Rap music embodies the hip-hop genre and forms its primary foundation.  Where did rap music come from? This genre originated from working-class street gangs and is considered a mainstay of African American culture.

Indeed considered a grassroots musical genre that originated from working-class neighborhoods, the genre is shrouded in mystique and false stereotypes, making artists wary of jumping into the rapping scene.

However, as the rapping scene reaches newfound mainstream success, thanks to rappers like Eminem, it has proven that music does not discriminate on ancestry or background and always leans towards talent.

That doesn't mean that musicians should appropriate the musical style without respecting the genre's background.

Some musicians may also incorporate this aspect into their music, as Eminem does by referencing his race, allowing white music buyers to relate to him.

Rap music has moved away from being an exclusively African American genre.

It is even being depicted in movies and TV shows, making it easier for rappers from around the globe to achieve acclaim in this genre and do away with the racial barriers surrounding it before.

A man in a baseball cap, wearing large earphones
Where did rap music come from? It suddenly came into the scene in the late 1970s and 1980s in the African American neighborhoods. It was then adapted into different styles as new artists emerged. (Source: Pixabay)
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What Is The Structure Of Rap?

How did rap music originate? Who invented rapping without a clear-cut structure to it? Well turns out; rapping does have a basic system of sorts.

Rap music makes use of rhyme and complex rhythmic patterns.

When musicians sit down to write a rap, there are many things they must take into account to ensure their rap verses fit the bill and come across as aesthetically pleasing.

One of the fundamental aspects of this is the rhythmic devices and time signatures, which keep the prosody natural.

Rap songs usually utilize four beats in a bar and follow a four-bar phrase. The introduction involves instrumental beats, often interspersed with the rapper freestyling.

The rapper follows the rhythm and the base structure closely during the verse, giving a sense of rhythm change at the start of every rep.

After a certain number of reps, the rapper ends the verse and leads into the chorus. The chorus will lead into the next verse and so on until the outro.

The outro segment often repeats the intro instrumental beats as the music fades out. The rapper can make closing expressions during this segment.

A DJ in a club
The art of rap is too diverse to categorize into one musical style, including hip-hop and contemporary musical elements. It is now also adapted into most pop songs, making it a pretty versatile genre. (Source: Pixabay)

Inspiration Behind The Rhythm

A basic approach to rhyming is to make the last word of each sentence sound similar. Thus, a single statement ends at the length of a bar, giving four rhyming words in each rep.

This is an excellent way to start incorporating simple rhythms, but it should not be overused in serious raps, or you risk making the rap sound too repetitive and dull.

The rhyming structure is essential, but once you've mastered this aspect, you can even incorporate midway rhymes into your verse or add half-rhymes and alliteration while playing on different lyrical possibilities.

The subject of rap is just as important as the rhythm and the beat. The best rap sons make a strong statement about an event or the views of a character.

Controversy has always surrounded rap, often due to the lyrics, so the genre is often seen through a negative lens. However, controversy sells, and the notoriety of rap has helped it earn appeal among the youth.

All art forms rely on inspiration, and rap is no exception. However, every rapper has to be creative, and you cannot make it big by merely copying Jay-Z.

The question that comes to mind now is: who invented rap music if there was no template to go off of? Well, it all started through experimentation of spoken verse.

Like a practicing guitarist will learn the trade by recreating classics such as Smoke On The Water, most rappers will start with taking inspiration from popular rhymes from their favorite artists.

With time, they can start branching off with their verses once they understand the rhythm and structure of the rhymes.

Rap music has come a long way from its elemental form in the early 1980s and branched off into many different sub-genres.

The actual innovator has not yet been named; thus, it still remains a debate on who actually invented this genre.

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The Rap Community

Gangster rap took off in the early 1990s with NWA's rap group, who were infamous for their violent and graphic lyrics.

They frequently referenced drug consumption and sexual practices, leaving them unsuitable for public consumption on the radio.

Fans of this genre preferred this style for its grittiness and honesty. Additionally, the lyrical subject matter relates to the working-class inner-city neighborhoods where these rappers grew up.

Some researchers have blamed rap for increasing crime, but that remains a chicken-and-egg conundrum as to whether rap reflects the dystopian life of ghettos or adds to the criminal aspects.

But that isn't to say that rap music isn't directly a product of the ghettos where it originated. Many rappers, such as Tupac Shakur, have fallen victim to gun-related violence and become icons within the rap community.

It can be hard to completely separate rap from gangster life, and many rappers who have sung the top rap songs ever have served jail time, but that does not take away from rap music's mass appeal.

Other rappers have chosen to take different, more mainstream paths. One famous rapper, Will Smith, crossed over into acting and inculcated a mainstream audience base instead of a niche fandom within the rap community.

Well, how did rap music start? It started from freestyle rap. Freestyling is another vital aspect of the rap genre and involves impromptu rapping without any preparation, an ode to the primary form of this genre.

Most people do not consider freestyling a legit rap device, but it is still a popular form similar to beatboxing. It is pretty challenging to do and requires practice and experience.

Finding inspiration can be challenging, and it helps if you have prior experience in rapping to come up with rhymes right away.

A man in black attire and a baseball cap looking at the camera
How did rap music start? It started from the working-class neighborhoods where rap is considered a form of creative expression. Most raps directly spoke of the struggles people face living in such circumstances. (Source: Pixabay)

Instrumental Observations

Rap music is styled four to four times and relies on a four-bar sequence, providing a sturdy base for the background the artist raps.

Although it doesn't require melody, the rap depends on rhythm rather than tune, so a vague theme is still a good idea.

The more experienced rappers adjust their raps based on the rhythm of the backing track, which points to the fact that the instrumental portion should be composed before the rap.

It is easier to latch onto a repeated rhythm than a composer compiling the instrumental part without the rhythmic base of the rap verse.

Communication between the artist and the composer is essential to reach a compromise between rhythm and structure.

The rap chorus generally uses a four-bar phrase, including the rhythmic foundations, chord progressions, bass parts, and other elements.

Combined, it gives a powerful impression with more depth in the background and instrumentals in the foreground.

Memorable melodies are often used in rap songs, although instrumental pieces also go well if the rap is simple with a repetitive rhyme or a spoken chorus.

Otherwise, it can sound like the rapper has run out of things to say before the chorus begins. So instead, the hook explains the song's point in as simple a way as possible.

The best rappers know that it's essential to keep their audiences guessing and incorporate an element of surprise in their song.

The song's best moments often come from the unexpected pauses or short verses in the instrumental part.

Finding Avenues To Learn Rap

Rapping is too diverse an art to explain in such a short piece. However, it extends beyond the stereotypical clichés around the genre, and these few pointers are just a beginning to this diverse music form.

As you acquaint yourself with the genre, you will start experimenting and discovering your own style, allowing your individuality to shine through.

Avoid relying too much on what you hear in rap songs, and do not repeat the same context in your lyrics to keep your rap pieces fresh.

If you wish to take your rap to the next level, you must bring your own individuality and creativity into the mix.

Consider rappers the poets of the new century and continue exploring, whether on your own or through guided training.

If you're on the lookout for avenues to learn rap, Superprof has got you covered. So sign up with us and explore the best rapping coaches in your area.

Set up a meeting and decide how you want to learn the art of rap!

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Ian