From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"Rap’s forebears stretch back through disco, street funk, radio Djs, Bo Diddley, the bebop singers, Cab Calloway, Pigmeat Markham, the tap dancers and comics, The Last Poets, Gil Scott-Heron, Muhammad Ali, army songs, toasts, signifying and the dozens, all the way to the griots of Nigeria and the Gambia."--Rap Attack: African Jive to New York Hip Hop (1984) David Toop
"The 1983 PBS documentary Style Wars documented hip hop culture and its American roots. The film has an emphasis on graffiti, although breakdancing and rapping are covered to a lesser extent. The documentary captures many historical moments and is noted for its soundtrack, which includes Rammellzee's "Beat Bop" (1983), The Fearless Four's "Rockin' It" (1982) as well as some Richard Wagner."--Sholem Stein
Rapping, also known as Emceeing, MCing, Rhyme spitting, Spitting, or just Rhyming, is the rhythmic delivery of rhymes, one of the central elements of hip hop music and culture. The word "rap" has been claimed to be a backronym of the phrase "Rhythmic American Poetry", "Rhythm and Poetry", "Rhythmically Applied Poetry", or "Rhytmically Associated Poetry". Rapping can be delivered over a beat or without accompaniment. Stylistically, rap occupies a grey area among speech, prose, poetry, and song. Rap is derived from the griots (folk poets) of West Africa, Caribbean-style toasting, and American Blues and Jazz roots.
Rapping developed both inside and outside of hip hop since Jamaican expatriate Kool Herc first began doing his dancehall toasting in New York in the 1970s. In the 1980s, the success of groups like Run-DMC led to a huge wave of commercialized rap music. By the end of the 1990s, hip hop became widely accepted in mainstream music. Hip-hop rapping from the 2000s has complex rhythms, cadences, an intricate poetic form, and inventive wordplay. Rap lyrics convey the street life from which hip hop originally emerged with references to popular culture and hip-hop slang. Although rap has become an international phenomenon, many types of rap deal with issues such as race, socioeconomic class, and gender.
Derivatives and influence
Throughout hip hop's history, new musical styles and genres have developed that contain rapping. Entire genres, such as rap rock and its derivatives rapcore and rap metal (rock/metal/punk with rapped vocals), or hip house have resulted from the fusion of rap and other styles. Many popular music genres with a focus on percussion have contained rapping at some point; be it disco (DJ Hollywood), jazz (Gang Starr), new wave (Blondie), funk (Fatback Band), contemporary R&B (Mary J. Blige), Reggaeton (Daddy Yankee), or even Japanese dance music Soul'd Out. UK garage music has begun to focus increasingly on rappers in a new subgenre called grime, pioneered and popularized by the MC Dizzee Rascal. Increased popularity with the music has shown more UK rappers going to America as well as tour there, such as Sway DaSafo possibly signing with Akon's label Konvict. Hyphy is the latest of these spin-offs. The style originated in Oakland California and gained national attention in 2006, beginning with E-40's album My Ghetto Report Card. It is typified by slowed-down atonal vocals with instrumentals that borrow heavily from the hip hop scene and lyrics centered on illegal street racing and car culture. Another Oakland, California group, Beltaine's Fire, has recently gained attention for their Celtic fusion sound which blends hip hop beats with Celtic melodies. Unlike the majority of hip hop artists, all their music is performed live without samples, synths, or drum machines, drawing comparisons to The Roots and Rage Against the Machine.
Bhangra, a widely popular style of music from Punjab (India) has been mixed numerous times with reggae and hip hop music. The most popular song in this genre in the United States was "Mundian to Bach Ke" or "Beware the Boys" by Panjabi MC and Jay-Z. Although "Mundian To Bach Ke" had been released previously, the mixing with Jay-Z popularized the genre further.