Hip hop lyrics are also many times called rap
music lyrics and came into existence in the United States
in the 1970s. Hip hop lyrics reflect the hip hop culture that includes
emceeing (rapping), deejaying, breakdancing and graffiti.
Hip hop music began in The Bronx, New York among the African American
youth where the MC would introduce the DJ who would sometimes employ
record scratching and other production techniques to enhance the
sound and experience. Over time, the MCs began speaking on top of
the musical production with jokes, anecdotes and other exhortations.
Hip hop lyrics typically employ inner-city slang with poetic devices
such as alliteration, assonance and rhyme. The slang of hip hop
lyrics may include words like yo, dis, flow, phat and homie.
Censorship issues have been the greatest with hip hop music lyrics
more than any other genre of music. Since many hip hop lyrics are
filled with expletives that reflect life on the street in the inner
cities, radio stations and record companies have been hard pressed
not the change lyrics in order to make the albums more palatable
and marketable to a larger audience.
In order to thwart the censors, Snoop Dogg in his hip hop music
lyrics, started to place an "izz" or "izzn"
in the middle of sensitive words, so that the word "shit"
may become "shizznit" in its place. There has been much
criticism over the years that hip hop lyrics are too violent, sexual,
homophobic, anti-establishment and portray women poorly.
Some of this has been true, some of the time. But, to lump all
hip hop lyrics together is a mistake. Some of the most widely censored
of the hip hop music lyrics have been those by the most popular
artists such as Eminem and Tupac
Shakur, with sales of over 80 million records each. Unfortunately,
Tupac or 2Pac as he is sometimes called, was killed in a shooting
in 1996, but his music lives on and sales continue to be strong
more than 10 years after his death.
Hip hop lyrics have been likened to what rock music lyrics used
to be and in some cases have taken the place of rock and folk songs
within the culture. Offending the governing establishment and giving
voice to those who have had so little voice in our culture, hip
hop music lyrics have been a way to shake things up, get people
debating and reinvigorate the music industry and culture. And, that
can't be all bad, now can it?