For years, the debate has ensued about what exactly the difference is between rap music and hip hop music, and the main crux of the argument centers around the type of culture that each type of music personifies. Other factors, though, are also included, such as: how the music is produced, the elements associated with the sound of the music, and what each genre tries to get across in its central message
Hip hop culture is defined by the late '70s, early '80s beat-box style of music where groups like Sugarhill Gang, Fab 5 Freddy, and Kurtis Blow. These artists, and many more just like them, sang in upbeat tones that told people to get off their seats and dance to the music. Their message was more of a positive, brighter future type of ballad. Rap, on the other hand, is more concerned with what is going on in popular culture. Current rap stars like Eminem, 50 Cent, and Lil' Wayne frequently rap about the prevalence of drug dealing where they are from, political issues that they disagree with, or general elements of impropriety amongst the perceived leaders of this nation.
Whereas hip hop strives to push its listeners to look forward to a better tomorrow, rap music is all about "telling it like it is" in the here and now. one of the greatest rap groups of all-time, N.W.A., sang of their hardcore lifestyle which was the only way to survive where they were from. They were often ostracized in popular music circles, but they were simply rapping about the current day's conditions. on the other hand, a song like "Rapper's Delight" from The Sugarhill Gang encouraged people to have a good time with their lives and stressed that only good things were going to happen in the future.
While it is true that rap music tends to have a more depressive outlook than hip hop music, the two terms get interchanged so much in the current day and age that it becomes difficult to decipher what the real difference is. While it would be impossible to pinpoint one particular difference that shows us unequivocally what the difference is between rap and hip hop, our perceived notions of what separates the two will continue the great debate about what is the true difference between these two types of music.