A friendly joke to a stage performance to the title of a culture
The use of language is so particular and phenomenal. We give words to concepts that are nothing but a construct of what goes on inside our heads. We applaud and reward the ones who do it well. These are the people who understand how to use the sounds coming out of their mouths as more than a means of communication. These people give us a new thought process; it becomes guerrilla warfare in your head because what you have accepted as normal is now being challenged. We either accept it or we don't. Either way, we appreciate these people who seem to get the idea of language.
Scat Singing a Term
Hip Hop was termed in 1978 by a member of Grandmaster Flash's group, The Furious Five. Keith Wiggins, aka Cowboy, is credited with the term. It's the cadence behind it. When Cowboy joked with his friend at a club about joining the Army, he mimicked the marching while scat singing hip/hop/hip/hop. At this time, breaking is already around. DJ Kool Herc and his sister had been throwing their dance parties for five years by then. Break dancing and the music behind it is a cultural phenomenon in Brooklyn and was rapidly reaching across the nation. So why give Cowboy credit for the term?
Because he used the right words and he used them the right way.
Hop is defined as a jumping movement by someone on one foot.
In 1979, hip was defined as that place on your body and that was it. There was nothing else to it so when Cowboy did his joke people recognized the sounds as just that, just sounds.
Ms. Ella Fitzgerald, one of the best jazz scat singers ever. Duke Ellington wrote the composition in 1932 which employs the scat sections by the use of horn instruments.
Hip/hop/hip/hop is a 1-2-1-2 cadence and a natural flow for someone who built their life around creating new sounds and rhythmic tempos for a person to move their body to. Cowboy recognized the cadence as something rhythmic that people would answer to. Something he already famous for. He knew what the people wanted and that was engagement with the people doing the creating. The art of giving instructions in the middle of the song is all Cowboy. Not in the electric slide-type instruction but the "let me see those hands in the air yall" or "when I say (___), you say (___)."
Now the term hip hop was already in use before all this. People were using the classification as a dismissal. They would tell the people who was deploying the rap over the music that they would eventually have to stop their hip(pity) hop(pity) stuff. Still, that comes from scat singing be popular since the 1920s; people were mimicking the sounds they were hearing.
Cowboy started using the sounds in his raps and building on the rhyme scheme - hip hop hip bee bop - and such. He is credited by those who loved him as being the one who actually understood the call of the people on the streets. Grandmaster and the rest of the group say that Cowboy was the most loved and everyone wanted to be around. So he started incorporating the hip/hop cadence into his shows as part of his call and response with the crowd it quickly became the most recognized sound/term in the music.
Other emcees started using it, Rapper's Delight came out the following year, and the next thing you have is a definitive term for what is now the most popular music in America. All this in a year.
Hip Hop, A World Phenomenon
Hip Hop is the most recognized culture across the world. Hip now has informal definitions added to it to support the lifestyle. Hip Hop has subgenres and has crossed over into other genres of music such as country and rock. Streetwear is the clothing/lifestyle expression of Hip Hop. Hip Hop has it's own language and welcomes new words. Graffiti is the street art expression of Hip Hop. Dancing, magazines, photography, gang activity, politics, K-Pop, Europe's Grime scene, and so-on, so-on. All influenced, heavily, by Hip Hop.
Terming the music of the oppressed in the 70s has proven to be more than iconic. Those two sounds became two words that became the voice for anyone willing to use it. The legacy is there and it has made many people behind their expression of Hip Hop legendary.
Below is my favorite employment of scat in a rap. Slick Rick (my favorite 80s rapper) the Godfather of storytelling rap and Doug E. Fresh - La Di Da Di. Six years ago the count of how many times this song was sampled was over 560 so it's safe to say that number has probably jumped significantly.