Musical Characteristcs of Rap
Hip-hop culture, once confined to the streets has broken into the commercial realm with force. Hip hop records top the charts week after week, rap videos have taken control of MTV, BET and the BOX, and there are dozens of hip hop magazines on the newsstands. A stroll on any city street in the United States reveals the proliferation of hip-hop styled apparel. The culture itself had much humbler beginnings, however. On the street corners and in the parks, young men and women battled through freestyle rhymes and dance moves. Whatever the time period, and whoever he MC may have been, Rap has incorporated, and included several of the "classical" musical characteristics present in most western music today. These characteristics have influenced the popularity of this genre from coast to coast; as well as, giving the music a chance to penetrate into the homes of a vast array of people (White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc.). When one is referring to certain musical characteristics, pitch, dynamics, timbre, rhythm, melody, harmony, key, texture, form, and various others are usually mentioned. It is fascinating to see how many of these characteristics are present in the hip-hop culture, more specifically in rap music.
One of the most moving characteristics of rap music is rhythm. Rhythm deals with sound in time, long and short sounds combined to create a well-balanced rhythmical effect (Stewart, 1998). Rhythm includes aspects such as beat, which is simply a division of a measure marked by a beat; meter, which is a grouping of beats; accent, which is a stress on a beat; and tempo, which determines how fast or slow the selection moves. An artist that really accentuates his usage of accents is Busta Rhymes, he tends to put a stress at the beginning of each stanza which adds to the impact of his lyrics. Tempo is used to quite abundantly, and is used by most artists in this industry. For, there are several artists that rap fast on a slow beat, while other rap slow on a fast beat. In addition, all of these components are to provide the listener with variety. Large portions of mainstream artists use this feature of rhythm as their root to success. In a world where sampling previous beats and vocals have become an everyday occurrence, finding an appealing, original rhythm may prove to be the ice breaker between a hit song and a "flop." Timberland and the Neptunes are very popular when it comes to making a hit song due to their original and sense provoking "beats" (beats, are the most common, misused, term for what rhythm actually encompasses). They have managed to move away from the repetitive sounds that the hip-hop audience has longed to have a release from. Moreover, this is most likely why their rhythms have become as popular as they are today.
Sound refers to aspects such as pitch, tone, timbre, dynamics, and several others. This aspect is...