I received the following question from a beloved reader:
Hi, Grammar Vandal,
First, let me say that I’m delighted to share the same city with you. Of any city in the US, Boston should be putting its best linguistic foot forward. And when it doesn’t, it deserves a little corrective vandalism.
So, here’s my question: “Hip Hop” – I know that it is currently correct to use it both withand without a hyphen, but what about when it’s a modifier? Does it behave like any other compound? E.g., he was well known vs. he was a well-known person. So, “I’ve been doing hip hop for a decade now…”vs “The hip-hop scene has changed a lot since Tupac was shot.”
Actually, I guess we could pose the question of capitalization aswell, although since rock, disco and reggae don’t get special capitalization status as a music genre, I don’t think hip hop should either.
Any thoughts or suggested web references? I have the Chicago Manual of Style, AP Style Guide and US Govt Manual of Style on hand here as physical resources but none of them seem to care much about hip hop.
Many thanks for your advice!
MollyMac in Brookline
You know, I thought that this would be so easy. I thought that all it would take would be a few quick searches to find an answer. Not so much.
Like MollyMac said, neither hip hop nor hip-hop are listed in any of the aformentioned guides. Because of this, I’m going to do a survey of modern music information sources and tally what they use.
Here we go:
Hip Hop: NONE!
To add in a few literary sources, I checked out the American Heritage Dictionary and Random House Unabridged Dictionary. Both use hip-hop.
MollyMac, I think you have your answer! This is pretty interesting. I always preferred to use hip-hop, and I’m glad that it’s the default of so many major music sources.
Thanks, MollyMac. I particularly love the comma you used after “Hi.”