Definition Of Rap

What is rap? Depending on who you ask and from which generation 'rap' will take on different meanings. At one point in time a rap was a set of excuses a con artist handed you in an effort to deceive you. In the 70s a rap were the words a person used when trying to persuade you. This particularly applied to the persuavive efforts of a young man trying to obtain sexual favors from a female. Today rap means saying rhymes to the beat of music. It's one of the four major element within hip hop culture. And because the other elements which include deejaying, breakdancin and grafitti aren't as widespread hip hop and rap have been used interchangeably over the years..

The word rap wasn't always used to describe this activity. The act of rhyming to the beat of music was called emceeing. The term rap seemed to be associated with hip hop around 1979 with release of two records in '79. The first was called King Tim III [Personality Jock] which is considered Hip Hop's first record. This was track put out by the Brooklyn based Fatback Band. The song itself was said to be inspired by old rhyme styles of Black radio djs like Jocko Henderson, Jack The Rapper and Daddy O and the rhyme styles of well known club djs like DJ Hollywood. The second was 'Rapper's Delight' by Sugar Hill Gang. I'm not quite sure how Sugar Hill came up with the term 'Rap'. Some say it was already being bantered about within the mainstream media who were then mystified by this new phenomenon. Others say that the term was coined by older folks within the community who saw similarities between young hip hoppers from the '70s and the word manipulators of earlier generations where the term rap was used..

Ironically within the song Rapper's Delight contains a well known phrase which appears to have been borrowed from Black activist H.Rap Brown. In 1969 he wrote a book entitled 'Die Nigger Die'. It spoke about his militant approach toward solving some of the ills afflicting Black America. Within his book he spoke about how he obtained his name 'Rap'.He explained that when he was growing up in Louisiana people used to play a game called The Dozens. The purpose of the game was to totally destroy somebody else with words. He noted that in his neighborhood and bear in mind we are talking about the early 60s.. there would be close to 50 guys standing around competiting against one another in this rhyme game called The Dozens in which people talked about each others momthers. The winner was determined by crowd reaction... Rap Brown got his name his name because he was considered to be one of the most skilled...

Brown also explained another verbal game called Signifying. He noted that this was verbal game which was more humane then The Dozens because instead of dissin' someone's mother you would dis your opponent. He also explained that a skilled signifier knew how to skillfully put words together so you could accurately express your feelings. He concluded that signifying could also be used to make some one feel good. He dropped a rhyme which was used in the movie 'Five On The Black Hand Side' and later immortalized by the Sugar Hill Gang.

As was mentioned earlier the term rap has changed from generation to generation. In the 70s the term not only meant the art of persuasion but it was also used to describe the monologue talking styles used by singing artists like Isaac Hayes, Barry White, Bobby Womack, Lou Rawls and Millie Jackson. Albums like Isaac Hayes' 'Hot Buttered Soul' and Millie Jackson's 'Still Caught Up' best personified these styles called 'Love Raps'.

The art of rappin' with respect to hip hop was characterized by one's ability to syncopate to a beat. Ideally an emcee rapped from the heart. His rhymes were spontaneous, not memorized or read aloud from a written document. Of course we now know that most of the great pioneering emcees like Mele-Mel, Grand Master Caz and Kurtis Blow to name a few, all rehearsed and pre-wrote their rhymes. But the approach was to present yourself as if the rhymes were coming off the top of the dome. ..Ideally a rap is a group of rhymes that are thrown together so everything has meaning. Nothing said is frivilous. It reflects the here and now and ideally the lifestyle of the one rapping. Rap's ideally projected the emotions and feelings experienced by the rapper. Ultimately and historically an artist rapped for no one but himself. His rap was a call for attention to himself.. He was ideally saying..'Hey look here I am world-Somebody hear my song!'.

And the beat goes on an on an on
It don't stop rocking till the crack of dawn
when the people hear me rock the funky rap song
The whole damn world wants to hum along
Cause I'm e-lectricic..I'm bigger than life
An everyone calls me Jesus Christ
To The beat y'all check me out..
To the beat y'all check me out..

-Davey D-
Double D Crew..'78

More on Hip-Hop

TOUR '04
© 2004-2017