Lyrics in Rap Music

Keywords: rap music examination, rap music essay

In this article I will discuss and take an detailed look at the theme of the role and need for the lyrics in rap music, which are often violent, sexually explicit and sexist in content. In order to understand the role these lyrics play in rap music, it is necessary to consider the musical style that complements them and even the hip-hop culture that gave us rap music. This culture, including rap music, started in the united states, but its appeal has become international.

In the first introductory section I will analyse the terms rap music and rapper, and I am going to quickly discuss the roots of rap music. This section will add some important designers in the genre, mentioning their backgrounds and especially how they started their opportunities as rappers. Usually rappers start performing in the avenues, which might be a means of trying to flee from their difficult lives. Nonetheless in their lyrics they summarize what could be taken as the true facts of such lives. So one question is: do their lyrics contain violence, sex and sexism because this is an accurate reflection of the normal activities of their own lives? What made them sing such music? To become able to answer this question, I am going to include some simple lyrics as types of some typical rap sounds. Then, in the second part of the essay I am going to focus on the listeners and how rap music affects them. Overall, my intent is to discover just what is the significance of the lyrics in rap music within the context of the musical style all together.

Generally the word rap identifies a streets poetry, using slang terms and phrases to express the singer's emotions and show to the audience their viewpoint about life. Rap music therefore identifies the musical style in which such poetry is performed, which is very rhythmical usually without much accompaniment. The people that perform and usually also create this poetry are rappers. The rappers in their music usually talk about the realities of their lives and their social environments; such realities include racism or the difference between male and feminine, violent situations and thoughts, and sexual attraction and activity, quite simply everything they have experienced, resided through and seen for themselves. But how come this? Why do they highlight such aspects of their lives and not others? This relates to another question: is rap music expected as pure entertainment or could it be more a music of public protest?

The reason that we chose to work on this topic is the fact I find music in general and especially rap music really interesting. I myself play acoustic guitar and piano. For performance, I like sounds with clear melody that may be easily performed and played out on piano and electric guitar. However, I really do not like mainstream pop music, which is mainly written to formulas with cliche lyrics. Rap music is something completely different, something I have never tried to execute or even to explore, so in this article I am trying to get to learn it better, including its record, and to share with viewers my research.


Rap music became well known in the U. S. A. in the nineteen eighties, as a reaction resistant to the disco music of the seventies. It was then and it remains today a mostly dark or African-American design of music, in which the lyrics are incredibly important. This can be seen in the next summary of the history of rap:

Rap improved from African people generally and dark people blessed in the U. S. specifically. Its roots can be traced to Western world Africa where tribesmen performed "men of words" in high regard. Later when slaves were taken to the New World, the captives combined American music with the beats they appreciated from Africa. Another origin of rap is a form of Jamaican folk reviews called "toasts. " They are narrative poems that inform reports in rhyme. Over a hundred years later, rapping was a road art. In the same way doo-wop in the 1950's, rap started out in inner-city schoolyards and block sides in the 1970's. Early raps were boastful tales, and put-downs fond of other rappers. This music style was slowly but surely growing in acceptance among black teens in NEW YORK, Washington, D. C. , and Philadelphia. As soon as 1974 neighborhood stop parties in New York featured early forms of rapping. But it wasn't until the commercial success of "Rapper's Delight" by the Glucose Hill Gang in 1979 that major record labels took notice of the explosive new sound.

However, however the lyrics are especially important in rap, many would say that the fact of rap is in its beat. For example, William Eric Perkins says, "the building blocks of rap music is the whip. The combat is the composition around that your lyrics are developed, and samples of decided on phrases from previously recorded music, jingles, solos, and so forth play second fiddle. In rap vernacular, people that have the 'dope' beats produce the 'deffest' raps. ''

Of course rap was and still is mainly a young person's type of music, and both the performers and the audience were and are more youthful. Young people are often rebellious in soul, and music is one of their main means of expressing their rebelliousness:

Rap music has stampeded through America like no other form of music because the creation of rock music in the 1960s. Like other popular styles, it offers a history that is directly aligned with the rebellious frame of mind of its young makers; youth who rejected the modern music prevalent through the past due 1970s (disco).

However, rap isn't only a rebellion against early on types of music and the standards of living associated with them. It is sometimes also music of cultural protest. At least, it's very realistic and the contrary of escapist. Usually rap music is a way of expression. It is music of the road. In their lyrics rappers express their fears for their community, the truth with their lives, plus they describe both the negative and positive sides of every day life.

Some artists come from environments that are impoverished and unhealthy, so music provides them a means of dealing with fact, their violent and hard life. In this manner they find some sort of shelter in their tunes even though these melodies explain their life and how hard it is. Thus they share their feelings through their music.

Rap music differs from the other kinds of music, because of the great emphasis it puts on the words and lyrics. As said above, it is a kind of streets poetry. This focus on words is because the tracks are about true to life. The rapper's delivery is more like rhythmical conversation than actual performing, although gleam kind of very easy melody. The lyrics aren't simple love songs, but reveal the intricacy of truth.

Eminem, the famous white rapper, who has had quite a hard life, is a good example of the way rappers make their genuine lives the source of their tunes. Shortly after he was born, his father discontinued him and until era twelve he and his mother lived in public housing. As an adolescent he became enthusiastic about rap music, something that caused him to give up university in the ninth class and start carrying out with organizations. The lyrics of Eminem have been criticized for being violent and offensive towards other celebrities. For example:

Sometimes I simply feel like my father, I hate to be bothered

With all of this nonsense it's constant

And, "Oh, it's his lyrical content -

- the tune 'Guilty Conscience' has received such rotten responses"

And all this controversy circles me

And it looks like the advertising immediately

Points a finger at me (finger at me). .

So I point one back again at 'em, but not the index or pinkie

Or the band or the thumb, it is the one you put up

When you do not give a fuck, when you will not just put up

With the bullshit they take, cause they filled with shit too

When a dude's gettin bullied and shoots up his school

And they blame it on Marilyn (on Marilyn) and the heroin

Where were the parents at? And look where it's at

Middle America, now it's a tragedy

Now it's so sad to see, an upper class ci-ty

Havin this happenin (this happenin). .

Then assault Eminem cause I rap this way (rap this way). .

But I'm glad cause they nourish me the petrol that I want for the fire

To burn and it's really burnin and I've returned

There is some sort of hostility behind these lyrics which also allows the audience to identify with the anti-establishment frame of mind. Also, they are typical in the manner they associate many different things together, including situations in the news such as high school shootings, medication use, the media, middle America, etc.

Another famous rapper is a twenty-six year-old, Curtis Adam Jackson III, known as 50 cent. 50 cent can be an American rapper that has lived a difficult life. Curtis James Jackson III was raised without a daddy and was raised by his mom. His mom was only fifteen years of age when she gave birth to him. He was born in South Jamaica. His mother who was simply a drug supplier passed away at twenty-three years old, leaving an eight year old boy who was simply raised by his grandparents. In early teenage he was working drugs, until he was caught. He continued reselling and hiding drugs, a fact that helped bring many problems and he was imprisoned a second time. But when he ceased he committed himself to his career as a rap vocalist. A thing that increased his level of popularity was his cooperation with Eminem.

It is common and quite common that rappers use violence and sexism in their lyrics. As stated above, violence is a means of appearance of physical drive either against ourselves or others and especially the weaker ones, while sexism can be an attitude and idea of your person, usually male, that he's more advanced than or better that others, usually female. Sometimes a sexist frame of mind is communicated in lyrics that are sexually explicit. It's possible that the rapper did not deliberately intend to be sexist in the described sense, but this is merely part of his assumptions and his intention to be as 'practical' as it can be. For example, the tune called Candy Shop» by 50 cent is focused on sexual activity which is apparently tackled to a woman, at least at the beginning, rather than to the audience itself (as with Eminem's song above). However just a little later the pronoun ''you'' is decreased and substituted by ''she'' as though 50 cent is currently 'writing' his erotic experiences with his audience.

Give it if you ask me baby, nice and slow

Climb on top, ride like you in the rodeo

You ain't never listened to a appear to be this before

Cause I ain't never put it down such as this before

Soon when i come through the door she get to pulling on my zipper

It's like it's a race that can get undressed quicker

Isn't it ironic how erotic it is to view em in thongs

Had me considering 'bout that ass after I'm gone

I touch the right area at the right time

Lights on or signals off, she enjoy it from behind

So seductive, you should see the way she wind

Her sides in slow-mo on the floor whenever we grind

As Long as she ain't preventing, homie I ain't stopping

Dripping moist with perspiration man its on and popping

All my champagne marketing campaign, bottle after bottle its on

And we gon' sip 'til every bubble in every bottle is gone''

Here we may easily understand the erotic innuendo. Whether it is actually sexist or not is a subject of opinion, most likely the singer believes so it is just about the two sexes that are looking to obtain 'a little bit of fun'.

Niggaz With Attitude (N. W. A), a five member music group whose lyrics are openly violent (and make reference to weapons), are much more politically motivated. They may have attacked even the authorities and FBI. ''Moreover the N. W. A has directed at rap music its unlawful image and boosts the complete question of authenticity. This strap has captured the essence of young dark male rage. ''

You don't really think you're gonna get away do you?

We haven't noticed them yet

But they're anywhere in the immediate vicinity.

A 100 Kilometers and Runnin'.

MC Ren I hold the gun and

You want me to get rid of a mutherfucker and it's really done in.

Since I'm stereotyped to wipe out and destruct

Is one of the primary reasons I don't provide a fuck.

Chances are usually not good

'Cause I freeze with my hands on a hot hood.

And gettin' jacked by the you-know-who.

When in a black and white the capacity is two.

We're not by yourself, we're three more brothers, I mean street-brothers.

Now wearin' my dyes, 'cause I'm not stupid, mutherfuckers.

They're out to take our minds for what we said before.

Point bare - They are able to kizz my dark-colored azz.

I didn't stutter once i said "Fuck Tha Police".

'Cause it's hard for a nigga to get calmness.

Now it's shattered and can not be fixed.

'Cause police force and little dark-colored niggers don't combine so

Now I'm creepin' through the show up.

Runnin' like a team. Well, see, I might have slayed y'all.

So for now pack the gun and

Hold it in the air.

'Cause MC Ren has a 100 Mls of Runnin'. . .

These lyrics communicate not only a lot of assault and rebelliousness, but also they use a typical kind of dark slang. This is a manifestation of personality. As the music continues, it brings in the FBI as a means of proudly suggesting that N. W. A. is really important, or dangerous. The lyrics even comment sarcastically about how a few of the enemies of dark people are "wearin' our T-shirts"!

Runnin' like a nigga I hate to lose.

Show me on the news but I hate to be abused.

I know it was a set-up.

So now I'm gonna get up.

Even if the FBI desires me to shut up.

But I've received 10 000 niggas strong.

They got every person singin' my "Fuck Tha Law enforcement officials" music.

And while they treat my group like mud,

Their entire fuckin' family is wearin' our T-shirts.

So I'mma run til I cannot run forget about.

'Cause it's time for MC Ren to stay the score.

I acquired a craving to kick down doors.

(The complete lyrics of the song are contained in the Appendix. )

This band is recognized as one of the very most violent rings in the ten years of the eighties. Their lyrics were showing and explaining a legal life and a strong opposition to the authorities. Even the name of this music group is openly extreme using the 'N-word' (which is taboo for white people) and the word 'attitude' in a way which means ambitious or rebellious. This allows young black people in the audience to identify strongly with the band, because it appears to represent black people taking a stand for themselves and asserting their power. Although this isn't political in the sense that the Black colored Power activity was, nevertheless it is openly rebellious, and extremely realistic.


''Hip-hop [the term for the junior culture which includes rap music] is and will always be a culture of the African-American minority. Nonetheless it has become an international language. '' So who are 'typical' listeners to rap? Although rap is liked and appreciated by many people, it seems mainly designed for young black men. So do dark-colored females enjoy it for the same types of reason? How about young white people (man and female)? What about older people? From what extent does indeed the appeal of rap differ from group to group?

It is actually difficult to answer these questions without undertaking huge research. However, the previous question above matters because, as was seen in the last section, rap lyrics are important and exhibit the experience of rappers quite realistically, which is possible that listeners with the same kinds of cultural experience will respond to rap more completely. For example, if we picture a rich forty-five year old white woman moving into St. Petersburg, the normal rap lyrics may well not be so important to her as to a black eighteen year-old residing in Harlem, New York. But here we have to remember an important point that was created by W. E. Perkins quoted in Section One: in rap, he says, ''The combat is the framework around which the lyrics are developed, and examples of selected phrases from recently recorded music, jingles, solos, and so forth play second fiddle'' (see notice 2, web page 5 above). Probably it is this master and also the possibilities of expressive dancing that select it which makes rap so widely popular.

However, rap can't be really rap without the lyrics playing a huge part. So we can ask: when people choose to listen to rap music, what exactly is it that they identify with 'rap'? Is it basically the musical style, fast rhythmical talking to a very basic melody, or could it be something else, the 'spirit' of this kind of music? A person who likes rap might turn on it and notice a 'rap song' advertising, for example, breakfast time cereal, but certainly they might not consider this to be real rap. For a track to be real rap it isn't enough to imitate the musical style, however the lyrics must also be about the varieties of things that rappers sing about. These lyrics have to be reasonable and unsentimental.

This implies that folks who are drawn to real rap are considering the 'picture of life' so it communicates and not merely in the whip, even if they do not reveal that kind of life themselves. Of course they also benefit from the musical style, but this is most probably because that musical style is very effective in communicating the actual lyrics say. It is also very full of energy, and in performance is along with a certain design of movement.

Young people wish to express themselves through dance. However, dancing itself is not a socially 'meaningless' kind of expression. Typical rap dancing is both 'masculine' and 'African' in soul. Katrina Hazzard-Donald says,

I was ambivalent about the hiphop phenomenon [which includes rap] until I seen the dance that accompanied the rapping; It was dynamic, athletic, and noticeably male dominated, utilizing a very African movements vocabulary. Like the majority of African dance styles, these [styles] display angularity, asymmetry, polyrhythmic awareness, derision themes, segmentation and delineation of areas of the body, earth-centeredness and percussive performance.

Thus this type of dance is also a manifestation of the culture of the expected rap audience, young dark-colored males, not of the poverty or of criminal offense or medication use, but their African roots. For these people this dance is ways to celebrate their personal information. Other varieties of audiences can try to imitate this style of dancing but it will never mean the same thing to them, even if they really like it.

What in my own view makes rap greatly popular, especially among teenagers, is its energy. For some types of audience, this energy is a kind of sociable 'rebellion'. Rebellion is usually not explicit in the lyrics, however in the 'attitude' of the performers (as the name of N. W. A, Niggas With Frame of mind, says). Through this, dark listeners gain a feeling of assurance, even electricity, and of take great pride in in their identity.


Rap, as was said above, is part of 'hip hop culture'. According to Katrina Hazzard-Donald,

Hip hop shows up at the key juncture of postindustrial stagnation, increased family dissolution, and a weakened struggle for black monetary and political rights. Might one expect the pressures of mutually antagonistic interpersonal pushes such as high unemployment, heightened job competition, and goals of conspicuous intake to influence both popular expressive culture and the culture-creating equipment of the community? I say yes. It is no coincidence that many young ones of the hiphop generation haven't known the comparative security that some of their parents and even grandparents understood.

This quotation says that the general economic and sociable situation influences a cultural manifestation like rap music. Therefore we can also believe that rap music displays the general monetary and interpersonal situation. It had been shown in Chapter One which the lyrics of rap tend to be about violence or poverty, trouble with the police, and so forth - the type of the things the rappers and their main intended audience meet in their every day lives. In Section Two it was seen that the design of party is also an important area of the appeal of rap. Probably this dance style also expresses the socio-economic situation, however in a much more indirect way than the lyrics do.

It can be argued that it is the rap boogie style that makes rap more positive and optimistic in nature than the lyrics independently suggest it would be. Therefore, although it is true that rap lyrics, comprising violence, sex and sexism, are a precise reflection of the typical experiences of the rappers' own lives, the audience encounters this 'realism' with regards to a whole musical style that expresses energy and a sense of identification, especially African roots. It really is both these elements mutually that define the great appeal of rap.

According to Anthony Bozza, Hip-hop, compared to other African-American musical practices - blues, jazz and rock and roll - has remained truest to its roots for the thirty years they have existed. It is possibly the most potent, least altered African-American cultural manifestation in history. Hip-hop has evolved technically, but its basic theme has survived: self-improvement with style. The initial rap files, like those released yesterday, were about getting money, living better, having a party, having sex, defying mainstream population, and looking excellent while you do it. Rap broadcast inner-city realities and proven rebel position - that no hardship would keep carefully the minorities who pioneered hip-hop from living, to the fullest, independently terms.

While this 'concept' of rap is most likely strongest and most meaningful for young dark people, as well as perhaps also for the junior of other relatively poor minority categories such as Hispanics in the USA, it is also easy to see how it makes rap music appealing to young people generally.


In conclusion, we've seen that assault, sexism and sexually explicit words do exist in the lyrics of rap music, and that this is part of the 'reasonable' use of ''inner-city realities'', as Bozza calls them. However, to comprehend the role these lyrics play in rap music it has been essential to understand their framework, especially rap dancing and the wider hip-hop culture. Within this framework such lyrics are part of what Bozza phone calls the ''rebel position''. What draws in teenagers to rap is not the lyrics in themselves but the complete image that rap creates, as well as its sense of energy and personality.

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