A Beginner's Guide to Hip-hop: Background information when reading Losing My Cool

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Losing My Cool

How a Father's Love and 15,000 Books Beat Hip-hop Culture

by Thomas Chatterton Williams

Losing My Cool
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  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 240 pages
    Apr 2011, 240 pages

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Beyond the Book:
A Beginner's Guide to Hip-hop

Hip hop, as a cultural movement, had its origins in the New York City Bronx in the 1970s, mostly among African Americans, with some Jamaican and Latin American influences.

Keith "Cowboy" Wiggins (of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five) is often credited with coining the term hip hop in 1978 while teasing a friend who had just joined the army by singing the words "hip/hop/hip/hop" in a way that mimicked the rhythmic cadence of marching soldiers. The name was originally meant as a sign of disrespect, but soon came to identify this new music and culture.

What started as an underground style has become commercialized in the USA and, to varying extents, across the world.

The four traditional pillars of hip hop:

Rapping is performed by an MC (emcee, mic controller). The tradition of spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics with a strong rhythmic accompaniment, traces back to the West African griots (wandering musicians/poets considered a repository of oral ...

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