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Know the Core Difference Between Hip-Hop and Rap

Know the Difference Between Hip-Hop and Rap
From its humble beginnings that focused on life, to its explosion on the mainstream scene, to becoming a global rage, the world of Hip-Hop spreads far and wide with its rich history and legendary musicians. But when Rap came into the picture, people were not sure if the lines between the two were clearly defined or blurred. We try to break down the debate of Hip-Hop vs. Rap, while trying to explain the difference between the two.
Rashmi Sunder
Last Updated: Jul 14, 2017
Short and Sweet!
As KRS-One crisply put it in his track named 'Hip-Hop Vs. Rap', "Rap is something you do Hip Hop is something you live."
When we think Hip-Hop, we think of fancy cars, money raining down, curvaceous women, and a lot of bling! But back when Hip-Hop was first established as having its own identity, it had very modest roots.
As the story goes, back in the '70s when block parties became popular in the Bronx area of New York City, DJ would try to play around with jazz, disco, funk, and soul tracks, and they introduced breaks, isolation, scratching, and sound patches to give the song a more party flavor.
With the advent of drum machines and sampling technology, these DJ got more creative and experimental with the tracks and started incorporating African styles like "call and response", "toasting", "Jamaican dub music" and "signifying", among others variations.
With time, they stopped using samples from other tracks, and started making their own tracks, mixing it up along the way and infusing various other genres with it. It went from talking about good times, and life in the ghetto, to serious socio-political issues, disc tracks, to the materialistic, relationship-based, and pop culture subjects that are addressed today.
While all this is easy to keep track of, after its global spread and appreciation, the infusion of various genres with hip-hop, and the evolution of the vocal style used, it became difficult to differentiate between Hip-Hop and one of its most popular offspring- Rap.
Most people resign to the fact that both are one and the same thing or are two sides of the same coin. But while that is acceptable to some extent, there is in reality, a clear difference between the two. We give you the definition of Hip-Hop and Rap music, along with the origin of both, and what the distinction between the two really is.
As the legend goes, the term "hip-hop" first came into being when Keith Cowboy, a rapper from the influential group "Grand master Flash and the Furious Five", teased a friend who was about to join the army by repeating the words "hip" and "hop" in the style of scat singing, using the beats of a soldier's march. He later used the term a number of times in his performances, and the term eventually became popular.
As we mentioned in the introduction, Hip-Hop took birth in the city of New York in the 70's with DJ at block parties playing around with samples from existing tracks. An interesting fact is that it was also considered to have been influenced by disco, while at the same time trying to fight against the latter's popularity by creating a new kind of sound.
DJ kool herc
DJ Kool Herc is credited as being the "founding father of Hip-Hop", being that he was the first DJ to introduce breaks in the track that could be worked or MC'd upon.
At first, turntables and PA systems were the major equipment that were used in the creation of this new style of music. With improvements in technology and the introduction of equipment like the Linn 9000, the Roland TR-808 and 909 drum machines, and AKAI in the late '80s, people started creating their own mix tapes and incorporating a lot more samples and techniques into their music.
The Sugarhill Gang's track "Rapper's Delight" (1979) is one of the first Hip-Hop tracks to garner mainstream attention and success. By the 80's, this style became widespread in many parts of America.
What first started out as mostly instrumental recording, slowly grew to incorporate more vocals, with more complex structures and usage of a wider range of instruments that were layered over each other.
As time went by, the music spread across the globe, witnessed a transition from old school style to the new school Hip-Hop, to the golden era that created fusions with other genres ranging from soul, jazz, and R&B, to the more alternative rock, indie, metal, and electronic. Today, Hip-Hop and Pop have also been largely welded together due to the commercial nature of the style of music.
A wide range of subjects are addressed in Hip-Hop music today, and we have gone through a myriad of successful musicians from Africa Bambaataa, to Beastie Boys, Spoonie Gee, LL Cool J, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G, Run DMC, N.W.A, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, Jay-Z, Eminem, Ice-Cube, Nas, and a zillion others who have helped expand and mold this music into what we know of today.
So from the streets of New York, to the world stage, Hip-Hop has taken music to a very exciting level, and produced talent that has changed the way we perceive music. Let us move on to its counterpart, Rap music.
The word "Rap" is used to define the style of vocals that focuses on speaking the lyrics in rhymes, while following a rhythmic structure, and synthesized beats. It has its origin in African Music, significantly the "Griots". This incorporated the usage of linguistics such as "signifying", "toasting", "call and response", and a form of "jazz poetry".
Interestingly, the origin of the term itself has two varying definitions. The first is based on the meaning of "rap" in the English dictionary, according to which it means to "utter sharply or vigorously". The other is from the word "repartee" which is a conversation that involves witty responses and comebacks. So "rap" could have been a short form of the word.
The word caught on when musician Hubert G. Brown changed his name to H. Rap Brown. Back then, Rap was still used to refer to the small interactive sentences or recordings of the artists talking on the record. As they started incorporating more and more lyrics into their tracks, the word "Rap" came to refer to the vocal style of delivering the lyrics to the beat of each track.
Coke La Rock, who is credited as being one of the first rap artists, cited comedians' deliveries and poets who delivered jazz poetry in spoken word, as being major influences. Rap is considered to have evolved also from the announcement that DJ used to make on the microphone during their runs to pump the crowd or list the track names.
DJ Kool Herc popularized this when he incorporated this speech in the middle of his run or the breaks in the track. Today, Rap is so widely used that it is often used interchangeably with the term Hip-Hop.
We have successful artists like Eminem, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Common, Kurupt, Lauryn Hill, Iggy Azalea, Lupe Fiasco, Busta Rhymes, and many others who have taken the flow and delivery of their lyrics to a level, making Rap one the most common genres that is listened to by teenagers!
So we now know how it began, and by now you might just have noticed some similarities between both hip hop and rap. But we will help define both to further your understanding.
Hip hop couple and group
So Hip-hop is an American cultural movement that is a mixture of eight elements.
These are Break-Dancing, Graffiti Art, DJ-ing, Rapping, B-Boying, Street Smarts, Street Lingo, and Fashion. So, Hip-Hop is not just a genre of music, but it also encompasses the lifestyles and the artistic forms that go with it.
On the other hand, Rap is a vocal style where the lyrics are spoken to the beat of the track, while following a rhythmic structure and incorporating rhymes. So Rap still uses a lot of the musical structures that are used in Hip-Hop, while separating itself from the former in the way of the style of music.

So you ask, what really seems to be the difference then?
The major difference between the two is that one is the part while the other is the whole. Did you guess which is which? Hip-Hop essentially refers to not just the music, but the whole culture that follows it.
We have to remember that with the infusion of various genres into Hip-Hop, these new styles eventually branched out to form individual sub-genres. So if you look at it from that very perspective, Rap is a sub-genre of the vast world of Hip-Hop.
If we dig deeper, some people have suggested that when it comes to the themes that are discussed in each of the two forms, Hip-Hop talks about materialism, sexuality, substance abuse, and the good times too, whereas Rap is more socio-political, used to insult, mock, or call out fellow rappers, and in general, has a more serious tone as compared to Hip-Hop.
It is also said that the tone of Hip-Hop can range from slow, to peppy, to fast--paced, but that is arguable because with the evolution of Rap, people have experimented with the rhyme structure, and you can have the fast "spitters" to the ones who have changed the traditional 4/4 beat to a ¾ time signature.
So now that you know what's what, we thought we'll end this with the lyrics of the aptly title "Hip-Hop Vs. Rap" by KRS-One.
You you can't can't be be ripping the mic the mic like do re me me
Measles are contagious like my lyrical pages
Ripping and flipping the mic
From back in the back in the days, these days it's kinda hectic, hectic
When these s*****s don't respect it, check it
Flame on, I know the light is bright but keep on watching me
I'm stolen property, kicking the flavor to society
Police be clocking me, but logically they got to be
Cause they were taught that serious poetry would come from Socrates
But that ain't it, in 94 I'll kick the hit
If I was in front of Shakespeare, I'd battle the punk and take his s**t
I'm not having it
Bust the narrative I come to give, listen
Rap is something you do, Hip Hop is something you live
The difference is kids nowadays, they got the video
Rappers don't need skills to build so they don't really know
Hear me yo, I'm four times on Arsenio
Got ten videos, but does that help me flow? No
That's why when I come to the show MC's act like they don't know
And I'm never squeaking, I'm always freaking when I'm speaking
Inside I'm keeping a statement for police and
I'm down for peace and but not turn the other cheek and
So this DJ, he gets down
Mixing records while they go...
Round and round, round we go
Two years ago a friend of mine
And Flash is gonna rock your mind
Welcome to the terror dome, the terror dome
I wonder if I take you home
A cool operator operating correctly
But back in the days I knew rap would never die

Hope this helped! And whichever way you swing, there is much to appreciate in both these historical forms of music!