The medial metaphor: Hip hop as media | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 13, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1539-7785
  • E-ISSN: 2048-0717



In the mid-1980s, hip hop began shifting from a subcultural articulation organized around a set of cultural practices – namely breaking (breakdancing), graffiti and party-DJing – to an articulation as rap music culture. I use the scholarship of media ecologist Harold Adams Innis to argue that the distinct and opposing medial, or structural, qualities of the elements primary to each articulation contributed to this shift. Looking at these competing articulations of hip hop through the lens of media ecology in detail illuminates telling differences about the articulations of hip hop culture in the mid-1980s that may help further explain the current definitive dominance of rap music in hip hop culture.


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