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What's the Difference Between "Rap" and "Hip Hop"?

Contributor Faith Salie volunteers to get to the bottom of your unanswered musical questions.

Monday, May 20, 2013

(flickr/emmettanderson flickr/bixentro)

In this second installment of our musical mysteries series, Soundcheck contributor Faith Salie attempts to discern rap from hip hop. She talks with Duke University professor Mark Anthony Neal about the difference between the two terms -- which, as it turns out, is fairly complex. 

"When we talk about hip hop, we're talking about a larger cultural experience," says Neal. "Rap music is part of that larger aspect of hip hop culture, but it's also the part of the culture that's perhaps most visible and most well known to the average person."

Salie and Neal discuss the origins of the terms and how they've evolved over time. And, Neal tells us which categories artists like Will Smith, KRS-One, Nas and Eminem fall into. 

How do you define the terms "rap" and "hip hop"? Leave a comment below. 

And in case you'd like a second opinion -- here's how hip hop artist (we think?) and actor Ice-T defines the difference between the two. 


Mark Anthony Neal

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Faith Salie

Comments [2]


Music defined:
"The art or science of combining vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) to produce beauty of form, harmony, and expression of emotion."
Prose defined:
"Written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure."

Figured I'd clarify, as you clearly understand neither.

Jul. 22 2013 09:31 PM
David Friedman

I ask this question in true sincerity! Other than being politically correct, can anyone with a real appreciation for music and creative musicality consider rap to be in the category of music, and not simply prose set to a beat? I don't really appreciate atonality or much in modern music, but I do see the musicality and creativity in it. Rap? C'mon!Dear John Schaefer, I need a real answer

May. 22 2013 11:17 AM

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