The Five Pillars

Hip-Hop traditionally was broken down into five elements, called the “five pillars.” These elements are:

1.) DJing

DJ means “Disc Jockey.” The DJ is the person who plays the records.  Traditionally, the DJ spins his/her records on a turntable, and uses a mixer to switch back and forth between different turntables.  The DJ sets the tone and gets the party started.

2.) MCing

The MC is the “Master of Ceremonies.” The MC is responsible for getting the crowd involved with the music that the DJ is playing.  Nowadays, the MC mainly does this by rapping, a style of flowing rhyme delivery.

3.) Graffiti

Graffiti artists “tag” their work with spray paint, often times on highly visible public areas such as trains or large walls.  These tags display colorful arrays of letters and symbols to represent the individual artist.  Graffiti began as a form of political expression, however, it is largely not part of the hip-hop culture anymore.

4.) Breaking

“Breaking,” or breakdancing, is a dynamic style of dance that was formed in conjunction with the rise of hip-hop music. Breakdancers often “battled” each other, putting on competitions over who could perform the most impressive, technical moves.

5.) Beatboxing

Beatboxing is a method of using vocal percussion noises to simulate drum beats.  Beatboxing was an integral part in the formulation of hip-hop because it allowed anyone to create spontaneous rhythms to rap or breakdance to.


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