Hip hop music is a musical genre that developed as part of hip hop culture, and is defined by four key stylistic elements: rapping, DJing/scratching, sampling (or synthesis), and beatboxing. Hip hop began in the South Bronx of New York City in the 1970s. The term rap is often used synonymously with hip hop, but hip hop also denotes the practices of an entire subculture.
Rapping, also referred to as MCing or emceeing, is a vocal style in which the artist speaks lyrically, in rhyme and verse, generally to an instrumental or synthesized beat. Beats, almost always in 4/4 time signature, can be created by sampling and/or sequencing portions of other songs by a producer. They also incorporate synthesizers, drum machines, and live bands. Rappers may write, memorize, or improvise their lyrics and perform their works a cappella or to a beat.
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 marching soldiers. 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.