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date: 20 February 2020


Urban music that emerged in the 1970s from the hip-hop movement of the South Bronx, New York, and still thrives today.
  • Eric Bennett


Rap music combines rhythmic instrumental tracks created by a disc jockey, or DJ, with the spoken, rhyming bravura of a master of ceremonies, or MC. DJs often “sample” pieces of other recorded music in the creation of songs. MCs frequently rap about politics, sexual exploits, the conditions of daily life, and their own (sometimes exaggerated) personal attributes. MCs and DJs appropriate pop culture through lyrical allusions as well as rhythmic sound bites, leading many critics to consider rap the preeminent example of postmodern music. Writer Jon Pareles suggests, “In its structure and its content rap is the music of the television age, and the first truly popular music to adapt the fast, fractured rhythms, the bizarre juxtapositions, and the ceaseless self-promotion that are as much a part of television as logos and laugh tracks.”

Unlike television however rap gives some African Americans a powerful voice Its esoteric lyrical form provides ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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