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"A certain administration which I won't call by name took the arts out of the schools, and that left the brothers out on the street with nothing, so they went to the turntables and started rhyming. Then they had a way to express themselves, and that's the birth of hip-hop."

Originally emerging as a subgenre of disco and branching out past those boundaries in the ensuing decades, hip-hop is a genre of music that's come in many, many permutations over the years. Its first iteration, retrospectively known as "old-school" hip-hop, comprised four ingredients — graffiti, DJ-ing, MC-ing, and beat boxing (breakdancing is another staple, but more within a cultural context rather than the music itself). Today, the term "hip-hop" is viewed as a synonym for "rap," though the latter refers more to the vocal technique prevalent in the genre.

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Note that there are many different scenes, subgenres, and cultures within hip hop besides gangsta rap. Even gangsta rap has several sub-forms like Horrorcore, and Mafioso rap. Unfortunately, they rarely receive anywhere near the attention in other media (or anywhere near the record sales).


Sub-genres include:

Other Hip-Hop acts


Tropes covered within Hip Hop & the industry itself:

  • Banned in China: After gaining widespread popularity thanks to the success of the Chinese rap reality show, The Rap of China in 2017, the Chinese government started clamping down on hip hop the following year.
  • Big Applesauce: Hip-Hop as we know it was born in the Bronx borough and, for a time, was exclusive to New York.
  • Broken Base: And how! Read the entry for details.
  • Controversy-Proof Image: Exceptions being Ice-T's "Cop Killer" controversy, which for all intents and purposes ruined his mainstream career as a rappernote  and Nelly, due to the "Tip Drill" controversy. Possibly Public Enemy as well thanks to Professor Grif's comments about Jews.
  • Cool Car: Exotic cars , low-riders and modded car culture in general has always been a huge part of hip-hop culture.
  • Distaff Counterpart: R&B music has become this to Hip Hop. It's very rare for a urban radio station to play Hip Hop and not also play R&B. And much like Rap is a male dominated genre, R&B is female dominated. Record labels often feature upcoming R&B acts on established Rap artist singles since the genres share overlapping target demographics.
  • Domestic Abuse: There's a lot of songs covering the issue.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Old-school hip-hop, the first form of the genre, was simply a subgenre of later-period disco that traded out traditional melodic vocals for rhythm-oriented rapping, born out of the technique's popularity in low-income urban communities. Most notably, "Rapper's Delight", hip-hop's Breakthrough Hit, was based around the backing track to Chic's "Good Times". As the genre evolved, it incorporated elements of rock, R&B, and Synth-Pop, eventually becoming far-removed from its disco roots.
  • Enemies Equals Greatness: A lot of rap songs are all over this trope, especially songs from the Glam Rap and Swag Rap sub-genres. Just about every rapper loves to talk about their "haters" in their lyrics.
  • Executive Meddling: Especially after it became profitable.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Whoo boy!...
  • Follow the Leader: Oh yes, also a huge cause of Hip-Hop beef and Fandom Rivalry.
  • For the Evulz: The lyrics to Horrorcore Rap, and some forms of hardcore hip-hop and gangsta rap.
  • Freestyle Version: Extremely frequent in the culture.
  • Genre Turning Point: Circa 1988, where hip hop broke into the mainstream, and the beginning of the Golden Age.
  • Gun Porn: A feature of the Gangsta Rap subgenre - discussing guns, and on rare occasions showing them off in music videos.
  • Hotter and Sexier: Specifically the music videos around the turn of the century. Which ironically makes the old 2 Live Crew videos tame by today's standards..
  • Intercourse with You: This is dirty rap's very fundament, although songs about sex from artist who don't fall into that determinate subgenre are not unheard of.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: Many fans of the genre (especially ones who are music enthusiasts) often cry foul when one of their favorite rappers becomes "too popular", and tend to ignore what tops the charts deliberately.
  • Lighter and Softer: Current form of hip-hop is accused of this. Not just for specific artists but the genre as a whole, according to some.
  • Magazine Decay: Some feel this way about hip-hop magazines, And not just The Source either.
  • Mean Character, Nice Actor: Despite a lot of rappers and hip-hop artists having mean/hateful/rude/arrogant/narcissistic lyrics in their songs, plenty of them are genuinely nice/humble/down-to-earth people in real life.
  • Money to Throw Away: Literally, common in gangsta rap videos, the artist will flash cash, and start dealing out bills onto the ground to show that they make so much money (typically in the drug trade) they can throw it around.
  • Motor Mouth: Fairly common in the genre as a whole, especially among Midwestern artists (Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Twista were the first major mainstream proponents of the "chopper" style, which emphasizes extremely fast and precise deliveries with no pauses and sharply enunciated words that tend to blur together). Eminem and Tech N9ne are the most famous purveyors of the style.
  • Murder Ballad: Many songs are about killing people.
  • Murder Simulators: Rap music has been a popular scapegoat for almost 20 years. The media frenzy died down around the mid 90's, then in '99, Eminem made his debut and the controversy went right back into full swing. People often blame it (and video games) for teens' insensitivity to violence and for promoting stereotypes about women.
  • Music Is Politics: Discussed and invoked.
  • N-Word Privileges: Many black rappers use the word "nigga" constantly, White and Asian rappers do not. Hispanic rappers, oddly enough, do use the word however.
    • Though some white rappers either challenged this concept, or were caught using it in the past much to their embarrassment. White rapper Lil Wyte has used it numerous times in his songs and White/Asian rapper V-Nasty mistakenly thought she had these privileges in her earlier songs and faced a huge backlash over it, much to her embarrassment (though she still continues to use it to this day). While Iggy Azalea hasn't used the word herself in any of her songs, she's used the word in public saying that "it's OK because black people do it". In general though, most non-black (or Hispanic) rappers won't touch this word with a ten-foot pole.
  • Pop-Culture Isolation: The genre at its core is mostly known by urban audiences.
  • Protest Song: The genre produced a wide variety of these during the 90's. The biggest one arguably is " Fight The Power" by Public Enemy.
  • Public Medium Ignorance: Sometimes almost to a racist degree.
  • Rape as Drama: There have been rap songs talking about rape.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Some female emcees, and songs discussing said sassy women.
  • Screwed by the Network
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Rappers sometime talk about bypassing rules due to having lots of money.
  • Shaking the Rump: Commonly done by women in a lot of rap videos, especially if the song is about that particular body part.
  • Singer Namedrop: Almost every rap song has one.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Conscious hip-hop, and political rap.
  • The New Rock & Roll: Responsible for many rather racist moral panics, particularly in the 90s.
  • Token Minority: Female and/or non-black rappers, at least in North America. In countries where Africans are non-existent or a tiny minority, the majority of rappers will be whatever is most prevalent.
    • Interestingly enough for most of The '90s female emcees was quite common. So much so that arguably they wouldn't count as a Token Minority. But after the turn of the millennium all that changed. This has been brought up in a lot of Hip Hop mags and blogs.
      • Female rap does seem to be entering something of a renaissance as of the early 2010s, though.
    • In Australia, talents like Diafrix, 1/6 and N'fa (who worked with Heath Ledger, believe it or not) head the very small number of African-Australian emcees. Indigenous hip-hop is another significant minority subculture.
  • Villain Protagonist: The viewpoint adopted in several songs.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Some see the genre as this, or is capable of being this.
  • A Wild Rapper Appears!: Crossovers with other genres have been around from the start, but have been growing in popularity since the 2000's.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Rappers tend to promote themselves by guest-starring in other artists' songs.


Alternative Title(s): Rap, Hip Hop Rap

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