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Rapping (also known as emceeing,[1] MCing,[1] spitting (bars),[2] or just rhyming),[3] refers to "spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics".[4] The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is separated into “content”, “flow” (rhythm and rhyme), and “delivery”.[5] Rapping is distinct from spoken word poetry in that it is performed in time to a beat.[6][7]

Rapping is a primary ingredient in hip hop music & reggae, but the phenomenon predates hip hop culture by centuries. Rapping can be delivered over a beat or without accompaniment. Stylistically, rap occupies a gray area among speech, prose, poetry, and song. The use of the word to describe quick speech or repartee long predates the musical form,[8] meaning originally "to hit".[9] The word had been used in British English since the 16th century, and specifically meaning "to say" since the 18th. It was part of the African American dialect of English in the 1960s meaning "to converse", and very soon after that in its present usage as a term denoting the musical style.[10] Today, the terms "rap" and "rapping" are so closely associated with hip hop music that many use the terms interchangeably.


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