Difference Between Rap and Hip Hop

Difference Between Rap and Hip Hop

The main difference between rap and hip hop is that rap is a type of music, which includes rhyming words or a rhythmic chant, while hip hop is broader than music. Hip hop is a lifestyle made up of four main components: dancing, DJing, emceeing, and graffiti.

What distinguishes hip hop from rap? Although they are frequently believed to be the same, they are not. Hip hop transcends the musical genre of rap to become a culture, a way of life, and a way of living. Read on and get to know all about rap and hip hop.

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What is Rap?

Rap is a popular music style that includes rhyming words or a rhythmic chant along with the music. The music uses a variety of musical instruments, including the bass, drums, turntable, mic, FL Studio, and many more. 

There are three main elements that every rap artist must focus on: content, flow, and delivery. The tone of a rap song is sometimes somber.

Rap music originated in the Bronx projects in New York City and rose to prominence in the 1980s. Rap music was associated with the Black community and a cultural movement at the time. Rap music’s fundamental component is a fusion of poetry, rhythm, and a few musical beats. 

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The genre has significantly increased in popularity over the previous 20 years. Rap music is an essential component of hip hop music. 

Rapper at the microphone spits rhymes.

What Does Rap Stand For?

Deejays began toasting in 1956, an African practice in which stories of bravery are “rapped out” over Jamaican rhythms. Rap expanded the definition of the world’s original African-American usage, which was “to discuss or dispute informally.”

What is Hip Hop?

Hip hop is not just music, but a lifestyle. This particular kind of music is also regarded as a subculture or subgenre. Hip hop music has four main components: dancing, DJing, emceeing, and graffiti.  

Hip hop music can have a very fast or sluggish tempo, depending on the artist’s style. It first emerged in the 1980s and 1990s in the Midwest and the South of the United States.

Hip hop music is created using a variety of instruments, including synthesizers, bass, drums, microphones, and many more. Furthermore, it is linked to breakdancing and b-boying.

Three Black women dancing outside on the street.

What Does Hip Hop Stand For?

Hip hop began in the South Bronx during the late 1970s and spread worldwide by the end of the 1980s. One interpretation of the name hip hop is that the phrase combines the hip, slang for trendy or fashionable, with the leaping motion hop.

Rap vs Hip Hop: What’s the Difference?

Rap vs Hip Hop
Typically more grave Tonality Positive music covering relationship issues 
Combination of poetry and rhyme set to a rhythm Elements MCing, DJing, breakdancing, and graffiti art are all elements of hip hop
Lil Baby, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Lil Uzi Vert, Ye (Kanye West), Eminem, Drake, Lil Kim, Future, Jay-Z, Missy Elliott, and more Artists Jay-Z, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Tupac Shakur, Megan Thee Stallion, Travis Scott, and more
Old School, Grime, Boom-bap, Jazz Rap, Trap, Mumble Rap, Rap Rock, Drill, Gangsta Rap, and more Variations Alternative, Hyphe, Boom-bap, Bounce, Nerdcore, Turntablism, G-funk, West Coast, Trap, East Coast, and more

Explaining the Difference Between Rap and Hip Hop 

Let’s compare the differences between rap and hip hop based on a few key aspects.

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Rap discusses politics and popular culture, emphasizing the here and now. On the other hand, hip hop is an upbeat genre of music. It covers typical relationship concerns while blending fast-paced music and words.


Rap is the blending of poetry and rhyme over a musical rhythm. It has a history of improvised poetry and may be associated with hip hop culture.

Hip hop is based on dancing or breakdancing, DJing, emceeing, and graffiti. Lastly, hip hop also includes various fashion, vocabulary, and social movements.


Current Famous Hip Hop Artists

  • Kanye West
  • Travis Scott
  • J.Cole
  • Drake
  • Kendrick Lamar

Several famous hip hop artists are also considered famous rappers. This shows how rapping/emceeing is an important part of hip hop culture. 

When it comes to rapping, the music genre hardly ever uses ensembles. Tupac, Eminem, and 50 Cent are among the most popular rappers and solo performers of all time.


Grime is a rap music derivative. Jazz, disco, funk, and even Japanese dance music incorporate rapping, among many other musical styles. 

Electro, breakbeat, hardcore, club R&B, funk breaks, and abstract hip hop are all variations and part of hip-hop music.

Is Hip Hop Thought to Be Rap?

Although rapping is not a necessary component of hip hop music, the genre may include other aspects of hip hop, such as DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental recordings.

Rap is sometimes linked with hip hop music since it is a key component of that genre. Yet, its history predates hip-hop culture by many years.

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Similarities Between Rap And Hip Hop?

Rap and hip-hop are more alike than they are different from one another. This is because both the music forms belong to the same musical genre or realm. Rap is a part of hip hop culture. 

Both rap and hip hop rely on rhyme and rhythmic accompaniments or beat bases. Also, there is usually a strong social element to rap and hip hop. These genres discuss reality and want to tell a story. Often, these stories flow from the daily struggles of class to their experiences.

While it can be hard to tell the difference between rap and hip hop in music, understanding how rap is a part of hip hop culture can help.


Vanessa is passionate about written communication, especially after beginning her career as a middle school English teacher. She’s an experienced content marketer as well. Vanessa loves to analyze, compare, and contrast, which is why she writes for ContrastHub. Besides writing, Vanessa is a wife, mom, entrepreneur, spicy food enthusiast, comedy nerd and lifelong learner.

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