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It’s a cultural movement that incorporates different elements of art. Four foundational elements characterize hip hop culture.
The original four main pillars of hip hop include DJing/turntablism, MCing/rapping, B-boying/breaking, and visual/graffiti art.
These forms of expression have also developed into further subcultures with lasting legacies.The intersection of these four elements also generated a cultural revolution that rapidly spread across the globe.
To this day, hip hop continues to be a global phenomenon, developing new art forms that impact the lives of new and old generations.
Hip hop is a subculture and an art movement that emerged from the Bronx in New York City during the early 1970s. Its development reflected the negative effects of post-industrial decline, political discourse, and a rapidly changing economy. Looking back to New York City during this era, we see an economic collapse.
The city’s economy was falling apart due to the decline of the manufacturing industry and construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway. Much of the white middle class moved to the suburbs to escape the social and economic challenges. The migration shifted demographics and segregated communities. Conditions worsened in neighborhoods prominently populated by African-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Caribbean immigrants.
Urban despair also brought rising crime, gang violence, and poverty. Consequently, businesses closed their doors, causing many economic opportunities and sources of entertainment to evaporate. As a result, urban youth turned to the streets for recreation and self-expression. The abandoned buildings and parking lots set the stage for block parties.
These block parties laid the groundwork for everything associated with early hip hop culture. DJs and MCs brought the music by setting up mobile “Sound Systems” introduced by Jamaican culture. Sheets of cardboard became dance floors for break-dancers, and brick walls transformed into canvases for graffiti.