-defying dance steps? Writers turning walls into canvases with larger-than-life letters and illustrations?

The answer is all of the above—and more. Hip hop embraces these artistic elements, most definitely. But it also has blended and transcended them to become a means for seeing, celebrating, experiencing, understanding, confronting, and commenting on life and the world. Hip hop, in other words, is a way of living—a culture.

The elements of hip hop came together in the Bronx borough of New York City. It was the early 1970s and times were tougher than usual for the poorer parts of urban America. From a whole lot of nothing—and a whole lot of imagination—hip hop took form.


DJ Kool Herc is credited with throwing the switch at an August 1973 dance bash. He spun the same record on twin turntables, toggling between them to isolate and extend percussion breaks—the most danceable sections of a song. It was a technique that filled the floor with dancers who had spent days and weeks polishing their moves.

The effect that night was electric, and soon other DJs in the Bronx were trying to outdo Herc. It was a code that has flowed through hip hop ever since: 1) Use skills and whatever resources are available to create something new and cool; 2) Emulate and imitate the genius of others but inject personal style until the freshness glows. Competition was, and remains, a prime motivator in the hip hop realm.

Like a powerful star, this dance-party scene quickly drew other art forms into its orbit. A growing movement of hopeful poets, visual artists, and urban philosophers added their visions and voices by whatever means available. They got the word out about what was happening in their neighborhoods—neighborhoods much of mainstream, middle-class America was doing its best to ignore or run down. Hip hop kept coming, kept pushing, kept playing until that was no longer possible.

Today, some hip hop scholars fold as many as six elements into hip hop culture. They include:

  • DJing—the artistic handling of beats and music
  • MCing, aka rapping—putting spoken-word poetry to a beat
  • Breaking—hip hop’s dance form
  • Writing—the painting of highly stylized graffiti
  • Theater and literature—combining hip hop elements and themes in drama, poetry, and stories
  • Knowledge of self—the moral, social, and spiritual principles that inform and inspire hip hop ways of being.

From its work-with-what-you-got epicenter in the Bronx, hip hop has rolled outward to become a multibillion-dollar business. Its sounds, styles, and fashions are now in play around the world. DJs spin turntables in Sao Paulo, Brazil. MCs rap Arabic in the clubs of Qatar. B-boys and b-girls bust baby freezes in Finland. Graffiti rises on the Great Wall of China. Young poets slam poetry in D.C.

So what is hip hop? All of the above and more—whatever we love enough to bring.

The Evolution Of Hip Hop [1979-2017]

Richard Colón was just 10 when his cousin took him to his first schoolyard bash in 1976. “Ah, I was just blown away,” he says in Jeff Chang’s history of hip hop, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. “I just saw all these kids having fun…checking out the whole scene, and it was my first time watching the dance with the music being played…I just immediately became a part of it.”

He soon became a big part of it. By his early teens, the boy now immortalized as “Crazy Legs” became a trendsetter for breaking—a dance revolution still popping, locking, and rocking the world.

Making a B-line from the Bronx

As hip hop culture rose from the streets of the Bronx, breaking spun up and stepped out from the concrete itself. Early b(reaker)-girls and b-boys like Crazy Legs and his Rock Steady Crew earned their skills on that hard ground, admiring each other’s cuts, bruises, and “battle scars” as they pushed one another to evermore audacious displays of style and guts.

In keeping with hip hop’s ethic of improvisation, breaking is often a create-on-the-fly dance style. It mixes super-quick footwork with body-torquing twists. Robotic movements flow into smooth whole-body waves before dropping into acrobatic leg flares that suddenly halt in mid-spin freezes that seem to defy gravity. Breaking is the ultimate 3-D dance—flipping high, spinning low, and putting a premium on physical imagination and bravado.

Getting on the Good Foot

Breaking has copied from many dance styles to generate this uniqueness. These styles include the Charleston from 100 years ago that loaned its characteristic leg kick and arm swing as a top-rocking move. The ad-libbing of the Lindy Hop, popular from the 1920s on, also lives in breaking’s style. For individual inspiration, though, no one can best soul singer James Brown. His high-energy dance moves in the 1960s and 70s have inspired b-boys and b-girls ever since, and his song “Get on the Good Foot” is one of breaking’s early anthems. Tap, steppin’, ballet, disco, and modern all continue to contribute.

Breaking has rummaged beyond the dance floor and stage to find many of its most dramatic moves. The whirling torsos and legs of gymnasts on the pommel horse are seen in leg flares, for example. Down-rocking reflects techniques from gymnastic floor routines.The world of hand-to-hand combat has also provided inspiration for b-boys and b-girls. Hip hop scholars often link breaking with capoeira, a martial arts dance with roots in Angola and Brazil that displays acrobatics, grace, and power. A full-blown showdown makes it clear why breaking contests are referred to as “battles” as dancers mix dance moves with shadow kicks, leg sweeps, and fake attacks in the faces of the competition.

Breaking is much more than a sum of moves from various dances and disciplines, though. It is a living, breathing art form unique every time dancers take their turn in a cypher (see sidebar). Through the years the Rock Steady Crew, the Mighty Zulu Kings, the Lockers, the Electric Boogaloos, and thousands of other individuals and crews have continuously renewed and refreshed the style with original spins, fresh freezes, and new twists on power moves—often laced with body-bending humor. Competition and innovation in breaking—as with all things hip hop—is essential and inspired, and today its style inspires wherever people dance.

Flying Legs Crew: Kings of New York

Flying Legs Crew: Kings of New York


Hip Hop Vocabulary

B-Terms to Know

The basic vocabulary of breaking—hip hop’s dance style include:

popping fluid movements of the limbs, such as moving arms like an ocean wave, that emphasize contractions of isolated muscles
locking snapping arms or legs into held positions, often at sharp angles, to accent a musical rhythm
top-rocking fancy footwork performed upright
down-rocking dance moves performed on or close to the ground
up-rocking martial arts strikes, kicks and sweeps built into the dance steps often with the intent of “burning” an opponent
power moves acrobatic spins and flares requiring speed, strength, and agility
freeze sudden halt of a dance step to hold a pose, often while balanced on a hand, shoulder, or head
cypher group of b-boys/b-girls taking turns in the center of the dance floor

DJing: The Artist at the Turntable

djing-artist-turntable-169.jpgImage via Creative Commons; flickr.com user Fora do Eixo

DJs are the soul behind the beat that pleases, surprises, and puts people on the dance floor. The best DJs have an almost mystical sense of mood at a party or club. They sense the right moment to cue the right song using the right technique to take the party where it’s ready to go. It is that insight, a passionate knowledge of music, and technical know-how that make DJing one of the pillars of hip hop culture.

Working the Sound System

A DJ’s sound system is a laboratory for making music magic. Twin turntables are standard, allowing the DJ to switch easily between songs, or spin and manipulate records in tandem to create effects or unique musical combinations. The turntables are wired to a receiver, amplifier, and earthquake-causing speakers. The DJ may use headphones to cue up the next song or song segment as the current music plays. Then he or she uses a mixer, or fader, to make transitions from one turntable to the other—hopefully without missing a beat. Today’s DJs often incorporate digitized and computerized components, as well. But most hip hop purists frown on DJs who button-push preprogrammed playlists. Hip hop culture saves its greatest praise for inspired improvisation.

Before the rise of hip hop, the DJ’s basic role was relatively simple—spin records at a party, club, or on the radio. DJ Kool Herc’s keen observations changed that game. He noticed the energy on the dance floor went off the charts during the “breaks” of songs. Breaks are the instrumental sections in many pop and rhythm & blues numbers that highlight percussion and rhythm.

Herc experimented with methods to extend these sections by playing the same record on both turntables, a technique refined by fellow pioneering DJ Grandmaster Flash. With needle-fine timing, they switched back and forth between the turntables to multiply the break. Crowds, especially dancing b-boys and b-girls, couldn’t get enough. Since the beginning, hip hop DJs have been instrumental in channeling youthful energy away from trouble and toward creative fun.

Good DJs constantly explore ways to pleasantly shock their audiences. They may give people the songs they expect, planning out smooth transitions by matching beats and musical keys from one number to the next. They also innovate by listening for songs within songs, lifting and linking snippets to take the music somewhere new.

In the never-ending quest to distinguish their mix, DJs often haunt used-record stores. They are on the prowl for long-lost songs or sounds they can make new again through the magic of hip hop. Legendary DJ and all-around hip hop luminary Afrika Bambaataa is famous for creating sets that spin from the Pink Panther theme to Kraftwerk to calypso to speeches of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. All that is good from the past and present has a place at the hip hop turntable.

Scratching and Turntablism

As part of the hip hop style of life, DJs are constantly experimenting to set themselves apart from competition. One technique DJs embraced is scratching. To scratch, the DJ physically manipulates the record beneath the needle. Grand Wizzard Theodore stumbled on the technique in the mid-70s. He was a young teen blasting his music when his mom scolded him to turn it down. He fumbled the needle, liked the effect, practiced it, and began using it in shows. Other DJs quickly added scratching to their repertoire as a way to inject more personal style into the music flow.

More recently, turntablism has become an astounding source of new style. It involves extensive real-time sampling from spinning records to create something funky and fresh. Watching an experienced turntablist create in real time is an awe-inspiring experience.

Kool Herc “Merry-Go-Round” Technique

Kool Herc “Merry-Go-Round” Technique


Hip Hop Vocabulary

DJ-Terms to Know

The basic vocabulary of DJing—hip hop’s music style include:

back spinning turntable technique that quickly “rewinds” a section of a recording
beat juggling manipulating two or more recordings to create a unique musical arrangement
beat matching following a song with another that uses an identical or similar rhythm
break, or breakbeat instrumental section of a song that emphasizes percussion and rhythm
cue positioning a recording to play at a specific point
DJ short for “disc jockey,” a person who plays recorded music for an audience
drum machine, or beat box electronic device used by DJs to synthesize drum beats
looping replaying a section of a song to extend it
sampling lifting a section of a recording and using it in a different number or recording
scratching technique of physically manipulating a recording to create a unique effect
turntablism live and extensive manipulation of recordings to create a unique song

MCs: Masters of Rhythm, Rhyme, and Flow

mcs-master-rhythm-169.jpgImage via Creative Commons; flickr.com user Coupdoreille.fr

Today, MCs like Jay-Z, MC Lyte, and Kendrick Lamar fly high profiles in the world of hip hop. But that wasn’t always the case for the poets of the microphone.

In hip hop’s early years, its music scene focused on the disc jockey and the dance floor. The MC—short for “master of ceremonies”—was often a kind of sidekick to the DJ. In Yes Yes Y’all, an oral history of early hip hop, Grandmaster Caz describes the rise of MCing this way: “The microphone was just used for making announcements, like when the next party was gonna be, or people’s mom’s would come to the party looking for them, and you have to announce it on the mic.”

Before long, though, MCs wanted to showcase their own talents. Grandmaster Caz continues: “Different DJs started embellishing what they were saying. I would make an announcement this way, and somebody would hear that and they add a little bit to it. I’d hear it again and take it a little step further ’til it turned from lines to sentences to paragraphs to verses to rhymes.”

More and more, MCs earned the right to grab the mic using freestyle skills to entertain and command a live audience. A “master of ceremonies” might make all the needed announcements; but the job of an MC then and now is to guide everyone’s good time with their energy, wit, and ability to interact with people on the floor. And good MCs don’t just demand the mic—the audience honors their skills by demanding they take it.

Rappers emerged as a somewhat distinct group as rap gained commercial success. They were the voices and characters that created and sold the records. In some ways, the talents and responsibilities of rappers overlap with MCs, and an MC might also rap. The interaction with the audience is the big difference.

In 1979, a trio of MCs rapped over the break from Chic’s “Good Times.” The result was The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” rap’s first hit. Three years later, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five released The Message, a funky but unblinking account of hard times in an inner-city neighborhood. As the 1980s unrolled, MCs and rappers rose rapidly from second fiddles to big dogs including Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Run DMC, and Public Enemy. They created personas, cooler-than-life characters that might be super-smooth or gangland tough. They boasted about their style and talents and made sure to honor the DJ. MCing and rapping went from sideshow to main event as one of hip hop’s essential elements.

Hip Hop’s Rapping Poets

An MC or rapper’s “flow” is crucial to his or her performance. The flow is the combination of rhyme and rhythm to create the rap’s desired effect: fluid and soothing to communicate romance, for example; staccato and harsh to signal anger and conflict.

Before hip hop and rap took hold in the United States, spoken-word poetry occasionally worked its way into jazz performances. Many history-minded rappers also connect their art to The Last Poets, a Harlem-based group, and The Watts Prophets out of Los Angeles. Both emerged in the late-1960s and paired political poetry with improvisational jazz. Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” resembles rap before it got the name.

Increasingly, students of hip hop culture recognize the best MCs as accomplished formal poets. They rap complex rhyme schemes, most built on a rock-solid four-beat rhythm, or meter. But again, a good MC surprises audiences with syncopation and other off-the-beat techniques. hip hop aficionados reserve special respect for MCs with freestyle skills—the ability to improvise fresh rhymes while standing in the heat of the spotlight.

The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight

The Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight


Hip Hop Vocabulary

MC-Terms to Know

The basic vocabulary of MCing—hip hop’s vocal style:

end rhyme rhyming words at the end of lines
flow a rapper’s vocal style
freestyle improvised rapping
griot (gree-OH) oral storytellers and historians of West Africa
internal rhyme rhyming words within the same line
MC short for “master of ceremonies”; also performer who uses rap techniques to interact with an audience
meter rhythm of a poem
persona character assumed by a performer
rap spoken-word lyrics performed to a beat; one of the elements of hip hop
rapper performer that rhymes lyrics to a rhythm
spitting speaking, performing a rap
syncopation shifting a rhythm away from the normal beat

Writing: Graffiti and Hip Hop Culture

graffiti-artist-169.jpgImage via Creative Commons; flickr.com user urbanartcore.eu

One element of hip hop predates the music and dance scene itself—graffiti writing, or simply writing as the artists themselves call it. But it blossomed at the same time the music and dance scenes were finding their feet, and its wild and color-outside-the-lines improvisational style were influenced and inspired by the desire to create something new and fresh.

Graffiti has been around since humans first painted, etched, or carved on rock walls. But urban youth put a new spin on it in the 1960s. In 1967, a Philadelphia teen named Darryl McCray spray painted his alias “Cornbread” wherever he could reach on walls and trains. (He was striving to impress a girl named Cynthia.) In 1968, the budding art form made the jump to New York City. The names JULIO 204, TRACY 168, and TAKI 183 became familiar sights here, there, and increasingly everywhere.

Writing’s Heyday

The number and talents of writers spiked in the mid-1970s as hip hop’s competitive drive kicked in. They added illustrations and second colors to outline stylized bubble and block lettering. The writers—many if not most of them young teens—jumped the limits of size, complexity, and color. Their finest designs seemed to bring life to whatever they graced. They called it wild style—and it was.

They also jumped over fences, snuck into subway tunnels, and trespassed in nighttime yards where subway cars slept. There, they practiced their art with blank walls and unstained trains as their canvases. When opportunities arose, they painted the whole sides of subway cars and even entire ten-car trains with their elaborate, colorful designs.

They had no illusions their creations would last long. But the opportunity to see their art rolling through the subway was the ultimate payoff for writers like DONDI, LADY PINK, FAB FIVE FREDDY, KASE2, and ZEPHYR. It was outrageous to think thousands of New Yorkers saw their creations each day in one of the richest cities in the world. “If art like this is a crime let God forgive me!” wrote the writer known as LEE of the Fabulous Five crew. They embraced the identity of outlaw artists and admitted the dangers and thrills were part of the appeal. They were on missions to prove they were not only the most imaginative and talented writers in their neighborhood, but the most fearless.

Not surprisingly, NYC officials were not amused. Cops cracked down on writers, and train yards were encircled with new security. At the same time, the art world was catching on that something fresh was happening in the city beyond their fancy uptown galleries. Graffiti-inspired exhibitions popped up, and some writers took the opportunity to commit their passion to canvas instead of granite and steel.

Wild, Hungry, Inspired

Writing’s place in hip hop culture was cemented by the early 1980s. Early rappers used wild style on their album covers. Writers painted cool kids’ clothes with designs and got paying gigs painting murals. And two movies—Style Wars and Wild Style—debuted. The films made the case that a similar hungry, inspired creativity flowed through writing as well as hip hop’s music and dance scene.

Today, graffiti-influenced writing styles show up worldwide in graphic design, fashion, and street art. Outlaw artists like Banksy are still out there painting trouble. But the vision, passion, and humor the best of these writers display—legit or not—give people the chance to see the work-a-day world in new ways. They seem to say if we pay attention, we can find beauty, meaning, and art most everywhere we look.

Dan One: Alphabetical Engineer

Dan One: Alphabetical Engineer


Hip Hop Vocabulary

Writing Terms to Know

The basic vocabulary of writing graffiti—hip hop’s visual art include:

all city being known for one’s graffiti throughout a city; originally referred to the artwork on subway cars appearing in all five New York City boroughs
bite to steal another writer’s design or style
black book sketchbook used by graffiti writers
bombing to paint many surfaces in an area
burner elaborate, large designs
crew team of writers that often work together
gettin’ up developing one’s reputation or “rep” through writing graffiti
graffiti writing, or drawing on surfaces in public places, usually without permission
kings or queens highly respected, experienced writers with most tags
piece short for “masterpiece,” a large, complex graffiti design
stencil graffiti premade designs of paper or cardboard that allow quicker, more exact transmission of images or lettering
tag or scribble stylized, but basic graffiti writer’s signature
throw up quick execution writing; generally one color outline and one color filled in
toy inexperienced writer
wild style style of writing that usually involves bold, interlocked letters
writer graffiti artist who has a distinct way they design their letters

Knowledge: A Philosophy of Hip Hop

Hip Hop: A Culture of Vision and VoiceAfrika Bambaataa at Bronx River Projects, photo by Sylvia Plachy

The 1970s were lean, mean years in sections of New York City. This was especially true in the Bronx and the city’s other low-income areas. Much of the optimism of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement had faded. New York was broke. City officials sliced and diced basic services, school funding, arts education programs, and job training. Life-destroying drugs and crime haunted the streets. Absentee landlords neglected properties until building after building fell into disrepair or went up in flames.

In the face of all that, however, the energy of urban youth refused to shut down. Young people, many of them teens, created new ways of spinning records and dancing. They experimented with new styles of poetry and visual art that revealed their thinking and feelings. Eventually, the elements grooved together into a culture. A name started to stick to it: hip hop.

The Fifth Element

Hip hop’s fifth element of “knowledge” teaches the hip hop community about its identity and ways to express that identity. It places great importance on claiming a stake in one’s own education. “Knowing where YOU come from helps to show YOU where YOU are going,” writes legendary MC KRS-One. “Once you know where you come from you then know what to learn.” (By the way, “KRS” stands for “Knowledge Reigns Supreme.”)

Hip hop believes that people can take control of their lives through self-knowledge and self-expression. Knowledge influences style and technique and connects its artists under a collective hip hop umbrella. It engages the world through hip hop’s history, values, and ideas, and adds intellectual muscle to support and inform its music and moves and its poetry and art. Most importantly, it allows for a shared experience against an uncertain world.

Bambaataa Brings It

Afrika Bambaataa deserves much credit for putting this concept of knowledge into word and action. Bambaataa is a pioneering DJ and MC from the Bronx. A one-time teen leader of a gang, Bambaataa had universal respect and a powerful ability to make peace with and between enemies. His legendary music and dance parties brought together rivals to party in peace. “Free jam!” his flyers announced. “Come one come all, leave your colors at home! Come in peace and unity.”

The young Bambaataa was also a devoted student of history. He absorbed the tactics and strategies of historical leaders—from the French emperor Napoleon to the South African chieftain and military commander Shaka Zulu. He grasped the power of music as a strategy for clearing barriers that divided people, whatever their backgrounds.

By the 1980s, Bambaataa and his large and growing crew had founded the Universal Zulu Nation. Dedicated to hip hop values, the organization’s motto is “Peace, Love, Unity, and Having Fun.” They developed “Infinity Lessons”—principles and codes of conduct for living an honorable hip hop life. They emphasize community, peace, wisdom, freedom, justice, love, unity, responsibility, respect for others, and respect for self. He put his knowledge into words, and the words radiated around the Bronx, throughout New York, and across America.

Boogie Down Productions – My Philosophy

Boogie Down Productions – My Philosophy


Hip Hop Vocabulary

Knowledge Terms to Know

The basic vocabulary of knowledge—hip hop’s philosophy include:

culture the behaviors and beliefs of a particular group of people
didactic intended to teach a lesson, especially a moral lesson
empowerment increasing of economic, political, social, educational, gender, or spiritual strength of individuals or communities
praxis process when a theory, custom, or lesson is practiced
society social, economic, and cultural system
strategy plan to reach a desired result
worldview ideas about how the world works

Hip Hop Theater and Literary Arts

theater-literary-arts-169.jpgImage via Creative Commons; flickr.com user Elvert Barnes

“Be warned, this is theater—but it’s hip hop theater,” a loud voice booms before the curtain rises for Into the Hoods. This show has been blowing away London audiences since 2008. It is an urban re-visioning of the fairy tale-genre, following a pair of school kids into a tough part of town instead of a haunted forest. But as with all fairy tales, not everything or everyone is what they seem. Ultimately the stage blazes with wild style art, DJ voiceovers, beats from multiple musical styles, b-boys and b-girls breaking in high-flying choreography, and fresh takes on familiar characters. (DJ Spinderella or Rap-On-Zel ring a bell?)

More and more, the stage has been welcoming hip hop’s elements, energy, and world view. Graffiti writing may splash across the scenery. DJing, rapping, and breaking are likely to take turns in the spotlight. Some shows, like Into the Hoods, tell their tales mainly through dance and music, while others lay hip hop style over more traditional scripts. Hip hop artists are tackling drama, comedy, and tragedy, and some classic material is getting the hip hop makeover. Will Power’s The Seven, for example, retells the ancient Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus using a DJ and rapping cast.

Collaboration and Content

Collaboration is a core ingredient for most hip hop theater groups. In the tradition of the culture, producers, directors, and playwrights stress input and participation by stakeholders—the very people the play is intended to speak to and entertain. Long-time hip hop theater writer/actor/director Danny Hoch says it this way: “Hip-hop theatre… must be byabout and for the hip hop generation, participants in hip hop culture, or both.”

This collaborative process clearly informs the content in hip hop plays and musicals. Plots often tackle current social issues, especially as they relate to urban communities, with characters exploring the strengths and limits of activism and empowerment. Questions of identity are often front and center, including race, class, gender, sexuality, and anything regarded as “different.” The struggle between the individual and society is a central theme as characters seek to create meaning in their lives while struggling to claim their place in the world.

Hip Hop in Prose and Poetry

MCs tell complex stories in rhythm and rhyme. Rappers write and polish their lyrics before delivering them in raps. The secret is out: hip hop poets love words. “The toughest, coolest, most dangerous-seeming MCs are, at heart, basically just enormous language dorks,” cracks music critic Sam Anderson. “They love puns and rhymes and slang and extended metaphors ….” These skills can translate smoothly into literary forms—short stories, novels, scripts, poetry, and comic book-style graphic novels. Some works relate the gritty realities of poverty or inner-city living; others find the humor there and wherever; all describe trying to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

Rapped aloud or published on paper, hip hop-influenced literary forms have roots in the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s. BAM inspired a generation of African American, Latino, and feminist writers, including Amiri Baraka, Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, the Last Poets, and many others, to share stories and views often overlooked or outright rejected by mainstream America. Along the way, spoken word—a forerunner of rap—injected energy into performance. Through poetry slams, it has developed its own fans with its forceful, fun wordplay.

As in theater, the literary world is making more space for hip hop style, subjects, and themes. Scholars Andrew DuBois and Adam Bradley recently edited and published The Anthology of Rap, a huge collection of lyrics. Says Bradley: “[R]appers are perhaps our greatest public poets, extending a tradition of lyricism that spans continents and stretches back thousands of years… They expand our understanding of human experience by telling stories we might not otherwise hear.”

Some hip hop-savvy teachers are bringing the best of hip hop literature into their classrooms. And writers for kids, teens, and young adults are telling hip hop tales in books like Think Again by Doug E. Fresh, Debbie Allen’s Brothers of the Knight, and the Hip-Hop Kidz series by Jasmine Bellar.

Hip Hop Vocabulary

Theater and Literary Terms to Know

The basic vocabulary of hip hop theater and literary arts include:

choreography arrangement of dance moves
collaboration working together
content subject or information
genre category of literature, such as fairy tales or historic fiction
lyricism poetic or musical style
metaphor symbolic figure of speech
scenery backdrop for a theater production
stakeholder someone who shares interest or responsibility

All The Way Live – Hip Hop Connections

All The Way Live – Hip Hop Connections