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).

The term began as a wordless vocable in scat singing that interspersed the rhymes of early rappers in the late 1970s. Keith Cowboy is …

This essay may be found on page 93 of the printed volume.

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