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Hip hop is a type of music that started in the 1970s. It began in Jamaican-American, African-American, and Latino-American urban areas in some of the larger cities of the United States. Hip hop uses a style of singing called rapping. The singer or group chants or says words with a rhythm that rhymes. The lyrics of hip hop songs are often about the life of urban people in the big cities. Some hip hop song lyrics are about gangs, violence, and illegal drugs. Hip hop music also uses musical styles from pop music such as disco and reggae. Rap and hip hop music have become successful music genres.
Hip hop as a culture involves the music as well as a style of dressing called "urban" clothes (baggy pants, Timberland leather work boots, and oversize shirts); a dancing style called breakdancing or "B-Boying"; and graffiti, a street art in which people paint pictures or words on walls. In the 2000s, hip hop music and hip hop culture are very popular in the United States and Canada. Hip hop musicians usually use nicknames. Many of the popular hip hop musicians from the 2000s use nicknames, such as Snoop Dogg, Jay-Z, Eminem, Lil' Wayne, and 50-Cent.
Rapping is a form of singing. It is a mix between singing and talking. The words are spoken with rhythm and in the text there are rhymes. The beat in the background is a simple loop that is sometimes made by the rapper themself or sometimes copied from a sample CD. The simple loop carries out through the entire song usually, except for the chorus. It developed in the ethnic minority urban (city) areas, as an American form of Jamaican "toasting" (chanting and rhyming with a microphone).
Run DMC and The Sugarhill Gang were early popular hip hop groups in the 1980s. When rappers began to use violent language and gestures, the music was then liked by gangsters. This kind of music was called "gangsta rap". Gangsta rap often has lyrics which are about guns, drug dealing and life as a thug on the street. This genre also began in the 1980s and is still produced.
Some well known early rappers include: Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, The Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, and Sean "P-Diddy" Combs. In the 1990s there was a rivalry between the two big record labels "Death Row Records" and "Bad Boy Records". The rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. were murdered. Later, the two record labels stopped the rivalry. Because most of the rappers who rapped for "Death Row Records" were from the West Coast of the US and most of the rappers who rapped for "Bad Boy Records" were from the East Coast, this rivalry was called "the West Coast – East Coast beef".
The fastest rapper according to Guinness World Records is Ricky Brown from the United States. On January 15, 2005, he rapped 723 syllables in 51.27 seconds from his track.