We've long thought hip-hop's “four elements” were bogus. Sure, back in the early days of the genre, rapping, DJing, graffiti writing and b-boying were interwoven into the culture.

But c'mon. Even back then, it was pretty arbitrary. I mean, it's not like guys in the Bronx invented tagging. Cavemen were doing that thousands of years ago, in their…caves.

Nowadays, hip-hop is pretty much just one element: rapping. Anyone who still talks about four — and there are plenty of those people — is either an old-timer or an elitist.

Not to disparage tagging, breakdancing, or turntablism, but those have become fairly separate disciplines, mostly outside the hip-hop mainstream. In fact, most people use the terms “rap” and “hip-hop” interchangeably.

So hip-hop needs new elements, to more accurately reflect the culture these days. What should they be? Let's consider some contenders.

Beatboxing: Um…no. Beatboxing is even more anachronistic than b-boying. The only people who beatbox today are kids on ritalin and Jamie Lidell.

Hip-hop fashion: Nah. There's no common aesthetic in hip hop fashion ever since Jay-Z decided to change clothes and go.

Hip-hop slang: Since they buried “def” a while back we just don't feeling comfortable with this.

VJing: No idea what that is.

So, what else? After lots of thought, we think we've determined what hip-hop is really about these days.

New hip hop element #1: Grills

Everyone loves a nice gold grill, particularly when they're worn by hot white girls. It sucks that Lil Wayne had to have his removed when he went to prison — and subsequently get eight root canals in one sitting — but still, it's worth it to have diamonds on the soles of your teeth.

New hip-hop element #2: Rubber bands

They're inexpensive, durable, and you've probably got some on door knobs around your house. Best of all, they hold your stacks and stacks of cash! Because, who needs banks? Seriously, what have banks ever done for you besides paid you more money each month in interest?

New hip-hop element #3: Lap dances

Why spin on cardboard when you can have a stripper spin on your %$&#%? That seems to be the message of much popular hip-hop nowadays. She may be stripping to go to college, she may be stripping to pay the rent, but the important thing is that she's stripping. Now, listen, we're no prude, but it seems that just about the only role for women in hip-hop these days is stripping, except for maybe Nicki Minaj. Oh wait.

So there you have it; new hip-hop elements for a new year. Now. somebody go tell KRS-One.

Portions of this post originally appeared on a now-defunct site called Supreme, which still owes me money.

LA Weekly