Rap is a type of poetry, is it not? Most people would agree that rap is an art form. Yet, for some reason there are still those who oppose the idea of considering rap as a legitimate form of writing or lyrical expression. In this essay I will explore the different perspectives on whether or not rap is poetry and if it should be considered to be in the same class as other poetic forms like free verse.
Introduction. Poetry is a form of Art in which sounds are employed to construct an expression of what is intended. Poetry as a kind of Art makes use of sound to establish the meaning that it conveys (Ntozake 1). Poems have distinct characteristics that set them apart as a form of Art. Rhyme, stress, and meter, for example, are popular uses of poetry (Ron 150). These qualities contribute significantly to the clarity of sound patterns. When the poem is recited aloud, does it make any difference? The debate now arises over whether or not rap music qualifies as poetry.
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Rap Is Poetry. Sound is just as important in the creation of rap music. Rap artists manipulate their words to create sounds that convey the intended message (Alan56). As a result, it’s clear that rap employs the same method as poetry to get its main aim. Stanzas and poems are other characteristics that distinguish rap music from other forms of music. In a line, raps create beats. These lines form a verse (Jace 2). This is also the case in poetry. The physical features of both genres fail to reveal any distinction, thus concluding that rap is poetry.
In the United States, poetry is associated with lyrics, for example in the works of American poets (Timpane and Watts 20). Rap music, like this poetry, takes song lyrics from a classic instrument known as the lyre that was employed by poets throughout history (Nelson 130). Lyrics are a necessary component of rap music. This frequently results in rhyme.
The word “rap” is derived from the Spanish term for rhythm, which is rapping. It’s a way of writing that mixes mundane events with words and phrases to create short poems or lyrics (McIver 219). This resembles poetry that depicts the culture and literature of a specific period (Jimmy 478). Poetry is a language used to communicate an idea, similar to rap. It gives insight into the age and culture of those who receive it via its message (Bertice 12).
Rap Is Not Poetry. From a linguistic standpoint, rap music is not poetry. This is due to the fact that despite its appearance, it has the marred quality of poetry. That is, rappers frequently alter their phrases in order to create a metrical pattern (Mel 43). Furthermore, if you read a poem with blank verse backwards, you will get blank verse poetry rather than rapping (Alonzo 602).
The lyrics of the rap music continue to repeat the same phrase (Perkins 1). This is especially true in poor rap music. Even in what’s considered excellent rap music, the complex words provide a single rhyme pattern that’s usually intended to draw attention (Language Arts Higher Standards 6).
In addition, many linguists claim that rap does not make use of Standard language in terms of word choice and sentence structure (Toni 3). They claim, for example, that when 50 Cent a rapper says “fifty,” he means “fitty.” According to them, the letter ‘f’ cannot be replaced with a ‘t.’
Conclusion. Rap music is poetry, because even the points made against it, such as the unusual style of language used in rap music, do not hold water. Traditional poetry utilized poetic devices that are non-standard forms of language. In conclusion, rap music is poetry, and the argument offered lacks compelling evidence.
Poetry has been around for hundreds of years and has changed through the centuries. Poets employ various styles and approaches to create their own individual masterpiece with poetry. There are many distinct types of poems, including a sonnet, haiku, acrostic, and several more. Rap belongs in the realm of poetry since it is classified as a poem in accordance with its variety of styles.
However, a significant number of individuals do not regard rap as poetry. According to Dictionary.com, “poetry is the art of rhythmical composition, written or spoken, for exciting pleasure by beautiful, imaginative, or elevated thoughts…” (n.d.). This definition explains what poetry is and what it needs to be called poetry.
The artist is meticulous in picking the right words to construct imagery with their lyrics. The Poetry Foundation: Is Rap Poetry, an essay by Adam Kirsch, quotes the author of Book of Rhymes: the Poetics of Hip Hop, who states that “imagery tells the tale of rap as lyric poetry” (Kirsch, n.d.). The use of imagery within the lyrics allows the artist to visualize the tale for their listeners in their heads.
In rap, imagery is required to tell a narrative. Kendrick Lamar, a well-known rapper, employs a lot of pictures in his songs to tell his tale. In the song “The Art Of Peer Pressure,” by Kendrick Lamar, he says “It’s 2:30 and the sun is shining / The air conditioner has broken and I hear my stomach screaming / Hungry for anything unhealthy and if nutrition can help me” (n.d.).
In these three lines, Lamar employs imagery to illustrate a particular time of day and the fact that it is a hot bright day. He also complains that he is starving and probably hasn’t eaten in the last few hours, and he wants anything unhealthy. The images used in this song vividly convey the narrative being conveyed through the lyrics.
According to Micah Mattix, author of the essay “Is Rap Poetry?”, because “rap is a musical-verbal art and poetry is a verbal-musical-typographical one,” rapping isn’t poetry (Mattix, n.d.). He’s claiming that because the lyrics aren’t published, rapping isn’t poetic. However, when someone purchases an album, the lyrics are already published and available through it.
Another reason why people would not consider rap to be poetry is due to the violence that is expressed in their lyrics. According to an essay titled, “Gangsta Rap May Encourage Gang Behavior,” the author claims that gangster rap “glamorizes and encourages crime [and] violence” (n.d.). “Gangsta Rap May”
When I first began rapping, me and a few brothers would all sit around my house freestyling while someone beat boxed. I even claimed to be a poet to the ladies. They appeared to find it more affecting than a rapper.” Both Black writers write in the same style and employ similar language. It may be difficult, if not impossible, to tell them apart when reading a poem or examining rap lyrics. Both Black rappers and Black poets write about similar themes.
In the poem “My Brothers,” Haki is delivering a message to other black males about how they should start to appreciate and love black women. "My brothers, I will not instruct you who to adore or who not to adore; instead, I will simply advise you that Black women have not been valued enough (Madhubuti).
Black writers and rappers have similar opinions and write about similar themes, whether it’s sex, racism, or life in the ghettos. The language spoken by Black rappers and Black poets is a strong, concise language. Maya Angelou displays this in her poem “Aint That Bad.” To make her point, Maya repeats phrases throughout her poem “Now isn’t it terrible?”
When I first started rapping, me and a few of my brothers would all sit at my home freestyling while someone beat boxed. I even used to tell the ladies that I was a poet. They appeared to prefer it to a rapper.) Rapper lyrics are comparable to the phrases of Black poets. It’s been debated whether or not rap is really considered poetry.
Both authors write in a similar style and employ the same type of language. It might be difficult, if not impossible, to tell the two apart when looking at a poem or reading rap lyrics. Both NWA, a hip-hop group, and Alice Walker, a Black poet, write about being from a minority ethnic group. “There is no planet stranger than the one I come from,” says Alice Walker in one of her poems (Walker, “Note Passed To Superman” 18-19). What Alice is implying is that the world is strange since people are judged by their race. NWA’s approach is more aggressive.
“Fuck Tha Police” is a song by NWA. “Young nigga got it bad cuz I’m brown / And not the other color, so the cops think they have the right to kill a minority,” they sing in ” Fuck Tha Police.” Another frequently recurring theme among Black poets and rappers is “ghettoism.” In Nikki Giovanni’s poem “For Saundra,” she contemplates writing a poem about trees and blue skies.
This is all there is to it. What this is all about is simply the fact of urban ghettos. I know you feel compelled to hustle because your friends need food, making moves right and exactly; don’t want to see you laying flat / Don’t want to see you get a bullet in your black / If we don’t build ourselves, we’ll be destroyed / That’s a challenge that faces us as a race of poor and unemployed individuals (Gangstarr ‘In Memory Of’)This song by Gangstarr discusses life on the streets and what one must do in order to survive there.
The messages contained in these rap songs and poems are vital statements that must be heeded. They address such themes as what is going on in society, as well as what we must do to change it or stop it. In conclusion, the lyrics of rappers are quite comparable to those of Black poets when they speak both lyrically and figuratively. There may be comparisons made in terms of word usage, subject matter, style and message behind the writings.
These similarities make hip-hop a viable variant of poetry that is appreciated and understood by young people in today’s culture. Today’s teens, in many cases, would not read poetry and comprehend the message, but they would listen to rap and be able to grasp the artist’s goal.
Poetry and rap have been co-existing in the roots of human civilizations for quite some time. The recent surge in popularity of rap music has sparked debate about the two genres. Poets frequently deny the position of rapper, but rappers often deny the position of poet. Although the two forms are comparable, they each have their own set on aspects that distinguish them. Because of many different characteristics, rap is undeniably a distinct genre and cannot be mixed with poetry .
In rap, vulgar and offensive language is used frequently. Rap lyrics are known to include profane words that denigrate women or encourage drug use and violence. 13-time Grammy winner Eminem exemplifies a wide range of reprehensible sentiments with this snippet from his song. This passage contains ill-advised activities that are both harmful and depraved in terms of the drug trade and woman degradation.
The wary collaboration of Carl, a brilliant but unschooled rapper, and Claire Malcolm, the well-intentioned poet who enrolls him in her college writing class is one of Zadie Smith’s novel On Beauty’ s finest comic subplots. When Smith describes the purpose of the trip as “to demonstrate her fresh pupils that poetry was a big church that she wasn’t afraid to explore,” she demonstrates how much Claire loves learning about other cultures through their shared interest in spoken word poetry.
Even as Claire is shocked when Carl takes the microphone and delivers “complicated multisyllabic lines with apparent ease,” telling a “witty, articulate tale about the several challenges in a young black man’s spiritual and material progress.” The poet is immediately inspired to educate the rapper, Henry Higgins-style: “Are you interested in improving what you have?” she queries. “Would you want to chat with us? We have an idea for you.”
The idea, according to Claire, is that Carl is a 21st-century John Clare: a proletarian genius who only requires instruction in iambic pentameter to produce amazing poetry. (“You’re already thinking in sonnets,” she explains.) Smith demonstrates how Carl is both drawn to and wary of this sort of academic acclaim.
“It’s not even a poem. It’s more like rapping…. They’re two distinct disciplines. Except that rap isn’t considered an art form by any stretch of the imagination. It just looks like a loss of authenticity to them.” Smith captures the comic absurdity of cross purposes: turning a rapper into a poet is cultural enrichment to the poet, while it appears more like surrendering legitimacy to the rapper. It’s difficult to fathom why any rapper would want to make such an exchange.)
If Carl rises to fame as an MC, he could look forward to becoming wealthy and renowned, with a following of millions of devoted fans. If he succeeds as a poet, he may anticipate—tenure. It’s no surprise that, in the real world, poets have been more interested in what they can learn from hip-hop than vice versa. Poets who are regarded aesthetes conservatives have been most enthusiastic about hip-hop ironically.
The idea that rhyme, meter, and narrative are the fundamental components of poetry and that their absence from most contemporary poetry explains the genre’s unpopularity and cultural irrelevancy is known as “new formalism.” Rap’s enormous popularity, which is dedicated to all those time-honored techniques, appears to seal the argument.
In his article “Disappearing Ink,” published in the magazine Poetry, Dana Gioia has hailed rap as “the new oral poetry.” He hoped that it might be a spark for a “renovation from the margins” of literary poetry. According to Gioia, while critical tastemakers may dismiss young literary poets’ return to form and narrative as benighted antiquarianism and intellectual pretension, its universal adoption among neglected urban blacks. . .cannot] be dismissed in such simple ideological terms.”
The debut of the hefty new Anthology of Rap is a significant development in this reconciliation. The anthology, which was edited by two English professors Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois and published by Yale University Press, may appear to be a Claire Malcolm-like cultural patronage project that incorporates rap to literary poetry’s critical and scholarly standards.
Book of Rhymes is a book written by Bradley, with an introduction that explains, “It narrates the tale of hip hop as lyric poetry.” Book of Rhinks: The Poetics of Hip Hop is a well-written book about the forms and methods of hip hop music. He adds in his notes to Anthology that he and Vendler had the chance to learn poetry from Helen Vendler, “a wonderful teacher,” and that both he and Vendler were interested in genres.
While the editors recognize that “reading rap will never be the same as listening to it,” this anthology is intended to go beyond a collection of song lyrics. As scholars of poetry, they naturally believe that reading is a more respectable way to experience something than listening— DuBois is the editor of a book called Close Reading: The Reader—and the idea behind this anthology is that MCs are essentially writers: “This isn’t, after all, a collection of lyrics from rap’s greatest hits; rather, it’s a collection of rap’s finest verse.”