Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching, breaking/dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling (or synthesis), and beatboxing.
While often used to refer to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip-hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip-hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip-hop culture, including DJing and scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.
Creation of the term hip hop is often credited to Keith Cowboy, rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. However, Lovebug Starski, Keith Cowboy, and DJ Hollywood used the term when the music was still known as disco rap. It is believed that Cowboy created the term while teasing a friend who had just joined the U.S. Army, by scat singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of soldiers marching. Cowboy later worked the "hip hop" cadence into a part of his stage performance, which was quickly used by other artists such as The Sugarhill Gang in "Rapper's Delight".
Universal Zulu Nation founder Afrika Bambaataa is credited with first using the term to describe the subculture in which the music belonged; although it is also suggested that it was a derogatory term to describe the type of music. The first use of the term in print was in The Village Voice, by Steven Hager, later author of a 1984 history of hip hop.
Much like dub music, hip hop as a DJing form started with no vocals and was purely of an electronic nature. However, the roots of spoken hip hop music are found in African-American music and ultimately African music, particularly that of the griots of West African culture. The African-American traditions of signifyin', the dozens, and jazz poetry all influence hip hop music, as well as the call and response patterns of African and African-American religious ceremonies. Soul singer James Brown, and musical 'comedy' acts such as Rudy Ray Moore and Blowfly are often considered "godfathers" of hip hop music.