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Rap [ ræp ] ( English rap "chat, entertainment"; English to rap "chat, chat") is a rhythmic, distinctive and mostly fast spoken chant in popular music and part of the culture of hip-hop . To rap (German: 'knock' or 'pochen') indicates the type of music and spoken word. Today rap has partly broken away from its roots and is also used in other musical styles, for example in pop , eurodance , crossover , digital hardcore and nu metal . Particularly in the area of ​​non-commercial rap music, such as so-called underground rap, there is a clear distinction to the original hip-hop music.

general characteristics

The main characteristics of popular rap content are characterized by " ego-tripping ' " and the authenticity ("realness") of the protagonist also by the glorification of drug use , violence and crime , right through to satanic characteristics such as the acting out of drives and feelings (for example ) Revenge or sex . As a result, some records were regularly indexed . In addition, colloquially known as "Image Rap", some artists also convey content based on fiction. Furthermore, various rappers use the so-called “storytelling rap”, which can be translated as “telling stories”, as well as the “battle rap”, in which a real or fictional opponent is to be verbally humiliated as entertainingly as possible.

History of rapeseed

Rap comes from the Afro-American culture and is possibly influenced by West African griots , but this is difficult to prove in concrete terms due to a lack of sources. Rhythms that moved between singing and chanting can be found both in Afro-American "work songs" - the chants and slogans of the field workers - as well as early on in Afro-American churches, in which the preacher between declamation, chanting and singing fluently changes registers. Corresponding mixed forms of musical performance, moving between singing and spoken chant, can be found in early blues recordings from the 1920s onwards. In addition, from around the end of the 1960s, there was the influence of Jamaican toasting as well as the civil rights movement and the Black Panthers , in whose environment musicians such as James Brown , the Last Poets or Gil Scott-Heron also used rhythmic chanting in addition to singing to convey political messages spread. As a result, in the 1970s, DJs increasingly used sayings and comments in slang accessible to the young . They increasingly did this in rhyme to the rhythm of the music . Primarily records by well-known funk musicians were scratched and backspinned . In the so-called backspin , a loop , i.e. the repetition of a few bars , is created with two turntables on which the same record is located .

The tasks of the DJ were finally taken over more and more by so-called MCs ( Master of Ceremony , incorrectly also referred to as Microphone Chief or Microphone Checker or interpreted as the verb “to move the crowd”). When the rap interlude became an integral part of the DJ's music, the lyrics also became longer and more substantial, and stories began to be raped and in this way to convey one's views and feelings. Today the term rapper has been established by outsiders , while MC has taken a back seat.

King Tim III (Personality Jock) from the funk combo Fatback Band is often mentioned as the first rap recording , but early records by The Last Poets were also an important cornerstone for spoken rhymes. In the early 1980s, rap artists such as Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five with The Message (about the tough everyday life on the street) or Sugarhill Gang with Rapper's Delight (published 1979; a pure party text) also had commercial success for the first time. Later, well-known rappers such as Run-DMC , LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James) or the Beastie Boys established this style of music outside of the ghettos.

In New York at the end of the 1970s, a trend established itself in the predominantly black ghettos of celebrating self-organized parties in demolished houses (so-called block parties), as the participants often found it difficult to access the clubs. At these block parties, rap was often used to heat the crowd and to present and represent oneself.

Rap always also included political and social issues, such as those that Public Enemy repeatedly brought to the attention of their listeners. These groups took advantage of the new style of music to spread their messages and denounce what they perceived as grievances. Rap allows far more textual content to be packed into a song than most vocals. Furthermore, Gang Starr , consisting of the MC Guru , as well as DJ Premier , EPMD with Erick Sermon , Geto Boys with Willy D , Bushwick Bill and Scarface gained greater prominence, also beyond the USA.


In the texts of the rapeseed in the 1990s, life in the American ghettos since the 1970s is revisited and processed in the collective memory of blacks. The texts are often about the problems of crime and drugs, some clearly distance themselves from them, others approve of the same thing. The male rappers, who are by far the majority, sometimes use swear words. This led to the name Conscious / Street Rap , which was introduced by KRS-One (the teacher), the then band leader of Boogie Down Productions and the hitherto unknown rapper named BurnArt, who told all sorts of stories from his block shaped his life. However, many rappers were given a negative image by the media (see NWA or Tupac Shakur ). The term gangsta rap has become increasingly popular.

Since the "tough" and aggressive criminal style sells better than more sophisticated rap texts in the main target group of young people, the big publishing groups have long since started to look specifically for marketable "stars" in this street crime scene. This created a distorted image of rap, which the youth music broadcasters specifically promoted by adopting this limited selection. The publishing groups support open hostilities between the individual rappers (be they real or played) in order to underline their aggressive image. An analogy of this behavior can be found in American boxing, where, in addition to the actually purely sporting event, boxers are given plenty of space to abuse each other in front of the press.

Due to the different development of rap music on the West Coast compared to the East Coast , a "war" finally arose between the two representative labels Death Row Records under the leadership of Suge Knight of the West Coast and the label Bad Boy Entertainment under the leadership of Puff Daddys of the East Coast. These conflicts escalated and had a deep impact on the rap scene when 2Pac (Tupac Shakur) and Notorious BIG were shot in a drive-by in 1996 and 1997. The offenses have not yet been clarified. Other gangsta rappers include 50 Cent , Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre (former NWA member).

In the meantime, hip-hop, and with it American rap, has become a global business. However, rap is not limited to the English language. Above all in France , rap was developed very successfully as a mouthpiece for the problems in the Parisian suburbs. But rap is also enjoying increasing popularity in Great Britain , Italy , Germany , Poland , Iran , Japan , Austria , Turkey , Russia and Switzerland .

Mainly at home in hip-hop , the rap method is now also used in other musical styles such as eurodance , house , heavy metal and even in country music .

On the other hand, other genres also flow into classic rap. This includes music styles such as dancehall , pop music and R'n'b .

Rap culture in film and TV

One of the best known and most successful films on rap is 8 Mile (2003) with Eminem ; older films that capture the original mood of American hip-hop, which is still removed from the battle, are Beat Street (1984), Breakin ' (1984), Style Wars (1983) or Wild Style (1982). Also the producer work Stomp the Yard (2007) could not record any notable successes.

In 2005 the films Hustle & Flow with Terrence Howard and Get Rich or Die Tryin ' with 50 Cent in the leading role were made, alongside - again - Terrence Howard. The first is about a pimp who wants to try again in the music business in his mid-30s. Get Rich or Die Tryin ' is a more or less authentic 50 Cent auto-biography.

As the first German cinema film to deal with the topic of hip-hop, the film Status Yo! by director Til Hastreiter will premiere in November 2004. Both critics and hip-hop fans praised the film as a milestone in German hip-hop culture.


A song called "The Rapper" by Donnie Iris was released in 1977, even before the genre of music emerged.

See also


  • Working texts for lessons: Rap -tex , Reclam Verlag, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-015050-7 , contains a collection of hip-hop and rap texts and a detailed description of the history and the main style elements (see above) of hip -Hop.
  • The Wu-Tang Manual , written by The RZA , published by Plexus Publishing Limited, ISBN 0-85965-367-6
  • Werner Jauk : Rap. In: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon . Online edition, Vienna 2002 ff., ISBN 3-7001-3077-5 ; Print edition: Volume 4, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2005, ISBN 3-7001-3046-5 .
  • Rap Text Analysis. German-speaking rap since 2000. 20 individual text analyzes , transcript Verlag, Bielefeld 2020, ISBN 978-3-8376-4628-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Rap  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/Rap
  2. For example LeRoi Jones in his book The Blues People , when he writes: "As late as the nineteenth century, pure African songs could be heard (...) in the Southern United States. (...) The African slave continued to chant his native chants, sing his native songs, at work, even though the singing of them might be forbidden or completely out of context. " LeRoi Jones: The Blues People, 1963, pp. 19f.
  3. "The preacher begins calmly, speaking in conversational, if oratorical and occasionally grandiloquent, prose; he then gradually begins to speak more rapidly, excitedly, and to chant his words and time to a regular beat; finally, he reaches an emotional peak in which the chanted speech becomes tonal and merges with the singing, clapping, and shouting of the congregation. Quoted from Albert Ratoneau: A Fire in the Bones, Reflections on African-American Religious History, 1995, pp. 143f.
  4. See e.g. B. the essay "Hip Hop and Blues" by Elijah Ward