Hip-hop’s international influence

From its origin in 1970s New York, hip-hop music and dance has spread throughout the world.

The genre has inspired millions to listen, dance and become hip-hop artists themselves. This influence is why the U.S. Congress passed a bill last year to designate November as National Hip Hop History Month.

“The celebration of Hip Hop history and the study of it is essential to our democracy, our innovation, our voice, and who we are as human beings,” said Representative Jamaal Bowman, who sponsored the bill with Representative Maxine Waters.

In 2017, hip-hop surpassed rock ‘n’ roll as the most popular genre of music in the United States. Famous American hip-hop artists include Jay-Z, Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G. and Ice Cube.

What is hip-hop?

During an August 1973 dance party in the Bronx borough of New York City, Jamaican American DJ Kool Herc experimented with playing the same record on different turntables and mixing the sounds together. The DJs who followed his example sparked a cultural movement in New York that soon inspired other artists in the United States.

Jay-Z onstage (© David Richard/AP Images)
Jay-Z speaks during the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony October 30, 2021, in Cleveland. (© David Richard/AP Images)

According to the Universal Hip Hop Museum in the Bronx, hip-hop as a genre encompasses:

  • DJing, when a person controls the music, beats and rhythm of a song.
  • MCing, when a singer aligns spoken word or poetry with the beat.
  • Break dancing, which is a type of street dance that is often improvised.
  • Writing, which includes tagging or graffiti art.
  • Knowledge, understanding the social and cultural impact of the genre’s history.

Since the 1970s, hip-hop has influenced other genres, such as rap, pop, K-pop and trap.

Hip-hop across the globe

B-Boy Phil Wizard on his head break dancing (© Lee Jin-man/AP Images)
Winner Philip Kim of Canada, known as B-Boy Phil Wizard, competes during a final event of the 2022 World Breaking Championship in Seoul, South Korea, October 22. Break dancing will make its debut as an Olympic sport at the 2024 Paris Olympics. (© Lee Jin-man/AP Images)

Hip-hop dance is widely popular around the world. Since 2002, the Hip Hop International dance competition has drawn together over 50 countries to participate in the yearly World Hip Hop Dance Championship in a different city every year.

“Paying homage to its roots in b-boy culture, Hip Hop International’s worldwide street dance battles featuring the most notorious poppers, lockers, bboys, bgirls, whackers and all stylers culminates every year with the World Battles held in conjunction with the World Hip Hop Dance Championship,” the organization’s website says, invoking the wide range of hip-hop dance styles.

Six young Korean men performing (© Chris Pizzello/AP Images)
BTS performs “Butter” at the 64th Annual Grammy Awards on April 3 in Las Vegas. (© Chris Pizzello/AP Images)

Hip-hop musical artists have emerged from across the world too, including the popular genre of Korean Pop (K-pop).

The South Korean boy band BTS — which originated as a hip-hop group — has gained worldwide renown for their music, topping charts in South Korea and the United States.

In France, Claude M’Barali, known by his stage name, MC Solaar, is among the most famous and influential hip-hop and rap artists in the country. Born in Senegal and raised in the suburbs of Paris, M’Barali has released eight albums since 1991. His most recent album won the Victoires de la Musique award for best album of 2018.

MC Solaar posing with his hands up near his face (© Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)
French rapper Claude M’Barali, whose stage name is MC Solaar, poses during a photo session in Paris in September 2021. (© Joel Saget/AFP/Getty Images)