The Prodigy - "Smack My Bitch Up" (The Fat Of The Land)
Breakbeat (sometimes breaks or breakbeats) can refer to two distinct but related things: It is both an electronic music genre and the distinct percussive rhythm from which this genre takes its name, usually characterized by the use of a non-straightened (percussion instruments do not play directly on beat) 4/4 drum pattern (as opposed to the steady beat of house, techno and trance). These rhythms may be characterized by their intensive use of syncopation and polyrhythms. Both meanings are closely connected to hip hop and b-boying (breakdance).
As a musical device, breakbeats have been known and used for almost a hundred years, but the name and modern meaning of the term traces its origins to the rise of hip hop in the United States in the 1970s. The eponymous electronic music genre is widely regarded as a derivative of the United Kingdom's early rave music, where breakbeats were added to the music to form what became known as breakbeat hardcore. However, breakbeats had been used by American hip hop DJs and turntablists in instrumental sets well before the advent of rave in the UK, and it could be argued that the two scenes developed in parallel.
Today, breakbeat lives on in the form of strong regional scenes in the US and UK. Breakbeats are frequently used in the production of such diverse music genres as hip hop, jungle or drum and bass, hardcore, UK garage (including 2-step, breakstep and dubstep) and even pop and rock. Since the 1990s, breakbeat has been used extensively as background music to TV adverts as well as in action film soundtracks, especially in the form of big beat.