Rap is very popular these days, and it has made a very big cultural impact in the world, of course in the hip hop scene and it has rapidly influenced many music genres and people over the years, but what exactly is Rap?
Sometimes people say hip-hop when they are actually referring to rap and vice versa, while also having a bit of confusion when talking about MCs and Rappers, so it’s best to avoid any sort of confusion by tracing back to the origins of the word Rap and the history in the musical scene.
What Does Rap Mean?
The word Rap is actually an acronym for Rhythm And Poetry, which makes a lot of sense, as most rappers are just kind of the cooler version or modern version of poets, but there is also something else that comes with the word Rap. Rap also means a quick blow, or strike with a series of rapid audible blows to get some attention, so both definitions definitely apply.
We mentioned before the confusion between being a Rapper and an MC, and that is because these two ideas are linked in their history. When hip-hop and rap were beginning to flourish in the 70s, MCs started to become a thing, which were people that stood in front of an audience and were able to entertain, get the audience’s attention and improvise along with the DJs, this was called MCing and also rapping.
However many rappers understand that being an MC is a title that is above rapping, there is a certain skill that a person must have in order to entertain an audience like that. Think of it this way, every MC is a rapper but not every rapper is an MC.
In the beginning, Rap wasn’t actually associated with hip hop straight away, since it was first used in the 60s and maybe even before that. Rapping was a way of speaking and preaching to deliver messages, religious ways, and political speeches. This was a very common way of expression in the Caribbean islands, which eventually found its way into the hip-hop culture, making it an incredible form of art that gave people a way out to express strong feelings that were bottled up inside.
Since the previous associations and origins of Rap were things that involved very strong feelings and statements, it was no surprise that this style of “singing” appealed to so many young artists, making this the perfect way to talk about issues like violence, death, politics, race, gender, and more, in way that didn’t lack any sort of honesty and feeling.
Rapping has always been something in between preaching and poetry, with many popular rappers considering themselves poets. Rap is something that for a time it became a very American thing, and it is a part of American history with New York being the cradle of Hip Hop culture and Rap. This goes as far as some people saying that Rap is actually Rhythmic American Poetry, which is not actually something tied to the real origin of the world but, Rapping as we know it today, in fact, is very American.
What is the Difference Between Rap and Hip-Hop?
According to Macklemore in an interview:
“Rap is something that you do, hip-hop is something that you live — that would be like from the purest hip-hop standpoint, Rap is an element of the culture so it’s a part of the craft.”
Hip-Hop is a bigger thing than just rapping, and while rapping is in fact an important technique used in hip-hop, it’s not interchangeable. Hip-hop refers to the movement and all the cultural elements involved, like graffiti, music, dressing style, and way of life, so rapping is a part of hip-hop but not the same.
For example, rapping can be a part of any genre, for example, some artists use rap in pop, rock, and more!
Rap is a technique, even though a lot of times it can be confused with hip hop as a genre, but if you try to look into things a bit more carefully, rap has evolved from political and religious statements to be one of the most used vocal techniques in hip hop and other genres of music.
It’s very interesting to see the difference between all the parts that make hip-hop so big, including MCing and rapping.