From Block Parties To a Worldwide Culture: A Brief History of Hip-Hop

February 14th, 2020

Today, hip-hop is one of the world’s most popular and recognizable forms of music. Hip-Hop dance and culture is more prevalent than ever. What began as a freeform mixture of popular styles blaring at local block parties has evolved into a truly unique style that continues to inspire and excite fans worldwide. In recent years the culture has been embraced globally and shared through all forms of social media including TikTok and Fornite streams. In short, it’s a worldwide phenomenon that can be explored by everyone.

The Origins of Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop dance and music was created by African and Latino Americans 1970’s in New York’s South Bronx. These artists and musicians had a range of cultural traditions and music styles to take inspiration from including: funk, jazz, soul and R & B.

With DJ’s perfecting their breakbeats adding elaborate layers of samples and experimenting with new styles of rhythm, the MCs or emcees also came to experiment. The MC’s job was to hype up the crowd with chants, rhymes, and gestures while the DJ played. Over time, the MCs rapping became an integral part of the overall experience, morphing into more complex and poetic rhymes that came to define the genre from then on. This combination of remixed beats, diverse samples from other media, and intricate rhyming carried hip-hop to ever increasing popularity and renown through the 1980s and early 1990s. By the end of the millennia, it had become the world’s best selling music genre. In the 2000s, it would go on tho become the best selling genre of all time.

Hip-Hop Dance

Dancing hip-hop, much like the sound itself, has evolved from a mixture of diverse styles. Among the first definable styles of dance to emerge from hip-hop itself was breakin/b-boying. Also known as breakdancing, the physical demands and aggressive movements blended well with the emerging hip-hop sound. Some moves such as the six-step, CC’s, and windmill are some of the basic movements that came out of this break-in style. At the same time on the west coast funk styles such as popping and locking started to gain popular and merge with breakin. Television shows and movies such as Soul Train, Beat Street, Breakin and Wild Style helped introduced this movement to the mainstream. Modern hip-hop dance classes are more popular than ever. They’re perfect for children and adults of almost all ages, offering an energetic and expressive form of dance.

A Worldwide Culture

In light of today’s interconnected world, hip-hop is alive and well. People around the globe tune in to the music and culture through almost any means. In the digital age, the genre certainly reaches out to a broader audience than any style has before, and the form continues to evolve and reach new audiences.

Read more about the most influential dance groups in Hip Hop (pioneers of this dance).