by Damon Chandru Sajnani

About Damon Chandru Sajnani

Damon Chandru Sajnani is Assistant Professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-­Madison. He is working on a book titled “The African HipHop Movement: Youth Culture and Democracy in Senegal.”


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).