What Is The Difference Between Hip Hop And Rap?

Hip-hop started from an urban African-American subculture and consists of four major elements; DJing, graffiti, MCing, and dancing. Rap is a popular form of music born in Hip-Hop culture. Rap is a method of expression in the Hip-Hop subculture.

In the hip-hop culture, there is a very cliche saying: “Rap is something you do, hip-hop is something you live.”

So, hip-hop is a much broader term than rap and is a whole subculture of which rap is a part.

The Similarities Between Hip Hop And Rap

The truth is that hip-hop and rap are pretty similar in terms of music, culture, and approaches to life because they are rooted in the same genre and have similar origins.

Musically, hip-hop and rap are very similar as rap is a subgenre of hip-hop. Both music styles have plenty of rhyme, similar beats, and rhythmic speech, often in the company of some samples.

The lyrics and the message of both styles are often the same or at least originated from the same source. There is often a social component in the song which tells about the struggles of people in hip-hop and African-American culture, or struggles of daily life, or different aspects of life itself.

The Key Differences Between Hip Hop And Rap

The first key difference between hip-hop and rap is the origins of both genres. Hip-hop came to life in the Bronx, New York, in the late 1970s. African-Americans and Latinos in the area gave birth to the new subculture. But, Rap was born from hip-hop culture in the late 1980s in the Midwest American ghettos.

The second difference is with the music itself. Rap is characterized by sharp plays on fast words. It is mainly about rhythm and assonances as well as poetry and the message. It often talks about serious issues, dark themes, and aspects of the ghetto, gangsta, or general African-American or Latino life.

On the other hand, hip-hop is more casual compared to rap. It also has poetry, rhythm, and assonances, but the genre is more versatile and wide. The music can go from slow to fast tones and can talk about anything from serious issues to party life. And in hip-hop, rapping is not the only way of using vocals as there is a lot of singing in hip-hop too.

Another difference is apparent in the social messages of the songs. Rap songs tend to be more serious and can have more offensive lyrics as well as dark themes, such as the gangsta life in Drill music. Besides, rap often has a social message to deliver either about justice, the suffering and struggles of particular communities, violence, poverty, politics, etc. However, there are also rap songs today about casual topics like sex, party, drugs, luxuries, money, etc.

Hip-hop also has similar topics to rap without getting too serious, dark, or violent. Hip-hop is more casual, and there are more hip-hop songs without social messages than rap songs.

Rap’s key elements are MC, the content, the beat, the delivery, and the flow. These are all elements of music and the performance of rapping. On the other hand, hip-hop is a whole subculture, and its key elements are in various fields like DJs, MCs, B-boys and B-girls, graffiti, and costumes.

This nuance reflects the most significant difference between the two genres. Hip-hop is a whole subculture that is also the house of rap. 


To summarize, rap is a way of expression in the hip-hop subculture. They have many similarities and some subtle differences that make rapping a unique and crucial element in hip-hop culture. Hip-hop is a lifestyle in which rap is strongly included.

Berk Oztuna

Berk Oztuna

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

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