Hip hop dance is a term used in reference to a choreographed dance and social styles mainly danced in response to hip-hop music. Alternatively, it is also used in reference to a genre of music that has over the years evolved to constitute the hip-hop culture. Accordingly, hip hop dance entails diverse styles mainly locking, breaking, and popping.

These dancing styles emerged and gained prominence during the 1970s (Freeman para. 5) and were affiliated with Latino Americans and Blacks. By and large, hip hop culture has been associated by many to a low urban class status which have been linked with numerous vices in the community at large.

Nevertheless, this music genre has been extraordinarily a source of solace to those who embrace and practice it. From my perspective the negative attitude directed towards this conspicuous culture is an attribute of shallow knowledge about this wide spread culture. Thus this paper seeks to explore this culture with emphasize on the hip hop dancing. Whereas hip hop has gained popularity over the years since its inceptions, on the other hand, an increasingly larger number of critics have sought to voice their concern on how this genre of music has thus far been too commodified. Hip hop stemmed from an urban community of the south Bronx suburb in the city of New York and spread all across the globe.

Financial constrains could not deter the spirit and creativity of the black communities residing in the ghettos. These black neighborhoods would regularly hold block parties, and dancers would take to the available space to dance to their favorite funk beat. Sooner than later, these block parties transformed into groups contest in which individual dancers would form alliance amongst themselves, for instance the famous Dynamite Rockers and the Zulu Kings, and began to battle one another with their imaginative vertical moves denoted up-rocking and down-rocking. These moves entailed dropping to the base of the dancing floor and intertwine their feet against their hand. Simultaneously, dancers in California state begun ‘locking’ and ‘pocking’ the Electric Boogaloos on Soul Train [TV show] emulating their jerky robotic moves. Noteworthy, this TV show greatly influenced the then young Michael Jackson, King of pop (Freeman para. 3).

Subsequently, further acrobatic moves were innovated by groups of dancers such as the famous Crazy Legs. These acrobatic muscle moves include; the suicide, the turtle, wind mill and flares, headspins as well as backspins. The suicide move signifies flipping to fall flat back first, whereas the turtle represented spinning horizontally with the trunk aligned to the floor (Freeman para. 4).

Characteristics of Hip hop music

Hip hop refers to a cultural society within which music, graffiti and break dancing, is a constituent. Hip hop music is basically composed of two segments; rapping and DJing. Rapping refers to the presentation of rapid, highly musical and lyrical verbal. Djing on the other hand refers to the composition of instrumentation via beatboxing, turntablism, instrumentation (arrangement of musical instruments), or sampling.

From the 1970s, when hip hop made its impact, it has since greatly impacted on the social aspects of the society, and more so in as far as the youths are concerned. Probably the reason why hip hop music is so appealing to the youth is because it reflects on the economic, political as well as the social realities that are often faced by the disenfranchised youth every day. Hip hop beats are often in 4/4 time pattern. From its rhythmic foundation, hip hop moves are based on an anticipated sense more or less close to the stress associated with jazz beat, as opposed to a straight 4/4 count associated with rock and roll, pop music to name but a few. With similarity to the triplet swing stress associated with jazz beat, hip hop rhythms stand out powerful; since it’s seldom written down the way it sounds and is commonly played in about near delay or laid back manner (Global Oneness para. 2).

The above 4/4 time pattern was developed majorly in funk and soul music. This pattern involves repetition of thematic and beats music all through the duration of a track. The 4/4 pattern was initially developed and practiced all through the 1960s and 1970s by Brown, J who was famously acknowledge the godfather of soul. His music presentation was characterized by synchronized talking, singing and screaming in manner similar to what the contemporary MCs do. Hip hop music essentially favors purpose for the MC because it emphasizes the significance of delivery and lyrical prowess (Global Oneness para. 2). On the other hand, instrumental hip hop does not align to the above rhythm structure.

Instead, it allows producers as well as DJs the liberty to experiment with designing instrumental patterns. Moreover, the DJs and producers of this subgenre can integrate segments of rap vocals although they are not influenced by the expectations for an MC (Global Oneness para. 4). Hip hop music instrumentation is derived from other music genre such as, R & B, funk and disco, in regard of utility including the records models and sound system, as well as session musicians alongside their set of instruments (Global Oneness para. 2). The invention of drum machine facilitated the development of partially original piece of work by hip hop artist, in converse with the original hip hop music that had entirely the DJ’s breakbeats and disc records samples constituent. A drum set sound facilitated the use of vinyl records beside their capacity to be played on their own.

Because the drum beats was the most danceable segment of the hip hop music, the hip hop musicians increased their focus on the quality of drum beat sequence. This lead to the improvement on drum machines to produce a powerful kick beat with an intense background bass sound (Encyclopedia II, par 6). Another break through in the hip hop music followed the invention of a digital sampler. A sampler facilitated digital recording of piece of music and storage of small sound segments from whatever output machine including the turntable. This allowed producers to sample pianos, guitars, upright bases and horns which they could play parallel to their drums (Global Oneness para. 7).

The unique significance of the coarse, choppy beat of hip hop has continued to elude the appreciation of many people. Hip hop music rarely share a feature with the rest of music genre. In fact every hip hop band beat show a remarkable distinction from the beats of other hip hop bands since they use diverse samples in conjunction with the course, choppy texture of devices to design their own sound which correspond with their album. During their live performance they usually replicate this beat with the entire band(Global Oneness para. 8).

Like any other characteristics of a community, hip hop music has its share of misguided perception about its consistency. One prominent misconception shared across all walks of life is the belief that drum machines are used in hip hop music bands as a passive relief to a valid band. Furthermore, hip hop music producers have developed obsession for the frequency, texture and timbre of particular samples and drum machine beat.

This conviction is supported by the extent of inequity between a music session drummer presenting a break of the James Brown Funky Drummer, and the sample actual break from the original music data. Nevertheless, efforts to circumvent such inadequacy have been made in the recent years through inclination for original instrumental masterpiece in hip hop music by some popular producers and artist including The Neptune, The roots , OutKast and Timbaland(Global Oneness para. 2).

Types of Hip hop dancing

Hip hop dancing techniques are numerous and depend on the location of the dancer on the dance-floor. The most common hip hop moves include Popping and Floorwork.

Popping is a subgenre of hip hop associated with breakdancing which involves faltering seclusion of the joints in robotic rhythms. Floorworks on the other hand, concerns more choreographic motions of the feet; often in short sequences that can be aggregated into typical hip hop dance incorporation. Further, samples of hip hop dancing motions include, glide, heel toe, harlem shake, crip walk, moonwalk, sponge bob and soulja boy (Miller para 7). There are two most common hip hop dancing styles including break-dancing and snake-hips. To begin with, break-dancing also know as B-boying, begun to develop in south Bronx parallel to other aspects hip hop culture.

B-boying was initiated by dancer groups who attended DJ Kool Herc’s block party. Such dancing teams had the habit of saving their best moves for the break segment of the music. These dancers would thrust themselves far way front of the spectators and give their best shot, through a uniquely, frantic way. The most famous move called the headspin involves supporting the weight of the entire body on the scalp of head while propelling the body entire body trunk using just the head.


Fresh styles and moves of hip hop dance are continuously being developed. These moves and styles pose an intriguing challenge to the choreographers as well as the dancers across the dance context to the layman.

Hip hop dance is continuously undergoing transformation in its street settings, while concurrently spreading its influence across cultural boundaries to reach to the mainstream culture. This music dance genre commands a wide range of attention from across the various walks of life. Hip hop dancing is taught in social centers, dance studios and have been utilized as featured dance genre on famous TV programs including Dancing with the Stars Tour and So you Think You Can Dance. Numerous parents and self-chosen critics of cultural morals have condemned hip hop culture as a community vice, which ironically has helped sustained its popularity among diverse cultural settings (Miller, par 8). Thus, it is recommended that every person should gather sufficient knowledge about this culture before making baseless conclusion against it.

Works Cited

Freeman, Santiago .

Planet Funk. Dance Sprit Magazine. July 2009. 26 November, 2010 http://www.webcitation.org/5q4R2fdWC Global Oneness. Hip hop music: Encyclopedia II – Hip hop music – characteristics.

2009. November 24, 2010. http://www.experiencefestival.com/hip_hop_music_-_characteristics Miller, Gray. Dance: Hip Hop Dance Moves. Love to know.

26 Nov. 2010. Press.


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