Over the years, Hip-Hop has diversified itself from its original origins and even also from within has created multiple subcultures within itself. Starting from its early origins, Hip-Hip was used as a poetry form of brief rhymes and some beats in the background. Once in the eyes of mainstream with the Sugar Hill Gang being the first, it was used as party music accompanied with certain dances, the art of breakdancing. Within the 80s, the lyrics tended to go away from the party and got a little deeper with some of the great emcees, in my opinion at least, starting to emerge such as Rakim, or were hearing this music produced and got inspired by it. Late 80s, we started to see the Gangsta Rap and resistance to the government of such groups as the N.W.A. Once at the Gangsta Rap age, the first culture of Hip-Hop was raised, with the Pillars of Hip-Hop: MCing, DJing, B-Boying, and Graffiti, with knowledge being a 5th pillar for most while others associate it with MCing. Later within the 90s, the Gangsta Rap became more mainstream and more and more people starting joining this culture due to the popularity of rappers such as Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., and so on. Eventually the Gangsta Rap age started to fade by the 2000s, which led to the diversified areas of Hip-Hop and led to more subcultures within.
Generally though, the subcultures has always had the 4 pillars throughout from their creation. MCing, you have to know what you are saying, while also adding in some rhymes. This is why some of the older emcees are coming out saying that knowledge is key to become successful, because you have to know how to use words so creatively while also knowing what to say. DJing, know how to create your beats. Know how to mix together some tracks while also creating your own, be original. B-Boying, know how to move with the music, and in the early days break dancing was the answer. Graffiti has changed to more of an art, just express yourself.
To describe the culture in few words, KRS-ONE said it best: “Hip means to know, it’s a form of intelligence. To be hip is to be update and relevant. Hop is a form of movement. You can’t just observe a hop, you gotta hop up and do it. Hip and hop is more than music. Hip is the knowledge, hop is the movement. Hip and Hop is intelligent movement”