What Is Hip-Hop Subculture?

Subject: Sociology
Pages: 4
Words: 873
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: College


In defining a subculture, the broader perspective of culture must be considered as its definition is more or less related to that of culture. However, there is a minimal difference that separates the two terms. While culture is defined as a level that is attributed to the attainment of unique patterns of life by the various social groups, subculture is defined as a sub-category of culture. The term subculture, over the years has been incorporated by sociologists in a number of different ways and contexts. This has led to the ambiguity of the term. The definition of the term subculture is mainly attributed to the prefix ‘sub’ which defines a category within a broader category. The modern world is filled with various subcultures that have different norms which are supposed to be adhered to by every member of the subculture. It is the origins and spiritual roots of any particular subculture that makes it unique and influential to others, and hip-hop subculture is not an exception to this.

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Hip-hop as a sub-culture has taken the modern world by storm. The culture is attributed to the famous category of rap music. According to the majority of the followers in the hip-hop subculture, rap music is the actual fruit that is derived from hip-hop. In addition to this, hip-hop members consider rap music as an actual activity that is done in the hip-hop subculture, while hip-hop itself is the way of living incorporated by its members. The influence of hip-hop is evident from the numerous television commercials and shows present in BET and MTV networks as well as millions of members not only in America but also across the globe. This has therefore made the hip-hop subculture an irresistible concept of study.

Shared norms and values in hip-hop subculture

First and foremost the hip-hop subculture is defined by rap music. This therefore means that to be a part and parcel of the hip-hop subculture one has to be an artist of rap music or have the rap music as his or her preferred choice of music. In addition to this, there is a common or similar dressing code among the members of the hip-hop sub culture. Baggy trousers and T-shirts are regarded as the appropriate dress code of hip-hop members, accompanied with expensive and shiny jewelries regarded as ‘bling’ by members of this subculture. Not only do the members of the hip-hop community share a common dress code but also dancing styles that are continuously evolving with each passing day.

Membership of hip hop culture

Although hip hop was established and created on the streets by the black youths, its influence has spread all over the world. Currently, it is approximated that over 75% of hip hop’s audience are from outside the black community. The modern trend of hip hop requires that, one should be acquainted with the street language that is regarded as slang. In addition to this, the hip hop culture requires particular clothing that identifies its members. In most cases the clothing would comprise of loosely worn baggy trousers, over sized polo shirts and baseball caps that are reversely worn.

Identification behavior and symbols of hip hop members

In hip hop subculture, there are various behaviors both positive and negative that are used in the identification of one as a hip hop member. Courage is depicted as one of the attributes that must be possessed by any hip hop member. In this subculture one is supposed to speak his or her own mind. Contrary to this, there are negative behaviors that are attributed to hip hop such as playing cards, drinking beer and indulgence in marijuana use. In terms of symbols, hip hop members use special greetings that are different from the normal shaking of the hand. Raising of the two fingers, i.e. the middle and the index is regarded as a sign of peace. The formation of the letter ‘W’ or ‘E’ by use of the four fingers with the exclusion of the thumb, indicates the kind of hip hop group one belongs to as the letter ‘W’ represents West Coast and letter ‘E’ represents East Coast.

The difference in norms and customs of the hip hop culture from the dominant American culture

Since its inception to the society, hip hop subculture was intended to pass knowledge to the black minorities in America as well as empower them. In relation to this, a conflict in terms of customs is created as the hip hop culture tends to divert from the common customs within the society. The youths are increasingly embracing this culture, which in return has caused an outcry from the general public who believe in the education systems for one to attain success in life. Although hip hop does not oppose education, the common believe in this subculture is that the determination of an individual decides his or her own success in the future.


Although hip hop was initially founded on good intentions and moral grounds, over the years it has evolved to be associated with all kinds of negative behaviors. As this subculture evolves, negative behaviors of the street such as pimping, have come to be celebrated thus creating a whole new era of hip hop.

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