You probably noticed that there are a lot of rappers that have “MC” as part of their name, and while it’s something you can just say “oh it’s a rap thing”, the meaning of MC is actually quite interesting, so if you want to know about its meaning and how it’s related with the history of hip-hop then this article will be a treat for you!
What Does MC Mean in Rap?
MC stands for “Master of Ceremonies”, which refers to a person or artist that is in many ways the host of an event, it’s the person that is in charge of a performance and also entertains the audience. This term was not associated with hip-hop at all, but since the 70s it became a very common practice in the scene, where a rapper would just take over the stage and rhyme along with the DJ.
There have been other definitions of MC, including “Microphone Checka” and “Mic Controller” but it always meant the same in general.
Hip-hop really started blowing up in New York in the 70s, but it was a different scene back then, and the DJs were the protagonists of club parties and performances. They were the ones who had big crowds to follow them and watch them perform, and the person that was considered to be MC was supporting the DJ and it was only done if they had the DJ’s permission.
However, as the hip-hop scene kept growing, MCs also started to cover more ground and gain more power on stage, with more freedom, and more creative performances that managed to overshadow the DJ and draw all the ears and eyes toward one person, the MC.
What is the Difference Between a Rapper and an MC?
There is a bit of a gray area when it comes to the difference between being a rapper and an MC, and yes in a way every MC is a rapper, but not every rapper is an MC.
There is a different approach to the audience if a rapper is an MC, it’s about being in control and really understanding what it means to improvise and feel a connection with the ones listening to you. A rapper that is not an MC can perform and do their thing, but they don’t have the same level of skill to deal with an audience.
In the words of Ice-T
MC means a person that can move the crowd and basically control an audience so, you know, Sway’s an MC, he can take the mic, he controls a crowd, a rapper like you might see them on a stage, but they are afraid of the audience, or they can only sing their hit record, you know, but they can’t just say, ok we’re about to break this down, we’re gonna change it up a little bit, and that’s what “MCing” is.
MCs don’t have to include the letters on their names to be MCs but you might have noticed that there are a few big rappers whose names start with MC including:
- MC Hammer
- MC Lyte
- MC Shan
- MC Lars
But other rappers without the letters “MC” on their name are also very famously recognized as MCs such as:
- Sharon Green
And many more.
Are There Still MC Rappers Today?
Yes, but being an MC is now something that an artist can do, instead of a title that’s directly related to the hip-hop scene.
The idea of being able to control the performance, be in sync with the crowd and be creative as an artist is still very much alive, and it’s not an easy thing to do, for example, Kanye West could be considered an MC, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Lil Wayne, Jay Z, and they keep the meaning of MC alive by continuing the legacy that started with small artists taking over clubs with their presence and their stories.
The meaning of MC is very interesting because it’s one of the things that made hip-hop what it is today. Moving the crowd, and conquering the stage is all part of being an MC, only the greatest managed to make this possible, and thanks to them, hip-hop blew up in ways that can still be felt today with the genre at the top of the music industry.