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Is Rap Poetry? Essay

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Updated: Nov 6th, 2019


Poetry can be defined as a unique Art that is created and designed using sounds. Poetry as an Art uses sounds to create an expression of what is intended (Ntozake 1). Poetry has unique features that make it stand out as a form of Art. For example poems are popular for their application of rhyme, stress and meter (Ron 150). These features play a big role in enhancing sound patterns. The expression is thus brought out clearly when the poem is recited aloud (Randall 60). The question that arises is therefore whether the rap music is poetry.

Rap Is Poetry

Just like poetry, rap music uses sound to drive the intended message home. Rap artists play with their words to produce sounds that carry the intended message (Alan56). It is therefore evident that rap uses the same process as poetry to achieve its ultimate goal.

Stanzas and verses are other features that make rap to be classified as poetry. Rap music produces its sounds in beats in a line. These lines create a verse (Jace 2). This is the same case as in poetry. The physical appearances of both genres do not bring out any difference and this leads to conclusion that rap is poetry.

Poetry is associated with lyrics as in ‘lyric poetry’ of American poets (Timpane and Watts 20). Rap just like this poetry derive song lyrics from a renowned instrument called lyre that was used by poets of ancient times (Nelson 130). Rap as music has lyrics. This usually creates rhyme.

Rap is poetry as it is composed from happenings of day to day activities (McIver 219).This resembles poetry which depicts the literature and culture of people at a given period (Jimmy 478). Poetry is a language used to express a certain idea, this is similar to rap. It tells a lot about the age and culture of the people using the message it delivers (Bertice 12).

Rap Is Not Poetry

From linguistic point of view rap music is not poetry. This is because even though it looks like poetry, it takes the ill formed nature of poetry. That is, rappers usually manipulate their wordings to form a metrical pattern (Mel 43). In addition, if you take the other way round and read a poem containing blank verse will result to blank verse poetry and not a rap (Alonzo 602).

In order to create rhyme, the rap music keeps on repeating the same phrase (Perkins 1).This is especially in the mediocre rap music. Even in the so called good rap music the complex lyrics provides a single rhyme pattern which in most cases is intended to create emphasis (Language Arts Higher Standards 6).

Linguists also argue that rap does not use Standard language in terms of wording and sentence structure (Toni 3). For example they argue that Fifty Cent a rap artist pronounces ‘fifty’ as ‘fitty’. According to them ‘f’ cannot be substituted with a‘t’.


Rap music is poetry. This is because even the points argued against it such as the non- standard use of language in rap music do not hold water. Traditional poetry employed poetic devices which is non standard form of language. In summary, rap music is poetry and the opposition given lack viable support.

Works Cited

Ash, Mel. Beat Spirit: The Way of the Beat Writers as a Living Experience. Penguin, 1997.

Berry, Bertice. The Haunting of Hip Hop. Broadway Books, 2002.

Blackman, Toni. “The Influence of Rap on Spoken Word.” 2001. Web.

Clayton, Jace. “Hip-Hop’s Radical Roots.” 1999. Retrieved from

George, Nelson. Hip Hop America. Penguin, 1998.

James, Jimmy. “The History of Rap.” 2005. Web.

McIver, Denise L. Droppin’ Science: Straight-up Talk from Hip Hop’s Greatest Voices. Crown, 2002.Language Arts Higher Standards. New Haven Public Schools, 2002.

Light, Alan, ed. The Vibe History of Hip Hop. Three Rivers Press, 1999.

Padgett, Ron. Handbook of Poetic Forms. Teachers and Writers Collaborative, 1987.

Perkins, William Eric, ed. Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture. Temple University Press, 1995.

Randall, Dudley, ed. The Black Poets. Bantam, 1971.

Shange, Ntozake. Nappy Edges. St. Martin’s, 1978. 50-51.

John Timpane and Maureen Watts. Poetry for Dummies. Hungry Minds, 2001.

Westbrook, Alonzo T. Hip Hoptionary: The Dictionary of Hip Hop Terminology.Broadway Books, 2002.

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