A Definition Of The Term Rap - Deepstash
A Definition Of The Term Rap

A Definition Of The Term Rap


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A Definition Of The Term Rap

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Depending on who you ask and from which generation the word ‘rap’ will take on different meanings.

  • Today rap means saying rhymes to the beat of music making it one of the four major elements within hip hop culture. Because the other elements (deejaying, breakdancing and graffiti) aren’t as widespread, the words 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 initially called emceeing. The term rap first became associated with Hip Hop around 1979.


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King Tim III: The First Rap Song (March, 1979)

The first song that associated rap with hip-hop music was called King Tim III [Personality Jock] by the Brooklyn based Fatback Band, which is considered Hip Hop’s first record.

Opening lyrics: You just clap your hands then you stomp your feet/'Cause you're listenin' to the sound of the sure shot beat/ I'm the K-I-N-G the T-I-M/ King Tim III, and I am him/ Just me, Fatback, and the crew/ We doin' it all just for you/ We're strong as an ox and tall as a tree/ We can rock you so viciously/ We throw the highs in your eyes, the bass in your face/ We're the funk machines that rock the human race.


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Platinum Seller ‘Rapper’s Delight‘ (1979)

The second song that associated the term Rap with Hip Hop was the song ‘Rapper’s Delight‘ by Sugar Hill Gang.

Whereas “King Tim III” failed to cross over from any R&B activity into the mainstream, never cracking the Billboard Top 40, “Rapper’s Delight” became a worldwide smash.

Opening lyrics: I said-a hip, hop, the hippie, the hippie/ To the hip hip hop-a you don't stop the rock/ It to the bang-bang boogie, say up jump the boogie/ To the rhythm of the boogie, the beat/ Now what you hear is not a test: I'm rappin' to the beat/And me, the groove, and my friends are gonna try to move your feet.


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In the late 50's early 60's, people in the black americam communities used to play a variety of rhyme word games:

  • The Dozens: totally destroy somebody else with words, by insulting each other until one gives up (and dissing their mothers)
  • The Signifying: dissing your opponent or make them feel good; you had to know how to skillfully put words together so you could accurately express your feelings.

The winner was determined by crowd reaction. But this was rapping just the same, rapping by another name.


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With respect to hip hop, it was characterized by one’s ability to syncopated to a beat. Ideally, an emcee rapped from the heart. His rhymes were spontaneous, not memorized or read aloud from a written document.

Ideally a rap is a group of rhymes that are thrown together so everything has meaning. It reflects the here and now and ideally the lifestyle of the one rapping. Ultimately and historically an artist rapped for no one but himself. His rap was a call for attention to himself..


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