Rap, Hip Hop, R&B- what's the difference?

The title says it all. How does one differentiate a music as Rap, Hip Hop or R&B? Or are they different names for the same music?

Can’t tell you the dif between rap and hip-hop, but R&B is barely related to either of them. Rhythm & Blues

As a listener of all 3, particularly Rap and Hip Hop… Let me break it down
Hip Hop can be instrumental and have no rapping at all it can be beats and scratching also it can be referring to the whole culture that includes Rap Music as one of the art forms along with Breaking (Breakdance), Scratching (Taking a record and making a whole new sound with it…) and Graffiti Art.
Rap is the actual poetry that is put to music with a hook and verses and all that, basically there are 2 main kinds of Rap that people will listen to Underground and Mainstream. Mainstream is what you would mostly hear on the radio, Undergound is independent artists who have not yet become mainstream or Independent artists who’s style is so unique or abstract that it does not fit into the format of most day time Urban Radio Stations.
R and B is singing such as acts like Usher, Mary J Blige, and Carl Thomas.
and even though you didn’t ask Urban music includes Rap, Hip Hop, R and B, Gospel and generally anything that has been started or is popular among african american’s.

The distinction between rap and hip-hop is mostly in the opinion of the listener. In my opinion, hip-hop and rap are basically the same thing physically, but with different content. Rap being the thugs bragging about how many bitches they’ve got and who they’ve killed etc. Some of the best examples of this being the Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur. The material is formulaic, and the real test of the rapper is how clever he can get in rehashing the same old same old. Its like the action-film, entertaining but without much depth (usuallly.)

Hip-hop is the far less popular but much more interesting art in which the rapper uses his rhymes to talk about topics other than sex, money and murder. For example the rapper Talib Kweli never does songs about who hes killed, but he fills his albums with retrospectives about his life, his opinions on politics, love, and basically whatever he feels is worth discussing.

Of course, there are the rappers who are capable of doing both rap and hip-hop. Nas is an example of this. A very talented lyricist who usually has some songs about his ice (jewlery) or who he’s had sex with, but he has many songs that deal with much deeper subjects.

But those are just my definitions…

Others will say (quoting KRS-One) “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live.” Meaning that rap is just the form of music that is part of the larger, predominantly black culture, which also includes how people dance, talk, act (keep it real!), dress, etc.

It doesn’t matter what the person is rapping about Sex and Drugs or something positive…Rap is rap, the distinction is not about if it’s Hip Hop or Rap it is what kind of rap it is whether it is Underground or Mainstream or any of the other categories. Hip Hop has always been about the larger culture that includes Rap and all the other art forms and how you dress and even certain words you use, that is why Hip Hop is something you live…also when it comes to music Rap is considered Hip Hop music but it is still Rap just like Rock and Roll can be considered American music but it is still Rock and Roll. Hip Hop can also be thought of as being more instrumental but once someone starts rapping over a beat then you have Rap music regardless of the content. :slight_smile:

Lemme just answer as a white boy with a hopelessly white taste in music—off the top of my head, what I think of when I hear the terms. This is in no way official, and might be flat-out wrong, but at least it’ll tell you what one person thinks the difference is. (I’m talking strictly about the musical genres here, not the culture or lifestyle or subject matter that’s often associated with them.)

R & B, of course, stands for Rhythm & Blues. The Motown sound. Related to Blues music, Rock & Roll, and gospel. People like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, as well as the smoother, more ballad-ey stuff. A significant influence on many of the British Invasion bands (like the Rolling Stones), as well as later “blue-eyed soul” pop/rockers like Hall & Oates. What Black music was before rap/hip-hop came along.

Rap refers to a vocal style, rhythmically speaking as opposed to singing (though rap songs may have sung choruses/hooks with rapped verses). It’s usually done to a rhythmic, beat-heavy accompaniment, though technically one could rap a capella.

Hip-hop as a genre may overlap with rap, but it’s more musical: the emphasis (compared to rap) is more on the music than the words, and vocals are more often sung (in an R&B or soul-related style). A high emphasis is placed on danceability.

[QUOTE=Thudlow Boink]

R & B, of course, stands for Rhythm & Blues. The Motown sound. Related to Blues music, Rock & Roll, and gospel. People like Chuck Berry and Little Richard, as well as the smoother, more ballad-ey stuff. A significant influence on many of the British Invasion bands (like the Rolling Stones), as well as later “blue-eyed soul” pop/rockers like Hall & Oates. What Black music was before rap/hip-hop came along.QUOTE]

Dude, that’s just WRONG! :slight_smile:

Chuck Berry, Little Richard etc. were pure Rock & Roll and Motown evolved from artists like them.

R & B artists of that time would be John Lee Hooker, B. B. King, Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Junior Parker, Otis Rush and so forth.

To wit: In the late fifties, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Fats Domino were all being played on mainstream R & R radio stations. To hear Muddy Waters or Lightnin’ Hopkins, you had to tune into the black stations.

As for the hip-hop and rap parts of the original question, I admit ignorance and have no opinion.

Quite possibly—I never claimed to know what I was talking about. :slight_smile: But I would have called

blues rather than R&B.

I’ve never heard Blues and Rythm & Blues separated into different genres before.
But just because I’ve never heard of it don’t mean it can’t be done.

Just to satisfy my curiosity: Would you place Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly into different catagories? If not, into which do they fall?

This is really informative. But tell me, if rap is all about talking about guns and sex over a steady beat, then how come M C Hammer was called a rapper? ‘You can’t touch this’ had a pretty good dance beat, and no, he did’t talk of how many people he had killed or how many girls he had sex with. He himself said that he wanted to be the best rapper ever (a quote right at the begining of his career).

Blues is a separate genre from Rhythm & Blues - it’s not as smooth, not as produced, and a little funkier. For the blues, think B.B. King, Robert Johnson, Son House, or Bessie Smith. For R&B, think Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, or the Tempations. Old-school R&B was closer to rock and roll. Modern R&B has been smoothed out so far it’s more or less the same thing as pop.

I’d always sort of thought that hip hop was “lighter,” like De La Soul or Arrested Development, and that rap was “heavier,” like Tupac or Wu Tang Clan. It sounds like I’m wrong on that one, though, so I won’t argue. Lord knows I’m no expert.

Don’t worry. Most people don’t get it. I think START was the only one that nailed it so far in this thread but I’ll reiterate and see if I can make it more clear:

Rap music is part of Hip-Hop culture.

Although rap music is often referred to a hip-hop, there is no style of music simply called “hip-hop”. There is hip-hop music, and the name for it is rap.

Repeat one more time: Rap = music. Hip-hop = culture.

They aren’t not two seperate entities but the terms aren’t exactly always interchangable either.

Well, now that I think about it some more, I guess I would classify Chuck Berry as Rock & Roll rather than R&B—but, though Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly both live in Rock and Roll Land, Berry lives much closer to where it borders on R&B Territory. (I imagine R&B Territory as linking Blues to Rock.) Within Rock, there are definitely some songs/bands that have much more of an R&B flavor/influence than others.

If you heard a robot playing jazz on a saxophone, you might techically be correct in saying that he was playing jazz, but would the emotionless music he was playing really be playing jazz? If the royal family did a flawless rendition of “Anarchy in the UK,” would anyone consider them real punks?

That’s the sort of distinction that I make between hip-hop music and rap. Technically they’re the same thing, but one (hip-hop) has that certain something that the other lacks.

I have to politely disagree with your assertation of tupac and even biggie… They were not all superficial rappers tupac was an incredible poet and writer you need to listent to some of his albums he puts good messages across…

Sorry if some of my spelling is off and I did not do the quote’s properly. i"m a lurker :dubious:

Careful, you’re asking two different questions there. In the first case, yes, the robot is playing jazz if what the robot is playing sounds like jazz. In the second case, the royal family is playing punk rock even though they’re not punks.

I have listened to a lot of Tupac’s music. I have most of his albums (from when he was alive at least) and I agree he is a good rapper. Sometimes he makes a song with depth but I think that his deep songs are drowned out by his hypocritical “thug” songs. I prefer Biggie cause he didn’t try to be something he wasn’t, and I just think his raps were more interesting, his rhymes are more clever and he was an excellent story teller. But we’re getting off topic.

ultrafilter You’re right, but missing my point. I was trying to say that with music, I make a distinction between what is technically jazz/punk/rap and what is really jazz/punk/hip-hop etc.

Can you tell the difference by listening to it? If not, what’s the point of the distinction?

I’m glad somebody thought to ask, as I’d wondered about those distinctions for some time. I thought Hip Hop had something to do with that one song “hip, hop, hipping to the hopping don’t stop a rocking to the bang bang” or however it goes (Rapper’s Delight?).

Just wanted to add that Rap is an old term. Isaac Hayes’ 1973 album Live at the Sahara Tahoe has a couple of tracks specifically called Ike’s Rap, in which he speaks to the audience about political issues. He also talks about hanging at the crib - funny to hear that term used so long ago.

With rap/hip hop? Definitely. Usually with the others too, but its more iffy cause the standard is less well-defined.