Rap and Poetry

by Applejacque

"Rap & Poetry". If someone wanted a technical chronological verbatim of this discussion, it would be more like "Poetry & Rap". Looking at this topic from an orderly point of view, poetry took its form from daily composition before anything else. Almost everything of artistic value derived from poetry. Take for instance the many chapters and verses from the Bible in the books of Psalms and Song of Solomon. Also note the many fables and anecdotes told by scribes and bards. From century to century, each time period has had literature and vocal music formed and created in part through poetry. All poetry, in theory, is language of the imagination expressed in verse. Well, isn't that what rap is?

Rap is basically no different from what some would call spoken or written word poetry. As one hip hop artist explained the process, R-A-P is Rhythmic American Poetry, and I will defend this statement 100%. Note the old beat-nik poetry coffee houses and cafes in the late 50's and 60's. Picture the poet, performing one of his pieces on stage to drum beats and bass licks. His poetry could either be about love, politics, or the way of life during that era from his point of view. The snapping of fingers by the audience in adulation of the poet’s talent resounds throughout the room. Now take your hip hop rap artist of today. He rhymes to the beat, keeping time with the various background beats, guitar & keyboard riffs, record scratching and sampled! snippets of a variety of music. His raps are mostly about a lifestyle that he has either lived or fantasized about, love, politics, or the way of life from his own unique individual point of view. The crowd goes wild in the mist of the "Holla, Holla", and before you know it, a new genre is born. The differences between the beat-nik and the rapper is yes, obviously the music, the race of people, and the time era,...but those are only the differences on the surface. The core of how they came to uniquely express themselves are similar in nature.

In today's poetry arena, you now have what's been called SLAM performance poetry. it's similar to what most rappers (MC's) and DJ's do in a battle/challenge format. By looking at rap in this manner, it's all relative in reference to poetry. Take the music out of any rap song and you have poetry. Today's poetry cannot be contained into one set format. Poetry is constantly changing and moving as with other art forms. And when it's all said and done, you can now effectively discuss "Rap & Poetry" in conversation, as well as saying "Poetry & Rap" without being wrong either way.

Rap and Poetry by Applejacque

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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