#Holla peeeeeeps!!

Hope y’all having a good time. Listening to old songs makes me go weeeee…!! But recently I came across a track named “9 elements” by KRS-One. Damn!! It made me think more about the elements. I mean, like every other hiphopite, I considered the existence of only 4 elements of hip hop culture. But KRS-One, talked about five more.

One : Breaking or breakdancing
Rally b-boying, freestyle or streetdancin’
Two : MC’ing or rap
Divine speech what I’m doing right now no act
Three: Grafitti art or burning bombin’
Taggin’, writin’, now you’re learning! uh!
Four : DJ’ing, we ain’t playing!
{*scratch*} You know what I’m saying!
Five : Beatboxing
Give me a {*beatboxin*} Yes and we rockin’!
Six : Street fashion, lookin’ fly
Catchin’ the eye while them cats walk on by
Seven: Street language, our verbal communication
Our codes throughout the nation
Eight: Street knowledge, common sense
The wisdom of the elders from way back whence
Nine : Street entrepreneur realism
No job, just get up call ’em and get ’em

– 9 Elements by KRS One

Like I said, the usual four elements of hip hop are Emceeing, DJing, Breaking and Graffiti Writing.

Breakin’ / B-boyin’ / B-girlin’

Breaking or Breakdancing goes back to DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell and also the birth of Hip Hop (For more details about it go to https://decipherthestreets.wordpress.com/2018/06/09/decipherit-naming-of-hip-hop/) in the Bronx during the 1970’s. The style is unique to Hip Hop because it made Hip Hop different from the genres. “Good Foot” by James Brown was an early forebearer to breaking in the late 60’s.

However, it wasn’t until DJ Kool Herc started sampling drum loops or “breaks” by using a double disc turntable. This kept the people in the crowd dancing, as it was a way to keeping alive the most rhythmic part of the music. This is also how B-Boys earned their street names. A new style of dance was developed to match Herc’s innovative music. Many dance styles similar to breaking did exist, but none of them spread as virally as this piece of art. By the late 70’s, competitive breaking began to spread like wildfire. It was growing. The art form was settling conflicts. But as we read this, we slowly realize that the music gave birth to this dance style. DJing became the main organ for this culture.

Breaking comprises of four different dance elements, each ingredient gets the recipe to attain its full potential. Toprocking is the aspect of breaking that involves moves performed from a standing position and is freeform in nature, executed with a wide variety of moves and attitudes. Next is downrocking, the inverse of toprock,a breaker utilizes all his/her fours to move around. Power moves demand momentum as the breaker moves anti-gravity. Freezes are the final component of breaking, consisting of a variety of poses, typically as a finishing move to end a performance. When all of these connect breaking is formed. Mighty Zulu Kings and Rock Steady Crew took breaking to another level.

Deejayin’ / Turntablism

As we all read through this, realization dawns upon. The music made this dance style to come into existence. Funk lead to Hip Hop music. Furthermore, turntablism got its roots in hip hop culture. Kool DJ Herc, an early hip hop music pioneer, credits gangs including the Black Spades with getting the hip hop scene started. He says, “It started coming together as far as the gangs terrorizing a lot of known discotheques back in the days. I had respect from some of the gang members because they used to go to school with me. There were the Savage Skulls, Glory Stompers, Blue Diamonds, Black Cats and Black Spades.”

A DJ (disc jockey) manipulates sounds and creates music and beats using two or more turntables with a DJ mixer. This comprises of scratching, toasting, beatmatching, crossfading and much more. Kool DJ Herc discovered the breaks. He deejayed the first hip-hop party in the summer of 1973. Herc isolated and focused solely on the percussive beat. Along with him, Grandmaster Flash, Grandmaster Theodore and countless others took turntablism to another level. They introduced “scratching”, which has now become one of the key sounds associated with hip hop music. Grandmaster Flash is known as the inventor of turntable wizardry. He perfected Herc’s breaks by using what he calls the “quick mix theory”.


A DJ is always accompanied by an emcee or a rapper. The word emcee is known as the Master of Ceremonies (M.C.) who hosts the ceremony or event. The emcee is a Hip Hop poet who directs the crowd by rhyming in spoken word and Rap means “fast read” or “spoke fast”. The Temple of Hip Hop believes that an emcee expresses through rhyme what is already on your mind, whereas the rapper tells you all about his or her self. True Hiphoppas are encouraged to study both styles for maximum success. Emceeing has been celebrated by Sha Rock, Chief Rocker Busy Bee, Keith Cowboy, Melle Mel, Grandmaster Caz, Rakim, Queen Lisa Lee, Slick Rick, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shanté, Muhammad Ali, and others.

Graffiti Writin’

The fourth known element is Graffiti Writing. Unlike, the above mentioned elements, graffiti roots do not start with hip hop itself. It goes back prior to the rise of hip hop music itself. It is more like adopted sibling of hip hop. Hence, people have always debated over writing being one of the elements of hip hop. The accepted theory is that graffiti art was created spontaneously with hip-hop’s other elements, sometime in the early 1970s. This aerosol art is basically writing on the walls. It is performed by markers, paints, sprays, etc. Being an illegal art it is considered a vandal. Graffiti expresses personal, social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression.

With graffiti, hip hop is a culture complete with art, dance and music. But like I mentioned before, KRS-One talks about 9 elements of hip hop. For more details go to https://thetempleofhiphop.wordpress.com/the-9-elements/. He has talked about beatboxing, street fashion, street language, street knowledge and street entrepreneurialism.


Apart from the four classic elements, the musical side of this culture was enhanced by Beatboxing. It is the musical expression of the body through the creation of sounds & designing of music by using the mouth, throat, and nose. Due to financial hardships and the lack of instruments, a pioneer was inspired to make drum rhythms with his mouth. The term Human Beatbox, thus came into being. Soon various artists picked up his style and so this techniques started blending into this culture. In 1983, Brooklyn, a trio known as Fat Boys (formerly known as Disco Three) popularized this art. In the early to mid-eighties, three names stand out head and shoulders above the rest – Darren ‘Buffy’ Robinson, Doug E Fresh and Biz Markie.

Street Fashion

Next up is Street Fashion. This pings me something BBoy Remind once quoted – Be conscious of what you wear and are promoting and make sure it is what you want to represent.

This particular element is exactly about it. Street Fashion is a distinctive style of dress originating from African American, Latin and other city youths of New York City, later followed by other cities. Each city has contributed various elements to the overall style seen worldwide today. Hip Hop icons flaunted brightly coloured name-brand tracksuits, sheepskin and leather bomber jackets, Clarks shoes and sneakers alongside some popular haircuts ranged from Jheri curl to the hi-top fade popularized by Will Smith. The heavy jewellery added the shine & swag to their appearances.

Obviously we all my hip hop homies know about it. I remember my friend once telling me that he can feel his character more aptly, by the way he dresses. HEHE!! I really found it funny then. But I now understand it. And not only fashion is an ancient form of communication, but our expressed consciousness is also represented in the way in which we beautify and adorn ourselves.

Street Language / Slang

Talking about communication, Street Language is the slang of the streets commonly referred to as Black English, Urban Slang and Ebonics. It is the the verbal communication of the streets. Slang terms are often only understood by people in a certain group as it is a way to show that you belong. You show that you’re one of the crowd by using terms that others don’t understand, and you can connect with like-minded people who understand just what you mean by using the latest slang terms. A few slangs are like busted, hip, ride, etc. For example, if I say that “I am hip” that certainly means that I am up-to-date. Thus, the street language makes people to find the right company for themselves. Certain boroughs or crews have their own native slangs which actually symbolizes their fam.

Street Knowledge

Next one is Street Knowledge which is the ancestral wisdom. It consists of techniques, philosophies,  phrases and codes given by our brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers of Hip Hop. Unlike in other cults, in hip hop, knowledge is not accumulated in quiet, ordered, academic environments. Hip Hop grants knowledge through art, dance and music about how to survive modern urban life. Street Knowledge includes the principles of hip hop.

Street Entrepreneurialism

With all these elements, Street Enterpreneurialism which comprises of street trade, having game and natural salesmanship. A Hip Hop artist him/herself finds it able to be self-employed, inventive, creative and self-educated. It is the urge to create and sell one’s own talent that is encouraged by these teachings. Entrepreneur is a self-motivated creative person who starts a commercial venture who is also known as a hustler and self-starter. Don’t just think that being a full-time hip hop artist is just a myth. Keep up your hustle. Value yourself.

These Nine Elements of Hip Hop are the way to independence and self-governance for all of us. We are blessed by them. Again, thanks to all our sisters, mothers, brothers and fathers.

After all this elemental discussion, I have really started grasping why KRS-One considers them all. Thanks to The Temple Of Hip Hop, that I came across them and could share them with y’all. Although, knowledge is argued to be the fifth element, but according to The Temple of Hip Hop philosophy, knowledge is at the 8th rank. But I personally, don’t feel the order is important. Knowledge & love are the ultimatums we all are in search for. No matter where they rank in this list, but they are just the base for everything in this world. So anyhow I am just gonna be thankful to all the people who put their whole & soul into this cult. And now my soul craves for much more. So, I will be digging into the depths in the upcoming posts. So stay connected.

Peace. See ya’ll soon.

9 Elements by KRS One

P.S. Do leave your comments the box below.

3 thoughts on “#DecipherIt – Elements of Hip Hop”

Comments are closed.