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Difference Between Hip-hop and Jazz

jazz-pdHip-hop vs Jazz

Because of their rich cultural heritage and their inborn love for music, African Americans have been responsible for the birth of two of the most popular music genres: Hip-hop and jazz. Although these two genres are closely knit because they share so many similarities that some would even refer to hip-hop as the ‘jazz of the younger generation’, these two music genres have many differences as well.

One of the differences between hip-hop and jazz is their birthplace. Although both music genres originated in the United States, jazz originates from New Orleans, and it made its first appearance during the nineteenth century. Originally, jazz music was used during funeral marches, but eventually made its way into local bars and dance halls, so much so that by World War I it had become a worldwide favorite music genre. On the other hand, hip-hop originated in the playgrounds and school grounds of Bronx, New York, during the 1970’s, and has centered on reflecting the emotions and feelings of the young African American generation during that time, with regards to certain issues that surrounded them.

Another difference between hip-hop and jazz is their use of improvisation. Both hip-hop and jazz use improvisation, but in the case of jazz, improvisation is considered to be the primary core of the entire music piece, so much so that even the singer tends to frequently ad lib and present his or her own variation each and every time that a jazz single is performed, adding into its versatility. This is in stark contrast to hip-hop, that will often only use improvisation in freestyle hip-hop, which is one of its subgenres. Hip-hop music artists tend to focus more on poetry and rhyme.

These two music genres have lovingly been embraced, not just by Americans, but also by other cultures around the world, and even though jazz came into the picture first, it is hip-hop that has transcended from being just a music genre to a completely whole cultural movement. Today, hip-hop is closely associated with break dancing, graffiti writing and even a style of clothing and accessories. Certain slang words that are commonly heard among the younger generation have also been attributed to the hip-hop culture. In fact, DJ Afrika Bambaataa, one of the pioneers of hip-hop, stated that there are five pillars that constitute the entire hip-hop culture, namely, MCing, DJing, break dancing, graffiti writing and knowledge.


1. Both jazz and hip-hop are music genres that were started and made popular by African Americans.

2. Jazz music centers on the use of improvisation. On the other hand, hip-hop focuses more on poetry, and the use of rhyme in their lyrics.

3. Although jazz music appeared earlier in history, with records noting its first appearance in the nineteenth century, it is hip-hop that has transcended into more than just a popular music genre enjoyed all over the world. Today it is considered to be a cultural movement that centers on MCing, DJing, break dancing, graffiti writing, fashion, language and knowledge.

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  2. Hello there

    Now this got my fingers nervous:
    “…some would even refer to hip-hop as the ‘jazz of the younger generation’”
    Sorry, but nobody would ever say something like this.
    True, both genres have been founded by Afro-Americans. But there is a big difference to start with.
    Hip Hop was a movement – once. Today it is a mainstream monster of a not so much independent genre, not a movement anymore.
    Especially when having a look at it from my side, living in Germany, Hip Hop is absolutely off from what it once used to be.
    But Jazz on the other hand is still Jazz. Modern artists keeping it alive, throughout all these decades. Jazz has evolved. Not just changed with the winds, but grown larger in variety.
    Jazz is, besides what you call European Art Music, one of the richest genres right now, with many sub genres, some bound to certain decades yet still there.
    For some parts it is true, you can improvise here and there. But overall even Jazz has its fixed rules. Otherwise it wouldn’t be Jazz anymore. Right?
    John Coltrane comes to mind here. Some of his more progressive works are totally over my mind and way too jazz for me 😉
    Yet even classical trained musicians/conductors give their interpretation of any piece they want to bring to new life again.
    No piece played and orchestrated today would sound the same as it did 200 years ago.
    But isn’t Jazz a classical genre by now? Time to change this.
    Hip Hop, since it has become a music genre has changed – always. Everytime another genre became ‘popular’, Hip Hop went with it, took the Rap into the new breed of noisy hype.
    Back in the late 70s and early 80s they rapped over outdated disco records. Throughout the 80s and 90s they rapped over the then popular style of electronic music – house for the most part of it and regular pop themes.
    Today they even do rap over dubstep and the melody of lybirian girl by Michael Jackson. Awesome – not. And the lyrics. Man the lyrics. Can’t go for that one into detail here, can I?
    Let’s face it. Rap lost its true meaning. Jazz is still true to it. Even today people seem do have the same issues with Jazz, just like it was invented few hours ago.
    Jazz is not just a youth thingy, it is a powerful and growing genre, fascinating people of all ages. Jazz is not bound to a specific sex or sexual picture. Jazz is not bound to a certain age. Jazz is not bound to specific lifestyles. It is not bound to specific areas or countries. Not anymore. With all the influences it incorporates, with all the sub genres, finally call is classical too.
    Hip Hop right there seems to keep its contemporary status like forever. Nobody cared anough to keep it close to what is was, to the kind of movement it has started out as.
    Hip Hop is like a chameleon in the world of music. Whatever the color is out there, Hip Hop camouflages to fit that color. I didn’t know that it was the goal to be the mainstream standard. At least what I remember it wasn’t back when it was a politically driven movement, politically correct, no bullshit, and it worked wonders for those who knew how to use it.
    Today – just listen to the lyrics of the bigger part of it, the mainstream monster it has become.
    Jazz still not mainstream. Strange, isn’t it?
    So, how can someone just think to assume that ‘Hip Hop is the Jazz of the younger generation”? How?

    This commetary is in no way meant to be offensive. I’m just embarrased.
    “Today, hip-hop is closely associated with break dancing, graffiti writing and even a style of clothing and accessories.”
    Exactly. It is associated with certain styles of clothing and accessorries. It has become an ‘en vogue’ gadget. The same happened to a genre called Gothic and to Punk, even Industrial got caught in the act. It became a fashion thing.
    “Certain slang words that are commonly heard among the younger generation have also been attributed to the hip-hop culture.”
    Right there. This demented pretty much the true meaning of rapping. Today it is about who can swear bigger times and score the most big eyes for what was said. Content? The more offensive, the better it seems.
    They can claim as much as they want that it was not meant like they rapped it for their records. It always is meant that way as they rap it. No, I do not consider it art.
    And what knowledge are our modern Hip Hop artists talking about? Who has the most chicks and the biggest dong, the better guns and the longest crime list. Knowledge? Political knowledge? Not anymore.
    There might be an analogy to Jazz. The whole Hip Hop thing leaves the young peoples mind in jazz.

    Sorry about my lenghty rant.
    Please, never call Hip Hop ‘the Jazz of the younger generation(s)’ ever again.

    Thanks for reading.

    With best regards
    Michael from Germany

  3. Here is the bottom line folks.

    Jazz is MUSIC
    Hip Hop is closer related to beat poetry.

    Jazz can live and prosper WITHOUT LYRICS

    Hip Hop absolutely dies without lyrical content.

    Quality jazz requires a high level of musicianship to execute.
    Hip hop can exist without any musicianship…(computer generated beats etc) Hip hop is not actually music.

    This does not take away from it’s value as social commentary.

    Classic Rock music of the 60’s and 70’s lacked “swing” and was
    considered “less than” jazz at the time, however, it still often required excellent musicianship to execute unlike hiphop or rap.

  4. Hahahahaa meinen Sie das ernst?

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