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What are the 5 elements of Hip-Hop?

Hip-Hop includes many fun and fulfilling dance styles. With these, you are free to use all your energy, exercise your creativity, and express your mood. When you first start off, this can be difficult, as you’ll be focused on learning the basics, but over time you’ll get better and learn to adapt the traditional moves you’ve learned to your own style and personality.

As you get better and begin to branch out more, it’s important to recognize what is traditionally considered “Hip-Hop.” There are five elements that make up the original essence of Hip-Hop, and we’ve defined them below to help you on your journey.


A street dance originating among Black youth in the United States, b-boying is also often referred to as breaking (and erroneously as breakdancing). After becoming popular in the US, b-boying spread to other countries, and continues to be danced worldwide. Distinctive traits of the dance style include floor-based movement, physically impressive techniques, syncopated rhythm, and lots of personality.


MCing, short for Master of Ceremonies, got its name from Jamaica, which was the first place to give rappers the title of MC. In Hip-Hop culture, MCing is the most visible individual role. MCs are responsible for entertaining the crowd through the rhythmic delivery of rhymes, keeping in time with whatever music might be playing in the background and providing a canvas for the dancers to work with. As an art, it takes time to be comfortable with capturing the flow of rhymes and matching those words with the beat of the music. 


Graffiti is an artistic and visual expression of Hip-Hop culture. It was first found tagged on the streets of Philadelphia by a high school student who wanted to get the attention of a girl, and since then has grown to cover the outside of buildings, walls, buses, sidewalks, the insides of art galleries, the fronts of teachers, and even the album covers of famous singers and rappers. As an art form, graffiti is much more than just tagging – it shows the expression of Hip-Hop culture that belongs to its listeners. 


Short for Disc Jockeying, DJing is the label given to those talented souls who are able to create new music using already recorded songs, music, sounds, etc. DJing comes in many forms. Some DJs choose to make their mixes beforehand, selling them premade to their listeners, while others experience the art in the moment, creating new tunes that can’t be found anywhere else. Like the other four elements of Hip-Hop, DJing is an intensely creative process that results in innovation not only in music but in the culture of Hip-Hop as a whole. 


One of the spiritual foundational elements of Hip-Hop, BeatBoxing has the ability to set the tone when it comes to Hip-Hop music. Typically, a beatboxer will create a repeating beat, using their mouth to create sounds that will be then accompanied by a rapper. In this way, beatboxing sets the scene for important Hip-Hop events like rap battles, transforming the mouth and body of the beatboxer into an instrument. While professional beatboxers make beatboxing look easy, it’s not. Lots of practice is necessary to give beatboxing the right sound, along with special techniques for breathing to more efficiently use breath pauses for increased endurance and stamina. 


While these five elements of Hip-Hop don’t always intersect with Hip-Hop dance, they are all integral parts of Hip-Hop culture. At the end of the day, Hip-Hop dance is born from the love of Hip-Hop music and the need for self expression. That’s why it’s important to understand the five elements of Hip-Hop and how they arose from similar circumstances.

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