Hip Hop is a music genre that arose in the 70s in the Bronx, a borough of New York City. It was a mixture of black music, R&B and rap. It arose as an expression of street culture and it was played during block parties, the parties organised in the city streets by young Afro- and Latin-Americans. The lyrics that accompany the music via the freestyle – i.e. the art of interpreting or improvising – deal with topics of current affairs or social interest. The phenomenon was soon linked to that of street writing, the art of drawing graffiti on the city walls. The official start of the movement was in the first half of the 70s, when Afro-American DJs Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash competed against each other, experimenting with new mixing techniques, merging genres such as reggae, soul and funk.

From the Bronx the movement grew quickly and it organised itself industrially. In the 80s, it evolved with the products of the first bands, like Run Dmc, Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys. The genre soon spread to the West Coast of the United States, too, and in the Los Angeles area Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dog and Dr.Dre were the representatives of the Gangsta Rap, a kind of Hip Hop with more singsong tones and more violent topics. The differences in style were mirrored in the social fabric, leading to the feud between the East Coast rappers and the West Coast ones, which ended up in the tragic murders of renowned musicians Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. In the late 90s, Hip Hop was at the top of American charts and it spread all over the world, giving rise to a culture made of music, dance and graffiti that influenced other music genre and art forms with its style. Hip Hop arose in an urban-decay context, and thanks to young artists who saw art as a spontaneous and self-taught creation, it soon became – for its originality and disruptiveness - the reference street cultural movement for Afro- and Latin-Americans.

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