Close this search box.

Home » Music » What’s The Difference Between Rap And Hip-Hop?

What’s The Difference Between Rap And Hip-Hop?

Distinguishing between music genres is often an easy task. When you think of pop vs rock, two completely different songs come to mind, right? This isn’t so simple when it comes to rap and hip-hop.

Rap and hip-hop are always considered to be the same. But while it’s not a crime to use the terms interchangeably, they are two different things. This guide will take you through the differences between rap and hip-hop.

What is rap?

Rap is a genre of music that combines poetic wordplay with a repetitive beat, usually generated by voice or instrument. Most rap artists deal with serious social matters, covering drug use, wealth, poverty, politics, etc.

Where did rap originate from?

The history of rap dates back to the late 1980s in the Midwest and Southern USA. The rhyming aspect of rapping comes from West African cultures, which started circulating in the 1960s but didn’t get a label until two decades later.

Popular rap artists

We’d be here all day if we listed our favorite rap artists! Some of the best MCs in the rap industry include:

  • Eminem
  • Lil Wayne
  • 50 Cent
  • DMX
  • Tupac

What is hip-hop?

While rap is a genre, hip-hop is an African-American subculture. People in this subculture express themselves in various ways, with rap being one of them.

Where did hip-hop originate from?

It’s a bit more difficult to establish the origins of hip-hop as the subculture covers so many different elements. Similarly to rap, it began in African-American communities and picked up pace in the early 1980s. Hip-hop was most celebrated in the Bronx area of New York during this time.

Popular hip-hop artists

Hip-hop artists aren’t those who just rap. They embrace the subculture for what it is, enjoying it as a way of living. Some of the most popular names in hip-hop include:

  • Notorious B.I.G
  • Dr. Dre
  • Snoop Dog
  • Mac Miller
  • Kanye West

What is the difference between rap and hip-hop?

The main difference between rap and hip-hop is that rap is a genre of music and hip-hop is a subculture/way of life. Rap music is a part of hip-hop culture.


    As a subculture, hip-hop influences fashion, slang, art, views, etc. It can touch every corner of someone’s life. Rap is a part of hip-hop that allows people to express their thoughts on serious matters like money, politics, and drug use.


      Rap music tends to be quite serious, using the power of rhyming and beats to discuss social issues. Rap is a part of hip-hop, but some hip-hop artists prefer a more casual approach with slower tones.

      What are the similarities between rap and hip-hop?

      As expected, there are also some similarities between rap and hip-hop. After all, there’s a reason why the two are always considered the same thing!


        The main similarity between rap and hip-hop is their origin. Both can be traced back to America in the 1980s, to be exact, the Bronx. Hip-hop culture quickly spread between boroughs, naturally taking rap along with it. It wasn’t long before the Bronx and surrounding areas were dressing, talking, moving, and rapping in similar motions.

        Social Themes

          Rap is part of the hip-hop subculture, so they both follow the same social themes. Hip-hop has always touched on controversial subjects, so naturally, raps follow suit. As expected, both sound great on a turntable or record player but have also been formatted to keep up with modern trends and increasing demand.

          In summary

          While rap and hip-hop often fall under the same category, hip-hop is a part of a much bigger picture. Rap is simply the music genre found in the hip-hop subculture!

          Whether you like listening to rap songs or embracing the whole hip-hop movement, there’s one thing for sure: rap and hip-hop have produced hundreds of amazing artists we are forever grateful for.

          Is there a certain part of hip-hop culture that influenced an aspect of your life? We’d love to hear from you!

          Kelvin, our design whiz and audio tech aficionado, pens articles on audio, home technology, and hip-hop for Upbeat Geek. With a keen eye on the latest from soundbars to earbuds, Kelvin decodes the tech world for our readers. His love for travel, concerts, and a music-driven creative career underscores his expertise. Kelvin’s writing not only covers the intricacies of audio and home technology but also dives into the vibrant world of hip-hop.

          don't miss a beat