by Damon Chandru Sajnani
The word “hip-hop” has various uses and overlapping meanings. People who most identify with hip-hop recognize it as a culture, and this meaning was developed and is advocated in explicit contrast with the more mainstream understanding of the term as a musical genre. When understood as a genre, it is most often thought to be synonymous with “rap music.” The term is also used to reference a dance style, and—in my experience—this is the word’s primary association for those who are least familiar with it. Related to its historical association with Blackness and social critique, hip-hop is also sometimes characterized as a cultural or social movement. As KRS-ONE rhymes, hip-hop is “more than music, hip is the knowledge, hop is the movement” (2007).