Synonymous with rap, hip-hop emerged as a culture and art movement in the Bronx, New York. It started as a means/tool of protest against the social injustice faced by African Americans, Native Americans, and other marginalized communities. Rap as a medium spread worldwide and is still serving as one of the best tools to raise a voice against any social injustice.

There are many reasons for hip-hop gaining immense popularity in such a short time. One of the reasons was that its foundation was simple and catchy, something millennials could adhere to. The energy of the movement was something as basic as their high school culture; they referred to the different branches of it as ‘elements’ back then. These elements included:

1. Writing (Graffiti)

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Graffiti refers to a modern art style done on alley walls and subway tunnels throughout the city, one that arose out of the liberation of art from mere aesthetic pleasure, and evolved into an expression of language, flow, and a break from the traditional concept of writing.

It seeks to turn calligraphy and illustration into an art style that borrows from the underlying local culture and represents a personal take on the global language of hip-hop.

2. DJing

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Coming out of an age of instrumentals and vocals, and into an age where music is dominated by computers, Disco music became very popular worldwide. This music used synths, percussion, and bass to get the audience pumped up, help them lose their inhibitions, and get them to start dancing. Soon, disc jockeys were being incorporated into nightclubs everywhere, and these disc jockeys started scratching the vinyl they were playing the music on, to add a sense of mystery and build up to the music.

This soon caught on and today hip-hop DJs use multiple sounds generated by computers and other sources to compose their music.

3. MCing (Rapping)

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What began with artists engaging the crowd to hold their attention while DJs performed later, evolved into rapping.  MCs began reciting rhymes on beats to entertain crowds and host their audiences, and slowly started grabbing their attention. This is the segment that has evolved the most to date: everything that is being presented now revolves around these rappers. Rappers use their awareness on various situations to spread their messages; however, with the large-scale commercialization of rap, music now revolves around multiple topics.

In addition to that, there was an integral part called “knowledge” that these rappers brought to the table.

What they called staying true to the rap game and “wit”, was necessary to spin the tale around their life and stay relevant to the ongoing situation.

4. Dancing, B-boying and Breakdancing

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Dance and movement were soon moving away from a European Bourgeoisie elegance and form to a more chaotic, more urban groove due to a shift in popular music. Stretching your body to the limit, and being backed by percussive beats, the dance soon began to involve more acrobatics, and breakdance was born. B-Boying was the next step in the evolution of breakdance, where stunts and power moves began to dominate the dance form.

5. Beatboxing

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Hip-hop's “Beatboxing" began in the 1980s. Doug E. Fresh, the self-proclaimed first "human beatbox" (and possibly its most renowned practitioner), Swifty, the first to use the inhale audio technique, Buffy, who helped refine several beatboxing methods, and Wise, who also helped spread beatboxing, are among its early pioneers. With his human turntable approach, Wise inspired a whole new generation of human beatboxers. Rahzel, who is recognized for his realistic robotic sounds and ability to sing and beatbox at the same time, is another pioneer of beatboxing. Vineeth Vincent pioneered the movement in India and is considered one of the biggest beatboxers in India.

You can learn more about these elements from the video below.

Hip-Hop / Rap in India

Hip-hop was introduced in India in the early 90s. Artists like Baba Sehgal, Bohemia, and others pioneered the movement in various regional languages. The first commercial hip-hop piece to be featured in a Bollywood movie was Ashok Kumar’s Gujarati rap. Later Baba Sehgal picked up the pace and dropped “Thanda Thanda Pani' which gave him huge success. He was followed by Bohemia who put native Punjabi rap on the map and took it further to the international rap community.

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These artists brought the first wave, with Bohemia ending up on BBC’s top hits. Artists gained huge success back then, but the movement picked up actual pace in its second wave, and it was carried forward by artists like Divine and Gully Gang, Raftaar, Emiway, Seedhe Maut, and others who not only drew millennial crowds but also huge financial investments from different brands.

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Rap in India is revolutionizing cultures, with more and more of the youth being drawn towards this form of music, and movies like Gully Boy bringing major reformation to this genre. Rap now serves as an alluring career opportunity to thousands of budding artists who dream to pave their careers in this genre of music. This is also made possible through learning opportunities like the rap course by Gully Gang on FrontRow.

The growth and journey of hip-hop in India and in the world are unstoppable. Are you ready to be a part of it?