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Rap and Hip Hop Culture

Second Edition

Fernando Orejuela

Publication Date - 03 May 2021

ISBN: 9780190852283

288 pages
7 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

A complete social and cultural history of rap and hip hop and its impact on American culture


Rap and Hip Hop Culture traces the ideological, social, historical, and cultural influences on a musical genre that first came to prominence in the mid-1970s in one of New York's toughest neighborhoods, the South Bronx. Orejuela describes how the arts of DJing, MCing, breakin' [b-boying], and graffiti developed as a way for this community's struggle to find its own voice. He addresses rap's early successes on the pop charts; its spread to mainstream culture; the growth of "gangsta rap" and mainstream society's reaction to it; the commercial success of rap music from the '90s through today; and the diffusion of hip hop throughout the world as a global phenomnenon. Throughout, this enlightening text highlights key performers, producers, and voices in the rap and hip hop movements, using their stories to illuminate the underlying issues of racism, poverty, prejudice, and artistic freedom that are part of rap and hip hop's ongoing legacy.

New to this Edition

  • Pays more attention to women and gender issues in rap
  • Integrates new threads of sociocultural history that led to the development of rap and hip hop
  • Offers more coverage of rap as a world music style, including rap in Africa, South America, and Asia
  • Provides a better balance of analysis of music and lyrics in Listening Guides by including more contemporary works


  • Designed for an introductory course in rap and hip hop for students with little or no background in music
  • Traces the roots of rap and hip hop culture in African and African American history
  • Addresses the many controversies surrounding rap music, including violence, sexism, and racial stereotyping
  • Includes chapter outlines and goals, questions for further discussion and study, and key terms

About the Author(s)

Fernando Orejuela, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. Dr. Orejuela specializes in youth culture and popular entertainments in the United States, focusing on hip hop, social justice issues and cultural or subcultural traditions. He teaches courses on hip hop culture, Latino hip hop, subcultures and youth music scenes, critical race/ethnic theory and music, musical subcultures and social movements, children's folklore and service learning, as well as sports and gaming cultures. He served as a consulting scholar for the National Museum of African American Music in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a member of the advisory team for Carnegie Hall's Digital Timeline: A History of African American Music. He is the co-editor of Black Lives Matter and Music (Indiana University Press, 2018) and his chapter "Play, Game, and Sport in American Folklore and Folklife" appears in The Oxford Handbook of American Folklore and Folklore Studies (Oxford University Press, 2019).


"My students appreciate the accessible writing, comprehensive material, and in-depth coverage. They tell me that they learn things using this book that they had not known, even when they are deeply immersed in hip-hop culture... Rap and Hip Hop Culture is the best book on the topic I've found on the market."--Tobin Miller Shearer, University of Montana

"Overall, I think Rap and Hip Hop Culture is one of the best on the market. The learning objectives, chapter summaries, study questions, thematic structure, key terms, pictures and website is what makes the book stand out from others in my opinion. I would recommend it to other professors."--DeReef Jamison, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1 What Is Hip Hop? What Is Rap?
    Learning Objectives
    A Few Definitions to Guide Our Study
    The Key Players
    The DJ 3
    The MC
    Breaking (B-Boys/B-Girls)

    Hip Hop Chronology
    Hip Hop's Roots
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 2 Hip Hop's Ground Zero: The South Bronx and Urban America
    Learning Objectives
    The South Bronx: Where Hip Hop Was Born
    The Lure of the Gang Lifestyle
    The Gang Leader
    From Street Gangs to Social Clubs
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 3 Graffiti Art and Breaking
    Learning Objectives
    Graffiti Art
    The Emerging Youth Graffiti Scene
    Graffiti Clubs

    The Importance of Style
    Style Wars

    The Second Generation
    Graffiti in the Marketplace
    Graffiti and the Transit Authority

    The End of the Graffiti Era
    B-Boying and Breaking
    Comparing the Martial Art and the Dance

    African American Roots of Breakdancing
    Tap Dancing
    Jitterbug and Dance Contests
    James Brown

    B-Boy, Breaking, and Breakdancing
    Kool Herc's Contribution
    The Term "B-Boy"

    Listening Guide: Listening to James Brown: "Give It Up or Turnit A Loose"
    Listening Guide: Listening to Jimmy Castor Bunch: "It's Just Begun"
    Early Style
    The Foundational Years: 1974-1977
    Latinos Contribute to the Dance Form: 1976-1977
    Hitting the Clubs
    B-Boying as Performance Spectacle
    West Coast Style
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 4 Rap's African and African American Cultural Roots
    Learning Objectives
    Rap's Pop Culture Roots
    African Roots of Rap as Oral Expression: The Jeli Tradition
    Storytelling Genres
    Boasting (Praising Oneself)
    Playing the Dozens/Signifyin'

    African American Girl Culture
    MC Battles
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 5 Old-School DJs and MCs
    Learning Objectives
    The First Wave: DJs and the Early Party Scene
    DJ Kool Herc
    Herc's Blueprints
    Competition and the Ensuing DJ Battle Culture
    Afrika Bambaataa
    Grandmaster Flash
    "Quick Mix Theory" and Other DJ Techniques
    The Founding Fathers' Contributions
    The Role of the DJ
    "Digging the Crates": [Re]searching for the Perfect Beat
    Techniques and Gear
    Sources for Beats: Funk

    The DJ Needs an MC
    The MC Emerges
    DJs Overshadowed by Their MCs

    The Hip Hop Name
    The Second Wave: "Rapper's Delight" Changes Everything
    Listening Guide: Listening to the Sugarhill Gang: "Rapper's Delight"
    The New Guard: Early Commercial Old-School Rap
    Listening Guide: Listening to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five: "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel"
    Crossing Over: The New Wave Connection
    New Technologies and New Experimentation
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 6 The Golden Era
    Learning Objectives
    From Old School to New School: Concept of Rappin'
    Second Generation of Rappers
    New-School Innovations
    A Survey of New-School Styles and Themes (1980s-1990s)
    Rap-Rock Fusion: The Emergence of Run-D.M.C. and the Beastie Boys
    Listening Guide: Listening to Run-D.M.C.: "Rock Box"
    Response Rap/Dis Rap: Putting Beef on Wax
    Rap Ballads

    Listening Guide: Listening to LL Cool J: "I Need Love"
    Feminist Themes
    Listening Guide: Listening to Queen Latifah: "Ladies First"
    Novelty/Humorous Rap
    Freestyle: a.k.a. Latino Hip Hop

    Listening Guide: Listening to Nayobe: "Please Don't Go"
    Hardcore Rap
    Dirty/Booty Rap

    Rap: Just a Fad?
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 7 Hardcore: "Message Rap" and "Gangsta Rap"
    Learning Objectives
    Hardcore Rap
    Flashback: "The Message" That Almost Didn't Happen
    Lyrical Referencing: Sister Souljah
    Visual References and Message Rap
    Political Empowerment: Public Enemy
    Listening Guide: Listening to Public Enemy: "Burn Hollywood Burn"
    From Cultural Movement to Political Movement to Popular Movement
    Hardcore, Too: From Gangsta Style to Gangsta Rap
    Earliest Gangsta Style
    Think Like a Gangsta

    The L.A. Gangsta Rap Scene
    Listening Guide: Listening to Ice-T: "Rhyme Pays"
    Listening Guide: Listening to N.W.A.: "Straight Outta Compton"

    Rap Music as a Conduit for Political Culture
    Afrocentric Rap
    Five Percent Rappers

    Consideration of Black Nationalism and Rap Music: Wasn't Old School also "Message Rap"?
    Gangstas and Stock Characters from Folklore: Two Types of Hustlers
    Popular Culture Media Images in Gangsta and X-rated Rap: Blaxploitation and Gangster Films
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 8 Hardcore II: Gangsta in the '90s and Responses from Within the Rap Community
    Learning Objectives
    Keeping It Real? Issues Underscoring the Representation and Exploitation of Rap
    Harsh Messages of Gangsta and X-rated Rappers
    X-rated Rap/Miami Bass
    Controversy with Gangsta and X-rated Rap
    Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC)
    Charges of Obscenity and Censoring Hip Hop
    1994 Senate Hearings Against Gangsta Rap

    The Emergence of G-Funk
    Listening Guide: Listening to "Fuck With Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')"
    Followers of G-Funk
    Pop Rap Goes Hardcore
    East Coast-West Coast Rivalry: Not Just Biggie and 2Pac
    Responding to Gangsta Rap's Domination
    Spiritual Themes
    Lauryn Hill
    Rastafarian Themes
    Black Feminist Spirituality and Values

    Listening Guide: Listening to Lauryn Hill: "Doo Wop (That Thing)"
    Christian Rap
    Rap and Judaism
    Jazz-Rap Fusion
    Jazz-Rap Fusion Movement in the 1990s

    Listening Guide: Listening to Us3: "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)"
    Listening Guide: Listening to A Tribe Called Quest: "Excursions"

    Women in Hip Hop and Rap
    Women as Objects from a Male Rapper Perspective
    Women as Subject:
    Towards a Womanist Approach to Hip Hop
    White Rappers in the 1990s
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 9 Hip Hop Culture and Rap Music in the Second Millennium
    Learning Objectives
    Hip Hop: Into the New Millennium (1995-Today)
    What Is Underground Hip Hop?
    The South
    Southern Hip Hop Styles
    Southern Message Rap
    Southern Gangsta

    Bounce Music (New Orleans)
    Listening Guide: Listening to David Banner, Featuring Lil' Flip: "Like a Pimp"
    Lil Wayne Phenomenon
    Chopped and Screwed (Houston)

    Listening Guide: Listening to Three 6 Mafia, Featuring UGK and Project Pat: "Sippin' on Some Syrup"
    Crunk (Memphis and Atlanta)/Crunk & B
    Snap Music (Atlanta)
    Cocaine Rap
    South as Pop

    Underground Rap as Independent or Alternative Rap Music
    Rhymesayers Entertainment
    The Underground Scene in Los Angeles: The Good Life Café and Project Blowed

    The Millennials (or the Millennial Generation)
    Pharrell Williams and Kanye West
    Young Innovators
    Drake and Nicki Minaj
    Listening Guide: Listening to Kanye West, Featuring Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, and Bon Iver: "Monster"
    Hip Hop Futurism
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 10 New Terrain, Political Turmoil, Defiance, & Cultural Movements in the 2010s
    Learning Objectives
    I Like What You Are, But I'm in Love with What You Have the Potential to Be
    Hip Hop Arts and Communication: The Newer Normal
    Hamilton's Affair with Hip Hop: Izza Broadway Takeover
    Trap: Southern Style for a Pop Fandom
    Hip Hop and the Political Preserve: Conscious Rap's Second Coming
    "We gon' be alright! We gon' be alright!"
    Music and Activism at the End of the Decade
    Women Rappers' Fourth Wave Ascendance
    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms

    Chapter 11 Global Hip Hop
    Learning Objectives
    This is Why They Show Me Mad Love All Around the World
    "Our" Beginning
    Global Linguistics
    A Twist on Disenfranchised Communities
    Around the World in a Few Examples
    In Ghana
    In China
    In France
    In Latin America

    Indigenization and Crossover Success
    Non-US English Rapping

    Chapter Summary
    Study Questions
    Key Terms
    Learning Objectives

    Learning Objectives
    What Is Hip Hop? Round Two
    Chapter Summary
    Key Terms