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Rapper Myl3z raps in Berkeley, CA - 2019

Rapping (or rhyming, spitting, [1] emceeing, [2] MCing [2] [3] ) is a musical form of vocal delivery that incorporates "rhyme, rhythmic speech, and street vernacular", [4] which is performed or chanted in a variety of ways, usually over a backing beat or musical accompaniment. [4] The components of rap include "content" (what is being said), "flow" (rhythm, rhyme), and "delivery" (cadence, tone). [5] Rap differs from spoken-word poetry in that rap is usually performed in time to an instrumental track. [6] Rap is often associated with, and is a primary ingredient of hip-hop music, but the origins of the phenomenon predate hip-hop culture. The earliest precursor to the modern rap is the West African griot tradition, in which "oral historians", [7] or "praise-singers", [7] would disseminate oral traditions and genealogies, or use their formidable rhetorical techniques for gossip or to "praise or critique individuals." [7] Griot traditions connect to rap along a lineage of Black verbal reverence that goes back to ancient Egyptian practices, through James Brown interacting with the crowd and the band between songs, to Muhammad Ali's quick-witted verbal taunts and the palpitating poems of the Last Poets. [8] Therefore, rap lyrics and music are part of the "Black rhetorical continuum", [8] and aim to reuse elements of past traditions while expanding upon them through "creative use of language and rhetorical styles and strategies. [8] The person credited with originating the style of "delivering rhymes over extensive music", [9] that would become known as rap, was Anthony "DJ Hollywood" Holloway from Harlem, New York. [9]

Rhythm aspect of music

Rhythm generally means a "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions". This general meaning of regular recurrence or pattern in time can apply to a wide variety of cyclical natural phenomena having a periodicity or frequency of anything from microseconds to several seconds ; to several minutes or hours, or, at the most extreme, even over many years.

A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in the final stressed syllables and any following syllables of two or more words. Most often, this kind of "perfect" rhyming is consciously used for effect in the final positions of lines of poems and songs. More broadly, a rhyme may also variously refer to other types of similar sounds near the ends of two or more words. Furthermore, the word rhyme has come to be sometimes used as a shorthand term for any brief poem, such as a rhyming couplet or nursery rhyme.

Griot storyteller of oral tradition in West Africa

A griot, jali, or jeli is a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet, or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition and is often seen as a leader due to his or her position as an advisor to royal personages. As a result of the former of these two functions, they are sometimes called a bard.


Rap is usually delivered over a beat, typically provided by a DJ, turntablist, beatboxer, or performed a cappella without accompaniment. Stylistically, rap occupies a gray area between speech, prose, poetry, and singing. The word, which predates the musical form, originally meant "to lightly strike", [10] and is now used to describe quick speech or repartee. [11] The word had been used in British English since the 16th century. 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. [12] Today, the term rap is so closely associated with hip-hop music that many writers use the terms interchangeably.

A cappella music is group or solo singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way. The term "a cappella" was originally intended to differentiate between Renaissance polyphony and Baroque concertato style. In the 19th century, a renewed interest in Renaissance polyphony coupled with an ignorance of the fact that vocal parts were often doubled by instrumentalists led to the term coming to mean unaccompanied vocal music. The term is also used, albeit rarely, as a synonym for alla breve.

Singing act of producing musical sounds with the voice

Singing is the act of producing musical sounds with the voice and augments regular speech by the use of sustained tonality, rhythm, and a variety of vocal techniques. A person who sings is called a singer or vocalist. Singers perform music that can be sung with or without accompaniment by musical instruments. Singing is often done in an ensemble of musicians, such as a choir of singers or a band of instrumentalists. Singers may perform as soloists or accompanied by anything from a single instrument up to a symphony orchestra or big band. Different singing styles include art music such as opera and Chinese opera, Indian music and religious music styles such as gospel, traditional music styles, world music, jazz, blues, ghazal and popular music styles such as pop, rock, electronic dance music and filmi.

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".


Etymology and usage

The English verb rap has various meanings, these include "to strike, especially with a quick, smart, or light blow", [13] as well "to utter sharply or vigorously: to rap out a command". [13] The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives a date of 1541 for the first recorded use of the word with the meaning "to utter (esp. an oath) sharply, vigorously, or suddenly". [14] Wentworth and Flexner's Dictionary of American Slang gives the meaning "to speak to, recognize, or acknowledge acquaintance with someone", dated 1932, [15] and a later meaning of "to converse, esp. in an open and frank manner". [16] It is these meanings from which the musical form of rapping derives, and this definition may be from a shortening of repartee. [17] 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.[ citation needed ]

<i>Shorter Oxford English Dictionary</i>

The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (SOED) is an English language dictionary published by the Oxford University Press. The SOED is a two-volume abridgement of the twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

Stuart Berg Flexner (1928–1990) was a lexicographer, editor and author, noted for his books on the origins of American words and expressions, including I Hear America Talking and Listening to America; as co-editor of the Dictionary of American Slang and as chief editor of the Random House Dictionary, Second Edition.

H. Rap Brown American activist

Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, also known as H. Rap Brown, was the fifth chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, and during a short-lived alliance between SNCC and the Black Panther Party, he served as their minister of justice.

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. [18] Hayes' "husky-voiced sexy spoken 'raps' became key components in his signature sound". [18] 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." [19]

Isaac Hayes American singer-songwriter and actor

Isaac Lee Hayes Jr. was an American singer, songwriter, actor, and producer. Hayes was one of the creative forces behind the Southern soul music label Stax Records, where he served both as an in-house songwriter and as a session musician and record producer, teaming with his partner David Porter during the mid-1960s. Hayes and Porter were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005 in recognition of writing scores of songs for themselves, the duo Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, and others. In 2002, Hayes was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

<i>Black Moses</i> (album) 1971 studio album by Isaac Hayes

Black Moses is the fifth studio album by American soul musician Isaac Hayes. It is a double album released on Stax Records' Enterprise label in 1971. The follow-up to Hayes' successful soundtrack for Shaft, Black Moses features Hayes' version of The Jackson 5's hit single "Never Can Say Goodbye". Hayes' version became a hit in its own right, peaking at number 22 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album reached number one on the Billboard R&B album chart on January 15, 1972.

Del the Funky Homosapien American rapper

Teren Delvon Jones, better known by his stage name Del the Funky Homosapien or Sir DZL, is an American rapper, record producer, songwriter, and singer.


The Memphis Jug Band, an early blues group, whose lyrical content and rhythmic singing predated rapping. Memphis jugband.jpg
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. [20] [21] [22] [23]

West Africa Westernmost region of the African continent

West Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 16 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, as well as the United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. The population of West Africa is estimated at about 362 million people as of 2016, and at 381,981,000 as of 2017, of which 189,672,000 are female and 192,309,000 male.

Drum type of musical instrument of the percussion family

The drum is a member of the percussion group of musical instruments. In the Hornbostel-Sachs classification system, it is a membranophone. Drums consist of at least one membrane, called a drumhead or drum skin, that is stretched over a shell and struck, either directly with the player's hands, or with a percussion mallet, to produce sound. There is usually a resonance head on the underside of the drum, typically tuned to a slightly lower pitch than the top drumhead. Other techniques have been used to cause drums to make sound, such as the thumb roll. Drums are the world's oldest and most ubiquitous musical instruments, and the basic design has remained virtually unchanged for thousands of years.

Spoken word oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play and intonation and voice inflection

Spoken word is a poetic performance art that is word-based. It is an oral art that focuses on the aesthetics of word play such as intonation and voice inflection. It is a "catchall" term that includes any kind of poetry recited aloud, including poetry readings, poetry slams, jazz poetry, and hip hop, and can include comedy routines and prose monologues. Although spoken word can include any kind of poetry read aloud, it is different from written poetry in that how it sounds is often one of the main components. Unlike written poetry, it has less to do with physical on the page aesthetics and more to do with phonaesthetics, or the aesthetics of sound.

Blues music, rooted in the work songs and spirituals of slavery and influenced greatly by West African musical traditions, was first played by blacks[ clarification needed ], 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. [24] [25] Wald went so far as to call hip hop "the living blues." [24] A notable recorded example of rapping in blues music was the 1950 song "Gotta Let You Go" by Joe Hill Louis. [26]

Little is known about the exact origin of the music now known as the blues. No specific year can be cited as the origin of the blues, largely because the style evolved over a long period and existed in approaching its modern form before the term blues was introduced and before the style was thoroughly documented. Ethnomusicologist Gerhard Kubik traces the roots of many of the elements that were to develop into the blues back to the African continent, the "cradle of the blues". One important early mention of something closely resembling the blues comes from 1901, when an archaeologist in Mississippi described the songs of black workers which had lyrical themes and technical elements in common with the blues.

Spirituals is a genre of songs originating in the United States and created by African Americans. Spirituals were originally an oral tradition that imparted Christian values while also describing the hardships of slavery. Although spirituals were originally unaccompanied monophonic (unison) songs, they are best known today in harmonized choral arrangements. This historic group of uniquely American songs is now recognized as a distinct genre of music.

Slavery in the United States Form of slave labor which existed as a legal institution from the early years of the United States

Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel enslavement, primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery had been practiced in British America from early colonial days, and was legal in all Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It lasted in about half the states until 1865, when it was prohibited nationally by the Thirteenth Amendment. As an economic system, slavery was largely replaced by sharecropping and convict leasing.

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". [27] Boxer Muhammad Ali anticipated elements of rap, often using rhyme schemes and spoken word poetry, both for when he was trash talking in boxing and as political poetry for his activism outside of boxing, paving the way for The Last Poets in 1968, Gil Scott-Heron in 1970, and the emergence of rap music in the 1970s. [28]

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 as does the 1937 song "Doin' the Jive". 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 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. [29] 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.

With the decline of disco in the early 1980s rap became a new form of expression. Rap arose from musical experimentation with rhyming, rhythmic speech. Rap was a departure from disco. Sherley Anne Williams refers to the development of rap as "anti-Disco" in style and means of reproduction. The early productions of Rap after Disco sought a more simplified manner of producing the tracks they were to sing over. Williams explains how Rap composers and DJ's opposed the heavily orchestrated and ritzy multi-tracks of Disco for "break beats" which were created from compiling different records from numerous genres and did not require the equipment from professional recording studios. Professional studios were not necessary therefore opening the production of rap to the youth who as Williams explains felt "locked out" because of the capital needed to produce Disco records. [30]

More directly related to the African-American community were items like schoolyard chants and taunts, clapping games, [31] jump-rope rhymes, some with unwritten folk histories going back hundreds of years across many nationalities. Sometimes these items contain racially offensive lyrics. [32] 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. [33] Coke La Rock, often credited as hip-hop's first MC [34] cites the Last Poets among his influences, as well as comedians such as Wild Man Steve and Richard Pryor. [33] 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", [35] and which later led to him being called "The Godfather of Rap". [36]

Gil Scott-Heron, a jazz poet/musician, has been cited as an influence on rappers such as Chuck D and KRS-One. [37] Scott-Heron himself was influenced by Melvin Van Peebles, [38] [39] whose first album was 1968's Brer Soul . Van Peebles describes his vocal style as "the old Southern style", which was influenced by singers he had heard growing up in South Chicago. [40] Van Peebles also said that he was influenced by older forms of African-American music: "... people like Blind Lemon Jefferson and the field hollers. I was also influenced by spoken word song styles from Germany that I encountered when I lived in France." [41]

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, [42] 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." [43]

The early rapping of hip-hop developed out of DJ and Master of Ceremonies' announcements made over the microphone at parties, and later into more complex raps. [44] 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." [44]

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, 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. [45] 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 ". [46] 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," [47] 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." [45]

However, in terms of what we identify in the 2010s as "rap" the source came from Manhattan. Pete DJ Jones said the first person he heard rap was DJ Hollywood, a Harlem (not Bronx) native [48] who was the house DJ at the Apollo Theater. Kurtis Blow also says the first person he heard rhyme was DJ Hollywood. [49] In a 2014 interview, Hollywood said: "I used to like the way Frankie Crocker would ride a track, but he wasn't syncopated to the track though. I liked [WWRL DJ] Hank Spann too, but he wasn't on the one. Guys back then weren't concerned with being musical. I wanted to flow with the record". And in 1975, he ushered in what became known as the Hip Hop style by rhyming syncopated to the beat of an existing record uninterruptedly for nearly a minute. He adapted the lyrics of Isaac Hayes "Good Love 6-9969" and rhymed it to the breakdown part of "Love is the Message". [50] His partner Kevin Smith, better known as Lovebug Starski, took this new style and introduced it to the Bronx Hip Hop set that until then was composed of DJing and B-boying, with traditional "shout out" style rapping.

The style that Hollywood created and his partner introduced to the Hip Hop set quickly became the standard. What actually did Hollywood do? He created "flow." Before then all MCs rhymed based on radio DJs. This usually consisted of short patters that were disconnect thematically; they were separate unto themselves. But by Hollywood using song lyrics, he had an inherent flow and theme to his rhyme. This was the game changer. 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. Blondie's 1981 single, "Rapture", was one of the first songs featuring rap to top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Old-school hip hop

Old school rap (1979–84) [51] was "easily identified by its relatively simple raps" [52] according to AllMusic, "the emphasis was not on lyrical technique, but simply on good times", [52] one notable exception being Melle Mel, who set the way for future rappers through his socio-political content and creative wordplay. [52]

Golden age

Golden age hip hop (the mid-1980s to early '90s) [53] 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" [54] 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". [55] The golden age is considered to have ended around 1993–94, marking the end of rap lyricism's most innovative period. [53] [55]


"Flow" is defined as "the rhythms and rhymes" [56] [57] [58] 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). [59] 'Flow' is also sometimes used to refer to elements of the delivery (pitch, timbre, volume) as well, [60] though often a distinction is made between the flow and the delivery. [57] [56]

Staying on the beat is central to rap's flow [61] – 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. [61]

MCs stay on beat by stressing syllables in time to the four beats of the musical backdrop. [62] [63] Poetry scholar Derek Attridge describes how this works in his book Poetic Rhythm – "rap lyrics are written to be performed to an accompaniment that emphasizes the metrical structure of the verse". [62] He says rap lyrics are made up of, "lines with four stressed beats, separated by other syllables that may vary in number and may include other stressed syllables. The strong beat of the accompaniment coincides with the stressed beats of the verse, and the rapper organizes the rhythms of the intervening syllables to provide variety and surprise". [62]

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". [64]

In rap terminology, 16-bars is the amount of time that rappers are generally given to perform a guest verse on another artist's song; one bar is typically equal to four beats of music. [65]

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. [60] [66] 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". [67] 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". [68]

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 [69] – Kool Moe Dee says, "any emcee that came after 1986 had to study Rakim just to know what to be able to do. [70] Rakim, in 1986, gave us flow and that was the rhyme style from 1986 to 1994. [67] from that point on, anybody emceeing was forced to focus on their flow". [71] 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!" [72] He adds that while Rakim upgraded and popularized the focus on flow, "he didn't invent the word". [70]

Kool Moe Dee states that Biggie introduced a newer flow which "dominated from 1994 to 2002", [67] 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". [73] He also cites Craig Mack as an artist who contributed to developing flow in the '90s. [74]

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'". [60] He cites "members of the Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, AZ, Big Pun, and Ras Kass, just to name a few" [75] 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)". [67]


There are many different styles of flow, with different terminology used by different people – stic.man 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". [75] There is also widespread use of multisyllabic rhymes, by artists such as Kool G Rap, [82] 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". [83]

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". [84] 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. [2]


Many of the rhythmic techniques used in rapping come from percussive techniques and many rappers compare themselves to percussionists. [85] 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. [86] Rapping has also been done in various time signatures, such as 3/4 time. [87]

Since the 2000s, rapping has evolved into a style of rap that spills over the boundaries of the beat, closely resembling spoken English. [88] Rappers like MF Doom and Eminem have exhibited this style, and since then, rapping has been difficult to notate. [89] The American hip-hop group Crime Mob exhibited a new rap flow in songs such as "Knuck If You Buck", heavily dependent on triplets. Rappers including Drake, Kanye West, Rick Ross, Young Jeezy and more have included this influence in their music. In 2014, an American hip-hop collective from Atlanta, Migos, popularized this flow, and is commonly referred to as the "Migos Flow" (a term that is contentious within the hip-hop community). [90]

Rap notation and flow diagrams

The standard form of rap notation is the flow diagram, where rappers line-up their lyrics underneath "beat numbers". [91] 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.", [92] 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.", [91] 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." [91]

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. [87] Similar systems are used by PhD musicologists Adam Krims in his book Rap Music and the Poetics of Identity [93] and Kyle Adams in his academic work on flow. [94]

Because rap revolves around a strong 4/4 beat, [95] 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. [95] 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. [87]


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". [96] 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). [97]

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. [98]


In the late 1970s, the term Emcee, MC or M.C. [99] 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' [100] 'microphone controller', 'microphone checker', 'music commentator', and one who 'moves the crowd'. A recent neologistic acronym, gaining use, is 'mentor to child'.[ citation needed ] 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. [101] As Kool G Rap notes, "masters of ceremony, where the word 'M.C.' comes from, means just keeping the party alive" Sic. [102] [103] 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. [104] [105]

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 As and eventually in the military (United States Navy). [106] 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 . [107]

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.[ citation needed ]

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. [96] 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. [108] [109] [110] 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. [111]

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. With Christian rappers like Lecrae, Thi'sl and Hostyle Gospel winning national awards and making regular appearances on television, Christian hip hop seem to have found its way in the hip-hop family. [112] [113] 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 forms of wordplay that are 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. [69] 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 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.

Rap music's development into popular culture in the 1990's can be accredited to the album Niggaz4life by artists Niggaz With Attitude, the first rap group to ever take the top spot of the Billboard's Top 200 in 1991, in the United States. [114]    With this victory, came the beginning of an era of popular culture guided by the musical influences of hip-hop and rap itself, moving away from the influences of rock music. [114] As rap continued to develop and further disseminate, it went on to influence clothing brands, movies, sports, and dancing through popular culture. As rap has developed to become more of a presence in popular culture, it has focused itself on a particular demographic, adolescent and young adults. [115] As such, it has had a significant impact on the modern vernacular of this portion of the population, which has diffused throughout society.

The effects of rap music on modern vernacular can be explored through the study of semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols, or the study of language as a system. [116] French literary theorist Roland Barthes furthers this study with this own theory of myth. [117] He maintains that the first order of signification is language and that the second is "myth", arguing that a word has both its literal meaning, and its mythical meaning, which is heavily dependent on socio-cultural context. [117] To illustrate, Barthes uses the example of a rat: it has a literal meaning (a physical, objective description) and it has a greater socio-cultural understanding. [117] This contextual meaning is subjective and is dynamic within society.

Through Barthes' semiotic theory of language and myth, it can be shown that rap music has culturally influenced the language of its listeners, as they influence the connotative message to words that already exist. As more people listen to rap, the words that are used in the lyrics become culturally bound to the song, and then are disseminated through the conversations that people have using these words.

Most often, the terms that rappers use are pre-established words that have been prescribed new meaning through their music, that are eventually disseminated through social spheres. [118] This newly contextualized word is called a neosemanticism. Neosemanticisms are forgotten words that are often brought forward from subcultures that attract the attention of members of the reigning culture of their time, then they are brought forward by the influential voices in society – in this case, these figures are rappers. [118] To illustrate, the acronym YOLO was popularized by rapper, actor and RNB singer Drake in 2012 when he featured it in his own song, The Motto. [119] That year the term YOLO was so popular that it was printed on t-shirts, became a trending hashtag on Twitter, and was even considered as the inspiration for several tattoos. [119] However, although the rapper may have come up with the acronym, the motto itself was in no way first established by Drake. Similar messages can be seen in many well-known sayings, or as early as 1896, in the English translation of La Comédie Humaine, by Honoré de Balzac where one of his free-spirited characters tells another, "You Only Live Once!". [120] Another example of a neosemanticism is the word "broccoli". Rapper E-40 initially uses the word "broccoli" to refer to marijuana, on his hit track Broccoli in 1993. [121] In contemporary society, artists D.R.A.M. and Lil Yachty are often accredited for this slang on for their hit song, also titled Broccoli. [121]

With the rise in technology and mass media, the dissemination of subcultural terms has only become easier. Dick Hebdige, author of Subculture: The Meaning of Style, merits that subcultures often use music to vocalize the struggles of their experiences. [122] As rap is also the culmination of a prevalent sub-culture in African-American social spheres, often their own personal cultures are disseminated through rap lyrics. [115]

It is here that lyrics can be categorized as either historically influenced or (more commonly) considered as slang. [115] Vernon Andrews, the professor of the course American Studies 111: Hip-Hop Culture, suggests that many words, such as "hood", "homie", and "dope", are historically influenced. [115] Most importantly, this also brings forward the anarchistic culture of rap music. Common themes from rap are anti-establishment and instead, promote black excellence and diversity. [115] It is here that rap can be seen to reclaim words, namely, "nigga", a historical term used to subjugate and oppress Black people in America. [115] This word has been reclaimed by Black Americans and is heavily used in rap music. Niggaz With Attitude embodies this notion by using it as the first word of their influential rap group name. [115]

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. [123] 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.[ citation needed ]

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 which emerged in London in the early 2000s and was 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.

Although the majority of rappers are male, there have been a number of female rap stars, including Lauryn Hill, MC Lyte, Lil' Kim, Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Eve, Trina, Nicki Minaj, Khia, M.I.A., CL from 2NE1, Foxy Brown, Iggy Azalea, and Lisa Lopes from TLC. There is also deaf rap artist Signmark.

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Old-school hip hop is the earliest commercially recorded hip hop music. It typically refers to music created around 1979. Old-school hip hop is said to have ended around 1984, due to changes in both rapping technique and the accompanying music and rhythms.

New school hip hop genre of hip hop music

The new school of hip hop was a movement in hip hop music starting 1983–84 with the early records of Run–D.M.C. and LL Cool J. Like the hip hop preceding it, it came predominantly from New York City. The new school was initially characterized in form by drum machine led minimalism, often tinged with elements of rock. It was notable for taunts and boasts about rapping, and socio-political commentary, both delivered in an aggressive, self-assertive style. In image as in song its artists projected a tough, cool, street b-boy attitude. These elements contrasted sharply with the funk and disco influenced outfits, novelty hits, live bands, synthesizers and party rhymes of artists prevalent in 1984, and rendered them old school. New school artists made shorter songs that could more easily gain radio play, and more cohesive LPs than their old school counterparts. By 1986 their releases began to establish the hip hop album as a fixture of the mainstream.

Kool G Rap American rapper

Nathaniel Thomas Wilson, better known by his stage name Kool G Rap, is an American rapper from Queens. He began his career in the mid-1980s as one half of the group Kool G Rap & DJ Polo and as a member of the Juice Crew. He is often cited as one of the most influential and skilled MCs of all time, and a pioneer of mafioso rap/street/hardcore content and multisyllabic rhyming. On his album The Giancana Story, he stated that the "G" in his name stands for "Giancana", but on other occasions he has stated that it stands for "Genius".

Freestyle rap A Form of Rap that relies on Improvising

Freestyle is a style of improvisation with or without instrumental beats, in which lyrics are recited with no particular subject or structure. It is similar to other improvisational music, such as jazz, where a lead instrumentalist acts as an improviser with a supporting band providing a beat. Improv/freestyles are improvised in this way.

<i>Beat Street</i> 1984 film by Stan Lathan

Beat Street is a 1984 American drama dance film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the early 1980s, breakdancing, DJing, and graffiti.

Rakim American rapper and producer

William Michael Griffin Jr., better known by his stage name Rakim, is an American rapper. One half of golden age hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, he is widely regarded as one of the most influential and most skilled MCs of all time.

Big Daddy Kane American musician

Antonio Hardy, better known by his stage name Big Daddy Kane, is a Grammy Award-winning American rapper and actor who started his career in 1986 as a member of the rap collective the Juice Crew. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential and skilled MCs in hip hop. The name Big Daddy Kane came from a variation on Caine, David Carradine's character from TV show Kung Fu and a character called "Big Daddy" Vincent Price played in the film Beach Party.

<i>How Ya Like Me Now</i> 1987 studio album by Kool Moe Dee

How Ya Like Me Now is the second solo studio album by American rapper Kool Moe Dee from the Treacherous Three. It was recorded at Battery Studios in London, England and released on November 3, 1987 via Jive Records. Production of the album was handled by Teddy Riley, Bryan "Chuck" New, LaVaba Mallison, Pete Q. Harris and Kool Moe Dee. The record peaked at #35 on the Billboard 200 and #4 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. It is his best-selling album to date, achieving platinum certification by the RIAA. The album has spawned three singles: "How Ya Like Me Now", "Wild Wild West" and "No Respect".

<i>Critical Beatdown</i> 1988 studio album by Ultramagnetic MCs

Critical Beatdown is the debut studio album by American hip hop group Ultramagnetic MCs, released on October 4, 1988, by Next Plateau Records. Production for the album was handled primarily by the group's rapper and producer Ced-Gee, who employed an E-mu SP-1200 sampler as the album's main instrument. Music journalists have noted the album for its innovative production, funk-based samples, self-assertive themes, ingenious lyricism, and complex rhyme patterns.

<i>Paid in Full</i> (album) 1987 studio album by Eric B. & Rakim

Paid in Full is the debut album of American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim, released on July 7, 1987, by Island-subsidiary label 4th & B'way Records. The duo recorded the album at hip hop producer Marley Marl's home studio and Power Play Studios in New York City, following Rakim's response to Eric B.'s search for a rapper to complement his disc jockey work in 1985. The album peaked at number fifty-eight on the Billboard 200 chart and produced five singles: "Eric B. Is President", "I Ain't No Joke", "I Know You Got Soul", "Move the Crowd", and "Paid in Full".

The Treacherous Three was a pioneering hip hop group that was formed in 1978 and consisted of DJ Easy Lee, Kool Moe Dee, L.A. Sunshine, Special K and Spoonie Gee, with occasional contributions from DJ Dano B, DJ Reggie Reg and DJ Crazy Eddie. They first appeared on record in 1980 on the B side of Spoonie Gee's single Love Rap.

Golden age hip hop name given to mainstream hip hop music created in the mid/late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly by artists and musicians originating from the New York metropolitan area

Golden age hip hop is a name given to mainstream hip hop music created in the mid/late 1980s and early 1990s, particularly by artists and musicians originating from the New York metropolitan area. It is characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation and influence on hip hop after the genre's emergence and establishment in the previous decade. There were various types of subject matter, while the music was experimental and the sampling from old records was eclectic.

In rapping and poetry, multisyllabic rhymes are rhymes that contain two or more syllables An example is as follows:

I've got a bad taste / It gives me mad haste.

<i>Built from Scratch</i> 2002 studio album by The X-Ecutioners

Built from Scratch is the second studio album by New York City DJ group The X-Ecutioners. It was released on February 26, 2002 through Loud Records and Columbia Records. The album was produced by Beat Junkies, Chris Frantz, CJ Moore, Dan the Automator, DJ Apollo, DJ Premier, Kenny Muhammad The Human Orchestra, Knobody, Large Professor, Lo-Fidelity Allstars, Mike Shinoda of American rock band Linkin Park, Sean Cane, The X-Ecutioners, Tina Weymouth, and was executive produced by Peter Kang.

Hip hop music music genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping

Hip hop music, also called hip-hop or rap music, is a genre of popular music developed in the United States by inner-city African Americans and Latino Americans in the Bronx borough of New York City in the 1970s. It consists of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It developed as part of hip hop culture, a subculture defined by four key stylistic elements: MCing/rapping, DJing/scratching with turntables, break dancing, and graffiti writing. Other elements include sampling beats or bass lines from records, and rhythmic beatboxing. While often used to refer solely to rapping, "hip hop" more properly denotes the practice of the entire subculture. The term hip hop music is sometimes used synonymously with the term rap music, though rapping is not a required component of hip hop music; the genre may also incorporate other elements of hip hop culture, including DJing, turntablism, scratching, beatboxing, and instrumental tracks.

Follow the Leader (Eric B. & Rakim song) 1988 single by Eric B. & Rakim

"Follow the Leader" is a song by American hip hop duo Eric B. & Rakim. It was written by group members Eric Barrier and Rakim Allah and released as the first single from their second studio album of the same name.

<i>Theres a God on the Mic</i> book by Kool Moe Dee

There’s a God on the Mic: The True 50 Greatest MCs is a 2003 book by the old school hip hop MC Kool Moe Dee, where he ranks what he believes to be the Top 50 greatest MCs of all time, giving a breakdown of each artist. The book also features a foreword from Chuck D and includes full color photos from hip hop photographer Ernie Paniccioli.

Battle rap Type of rapping that includes bragging and insults freestyled spontaneously in live battles often to impress people

Battle rap is a type of rapping that includes bragging, insults and boasting content. Battling can occur on recorded albums, though rap battles are often recited or freestyled spontaneously in live battles, "where MCs will perform on the same stage to see who has the better verses".

Pharoahe Monch American rapper and record producer

Troy Donald Jamerson, better known by his stage name Pharoahe Monch, is an American rapper from Queens, New York. He is known for his complex lyrics, intricate delivery, and internal and multisyllabic rhyme schemes.

Chopper or chopper rap is a hip hop music style that originated in the Midwestern United States and features fast-paced rhyming or rapping. Those that rap in the style are known as choppers, and rapping in the style is sometimes referred to as chopping. The style is one of the major forms of Midwest hip hop, though by the early 1990s it had spread to other parts of the United States including California and New York City, and it has spread across the world since.


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