There’s nothing like hip-hop music. Since the late 1970s, when the culture and music was taking form, there was something unique about the beats and the rhymes, as well as the dances, fashion and graffiti.
Now that hip-hop has fully bloomed and penetrated almost every facet of pop culture, it’s become clear that there is just no musical genre in the world that can currently compare.
That’s no dis; we love pop, rock, reggae, EDM and all other forms of music, but we just happen to think hip-hop is the best and we have 21 reasons to prove it.
1. The Lyrics
No other genre of music packs as many multilayered, dual-meaning and witty lyrics in three minute and 30 second songs. Seriously, picture Katy Perry singing: “I should probably sign to Hit-Boy, ’cause I got all the hits, boy.”
Part of what makes rap lyrics so appealing is the slang that MCs use to paint their picture. Spitters like E-40 have created a language that everyone uses, so keep that in mind the next time your grandmother says “fo’ shizzle.”
3. The Fashion
No doubt hip-hop has been influencing everyday fashion since the 1980s. So when you see Taylor Swift with a fitted hat, a hoodie and a boombox you’ll understand the influence.
4. Tupac Shakur
No other genre of music has an artist quite like Tupac. He blended his own gangsta and Black Panther political influence with worldly views that took cues from musicians like Bob Marley and John Lennon. Even though he was murdered 18 years ago, his legacy still lives on.
5. The Dances
6. Free Mixtapes
When was the last time Brittney Spears or Madonna gave you a free album online? 50 Cent helped to revolutionize the music biz by dropping free mixtapes, and ever since, hip-hop fans have gotten some real classics and never had to pay a dime. Projects like Drake’s So Far Gone and Wiz Khalifa’s Kush and Orange Juice were literal gifts.
7. Kanye West
Try to imagine a world without Kanye West, we certainly can’t. Thank you hip-hop.
8. The Television Shows
Some of the best television shows have either starred rappers or have had a hip-hop twist. Will Smith gave rappers another outlet with “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and MCs like Queen Latifah (“Living Single”) and LL Cool J (“In the House”) followed. Now we have shows like “Love & Hip-Hop” and “Mac Miller and the Most Dope Family.”
There is no other genre of music as competitive as hip-hop. Not only is there a robust battle scene, even the biggest rap stars go at it: Jay Z vs. Nas, 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule. If Katy Perry and Lady Gaga were MCs, one of them would’ve surely dropped the ether by now.
10. So Many Collaborations
As competitive as hip-hop music is, there is no other genre that collaborates more. Not only do rappers lend their voices to artists outside of the genre (Juicy J on Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” and Nicki Minaj on Jessie J’s “Bang Bang”), hip-hop artists also know how to make a great posse cut. In what other form of music are artists as big as Drake, Lil Wayne, Eminem and Kanye West making songs together? We’ll wait.
11. Big Business
Hip-hop is big business. Jay Z is a sports agent, Diddy owns a cable network, Eminem has his own satellite radio station and Dr. Dre figured out how to sell everyone $300 headphones. No other artists get these types of business opportunities.
12. Social Voice
Rappers often get criticized for glorifying violence and praising materialism, and while it’s all true, those criticisms only tell a part of the story. MCs like Talib Kweli, Immortal Technique, Mos Def, Macklemore and Killer Mike are just a few of the rappers who use their voice to speak on social issues. Even more mainstream guys like Nas (“I Can”), J. Cole (“Be Free”) and Jeezy (“My President) pack a message in their music.
13. The Beats
Hip-hop producers have been laying beats for the world’s biggest artists since the days of Rick Rubin. When Christina Auguilera wanted to go Back To Basics, she called DJ Premier. When Miley Cyrus wanted to shed her kiddie image, she got Mike Will Made It. And Justin Bieber is currently experimenting over DJ Mustard beats. You’re all welcome.
Em sold more than 32.2 million albums in the 2000s, making him the top-selling artist of the last decade. Oh yeah, he’s also one hell of a rapper.
No other artists wear the jewelry that rappers do. The Notorious B.I.G.’s Jesus piece has become a staple, while Yung Joc tipped the scales with his enormous hustlenomics pendant. Still, no rapper can top Slick Rock’s jewelry collection.
16. The Love Connection
Sure we have Jay and Beyoncé, but they aren’t hip-hop’s only lovebirds; there’s Future and Ciara, Remy Ma and Papoose and in years passed we had Pepa and Treach as well as KRS-One and Ms. Melody.
Not only do rap artists have the best names, they also have the best aliases. Diddy has P. Diddy, Puff Daddy, Puffy and King Combs. But Big Boi a.k.a Daddy Fat Sacks, a.k.a. Lucious Left Foot a.k.a. Billy ocean a.k.a. Francis the Savannah Chitlin Pimp takes the crown.
18. Commercial Appeal
When big companies want to hawk their products, more often than not they’re calling on your favorite rapper. There have been a number of corny rap commercials, but when they get it right, it really works.
19. The Notorious B.I.G.
Like Tupac, the Notorious B.I.G. is one of modern day music’s most influential artists. Though he was gunned down in 1997, Biggie’s spirit still lives on, whether in samples or printed on t-shirts, it’s clear that we’ll always love Big Poppa.
20. The DJ
We respect Steke Aoki, Deadmau5 and all of the other EDM DJs who are killing it right now, but DJ Scratch lifts his turntables up in the air and mixes records behind his back. He’s the real MVP.
21. Jay Z
Forget hip-hop, Hov is the coolest dude in music. He’s married to Beyoncé, best friends with Coldplay frontman Chris Martin and raps about Five Percent teachings with Jay Electronica. He’s still delivering top-notch music (Magna Carta… Holy Grail), while ushering in new talent like J. Cole and continually raising the bar for his contemporaries.