Definitions

party-hearty

Rapping

[rap-ing]
Rapping (also known as emceeing, MCing, spitting, or just rhyming) is the rhythmic spoken delivery of rhymes, wordplay, and poetry, one of the elements of hip hop music and culture.

Etymology

The use of the word to describe quick speech or repartee long predates the musical form, meaning originally "to hit". 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.

Rapping

Rapping can be delivered over a beat or without accompaniment. Stylistically, rap occupies a gray area among speech, prose, poetry, and song.

Rapping developed both inside and outside of hip hop culture, and began with the street parties thrown in the Bronx neighborhood of New York in the 70s by Jamaican expatriate Kool Herc and others. The parties introduced dancehall and the practice of having a "Master of Ceremonies," or MC, get up on stage with the DJ and shout encouragements to the crowd in a practice known as 'toasting'. Over time, those shouts of encouragement became longer and more complex and cross-pollinated with the spoken-word poetry scene to evolve into rap. It's believed that the first rapper to actually call himself an MC was Melle Mel from Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five. He is also credited as being the first Hip Hop MC to rap in a traditional verse/chorus format. From the beginning hip hop culture has been syncretic, incorporating sounds and elements from radically divergent sources. While Funk breaks formed the backbone of early hip hop, Kraftwerk and other early techno artists were widely sampled as well.

History

Roots

Rapping hip hop music can be traced back in many ways to its African roots. Centuries before the United States existed, the griots of West Africa were delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation. Because of the time that has passed since the griots of old, the connections between rap and the African griots are widely established, but not clear-cut. However, such connections have been acknowledged by rappers, modern day "griots", spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics.

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 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. Wald went so far as to call hip hop "the living blues." 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."

Thse lyrics from an early jazz performer Buddy Bolden bear a striking resemblance to much later Hip hop lyrics, down to the references to "hoes" and imploring "bitches" to "shake their asses":

"Way down, way down low
So I can hear them whores
Drag their feet across the floor!"
"Oh, you bitches, shake your asses.
''Funky butt, funky butt
Take it away!"

During the mid-20th century, the musical culture of the Caribbean was constantly influenced by the concurrent changes in American music. From the 1950s through the 1970s, the descendants of Caribbean slaves in Jamaica were mixing their traditional folk music styles of mento music with the jazz, soul, rock and blues of America. In Jamaica, this influenced the creation of reggae music (and later dancehall). As early as 1956, 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."

1970s

The dubbed dancehall toasts of Jamaica, as well as the disco-rapping and jazz-based spoken word beat poetry of the United States was a predecessor for the rapping in hip hop music. Gil Scott-Heron, a jazz poet/musician who wrote and released such seminal songs as The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, H2OGate Blues Part 2: We Beg Your Pardon America and Johannesberg, has been cited as an influence on many rappers. He released his first album in 1970. Similar in style, the Last Poets who formed in 1969 recited political poetry over drum beats and other instrumentation were another predecessor for rap music. They released their debut album in 1970 reaching the top ten on the Billboard charts. One of the first rappers in the beginning of the Hip Hop period, in the end of '70s, was also hip hop's first DJ; Kool Herc. Herc, a Jamaican immigrant, started delivering simple raps at his parties. As Herc would explain in a 1989 interview,
the whole chemistry came from Jamaica. I was listening to American music in Jamaica, and my favorite artist was James Brown. When I came over here I just had to put it in the American style.
Although rapping in hip hop began with the DJs, most rappers today don't DJ or produce on a regular basis; Coke La Rock is cited by Kool Herc as the first example of such a rapper. By the end of the 1979, hip hop had spread throughout New York, and was getting some radio play. Rappers were increasingly writing songs that fit pop music structures and featured continuous rhymes. Melle Mel (of The Furious Five) stands out as one of the earliest rap innovators. Two raps songs recorded in 1979 by separate artists were perhaps the first raps recorded at the beginning of the period where the Hip hop movement began. The first, "King Tim III," was recoded by the funk group Fatback Band (later simply "Fatback"). A week later Hip Hop/Funk group the Sugarhill Gang released Rapper's Delight which charted #36 on the U.S. pop chart.

Some music during this period also contained fragmented spoken-word sections on top of standard group instrumentation. Gil Scott Heron and the Last Poets were part of a poetry-influenced genre, however R&B singers like Oscar Brown simply weaved rap-style speaking into their studio albums and live routines.

1980s

From the 1970s to the early 1980s, Melle Mel set the way for future rappers through his sociopolitical content and creative wordplay. Hip hop lyricism saw its biggest change with the popularity of Run-D.M.C.'s Raising Hell in the mid-1980s, known especially for the rap/rock collaboration with rock band Aerosmith in the song "Walk This Way". This album helped set the tone of toughness and lyrical prowess in hip hop; Run-D.M.C. were almost yelling their aggressive lyrics.

The 1980s saw a huge wave of commercialized rap music, that with it brought success and international popularity. Rap music transcended its original demographic and passed on to the suburbs. The first rap hit of the 80s was Blondie's "Rapture", following on from "Rapper's Delight" in 1979 from The Sugarhill Gang. Rap music in this time kept its original fan base in the "ghetto" while attracting interest from mainstream consumers. This decade also saw the emergence of what we now know as old school hip hop, artists such as Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys. This decade is also referred to as the golden age of hip hop by modern music historians. Rap in the early 1980s centered mostly around self promotion e.g., the amount of gold one wears or one's prowess with females. However, in 1987 Public Enemy introduced a more sociopolitical edge, with their debut album Yo! Bum Rush the Show. Other artists such as the Jungle Brothers looked to Africa for inspiration. In 1987 the rap group N.W.A released their first album entitled N.W.A and the Posse, and included rap stars Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and MC Ren. This release marked the first shift from the golden age to the ensuing ages of gangsta rap and G-funk.

1990s

Rap in the 1990s saw a substantial change in direction of the style of rapping. While the 1980s were characterized by verses mostly constrained to straightforward structures and rhyme schemes, rappers in the 1990s explored deviations from those basic forms, freeing up the lyrical flow and switching up the patterns to create a much more fluid and complex style. The style on the East Coast became more aggressive, pioneered by artists like the Wu-Tang Clan and Notorious B.I.G., while West Coast hip hop became more laid-back and smooth, as made popular by Dr. Dre and 2Pac.

In terms of subject matter, the 1990s saw a shift from personal promotion and glorification to narratives of street experience and darker social observation, although this shift was more pronounced on the East Coast than the West.

The 1990s were also marked by a tense rivalry between MCs of the East and West Coast, including a feud between Sean "Puffy" Combs' (Bad Boy Records) in the East, including the Notorious B.I.G., and Dr. Dre and Suge Knight's Death Row Records (including 2pac and Snoop Dogg). Freestyling became a skill that demonstrates an MC's versatility and creativity, but also as a verbal duel or spar. The mid 1990s were marked by the violent deaths of Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Freaky Tah, and Big L, among others. By the end of the 1990s, hip hop became widely accepted in mainstream music.

The stereotypical image of male rappers in the 1990s often depicted someone wearing the Rastafari colors (red, yellow, and green), oversize jeans worn below the waist that commonly exposed the underwear, and oversize shirts and jackets. These fashions were then imitated by youngsters and created a separation beyond the rappers' circle by dividing economic classes in the public eye, meaning that lower-class youth dressing in this manner stuck out among the middle to upper-class youth. This image, idealized by urban youth, was further supported by the lyrics of rap underground. The lyrics often reflect the culture and lifestyles of urban and gang violence, drugs, corruption, and sexuality. The expansion of rap across cultures and borders allowed for expansion and transformation of the music and the image of what rap was.

2000s

Hip hop in its modern iteration has been increasingly influenced by other musical forms. Notably, remixes of existing hits with current notable rappers has become an increasing trend. The influence of rap has increased internationally with independent styles, such as grime, trip hop, and hyphy. Southern, Northern, and Midwestern, and even Native American rap have also gained increasing popularity, and penetrated the coastal markets on a large scale for the first time

Alongside the increasing commercialization of rap and hip hop culture, some artists such as Nas have claimed that "hip hop is dead".

Vocal Techniques and Lyrics

Rhyme styles

Aside from "flow" (the voice and tone of a particular MC), and rhythmic delivery, another central element of rapping is rhyme. In classical poetry, rhymes that span many syllables are often considered whimsical, but in hip hop the ability to construct raps with large sets of rhyming syllables is valued. Rap can contain any and all forms of rhyme found in classical poetry such as consonance, assonance, half rhyme, or internal rhyme.

In the early years of hip-hop, now known as "old-school hip-hop" rap was characterized by simple rhyme schemes and standard refrains. The 1979 song "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang, the first recorded rap song, was typical of the style, with Big Bank Hank rapping:

Just throw your hands up in the air,
and party hearty like you just don't care.
Let's do it, don't stop, y'all,
a tick-a-tock, y'all, you don't stop.

The rapper Rakim, still often regarded as one of the greatest MCs ever, is widely credited with introducing internal rhymes and a more mature sensibility to rapping. The 1986 debut single of Eric B. & Rakim, "Eric B. is President", begins:

I came in the door, I said it before
I never let the mic magnetize me no more
But it's biting me, fighting me, inviting me to rhyme;
I can't hold it back, I'm looking for the line.

By the 1990s, many rappers had adopted more sophisticated rhyme styles. A well-known example of the use of internal rhyme from that time period is found in Big Pun's 1998 song "Twinz", in which he raps:

Dead in the middle of Little Italy, little did we
know that we riddled two middlemen who didn't do diddly.

Modern rappers have different styles of rhyming. Juelz Santana often avoids full rhymes in favor of assonance, consonance, half rhymes, and internal rhymes. Eminem, on the other hand, often focuses on complex and lengthy multisyllabic rhyme schemes, while "flowas" like Rakim use metaphorical, emotional rhyming, and story telling to communicate a message.

Literary technique

Rappers use 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. Lil Wayne is also known for his frequent use of smilies and metaphors.

Hip hop lyrics often make passing references to popular culture and other topics. An example is the song "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin' Ta Fuck Wit" by the Wu-Tang Clan, in which RZA rhymes,

I be tossin', enforcin', my style is awesome
I'm causin more Family Feuds than Richard Dawson
And the survey said - you're dead
Fatal flying guillotine chops off your fuckin' head

Such allusions serve to illustrate or exaggerate a statement, or are simply used for humor. Some of these references are overtly political, while others simply acknowledge, credit, or show dismay about aspects of the rapper's culture and life.

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. 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, a religious/spiritual group spun off from the Nation of Islam, 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.

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. LL Cool J's 1987 song "I Need Love" is a well-known example:
Romance, sheer delight, how sweet;
I gotta find me a girl to make my life complete
You can scratch my back, we'll get cozy and huddle
I'll lay down my jacket so you can walk over a puddle

Later, 2 Live Crew, a Miami bass group, were among the first hip hop acts to have overtly sexual and profane content in their lyrics.

The roots of raps are in the beat poetry of The Last Poets and Gil Scott-Heron. "The Message", written by Melle Mel and performed by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, pioneered the inclusion of political content in hip hop rhymes:

I can't walk through the park, cause its crazy after dark
Keep my hand on the gun, cause they got me on the run

In the golden age of hip hop, Public Enemy emerged, with a focus on political and social issues. On their 1989 song "Fight the Power", Chuck D rapped:

Elvis was a hero to most
But he never meant shit to me, you see
Straight-up racist that sucker was, simple and plain;
Motherfuck him and John Wayne

Modern East Coast hip hop artists such as Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Jay-Z, Nas, and dead prez are known for their sociopolitical subject matter. Their West Coast counterparts include Emcee Lynx, The Coup, Paris, and Michael Franti.

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. 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. Several years later, he would go on to influence Ice T, who had more overtly "gangsta" lyrics. 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. The 1997 Notorious B.I.G. song Hypnotize contains an example of this sort of name-dropping:

I put hoes in NY onto DKNY
Miami, DC prefer Versace
All Philly hoes go with Moschino
Every cutie with a booty bought a Coogi

Various politicians, journalists, and religious leaders have accused rappers of fostering a culture of violence and hedonism among hip hop listeners through their lyrics. However, there are also rappers whose messages may not be in conflict with these views, for example Christian hip hop.

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, a gnostic 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, Busta Rhymes, and Nas, have had success in spreading the theology of the Five Percenters.

Performance

Flow

Rap delivery, or "flow", is defined by prosody, cadence, and speed. Cadence deals with the dynamics and patterns of the rhythm. In addition to rubato (changes in tempo for the purpose of expression), cadence can also serve to reinforce song structure through ritardando (the gradual slowing down of tempo). Old school rappers generally maintained a simple cadence, without much deviation, while golden age rappers such as Rakim experimented extensively with cadence. Present day popular rappers like Method Man, Snoop Dogg, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Busta Rhymes, Big Pun, and André 3000 are considered to have a versatile cadence because of their ability to rap over disparate beats equally well.

A common way MCs judge how to flow in a verse is by writing a rhyme such that the most stressed words coincide with the beat in a way that makes the rhyming sound more musical (as opposed to spoken word) and that better combines the MC's voice with the musical backdrop. Rakim—whom many credit with changing the way most rappers flow on a song—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).

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 Chicago native Rebel XD, who rapped 852 syllables in 42 seconds (20.3 syllables per second) on July 27 2007.

To successfully deliver a nicely flowing 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." 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 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 to harmonize his rhymes is Nate Dogg, a rapper part of the group 213.

Freestyle rapping

There are two kinds of freestyle rapping: 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. 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

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 BET's 106 and Park and MTV's DFX 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.

Social impact

Race and class

By the United States 2000 Census, three quarters of the United States' population is white, while one eighth is black. However, most mainstream rappers in the United States are black. Some believe this discrepancy is a good thing; popular rapper Kanye West has said: "I hate music where white people are trying to sound black. The white music I like is white". Other artists reject such distinctions and argue that it's absurd to racially segregate music four decades after the civil rights movement. Some prominent Caucasian MCs include Eminem, Aesop Rock, Paul Wall, R.A. The Rugged Man, and the UK's The Streets.

Very few white hip hop artists claim Anglo-Saxon or Caucasian ancestry; virtually all of them are members of other ethnic groups that have faced varying degrees of discrimination only to be later assimilated. For artists like House of Pain, the Beastie Boys, and Beltaine's Fire, hip hop culture provides a way to reject that assimilation and differentiate themselves from the dominant Anglo-American culture by asserting a separate ethnic identity.

While they have been successful, artists such as the Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice are labeled as sub-categories of rap, alternative and gimmick respectively. White hip hop artists have advanced the genre of rap by bringing in a larger and more diverse audience and recognition for rap as a musical genre, however they have had much less of an effect on the overall musical trajectory of the rap scene than their counterparts.

Wealth and class have always been significant issues in hip hop, a culture which was developed mainly among the lower and lower-middle class blacks of inner-city New York. Any view of money that can be seen in real life can also be seen in the lyrics of rap—just as there are rappers who often brag about their extravagant wealth or more specifically their "rags to riches" stories, there are political militants who decry materialism. Although most of hip hop's famous and influential rappers have come from inner-city ghettos, hip hop has always represented a variety of economic backgrounds. For example, Run-D.M.C., Beastie Boys, Soulja Boy, Rakim, Black Sheep, and Kanye West were middle-class when they began rapping.

Race issues often intersect with class issues. Vanilla Ice, a white pop rapper, went so far as to lie about his place of origin, claiming that he came from the inner-city of Miami, Florida, when he was actually from suburban Texas. According to Vanilla Ice, he was encouraged to lie by his record company to increase their profits. In juxtaposition to Vanilla Ice stand the Beastie Boys, a rap group composed of white Jewish teenagers. The Beastie Boys didn't lie about their middle-class and suburban upbringing, and managed to sell millions of records while maintaining the respect of the hip hop community.

House of Pain, an Irish-American crew with members from Los Angeles and New York, were downright assertive about their ethnicity, including footage of a St. Patrick's Day parade in the music video for their first hit single Jump Around and name-checking prominent Irish Americans in their lyrics. They also incorporated time signatures associated with traditional Irish folk music such as jigs and reels into their songs—a major deviation from mainstream hip hop where virtually every song is done in 4/4 time.

The most recent mainstream exception to the skin color trend in mainstream rap is Eminem, who is of mainly Scottish descent, and who grew up in the primarily black city of Detroit. In his song "White America", Eminem attributes his selling success to his being more easily digestible by a white audience, because he "looks like them."

Other prominent American rappers of primarily European decent include Sage Francis, Paul Wall (who is 1/4 Mexican), Emcee Lynx, Mike Shinoda (who is half Japanese), El-Producto, Aesop Rock, and many others. Race, class, and ethnicity remain prominent themes in hip hop music in general, regardless of race. Emcee Lynx in particular is notable for addressing these issues from an explicitly anti-racist and anti-imperialist perspective in his music, while referencing his Scottish and Irish heritage as a point of pride.

Despite the fact that the majority of American rap artists in the mainstream are black, some statistics indicate that most hip hop record purchasers are white, reflecting demographics and economics. According to musicologist Arthur Kempton, "Today 70 percent of hip-hop is bought by white kids". Boots Riley has criticized these figures, pointing out that they only count SoundScan sales, which exclude the mom-and-pop record stores located in majority black and Latino neighborhoods that major music chains tend to avoid, and thus dramatically underrepresents the number of sales made in such communities.

According to political rapper Zion of Zion I, socially conscious hip hop in particular has a majority white audience: "...so many black people don't want to hear it. They want that thug shit." In addition to Zion, several other underground rappers such as Boots Riley of The Coup, report nearly all white audiences.

Chicano rap

Chicano rap is a subgenre of hip hop music, Latin rap, and gangsta rap that embodies aspects of West Coast and Southwest Mexican American (Chicano) culture and is typically performed by American rap singers and musicians of Mexican descent.

The first widely recognized Chicano rap artist was Kid Frost, whose 1990 debut album "Hispanic Causing Panic" driven by the hit single "La Raza" brought new attention to Chicano rappers in hip hop.

Cuban-American artist Mellow Man Ace was the first Latino artist to have a major bilingual single, which was attached to his 1989 debut. Although Mellow Man often used Chicano slang as a result of his East Los Angeles upbringing, Kid Frost receives the credit as the first major Chicano rapper, given that Mellow Man was not of Mexican descent. Mellow Man, referred to as the "Godfather of Latin Rap", brought mainstream attention to Spanglish rhyming with his platinum single "Mentirosa". Cypress Hill, of which Mellow Man Ace was a member before going solo, is sometimes considered to produce Chicano rap due to their use of Spanish and popular Chicano slang, as well as the lead rapper's background of being part Mexican. They were the first Latino rap group to reach platinum status, with Big Pun credited as the first Latino solo artist to reach platinum sales for an LP.

One of the most widely recognized Chicano rappers today is Lil Rob of San Diego, whose single "Summer Nights" was considered a major crossover and received heavy rotation on radio station and video programs not directly related to Chicano rap music.

Many Chicano rappers have been heavily influenced by Mexican history, including many themes relevant to the Mexican and Chicano people living in the United States and Mexico. Chicano rap is mainly enjoyed by hip hop listeners in the United States and has also established a cult fan base following in Japan, although its main audience consists of Hispanics or Latinos living on the West Coast, the Southwest, and the Midwest. Its ability to reach large audiences without mainstream airplay or media promotion is due in part to nationwide lowrider car tours and their accompanying concerts headlined by Chicano rappers. This environment allows ChicanorRap artists to earn significant incomes through independent label releases while promoting directly to a target audience.

Rapcore/Rap-Rock

It is a form of music featuring rap lyrics over rock, hardcore punk and funk beats. Well known rapcore artists include The Beastie Boys, Body Count, Rage Against the Machine, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock and Dog Eat Dog.

Gender and sexuality

Almost all popular rappers identify themselves as heterosexual. A dislike for homosexuals is prevalent in hip hop culture, as is the use of the word "faggot." Some heterosexual rappers, such as Kanye West, have spoken out against the homophobic themes which are common in rap music.

Though 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, Khia, Foxy Brown, and Lisa Lopes from TLC.

Derivatives and influence

Throughout hip hop's history, new musical styles and genres have developed that contain rapping. Entire genres, such as rapcore (rock/metal/punk with rapped vocals) and 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, such as (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. The style originated in Oakland California and gained national attention in 2006, beginning with E-40's album My Ghetto Report Card. It is typified by slowed-down atonal vocals with instrumentals that borrow heavily from the rave 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.

Regional variations

In the 21st century, rap and hip hop are transcending cultural lines like never before. The YouTube phenomenon has made it relatively simple for any computer user around the world to find professionally produced rap in nearly any major spoken language, including Chinese, Mongolian, Hungarian, Haitian, Tamil, Amharic, Malagasy, Maori, and Persian rap, which has recently been targeted for censure by the Iranian government.

Belgium/Netherlands

Nederhop is hip hop with Dutch rapping. The first successful Nederhop record was "Rap Around the Clock" (7", 1986) by Extince, which was followed by rap duo MC Miker G & DJ Sven with the 12" "Holiday Rap", a Benelux #1 hit that was distributed in 34 countries. The rap group Osdorp Posse from Amsterdam stood in the late 80s at the base of Dutch rap. When Rapper Def P, the frontman of Osdorp Posse, began translating idiomatic English lyrics with "ghetto" themes literally into Dutch, the term Nederhop was coined.

Famous Nederhop rappers and groups include Opgezwolle, The Opposites, Cilvaringz, Osdorp Posse, ABN, Appa, Fata Morgana, Raymzter, Extince, Kempi, Postmen, Duvel, and Brainpower.

France

Outside of the United States the largest hip hop scene is in France, and artists such as MC Solaar and Les Nubians have even crossed over into the American market. As with early American hip hop, social and political issues figure strongly in much of French hip hop and the majority of performers come from the country's ethnic minorities, notably the Arab population.

Greece

Greek hip hop refers to hip hop music originating in Greece, either in Greek or English. The earliest Greek hip hop groups date back to 1987, though native language albums did not appear until the mid-1990s. Some of the most important early hip-hop groups in Greece were Imiskoumbria, Terror X Crew (members: Artemis, Efthimis, DJ ALX), FF.C (members: Ruthmodamastis, DJ Everlast, Skinothetis, plus many guests) and Active Member. This differentiation caused a lot of tension among the Greek hip hop fans. Between 1995 and 2000, there was a lot of conflict, relatively speaking. Things escalated from there when the battle rap era in Greece begun with the group ZN (Living Dead) started dissing Active Member and other hip hop groups.

As American hip hop lyrics became more widely violent, so did international hip hop lyrics, and Greece was no exception. Rapping about guns, drugs, violence and sex became the norm. Hardcore Greek rap had swept the genre, and commercial hip hop followed suit. Commercial hip hop in Greece has become hugely successful, with acts like Imiskoumbria, Terror X Crew and Goin' Through blazing the trails. Imiskoumbria and Terror X Crew both were the first to have their records going gold.

Portugal

Portuguese hip hop (hip hop português), mostly known as Hip hop Tuga, is the Portuguese variety of hip hop music, although different because it is mixed with African music from Lusophone Africa and reggae. Popular Portuguese rappers include Clã da Matarroa, Valete, Da Weasel, Boss AC, Sam the Kid (rapper and producer), Dealema, Mind Da Gap, Bonus, Adamastor and DJ Bomberjack.

Canada

Canadian Hip Hop started with a slow momentum in Toronto at the end of the 1980s with MCs like Maestro dominating the scene mostly rapping about parties and girls. By the mid-1990s, rappers such as Kardinal Offishall, Choclair, and Saukrates as well as Rap groups like Rascalz created a buzz in Canada as Hip Hop's popularity suddenly rose. The beginning of the movement was marked by the lyrics of the song Northern Touch performed by a consortium of Canadian MCs, all launching their careers; which really put Canadian Hip Hop on the map. Content in songs are often related to life in the streets of Canadian urban centers like Toronto and Vancouver. Montreal also saw its version of francophone Hip Hop arise. Rappers like Yvon Krevé and Sanspression, as well as groups like Muzion and Dubmatique made it to the top of the charts in Québec. Montreal also has an English rappers like Malicious and Bless of Platinumberg. The beats used are diverse but sometimes resemble East Coast Hip Hop. Canadian Hip Hop combines Canadian English with a Caribbean vibe due to the strong Jamaican and Haitian heritage of most Canadian rappers. Most Canadian rappers frequently use metaphors and similes to get their message across and have versatile flows. Unfortunately, Hip Hop artists from Canada are often unknown outside the country. Only a few rappers have made it to US markets.

UK

The UK scene has also gained international prominence, especially since their performance language, English, makes them more marketable to American audiences than their French counterparts. The UK is fairly unique in having created its own genres of rapping in a highly original style. In the early 1990s groups from Bristol such as Massive Attack pioneered trip-hop, a genre with slower beats and flows, creating a more 'chilled', soulful sound. At the same time jungle music was popular, and MCs would often rap fast over a fast drum beat. This evolved into Drum 'n' Bass, and DnB MCs like Skibadee are known as among the fastest in the world. Fusing jungle and hip hop, UK Garage (see So Solid Crew) evolved quickly into grime. Grime is a genre with a deep, heavy bass line and highly electronic beats. MCs rap quickly over it and often add a set phrase to the end of a line:

Shy crew leave on deep remix roll deep lyrics wen I'm 'ere
Get sticked with wits with the glits wen I'm 'ere

Grime was pioneered by Wiley and his crew Roll Deep are still one of the prominent groups. Other big names in grime are Dizzee Rascal, Lady Sovereign, Skepta, JME, Kano, Ghetto and Shystie. Grime has been brought more attention thanks to Channel U TV.

Outside of grime, there is a prominent UK hiphop scene which is characterized by its lyricism and high standards. Jehst, Tommy Evans, Klashnekoff, Sway and Kyza are known for their complex lyricism. Braintax, Lowkey and Logic are among the most political rappers, while Skinnyman and Akala are very conscious rappers. Roots Manuva is unique, since he fuses dub with hiphop, and is perceptive, humorous and introverted in his lyrics.

Grime music is central to London and part of its 21st century culture while the majority of UK hiphop originates in the capital too. Thus the majority of rappers speak in London accents and London slang (known as Jafaican), which can be difficult for non-Londoners to understand.

See also

References

Further reading

  • Alan Light; et al. (1999). The Vibe History of Hip Hop. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80503-7.
  • Jeff Chang; D.J. Kool Herc (2005). Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. Picador. ISBN 0-312-42579-1.
  • Sacha Jenkins; et al. (1999). Ego Trip's Book of Rap Lists. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-24298-0.

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