There's been a question that I've been thinking about for some time now. The question is, what makes something Hip Hop? Or rather, what makes someone a Hip Hopper? I guess what I mean is what characterizes Hip Hop (What are the guidelines for accurately labeling someone a Hip Hopper)? When I asked this question before to others, they just told me that one just has to be a practitioner of one the 4 main elements (breaking, graffiti, rap, dj) to be a Hip Hopper. But when I thought about it, to claim that would make all the mainstream rappers [who a lot of hip-hoppers say aren't hip hop] actually hip hoppers as well. And that would make every and any DJ or graffiti artist a hip hopper. So then the question arises (just like the other question), what makes someone a member of the Hip Hop culture? Is someone a Hip hopper just by being a dancer of the bboy style, a rapper, graffiti artist, or DJ?
Hip Hop is just that: a culture, however in the realm of music, the similarities blur. The standing is that rap, the music form, is a superimposed, glorified image over the facade of the hip hop lyricist. On one hand, the hip hop lyricist aims to become more than his words thought means of almost masturbatory fixation on experimenting with words and word interaction, the rap artist forgoes that for formulaic, almost predictable diction aimed solely on the scene of a party atmosphere. The hip hop lyricist sets apart from the rapper primarily on the observance and integration of the other elements of music generally. This sole act of artistic inclusion produces a work that aspires for something outside of music and leads to more of artistic interpretation.
Simply put, hip hop derives its influences from other genres, styles, even motifs from other forms of music, performance art (i.e turntablism), and cultural parallels (language barriers are transcended in the form of graffiti. Graffiti in its artistic core, is solely the flamboyant display of someone's persona or moniker in the form of color and form.)
Rap is the PERSONIFICATION of what a lyricist seems to be, however doesn't aspire for intellectual analysis. In its place, a glorified persona is born, a mask or a costume, a grand superimposed image of the lyricist; the ego of a wordsmith. Generally the sentiment goes to hip hop being "true", for its intangibility and visceral attempt (or more or less, goal as it seems) to be untreated artistic expression and doesn't respond well to varying palettes. Rap is what hip hop isn't (music speaking) and vice versa. Not to single anyone out however, Rap, in its own respects, carries the culture as the bearer of hip hop cultural impact and solutes them down into what the mainstream CAN accept. Rap can be granted this importance to hip hop, culturally speaking, that hip hop just isn't designed to travel in the mainstream, with its very nature based on introversion and particularity.
Rap, as it must, survives solely in the mainstream, alongside in recent times with pop sensations and it's ties to R&B in recent years (a personification of Soul music, specifically Motown), as the "spokesman" to hip hop. Personally, I may not agree with it, however, i can attribute Rap to many hip hop participants' introduction to hip hop music from the consequent distaste of rap music in recent years into an increasing number of individuals aligning themselves to the idealist culture of unapologetic self expression. Following rap, however, isn't this. Rap can be declared to exactly what you see in the mainstream media and upon further analysis, can be concluded as structured lyricism, mainstream cultural trends and the metamorphosis therein, and, in all respects, promoted imagery. Hip hop transcends all of that, and displaces itself from Mainstream by obscure gestures in conglomerating styles (surviving within other forms of music such jazz, funk, soul, etc., all as its components, hip hop music is a mash up combination of these music genres, if a sound had to distinguish Hip hop), cultural jargon (words, phrases that appeal to some, not all listeners. Think inside joke, some get it, others don't.), and the individual's identity as a ARTIST, not a musician.
I think that sums it up...(whew*)