Rhythm and Blues, Hip Hop, and Rap consist of hard-hitting beats from either drums or synthesized beats (computer-made beats). Even though the culture was formed in the 1970s, Rap music was not entirely into the public eye until the 1990s where artists Like Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G. were approaching the mainstream. While there were plenty of themes depending on the subgenre, the core of Hip Hop and rap was highlighting and illustrating African Americans’ struggles during a time where there was technically equality. However, mass discrimination and racism were still blatant.
Hip-hop was the inner city’s primary sound, as the residents could resonate with the messages and themes being talked about in the songs. From poverty to discrimination to a black American’s inner mind, Hip-hop was and still is the voice of the people in many urban areas. Using either your phone, computer, or a piece of paper, write a poem or spoken word rap about something in your life that you want more people to know about. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; all it needs to do is rhyme.
Learn new vocabulary: Synthesized, Institutionalized, Spoken Word (Poem)
Tool Kit: A phone or laptop, a sheet of paper, and a pen or pencil.
Step 1: There are plenty of topics that are discussed in Rap music, so to make things easier I have made a list of songs that I think convey their message very well (and sound great too). There is explicit language in these songs, so listener’s discretion is advised.
- Money trees – Kendrick Lamar
- Institutionalized – Kendrick Lamar
- Brackets – J Cole
- Crack Music – Kanye West
- The Story of O.J. – Jay-Z
- Fetus – Amine
Step 2: How do these artists convey their message through spoken word? Do they use a lot of alliteration or more complex wordplay to further emphasize their message? Do you think they express themselves well? What really jumped out to you in the lyrics?
Step 3: Using one of the mediums suggested, write a poem or spoken word rap about something you want more people to know about. This could be a general subject, or something that you have experienced and has affected you personally. What do you want to be the main takeaway or message from your poem?
Group Activity: Show your friends and family your spoken word rap or poem and ask them what they thought the main message was? Did your message get across to them or was it maybe clouded? Have they heard of the other artists on the list? Do they like their music?
Extend Your Journey: If you enjoy the genre, go ahead and find other Rap artists you enjoy and look into the messages of their music. What stories are they trying to tell through their music?