Is Rap Poetry?

Is rap poetry?

This question has been on my mind for a while now. It all started a fortnight ago when a couple of my friends who incidentally were rappers and I engaged in some form of argument/discussion. They were of the opinion that their art was poetry in motion. I begged to differ then but lacked credible evidence to back my claims. I still lack evidence hence this post and I’m hoping someone somewhere could shed some light on the topic at hand.

I would love to ask some basic questions; Mayowa, Lanre and Chris; I hope you’re reading this.

If rap is poetry like you say;

Would you term Eminem a world renowned poet?

Or would you describe our very own M.I.,Olamide and Ice Prince *holds laugh* as poetry masterminds seeing they have mastered the art of rap as regards the Nigerian audience?

Is poetry all about the wordplay or a few ‘deep’ lines or is it much more than that?

I’m of the opinion that poetry is way ‘way’ deeper than rap. So I tried to answer some of the questions myself and scribbled some sort of poetry/rap in my journal. To my understanding, I will just describe it as wordplay. You tell me what you think. Is this poetry or rap?

It’s titled ‘Dear Fiend’;

If it takes you years to decipher simple logic

Months to pinpoint what truly matters

Then maybe I should rethink my steps

And hurry off in the direction of safety

A world of utmost solitude

Protection from you

You probably dont understand

This might seem as mysterious as the sprinkling of his blood

But his Word I truly believe in

Skimmed it from the beginning to his Revelations

And it says I should be wary of vultures like you

And the folks you share a feather with.

Where I’m heading is unknown for now

A descendant of Abraham I’ve suddenly become

All his traits I’m bound to inherit

So I won’t let you poison my lot in life

Least I fall prey to the wrath of Sodom

And my bae becomes but a memory of salt and vinegar.

Rap? Poetry? You tell me!

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Is Rap Poetry?

  1. Its not just about the words, its also about they ways they are organised. Calling Jesse Jags a poet makes me cringe but that’s what he is. There are great poets and there are crappy ones. I got this question on my mind, though. What makes one a poet?

    Like

  2. In some ways, yes they’re same. The reason I think most would disagree is when they are viewed in the areas of depth and rhyme.

    I’m not very versed in literature, but from stuffs I’ve read I think poetry is majorly characterised by depth—deep contents, messages encoded in figuratives, etc.—and sometimes toned with rhymes. Rap however (I don’t dig much of rap either), mostly focuses on rhymes, and sometimes messages which aren’t too deep. I think most raps today are plain rhymes and silly talks.

    So, in my opinion, before I can say a solid yes, the rap must satisfy both conditions—rhyme and depth I mean—or at least have more of the latter. A combo of the two makes much sense.

    Just what I think.

    Like

    • You’ve said it all sir!

      Its quite sad when you remember rappers of old and their deep lyrics and compare them to the wacky things we see on TV these days..

      Thank you Joseph for your comment… I really appreciate it.

      Like

  3. Well, rap is peotry…only now put within the confines of rhythm…or a beat. And I agree with Joseph, we have bad painters, bad artists and of course bad poets. Yes, many rap pieces are not that deep. That’s cos the rappers dont pay much attention to the depth of their pieces. They mostly focus on rhythm. I’m not into rap but the lines of a few pieces caught me. One of em is MI’s Ashes. Try reading the lyrics. Its plain poetry.

    Like

  4. In some ways, yes they are the same. The reason I think most would disagree is when they are viewed in the areas of depth and rhyme.

    I’m not very versed in literature, but from stuffs I’ve read I think poetry is mainly characterised by depth—deep contents, messages encoded in figuratives, etc.—and sometimes toned with rhymes, inter alia. Rap however (I don’t dig much of rap either), mostly focuses on rhymes, and sometimes messages which aren’t too deep. I think most raps today are plain rhymes and silly talks.

    So, in my opinion, before I can give a solid YES, the rap must satisfy both conditions—rhyme and depth I mean—or at least have more of the latter. A combo of the two makes much sense though.

    Just what I think.

    Like

  5. I believe it is,and like almost everyone here has said,there are wack rappers just as there are wack poets. And the only difference between rap and poetry is the rhythm that comes with rap,which is why you can’t call eminem as world class poet for example. But imagine you give eminem a lovely poem to render and he delivers it with rap-like rhythm,does the piece stop being a poem then? I don’t think so!

    Like

  6. I’ve always believed that it is and my belief is anchored on the extensive study that I did on the rap greats like 2pac, Nas, Kanye even Eminem and contemporary rappers like Jermaine Cole and Kendrick Lamar. These rappers tell fictional and factional stories in the most creative lines imaginable and their lyrics are most often than not replete with solid wordplays, end rhymes and enjambments that are requisite features of good poetry. A large proportion of modern rappers dont fill this bill though. Yes. Rap is Poetry. Need I say more?

    Like

  7. Rap is not poetry, Eminem not a renowned poet (God forbid!) But Literature is dynamic and it is not uncommon to see over-laps. You can make a rap from a poem and vice versa. A rapper is not a poet as much as a screen writer is not a novelist, but you may make a film out of a novel (vice versa, that is if water goes uphill).

    This things are political. You see, I study literature and I tell you literature can be patronising, and discriminating. Rap, hip hop, blues and the rest of them are tagged Popular Literature (and some define this as inferior Literature). So no matter the rhythm of M.I’s rap it is still a rap.

    Novelists Grisham sometimes write novels on social commentary but he will forever be addressed as a genre writer. If Toni Morrison takes one of Grisham manuscript and publish it as hers, it will automatically be termed real Literature. This is silly. It is not right, it’s just the politics of Literature. So even if Soyinka writes a poem fo Ice Prince to rap as long as it is rapped we will (dare not) call it poetry!

    Like

  8. I think it all depends on your definition, and like everything else in this world it has been abused. Some defined rap as ‘rhythm and poetry’; that would be very much on point in some rappers catalogs while not so much in some others.

    Like

  9. It seems nobody knows that RAP is Rhythmically Applied Poetry. When written on paper, You’ll see It’s form and appearance is Poetic. When you hear it as a song, with rhythm and beats, it becomes Rap. For instance, BOB’s last album featured Morgan Freeman reading some lines on the first track. The poetry was svelte, the beat was minimal So we could hear What He was saying. (The track is Bombs Away btw ) When BOB started rapping, d beat went all the way up and it became a rap song.

    Also, I’ve seen videos of Kanye West on some Spoken Word stages delivering poems. Without the beat, It’s just a poem. Turn up the beat and it becomes Rap.

    The rhythm makes the difference! The distinction! Rhythmically Applied Poetry!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s