World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000025421
Reproduction Date:

Title: Rapping  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: ASAP Rocky, Hip hop music, Battle rap, Ab-Soul, Kesha
Collection: Rapping, Reggaeton
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Rapping (or emceeing,[1] MCing,[1] spitting bars,[2] or rhyming)[3] is "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics".[4] The components of rapping include "content", "flow" (rhythm and rhyme), and "delivery".[5] Rapping is distinct from spoken word poetry in that it is performed in time to a beat.[6][7] Rapping is often associated with and a primary ingredient of hip hop music, but the origins of the phenomenon can be said to predate hip hop culture by centuries. It can also be found in alternative rock such as that of Cake and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Rapping is also used in Kwaito music, a genre that originated in Johannesburg, South Africa and is composed of hip hop elements. Since the early 21st century, it has been possible to hear rap in every major language of the world.

Rapping can be delivered over a beat or without accompaniment. Stylistically, rap occupies a gray area between speech, prose, poetry, and singing. The word (meaning originally "to hit")[8] as used to describe quick speech or repartee predates the musical form.[9] The word had been used in British English since the 16th century, and specifically meaning "to say" since the 18th. It was part of the African American dialect of English in the 1960s meaning "to converse", and very soon after that in its present usage as a term denoting the musical style.[10] Today, the terms "rap" and "rapping" are so closely associated with hip hop music that many use the terms interchangeably.


  • History 1
    • Etymology and usage 1.1
    • Roots 1.2
    • Proto-rap 1.3
    • Old-school hip hop 1.4
    • The golden age 1.5
  • Flow 2
    • History of flow 2.1
    • Styles 2.2
    • Rhyme 2.3
    • Rhythm 2.4
    • Rap notation and flow diagrams 2.5
  • Delivery/performance 3
    • Emcees 3.1
  • Subject matter 4
    • Literary technique 4.1
    • Diction and dialect 4.2
  • Freestyle and battle 5
  • Social impact 6
    • Derivatives and influence 6.1
  • See also 7
  • Notes 8
  • References 9
  • Further reading 10


Etymology and usage

The English verb rap has various meanings, such as "to strike, especially with a quick, smart, or light blow",[11] as well "to utter sharply or vigorously: to rap out a command."[11] It is this second definition which the musical form of rapping is based on and this definition may be from a shortening of repartee.[12] A rapper refers to a performer who 'raps'.

By the late 1960s, when Hubert G. Brown changed his name to H. Rap Brown, rap was a slang term referring to an oration or speech, such as was common among the 'hip' crowd in the protest movements, but it did not come to be associated with a musical style for another decade.

Rap was used to describe talking on records as early as 1971, on Isaac Hayes' album Black Moses with track names such as "Ike's Rap," "Ike's Rap II," "Ike's Rap III," and so on.[13] Hayes' "husky-voiced sexy spoken 'raps' became key components in his signature sound."[13] Del the Funky Homosapien similarly states that rap was used to refer to talking in a stylistic manner in the early 1970s: "I was born in '72... back then what rapping meant, basically, was you trying to convey something—you're trying to convince somebody. That's what rapping is, it's in the way you talk."[14]


The roots of rapping
A spiritual performed by W. M. Givens in Darien, Georgia in 1926.

A Southern work song performed by Judge "Bootmouth" Tucker and Alexander "Neighborhood" Williams in 1939.

Problems playing these files? See .
The Memphis Jug Band, an early blues group, whose lyrical content and rhythmic singing predated rapping.

Rapping can be traced back to its African roots. Centuries before hip hop music existed, the griots of West Africa were delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation. Such connections have been acknowledged by many modern artists, modern day "griots", spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics.[15][16][17][18]

Blues music, rooted in the work songs and spirituals of slavery and influenced greatly by West African musical traditions, was first played by blacks, and later by some whites, in the Mississippi Delta region of the United States around the time of the Emancipation Proclamation. Grammy-winning blues musician/historian Elijah Wald and others have argued that the blues were being rapped as early as the 1920s.[19][20] Wald went so far as to call hip hop "the living blues."[19] Jazz, which developed from the blues and other African-American and European musical traditions and originated around the beginning of the 20th century, has also influenced hip hop and has been cited as a precursor of hip hop. Not just jazz music and lyrics but also jazz poetry. According to John Sobol, the jazz musician and poet who wrote Digitopia Blues, rap "bears a striking resemblance to the evolution of jazz both stylistically and formally."[21]

One of the main influences on Hip Hop artists was James Brown. James Brown is credited for inventing funk music in the middle '60s. The characteristic funk drum beat is the most common rhythm used for rap music. Two of the earliest recordings which have a funk beat and lyrics which are rhymed in rhythm over this type of beat were released by comedian Pigmeat Markham, "Here Come the Judge" which was released in 1968 by the Chess label and in 1969 another song about running numbers called "Who Got The Number?".

Precursors also exist in non-African/African-American traditions, especially in vaudeville and musical theater. One such tradition is the patter song exemplified by Gilbert and Sullivan but that has origins in earlier Italian opera. "Rock Island" from Meridith Wilson's The Music Man is wholly spoken by an ensemble of travelling salesmen, as are most of the numbers for British actor Rex Harrison in the 1964 Lerner and Loewe musical My Fair Lady. Glenn Miller's "The Lady's in Love with You" and "The Little Man Who Wasn't There" (both 1939), each contain distinctly rap-like sequences set to a driving beat. In musical theater, the term "vamp" is identical to its meaning in jazz, gospel, and funk, and it fulfills the same function. Semi-spoken music has long been especially popular in British entertainment, and such examples as David Croft's theme to the 1970s' sitcom Are You Being Served? have elements indistinguishable from modern rap. In the realm of classical music, semi-spoken music was popular stylized by composer Arnold Schoenberg as Sprechstimme, and famously used in Ernst Toch's 1924 Geographical Fugue for spoken chorus and the final scene in Darius Milhaud's 1915 ballet Les Choéphores.[22] In the French chanson field, irrigated by a strong poetry tradition, such singer-songwriters as Léo Ferré or Serge Gainsbourg made their own use of spoken word over rock or symphonic music from the very beginning of the 1970s. Although these probably did not have a direct influence on rap's development in the African American cultural sphere, they paved the way for acceptance of spoken word music in the media market.

More directly related to the African American community were items like schoolyard chants and taunts, clapping games,[23] jump-rope rhymes, some with unwritten folk histories going back hundreds of years across many nationalities. Sometimes these items contain racially offensive lyrics.[24] A related area that is not strictly folklore is rhythmical cheering and cheerleading for military and sports.


Art forms such as spoken word jazz poetry and comedy records had an influence on the first rappers.[25] Coke La Rock, often credited as hip-hop's first MC[26] cites the Last Poets among his influences, as well as comedians such as The Wild Man Steve and Richard Pryor.[25] Comedian Rudy Ray Moore released under the counter albums in the 1960s and 1970s such as This Pussy Belongs To Me (1970), which contained "raunchy, sexually explicit rhymes that often had to do with pimps, prostitutes, players, and hustlers",[27] and which later led to him being called "The Godfather of Rap".[28]


During the mid-20th century, the musical culture of the Caribbean was constantly influenced by the concurrent changes in American music. As early as 1956,[34] deejays were toasting (an African tradition of "rapped out" tales of heroism) over dubbed Jamaican beats. It was called "rap", expanding the word's earlier meaning in the African-American community—"to discuss or debate informally."[35]

The early rapping of hip-hop developed out of announcements made over the microphone at parties, and later into more complex raps.[36] Grandmaster Caz states: "The microphone was just used for making announcements, like when the next party was gonna be, or people's moms would come to the party looking for them, and you have to announce it on the mic. Different DJs started embellishing what they were saying. I would make an announcement this way, and somebody would hear that and they add a little bit to it. I'd hear it again and take it a little step further 'til it turned from lines to sentences to paragraphs to verses to rhymes."[36]

One of the first rappers at the beginning of the hip hop period, at the end of the 1970s, was also hip hop's first DJ, Kool Herc. Herc, a Jamaican immigrant, started delivering simple raps at his parties, which some claim were inspired by the Jamaican tradition of toasting.[37] However, Kool Herc himself denies this link (in the 1984 book Hip Hop), saying, "Jamaican toasting? Naw, naw. No connection there. I couldn't play reggae in the Bronx. People wouldn't accept it. The inspiration for rap is James Brown and the album Hustler's Convention.".[38] Herc also suggests he was too young while in Jamaica to get into sound system parties: "I couldn’t get in. Couldn’t get in. I was ten, eleven years old,"[39] and that while in Jamaica, he was listening to James Brown: "I was listening to American music in Jamaica and my favorite artist was James Brown. That's who inspired me. A lot of the records I played were by James Brown."[37]

By the end of the 1970s, artists such as Kurtis Blow and The Sugarhill Gang were just starting to receive radio airplay and make an impact far outside of New York City, on a national scale. "Stranger in a Strange Land" on the 1971 album Leon Russell and the Shelter People and Blondie's inclusion of a rap section in their 1981 single, "Rapture", were some of the first songs with rap to top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts.

Old-school hip hop

Old school rap (1979–1984)[40] was "easily identified by its relatively simple raps"[41] according to AllMusic, "the emphasis was not on lyrical technique, but simply on good times",[41] one notable exception being Melle Mel, who set the way for future rappers through his socio-political content and creative wordplay.[41]

The golden age

Golden age hip hop (cited as either just the late '80s[42] or the late '80s to early '90s)[43] was the time period where hip-hop lyricism went through its most drastic transformation – writer William Jelani Cobb says "in these golden years, a critical mass of mic prodigies were literally creating themselves and their art form at the same time"[44] and Allmusic writes, "rhymers like PE's Chuck D, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, and Rakim basically invented the complex wordplay and lyrical kung-fu of later hip-hop”.[45] The golden age is considered to have ended around '93–'94, marking the end of rap lyricism's most innovative period.[43][45]


Hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa mixed electro with old school rapping and beats. Bambaataa, the DJ, is also the rapper in this song; the first rapping in hip hop was done from behind the turntables.

Problems playing this file? See .

"Flow" is defined as "the rhythms and rhymes"[46][47][48] of a hip-hop song's lyrics and how they interact – the book How to Rap breaks flow down into rhyme, rhyme schemes, and rhythm (also known as cadence).[49] 'Flow' is also sometimes used to refer to elements of the delivery (pitch, timbre, volume) as well,[50] though often a distinction is made between the flow and the delivery.[47][46]

Staying on the beat is central to rap's flow[51] – many MCs note the importance of staying on-beat in How to Rap including Sean Price, Mighty Casey, Zion I, Vinnie Paz, Fredro Starr, Del The Funky Homosapien, Tech N9ne, People Under The Stairs, Twista, B-Real, Mr Lif, 2Mex, and Cage.[51]


The same technique is also noted in the book How to Rap, where diagrams are used to show how the lyrics line up with the beat – "stressing a syllable on each of the four beats gives the lyrics the same underlying rhythmic pulse as the music and keeps them in rhythm... other syllables in the song may still be stressed, but the ones that fall in time with the four beats of a bar are the only ones that need to be emphasized in order to keep the lyrics in time with the music".[53]

History of flow

Old school flows were relatively basic and used only few syllables per bar, simple rhythmic patterns, and basic rhyming techniques and rhyme schemes.[50][54] Melle Mel is cited as an MC who epitomizes the old school flow – Kool Moe Dee says, "from 1970 to 1978 we rhymed one way [then] Melle Mel, in 1978, gave us the new cadence we would use from 1978 to 1986."[55] he's the first emcee to explode in a new rhyme cadence, and change the way every emcee rhymed forever. Rakim, The Notorious B.I.G., and Eminem have flipped the flow, but Melle Mel's downbeat on the two, four, kick to snare cadence is still the rhyme foundation all emcees are building on".[56]

Artists and critics often credit Rakim with creating the overall shift from the more simplistic old school flows to more complex flows near the beginning of hip hop's new school[57] – Kool Moe Dee says, "any emcee that came after 1986 had to study Rakim just to know what to be able to do.[58] Rakim, in 1986, gave us flow and that was the rhyme style from 1986 to 1994.[55] from that point on, anybody emceeing was forced to focus on their flow".[59] Kool Moe Dee explains that before Rakim, the term 'flow' wasn't widely used – "Rakim is basically the inventor of flow. We were not even using the word flow until Rakim came along. It was called rhyming, it was called cadence, but it wasn't called flow. Rakim created flow!"[60] He adds that while Rakim upgraded and popularized the focus on flow, "he didn't invent the word".[58]

Kool Moe Dee states that Biggie introduced a newer flow which "dominated from 1994 to 2002",[55] and also says that Method Man was "one of the emcees from the early to mid-'90s that ushered in the era of flow... Rakim invented it, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, and Kool G Rap expanded it, but Biggie and Method Man made flow the single most important aspect of an emcee's game".[61] He also cites Craig Mack as an artist who contributed to developing flow in the '90s.[62]

Music scholar Adam Krims says, "the flow of MCs is one of the profoundest changes that separates out new-sounding from older-sounding music... it is widely recognized and remarked that rhythmic styles of many commercially successful MCs since roughly the beginning of the 1990s have progressively become faster and more 'complex'".[50] He cites "members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, AZ, Big Pun, and Ras Kass, just to name a few"[63] as artists who exemplify this progression.

Kool Moe Dee adds, "in 2002 Eminem created the song that got the first Oscar in Hip-Hop history [Lose Yourself]... and I would have to say that his flow is the most dominant right now (2003)".[55]


There are many different styles of flow, with different terminology used by different people – of Dead Prez uses the following terms –

Alternatively, music scholar Adam Krims uses the following terms –


MCs use many different rhyming techniques, including complex rhyme schemes, as Adam Krims points out – "the complexity... involves multiple rhymes in the same rhyme complex (i.e. section with consistently rhyming words), internal rhymes, [and] offbeat rhymes".[63] There is also widespread use of multisyllabic rhymes, by artists such as Kool G Rap,[70] Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Big L, Nas and Eminem.

It has been noted that rap's use of rhyme is some of the most advanced in all forms of poetry – music scholar Adam Bradley notes, "rap rhymes so much and with such variety that it is now the largest and richest contemporary archive of rhymed words. It has done more than any other art form in recent history to expand rhyme's formal range and expressive possibilities".[71]

In the book How to Rap, Masta Ace explains how Rakim and Big Daddy Kane caused a shift in the way MCs rhymed: "Up until Rakim, everybody who you heard rhyme, the last word in the sentence was the rhyming [word], the connection word. Then Rakim showed us that you could put rhymes within a rhyme... now here comes Big Daddy Kane — instead of going three words, he's going multiple".[72] How to Rap explains that "rhyme is often thought to be the most important factor in rap writing... rhyme is what gives rap lyrics their musicality.[1]


Many of the rhythmic techniques used in rapping come from percussive techniques and many rappers compare themselves to percussionists.[73] How to Rap 2 identifies all the rhythmic techniques used in rapping such as triplets, flams, 16th notes, 32nd notes, syncopation, extensive use of rests, and rhythmic techniques unique to rapping such as West Coast "lazy tails," coined by Shock G.[74] Rapping has also been done in various time signatures, such as 3/4 time.[75]

Rap notation and flow diagrams

The standard form of rap notation is the flow diagram, where rappers line-up their lyrics underneath "beat numbers".[76] Different rappers have slightly different forms of flow diagram that they use: Del the Funky Homosapien says, "I'm just writing out the rhythm of the flow, basically. Even if it's just slashes to represent the beats, that's enough to give me a visual path.",[77] Vinnie Paz states, "I've created my own sort of writing technique, like little marks and asterisks to show like a pause or emphasis on words in certain places.",[76] and Aesop Rock says, "I have a system of maybe 10 little symbols that I use on paper that tell me to do something when I’m recording."[76]

Hip-hop scholars also make use of the same flow diagrams: the books How to Rap and How to Rap 2 use the diagrams to explain rap's triplets, flams, rests, rhyme schemes, runs of rhyme, and breaking rhyme patterns, among other techniques.[75] Similar systems are used by PhD musicologists Adam Krims in his book Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity[78] and Kyle Adams in his academic work on flow.[79]

Because rap revolves around a strong 4/4 beat,[80] with certain syllables said in time to the beat, all the notational systems have a similar structure: they all have the same 4 beat numbers at the top of the diagram, so that syllables can be written in-line with the beat numbers.[80] This allows devices such as rests, "lazy tails", flams, and other rhythmic techniques to be shown, as well as illustrating where different rhyming words fall in relation to the music.[75]


To successfully deliver a rap, a rapper must also develop vocal presence, enunciation, and breath control. Vocal presence is the distinctiveness of a rapper's voice on record. Enunciation is essential to a flowing rap; some rappers choose also to exaggerate it for comic and artistic effect. Breath control, taking in air without interrupting one's delivery, is an important skill for a rapper to master, and a must for any MC. An MC with poor breath control cannot deliver difficult verses without making unintentional pauses.

Raps are sometimes delivered with melody. West Coast rapper Egyptian Lover was the first notable MC to deliver "sing-raps."[81] Popular rappers such as 50 Cent and Ja Rule add a slight melody to their otherwise purely percussive raps whereas some rappers such as Cee-Lo Green are able to harmonize their raps with the beat. The Midwestern group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony was one of the first groups to achieve nationwide recognition for using the fast-paced, melodic and harmonic raps that are also practiced by Do or Die, another Midwestern group. Another rapper that harmonized his rhymes was Nate Dogg, a rapper part of the group 213. Rakim experimented not only with following the beat, but also with complementing the song's melody with his own voice, making his flow sound like that of an instrument (a saxophone in particular).[82]

The ability to rap quickly and clearly is sometimes regarded as an important sign of skill. In certain hip hop subgenres such as chopped and screwed, slow-paced rapping is often considered optimal. The current record for fastest rapper is held by Spanish rapper Domingo Edjang Moreno, known by his alias Chojin, who rapped 921 syllables in one minute on December 23, 2008.[83]


In the late 1970s, the term Emcee, MC or M.C.[84] became an alternative title for a rapper, and for their role within hip hop music and culture. An MC uses rhyming verses, pre-written or ad lib ('freestyled'), to introduce the DJ with whom they work, to keep the crowd entertained or to glorify themselves. As hip hop progressed, the title MC acquired backronyms such as 'mike chanter'[85] 'microphone controller', 'microphone checker', 'music commentator', and one who 'moves the crowd'. A recent neologistic acronym, gaining use, is 'mentor to child'. Some use this word interchangeably with the term rapper, while for others the term denotes a superior level of skill and connection to the wider culture.

MC can often be used as a term of distinction; referring to an artist with good performance skills.[86] As Kool G Rap notes, "masters of ceremony, where the word 'M.C.' comes from, means just keeping the party alive" [sic].[87][88] Many people in hiphop including DJ Premier and KRS-One feel that James Brown was the first MC. James Brown had the lyrics, moves, and soul that greatly influenced a lot of rappers in Hip-Hop, and arguably even started the first MC rhyme.[89][90]

For some rappers, there was a distinction to the term, such as for MC Hammer who acquired the nickname "MC" for being a "Master of Ceremonies" which he used when he began performing at various clubs while on the road with the Oakland A's and eventually in the military (United States Navy).[91] It was within the lyrics of a rap song called "This Wall" that Hammer first identified himself as M.C. Hammer and later marketed it on his debut album Feel My Power.[92]

Uncertainty over the acronym's expansion may be considered evidence for its ubiquity: the full term "Master of Ceremonies" is very rarely used in the hip hop scene. This confusion prompted the hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest to include this statement in the liner notes to their 1993 album Midnight Marauders:

The use of the term MC when referring to a rhyming wordsmith originates from the dance halls of Jamaica. At each event, there would be a master of ceremonies who would introduce the different musical acts and would say a toast in style of a rhyme, directed at the audience and to the performers. He would also make announcements such as the schedule of other events or advertisements from local sponsors. The term MC continued to be used by the children of women who moved to New York City to work as maids in the 1970s. These MCs eventually created a new style of music called hip-hop based on the rhyming they used to do in Jamaica and the breakbeats used in records. MC has also recently been accepted to refer to all who engineer music.

Subject matter

"Party rhymes", meant to pump up the crowd at a party, were nearly the exclusive focus of old school hip hop, and they remain a staple of hip hop music to this day. In addition to party raps, rappers also tend to make references to love and sex. Love raps were first popularized by Spoonie Gee of the Treacherous Three, and later, in the golden age of hip hop, Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D, and LL Cool J would continue this tradition. Hip hop artists such as KRS-One, Hopsin, Public Enemy, Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G. (Biggie), and dead prez are known for their sociopolitical subject matter. Their West Coast counterparts include Emcee Lynx, The Coup, Paris, and Michael Franti. Tupac Shakur was also known for rapping about social issues such as police brutality, teenage pregnancy, and racism.

Other rappers take a less critical approach to urbanity, sometimes even embracing such aspects as crime. Schoolly D was the first notable MC to rap about crime.[81] Early on KRS-One was accused of celebrating crime and a hedonistic lifestyle, but after the death of his DJ, Scott La Rock, KRS-One went on to speak out against violence in hip hop and has spent the majority of his career condemning violence and writing on issues of race and class. Ice-T was one of the first rappers to call himself a "playa" and discuss guns on record, but his theme tune to the 1988 film Colors contained warnings against joining gangs. Gangsta rap, made popular largely because of N.W.A, brought rapping about crime and the gangster lifestyle into the musical mainstream.

Materialism has also been a popular topic in hip-hop since at least the early 1990s, with rappers boasting about their own wealth and possessions, and name-dropping specific brands: liquor brands Cristal and Rémy Martin, car manufacturers Bentley and Mercedes-Benz and clothing brands Gucci and Versace have all been popular subjects for rappers.

Various politicians, journalists, and religious leaders have accused rappers of fostering a culture of violence and hedonism among hip hop listeners through their lyrics.[93][94][95] However, there are also rappers whose messages may not be in conflict with these views, for example Christian hip hop. Others have praised the "political critique, innuendo and sarcasm" of hip hop music.[96]

In contrast to the more hedonistic approach of gangsta rappers, some rappers have a spiritual or religious focus. Christian rap is currently the most commercially successful form of religious rap. Aside from Christianity, the Five Percent Nation, an Islamic esotericist religious/spiritual group, has been represented more than any religious group in popular hip hop. Artists such as Rakim, the members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Brand Nubian, X-Clan and Busta Rhymes have had success in spreading the theology of the Five Percenters.

Literary technique

Rappers use the literary techniques of double entendres, alliteration, and other forms of wordplay that are also found in classical poetry. Similes and metaphors are used extensively in rap lyrics; rappers such as Fabolous and Lloyd Banks have written entire songs in which every line contains similes, whereas MCs like Rakim, GZA, and Jay-Z are known for the metaphorical content of their raps. Rappers such as Lupe Fiasco are known for the complexity of their songs that contain metaphors within extended metaphors.

Diction and dialect

Many hip hop listeners believe that a rapper's lyrics are enhanced by a complex vocabulary. Kool Moe Dee claims that he appealed to older audiences by using a complex vocabulary in his raps.[57] Rap is famous, however, for having its own vocabulary—from international hip hop slang to regional slang. Some artists, like the Wu-Tang Clan, develop an entire lexicon among their clique. African American Vernacular English has always had a significant effect on hip hop slang and vice versa. Certain regions have introduced their unique regional slang to hip hop culture, such as the Bay Area (Mac Dre, E-40), Houston (Chamillionaire, Paul Wall), Atlanta (Ludacris, Lil Jon, T.I.), and Kentucky (Nappy Roots). The Nation of Gods and Earths, aka The Five Percenters, has influenced mainstream hip hop slang with the introduction of phrases such as "word is bond" that have since lost much of their original spiritual meaning. Preference toward one or the other has much to do with the individual; GZA, for example, prides himself on being very visual and metaphorical but also succinct, whereas underground rapper MF DOOM is known for heaping similes upon similes. In still another variation, 2Pac was known for saying exactly what he meant, literally and clearly.

Freestyle and battle

There are two kinds of freestyle rap: one is scripted (recitation), but having no particular overriding subject matter, the second typically referred to as "freestyling" or "spitting", is the improvisation of rapped lyrics. When freestyling, some rappers inadvertently reuse old lines, or even "cheat" by preparing segments or entire verses in advance. Therefore, freestyles with proven spontaneity are valued above generic, always usable lines.[97] Rappers will often reference places or objects in their immediate setting, or specific (usually demeaning) characteristics of opponents, to prove their authenticity and originality.

Battle rapping, which can be freestyled, is the competition between two or more rappers in front of an audience. The tradition of insulting one's friends or acquaintances in rhyme goes back to the dozens, and was portrayed famously by Muhammad Ali in his boxing matches. The winner of a battle is decided by the crowd and/or preselected judges. According to Kool Moe Dee, a successful battle rap focuses on an opponent's weaknesses, rather than one's own strengths. Television shows such as MTV's DFX and BET's 106 and Park host weekly freestyle battles live on the air. Battle rapping gained widespread public recognition outside of the African-American community with rapper Eminem's movie, 8 Mile.

The strongest battle rappers will generally perform their rap fully freestyled. This is the most effective form in a battle as the rapper can comment on the other person, whether it be what they look like, or how they talk, or what they wear. It also allows the rapper to reverse a line used to "diss" him or her if they are the second rapper to battle. This is known as a 'flip'. Jin The Emcee was considered 'World Champion' battle rapper in the mid-2000s.

Social impact

Derivatives and influence

Throughout hip hop's history, new musical styles and genres have developed that contain rapping. Entire genres, such as rap rock and its derivatives rapcore and rap metal (rock/metal/punk with rapped vocals), or hip house have resulted from the fusion of rap and other styles. Many popular music genres with a focus on percussion have contained rapping at some point; be it disco (DJ Hollywood), jazz (Gang Starr), new wave (Blondie), funk (Fatback Band), contemporary R&B (Mary J. Blige), reggaeton (Daddy Yankee), or even Japanese dance music (Soul'd Out). UK garage music has begun to focus increasingly on rappers in a new subgenre called grime, pioneered and popularized by the MC Dizzee Rascal. Increased popularity with the music has shown more UK rappers going to America as well as tour there, such as Sway DaSafo possibly signing with Akon's label Konvict. Hyphy is the latest of these spin-offs. It is typified by slowed-down atonal vocals with instrumentals that borrow heavily from the hip hop scene and lyrics centered on illegal street racing and car culture. Another Oakland, California group, Beltaine's Fire, has recently gained attention for their Celtic fusion sound which blends hip hop beats with Celtic melodies. Unlike the majority of hip hop artists, all their music is performed live without samples, synths, or drum machines, drawing comparisons to The Roots and Rage Against the Machine.

Bhangra, a widely popular style of music from Punjab, India has been mixed numerous times with reggae and hip hop music. The most popular song in this genre in the United States was "Mundian to Bach Ke" or "Beware the Boys" by Panjabi MC and Jay-Z. Although "Mundian To Bach Ke" had been released previously, the mixing with Jay-Z popularized the genre further.

Though the majority of rappers are male, there have been a number of female rap stars, including Iggy Azalea, Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Eve, Trina, Nicki Minaj, Khia, M.I.A., Foxy Brown, and Lisa Lopes from TLC. There is also deaf rap artist Signmark.

See also

  • Flyting - contests consisting of the exchange of insults, often in poetry


  1. ^ a b c Edwards 2009, p. xii.
  2. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 3.
  3. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 81.
  4. ^ "Rapping | Define Rapping at". Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  5. ^ Edwards 2009, p. x.
  6. ^ a b c d "Poetic Rhythm: An Introduction - Derek Attridge - Google ספרים". 1995-09-28. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  7. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 63.
  8. ^ "". Retrieved February 2, 2008. 
  9. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  10. ^ Safire, William. (1992). On language; The rap on hip-hop. The New York Times Magazine.
  11. ^ a b "Rap | Define Rap at". Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ rap[5, noun] Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged
  13. ^ a b Review by Lindsay Planer. "Black Moses - Isaac Hayes | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  14. ^ Edwards, Paul; Gift of Gab (foreword) (September 2013). How to Rap 2: Advanced Flow and Delivery Techniques. Chicago Review Press. P. 98.
  15. ^ Pollard, Lawrence (September 2, 2004). "BBC News: Africa". Retrieved December 21, 2005. 
  16. ^ " Rap". Retrieved December 21, 2005. 
  17. ^ "PBS lesson plan on the blues". Retrieved December 21, 2005. 
  18. ^ "Yale University Teachers Association". Retrieved December 21, 2005. 
  19. ^ a b "Hip Hop and Blues". Retrieved December 21, 2005. 
  20. ^ "The Roots of Rap". Retrieved December 21, 2005. 
  21. ^ Sobol, John. (2002). Digitopia Blues. Banff Centre Press. ISBN 978-0-920159-89-7
  22. ^ The Oxford Companion to Music (2011) Oxford University Press eISBN 978-0-199579-03-7
  23. ^ K. D. Gaunt, The games black girls play: learning the ropes from Double-dutch to Hip-hop (New York, NU., New York University Press, 2006)
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ a b "Coke La Rock September". Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  26. ^ Jenkins, Sacha (December 3, 1999). Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-312-24298-5.
  27. ^ Review by Alex Henderson. "This Pussy Belongs to Me - Rudy Ray Moore | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  28. ^ Soren Baker. Special to the Tribune (2002-05-10). "`Dolemite' star explores music - Chicago Tribune". Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  29. ^ Jeff Chang; D.J. Kool Herc (December 2005). Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. Picador. p. 249. ISBN 0-312-42579-1.
  30. ^ "Forever badass: Melvin Van Peebles on his Philly funk gig and Sweetback memories | Cover Story | News and Opinion". Philadelphia Weekly. Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
  31. ^ "Melvin Van Peebles: Oral History Video Clips and Biography: NVLP Oral History Archive". August 21, 1932. Retrieved February 21, 2014. 
  32. ^ Van Peebles, Melvin (2003). "The title of this album". What the....You Mean I Can't Sing?! (booklet). Melvin Van Peebles. Water. water122. 
  33. ^ George, Nelson (1995). Ghetto Gothic (booklet). Melvin Van Peebles. Capitol. 724382961420. 
  34. ^ Howard Johnson & Jim Pines. (1982). Reggae – Deep Roots Music Proteus Books.
  35. ^ The earlier meaning being "a usage well established among African-Americans by the 1960s.", according to The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition.
  36. ^ a b Jim Fricke and Charlie Ahearn, Yes Yes Y'all: The Experience Music Project Oral History Of Hip-hop's First Decade (New York: Da Capo, 2002), 128.
  37. ^ a b "Davey D's Hip-Hop Corner". Retrieved December 20, 2005. 
  38. ^ "Hip Hop: The Illustrated History of Break Dancing, Rap Music, and Graffiti", by Steven Hager, 1984, St Martin's Press, p.45
  39. ^ "Kool Herc". Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  40. ^ David Toop, Rap Attack, 3rd. ed., London: Serpent's Tail, 2000. (p. 216) ISBN 978-1-85242-627-9
  41. ^ a b c
  42. ^ [2]
  43. ^ a b
  44. ^ Cobb, Jelani William, 2007, To the Break of Dawn, NYU Press, p. 47.
  45. ^ a b
  46. ^ a b Edwards 2009.
  47. ^ a b Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. inside cover, 10, 17.
  48. ^ Krims 2001, p. 48–49.
  49. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 63-130.
  50. ^ a b c Krims 2001, p. 44.
  51. ^ a b Edwards 2009, p. 63–79.
  52. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 71–72.
  53. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 72.
  54. ^ "Allmusic". Retrieved December 22, 2005. 
  55. ^ a b c d Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 325.
  56. ^ Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 334.
  57. ^ a b Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 224.
  58. ^ a b Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 324.
  59. ^ Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 326.
  60. ^ Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 328.
  61. ^ Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 206.
  62. ^ Kool Moe Dee 2003, p. 39.
  63. ^ a b Krims 2001, p. 49.
  64. ^ a b 2005, p. 63.
  65. ^ 2005, p. 63–64.
  66. ^ 2005, p. 64.
  67. ^ "Open Mic: Camp Mulla: Cool Kids on the Edge of A New Frontier?". 2011-04-29. Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  68. ^ Krims 2001, p. 50.
  69. ^ a b Krims 2001, p. 51.
  70. ^ Shapiro, Peter, 2005, The Rough Guide To Hip-Hop, 2nd Edition, Penguin, p. 213
  71. ^ Bradley, Adam, 2009, Book of Rhymes: The Poetics of Hip-Hop, Basic Civitas Books, p. 51–52.
  72. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 105.
  73. ^ Edwards, Paul; Gift of Gab (foreword) (September 2013). How to Rap 2: Advanced Flow and Delivery Techniques. Chicago Review Press. P. 3.
  74. ^ Edwards, Paul; Gift of Gab (foreword) (September 2013). How to Rap 2: Advanced Flow and Delivery Techniques. Chicago Review Press. P. 1-54.
  75. ^ a b c Edwards, Paul; Gift of Gab (foreword) (September 2013). How to Rap 2: Advanced Flow and Delivery Techniques. Chicago Review Press. P. 53.
  76. ^ a b c Edwards 2009, p. 67.
  77. ^ Edwards 2009, p. 68.
  78. ^ Krims 2001, p. 59-60.
  79. ^ "MTO 15.5: Adams, Flow in Rap Music". Retrieved 2014-08-25. 
  80. ^ a b Edwards 2009, p. 69.
  81. ^ a b  
  82. ^
  83. ^ "Guinness World Records". Retrieved August 27, 2010. 
  84. ^
  85. ^ Hebdige, Dick, 1987, Cut `n' Mix: Culture, Identity and Caribbean Music' p. 105.
  86. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. xii.
  87. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. vii.
  88. ^ "How To Rap: Kool G Rap (Foreword)". Rap Radar. 2009-12-03. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 
  89. ^ "The MC - Why We Do It: 50 Cent, Common, Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli, Method Man, Mekhi Phifer, Raekwon, Rakim, Twista, Kanye West, Peter Spirer: Movies & TV". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  90. ^ J. Rizzle (2009-08-12). "DJ Premier Salutes James Brown [The Foundation of Hip Hop] | The Underground Hip Hop Authority | Hip Hop Music, Videos & Reviews". Retrieved 2012-07-06. 
  91. ^ It's Hammer time!' M.C. Hammer: upbeat performer with high-voltage stage show broadens rap's appeal"'". Ebony. 1990. 
  92. ^ "Love Education: Jon Gibson: Music". Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  93. ^ Kirby, Jill (July 16, 2006). "The hoodie needs a daddy, not a hug". London: The Times. Retrieved July 22, 2006. 
  94. ^ O'Reilly, Bill (August 28, 2002). "Challenging Pepsi". Fox News. Retrieved July 22, 2006. 
  95. ^ Lynskey, Dorian (July 21, 2006). "'We need heroes'". London: The Guardian. Retrieved July 22, 2006. 
  96. ^ Demers, Joanna. "Sampling the 1970s in Hip-Hop", Cambridge University Press, 2003, pp. 41–42.
  97. ^ Freestyle: The Art of Rhyme (2000)


  • Edwards, Paul;  
  • (2005). The Art Of Emceeing. Boss Up Inc. 
  • Krims, Adam (2001). Rap Music And The Poetics Of Identity.  

Further reading

  • Alan Light; et al. (October 1999). The Vibe History of Hip Hop. Three Rivers Press. p. 432.  
  • Sacha Jenkins; et al. (December 1999). Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists. St. Martin's Griffin. p. 352.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.