Hip hop is a popular music genre consistent of rapping, breakbeats created with drum machines, bass, and in its most common forms, synthesizer effects. Electronic subgenres include Dirty South, crunk, electro rap, trip hop, acid rap, bounce and hip house. Hip hop, however, is highly versatile and is often mixed with R&B, funk, soul, jazz, pop, rock and metal.

While hip hop was created by African Americans and Latinos, Jamaican Kool DJ Herc made a major contribution to hip hop by introducing elements of reggae and dub, prominently toasting. Hip hop was originally novelty music, with lyrics rarely meaningful, including a rap variant of the Gilligan's Island theme song. During the golden age of hip hop, however, the genre undertook many changes, with lyrics now less abstract and emphasis on rhymes and lyricism. Hip hop artists also reached major success with hip hop/pop hybrids such as "U Can't Touch This" (MC Hammer) and "Ice Ice Baby" (Vanilla Ice). Run-D.M.C. (the pioneers of hardcore rap and old school hip hop's most notable innovators) also collaborated with Aerosmith for the first popular rock/hip hop single, "Walk This Way." The single spawned the genres rapcore and nu metal.

In the current hip hop scene, "hip pop" receives more airplay than most subgenres, with artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, OutKast and 50 Cent. More serious hip hop listeners typically prefer pure East and West Coast hip hop; Southern hip hop artists (such as Lil Jon, the pioneer of crunk); and underground hip hop.

Hip hop is also notorious for its mature themes, which includes strong language, violence and explicit sexual themes. Eminem is among the most infamous hip hop artists, who has influenced many crimes. Many rappers also have criminal history. Artists such as Mos Def use less explicit themes, and alternatives to hip hop's violent nature include conscious and Christian hip hop.

Hip hop has spread around the world and now has scenes in near every country.

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