RAPPING IS all about using words with rhythm. Rapping is a form of chant but one that usually has longer phrases set to a higher tempo than what we might hear at a political demonstration - Stop The War!/Stop The War!/Stop The War! - or a sporting event like a football match where we might sing C’mon England!/C’mon England!/C’mon England!
Not all rappers make their phrases rhyme but the great majority of them set their words in couplets that do rhyme. Remember the term hip-hop is part of a rhyme; Hip hop!/Be bop!/Don’t stop!
New York is the birthplace of rap and the following memorable lines from one of the music’s pioneers, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s The Message provide a good demonstration of the rhyming skills that are a major part of rapping;
A child is born with no state of mind/blind to the ways of mankind/God is smiling on you, but he’s frowning too/Because only god knows what you go through.
The word rap was used in African-American culture long before the advent of hip-hop. In the 50s there were many popular radio deejays such as ‘The Ace From Space’ who rapped catchphrases on air and there are also numerous examples of artists using ‘rap’.
The brilliant songwriter/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist and arranger Isaac Hayes recorded a series of songs in the ‘70s that were entitled Ike’s Rap1-Vi. He used these songs to speak at length usually on the tricky issue of personal relationships.
And the influence of Ike’s Rap is clearly heard in his biggest ever hit Shaft. Hayes starts off talking at a leisurely pace – not unlike his raps – before breaking into more ‘traditional’ sung delivery in the latter half of the verse.