Research: The Five Pillars of Hip Hop

As a group, we’re interested in exploring the fundamental areas of hip hop, also known as the five pillars of hip hop. Understanding what these five pillars are would help me understand the culture behind hip hop, as well as a foundation point for understanding it’s history and origins.

The Five Pillars of Hip Hop:

  1. Graffiti 
    • Includes tagging.
    • Dictionary definition: writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place.
  2. MCing
    • Short for Master of Ceremonies and sometimes misrendered emcee (source:
    • Commonly used in the rap scene.
    • MC’s are broken down into the following categories:
      1. The Conscious Rapper
      2. The Gangsta Rapper
      3. The Battle Rapper
      4. The Entertainer
  3. Bboying 
    • Commonly known as breakdancing.
    • A style of street dance.
  4. DJing
    • Abbreviation for disc jockey.
    • A person who mixes recorded music.
    • Considered as an art form (turntablism).
    • Techniques include scratching, flare, chirp, orbit and scribble.
  5. Knowledge
    • An element made by Afrika Bambaataa and the Universal Zulu Nation.
    • Provides the context that holds the elements of hip hop together.
    • Explains the differences between hip hip culture and mainstream culture.
    • Many regard KRS-One as the “true teacher” of hip hop.

These are the main five elements. However there are lesser elements such as beatboxing and fashion. 


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