In the early 1970s Hip hop was born on the streets of the Bronx. It has come a long way in the last 50 years. It has become so much more than just music. It’s a cultural sensation that has left an unforgettable mark on the world. Over time, Sub genres of hip-hop have branched out into numerous subgenres. It has formed a vast tree of musical styles. Each Sub genres of hip-hop has its own unique flavor and style.
Let’s take you on a journey through the evolution of Sub genres of hip-hop. You will understand how this genre has evolved and diversified. From the old-school beats of the 1970s to the trap-infused sounds of the present day, we’ll explore 22 distinctive Sub genres of hip-hop that have formed the hip-hop landscape.
So, buckle up and get ready to groove as we delve into the world of Sub genres of hip-hop and celebrate this genre’s incredible diversity.
1. Old School: A Hip Hop Foundation
Old-school hip-hop laid the groundwork for the genre we treasure today. Appearing in the 1970s, it was all about breakdancing, graffiti, and block parties. Artists like Grandmaster Flash and Run-DMC rocked the mic with funky beats and rhymes. The music was simple, but its impact was monumental. Old-school hip-hop celebrated the art of storytelling and set the stage for the evolution of hip-hop in the years to come.
2. Boom-Bap: Nod Your Head to the Beat
Boom-bap, with its distinctive drum-heavy beats and crisp snare hits, defined the sound of hip hop in the late 1980s and ’90s. Artists like Nas and Wu-Tang Clan popularized this style, emphasizing lyrical prowess and social commentary. The term “boom-bap” comes from the sound of the drum hits—boom for the kick and bap for the snare. It’s a classic style that continues to influence hip-hop today. Let’s explore the rhythmic world of boom-bap.
3. Jazz Rap: Grooving to a Different Beat
In the ’80s and ’90s, hip hop took a smooth and jazzy turn with the emergence of jazz rap. Artists like A Tribe Called Quest and Digable Planets mixed the urban vibes of hip hop with the sophistication of jazz music. The result? A laid-back, melodic fusion that invites listeners to think and groove. Jazz rap wasn’t just about the lyrics; it was about the musical journey.
4. Trap: Where the Bass Drops and the Streets Talk
When it comes to modern hip hop, one subgenre has been making major waves. Originating in the Southern United States, trap music is all about heavy bass, catchy hooks, and tales of life in the streets. Artists like T.I. and Gucci Mane brought trap into the mainstream, and it has since become a global phenomenon. Its distinct sound has even infiltrated pop music.
5. Mumble Rap: Saying More with Less Words
In recent years, a new style called mumble rap has made its mark on the hip hop scene. Artists like Future and Lil Uzi Vert are known for their unique approach, where the lyrics may sound less clear but still pack a punch. Mumble rap is all about catchy melodies and creating vibes rather than focusing solely on wordplay. Some critics have their reservations, but there’s no denying its popularity.
6. Rap Rock: When Hip Hop and Rock Collide
In the ’90s, an exciting fusion genre emerged, blending the rebellious spirit of rock with the rhythm and rhyme of hip hop. This genre, known as rap rock, produced iconic acts like Run-DMC and Aerosmith’s collaboration on “Walk This Way.” It’s all about energetic guitar riffs, bold verses, and a whole lot of attitude. Rap-rock introduced hip hop to a whole new audience and showed that music has no boundaries.
7. Country Trap: Yeehaw Meets Hip Hop Beats
Country trap is a genre that beautifully marries the twang of country music with the modern beats of hip hop. Artists like Lil Nas X brought this genre to the forefront with his chart-topping hit “Old Town Road. “Blending banjos and 808s, country trap is a testament to the genre’s ability to evolve and surprise. It’s a toe-tapping, genre-defying style that has taken the music world by storm.
8. Gangsta Rap: The Gritty Streets Find a Voice
In the late ’80s and early ’90s, a raw and unapologetic subgenre known as gangsta rap emerged. Artists like N.W.A and Ice-T took listeners on a journey through the tough realities of life in the inner city. With explicit lyrics and beats that mirrored the streets, gangsta rap was a stark departure from the early days of hip hop. It sparked controversy and conversation but also gave a voice to those who felt unheard.
9. Crunk: Getting Hype and Wild on the Dance Floor
In the early 2000s, the hip hop scene was injected with a dose of high-energy party music known as crunk. Artists like Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz led the charge with their infectious beats and chants. Crunk was all about getting hyped up, throwing your hands in the air, and letting loose on the dance floor. With its loud and rowdy style, it became the soundtrack to countless parties.
10. Drill: Hard-Hitting Beats, Raw Street Stories
In the early 2010s, drill music burst onto the hip hop scene, originating from the gritty streets of Chicago. This subgenre is characterized by its aggressive beats and lyrics that depict the harsh realities of urban life. Artists like Chief Keef and Lil Durk became known for their unfiltered storytelling and ominous soundscapes. Drill music’s authenticity and stark portrayal of street life resonated with many, sparking both controversy and admiration.
11. Emo Rap: Where Emotions and Rhymes Collide
In the 2010s, a unique and emotionally charged subgenre known as emo rap emerged, blending the vulnerability of emo music with the rhythmic flow of hip hop. Artists like Lil Peep and XXXTentacion paved the way for this genre, addressing themes of mental health, heartbreak, and inner struggles. Emo rap connected with a generation seeking music that spoke to their deepest emotions.
12. Grime: The Raw Sound of the London Streets
Hailing from the streets of East London, grime is a subgenre that emerged in the early 2000s, bringing a unique British flavor to the world of hip hop. Artists like Dizzee Rascal and Skepta became pioneers of this gritty, energetic style. Grime is characterized by its rapid-fire lyrics, heavy beats, and raw, unfiltered sound. It’s a genre deeply rooted in the UK’s urban culture and has gained international recognition for its authenticity.
13. UK Drill: A Gritty Sound with Global Impact
Building on the foundation of grime, UK drill is a subgenre that has taken the hip hop world by storm. Originating in London’s streets, artists like Stormzy and Headie One have brought this unique style to the forefront. UK drill is known for its dark, aggressive beats and sharp lyrics that paint a vivid picture of urban life. It’s a genre that’s not just making waves in the UK but also gaining recognition worldwide.
14. Bounce: The Irresistible Rhythms of New Orleans
If you’ve ever been to a New Orleans block party, you’ve likely experienced the infectious beats of bounce music. This subgenre, rooted in the Big Easy’s vibrant culture, is all about high-energy, booty-shaking rhythms. Artists like Big Freedia and Juvenile have become bounce icons, infusing their music with a celebration of life and community. Bounce is more than just music; it’s a cultural phenomenon that’s all about dancing, letting loose, and having a good time.
15. Horrorcore: When Hip Hop Gets Spine-Tingling
For those who love hip hop with a dark twist, horrorcore is the subgenre to explore. Emerging in the 1990s, artists like Insane Clown Posse and Esham pushed boundaries with gruesome lyrics, horror-inspired themes, and eerie beats. Horrorcore delves into the macabre, blending rap with elements of horror fiction. It’s a genre that’s not for the faint-hearted but has a dedicated following.
16. Latin Trap: A Fusion of Urban Beats and Latin Flavor
Latin trap is the dynamic offspring of hip hop and reggaeton, blending urban beats with the rich rhythms of Latin music. Artists like Bad Bunny and Anuel AA have propelled this genre to international stardom. Latin trap is characterized by its catchy melodies, bilingual lyrics, and an infusion of Caribbean and Latin American influences. It’s a genre that speaks to the experiences and culture of Latin communities worldwide.
17. Conscious Hip-Hop: Rhyming with a Purpose
In a genre often associated with braggadocio and party anthems, conscious hip-hop stands out as a beacon of social and political awareness. Artists like Common and Kendrick Lamar have used their music to address issues ranging from inequality and racism to environmental concerns. Conscious hip-hop is characterized by its thought-provoking lyrics and a commitment to raising awareness and sparking change. It’s a subgenre that proves hip hop can be a powerful platform for meaningful messages.
18. SoundCloud Rap: The Digital Revolution of Hip Hop
In the age of the internet, a new wave of hip hop emerged on the streaming platform SoundCloud. SoundCloud rap, pioneered by artists like Lil Pump and XXXTentacion, introduced a DIY approach to music production and distribution. These artists often used minimalistic beats and embraced a punk-like ethos, challenging the traditional music industry. SoundCloud rap has paved the way for independent artists to gain recognition and influence the mainstream.
19. Hyphy: The High-Energy Sound of the Bay Area
Born in the San Francisco Bay Area, hyphy is a subgenre that brought a unique energy to the world of hip hop. Artists like E-40 and Mac Dre infused their music with a distinct West Coast vibe, characterized by frenetic beats and lyrics that celebrated partying and local culture. Hyphy was more than just music; it was a movement that embraced a carefree and exuberant lifestyle.
20. Lo-fi Hip-Hop: Chillin’ Beats for a Cozy Vibe
Lo-fi hip-hop has carved out a special place in the hearts of music lovers seeking relaxation and focus. Characterized by its mellow, downtempo beats and the subtle crackling of vinyl, this subgenre provides a soothing backdrop for studying, working, or simply unwinding. Artists like Nujabes and J Dilla have become icons in the lo-fi hip-hop world, creating soundscapes that transport listeners to a tranquil realm.
21. G-Funk: Laidback Grooves from the West Coast
In the early ’90s, the West Coast hip hop scene gave birth to a subgenre known as G-funk, and it had everyone nodding their heads to its laidback vibes. Artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg created this distinct sound characterized by smooth, melodic beats and lyrics that painted a vivid picture of life in Southern California. G-funk was the soundtrack to sunny days and Lowriders, and it played a pivotal role in shaping the hip hop landscape.
22. Footwork: The Dance-Driven Pulse of Chicago
Born on the streets of Chicago, footwork is more than just a genre; it’s a dance culture in its own right. Emerging from the city’s vibrant underground scene, footwork music is designed for one thing: dancing. With its rapid beats and intricate rhythms, artists like DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn created a sonic landscape that challenges dancers to push their limits. Footwork is not just a Sub genres of hip-hop; it’s a lifestyle that celebrates creativity and movement.
In the ever-evolving world of hip hop, we’ve journeyed through 50 years of musical innovation across 22 Sub genres of hip-hop. From the streets of the Bronx to the global stage, each style has left its mark, shaping not only the genre but also the culture itself. Hip hop’s diversity and influence continue to thrive, promising an exciting future ahead.