Hip Hop Nation Language
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The Language of Hip Hop
Term paper for the PS
“The English Language in America”
SS 2006
handed in by
Sebastian Ludyga
Magdeburg, 25.09.2006
Table of contents
Introduction to hip hop
Hip Hop Nation Language
Features of the HHNL
The relationship of HHNL and AAL
Practical application
Gin And Juice
Drop It Like Its hot
Introduction to hip hop
To explain the language of hip hop its necessary
to know about its history. The author of XXX. Drei Jahrzehnte Hip- Hop (George 5) assumes that hip hop was really recognized for the first time during the 1970s. Its centre were block parties in New York City where DJs isolated drums and percussions to form a new kind of music named breakbeat. While breakdancers danced to this music some performers started speaking over it. They were called MCs and had the task to entertain the crowd as kind of a moderator. Later these performers started to rap. Alim describes it as “aesthetic placement of verbal rhymes over musical beats” (Rickford and Finegan 388). In 1979 the first hip hop songs were released by The Sugarhillgang and King Tim III. The beginning of the development of hip hop from 1970 to 1985 is known as the old school hip hop era. Hip hop was spread all over America and even foreign countries recognized the new music genre. The golden age hip hop era (1985 to 1993) was mainly characterized by the delimitation and rivalry of hip hop of the American East coast and the West Coast. G-funk was established as a new style and there was a rise of gangster rap because of social changes. Many performers grew up in the ghetto or were involved in criminal activities. It got another image and therefore since 1993 a style called hardcore hip hop began to develop. Today there are many underground genres characterizing the modern era. So one can assume that not only the image but also the language of performers changed during the eras. Nowadays the hip hop culture is very much connected to fashion. This linkage shows that hip hop can be considered as more than just music. Another important issue is that members of the hip hop culture mostly distinguish four major elements: MCing, DJing, breakdancing and writing (graffiti art). All of them can again be divided

in different parts or styles, e.g. MCing consists of Battle-Rap, Freestyle, Story-Telling and others. But although there are these elements the whole hip hop culture is characterized by changes influenced by its members or leaders.

In fact Afrika Bambaata adds overstanding as an other additional element in the past but nowadays its mostly not longer accepted or recognized. Because of social and political changes the original idea of hip hop is sometimes misinterpreted. So many aspects have a certain influence on the language of hip hop, e.g. the social background is very important. Many artists that are very famous now were involved in crime and rap was their opportunity to express their feelings in an own community, e.g. 50cent is rapping about his past and why he had to deal with drugs. Furthermore many artists claim that hip hop develops in the streets and that this became the centre of hip hop cultural activity. Because of the media nearly everybody can get access to the hip hop community now. That means many people now use the special features of hip hop language. Therefore Alim claims that language would perhaps be “the most useful means with which to read the various cultural activities of the Hip Hop Nation (HHN)” (Rickford and Finegan 389). In fact language is one of the more constant elements of hip hop although it is also changing over the time.

Hip Hop Nation Language
Concerning the development of nation language in Anglophone Caribbean
poetry, literary and music Kamau Braithwaite (qtd. in Rickford and Finegan 391) wrote: “Nation Language is the language which is influenced very strongly by the African model, the African aspect of our New World/Caribbean

heritage. [] in its contours, its rhythm and timbre, its sound explosions, it is not English.” So its very obvious that nearly all users of the HHNL grew up speaking African American English. Many people that are involved in the hip hop culture are Afroamerican although there are exceptions, e.g. Eminem who is a famous white rap artist. There is an interesting connection between African American English and the HHNL.

A lot of sounds are pronounced in the same way and the sentence structure seems to be quiet similar. The reason for considering it as a nation language and not as a dialect is that nation language can be African or English. Furthermore it is again Braithwaite describing an English one as “howl or a shout, or a machine gun or the wind or the wave” (qtd. in Rickford and Finegan 392). To my mind HHNL is also a process of developing and so it is very hard to fix some rules for the structure. Rap artists produce their rhymes by forming new words, changing their pronunciation or editing the limitation of the “standard” language. They decide individually what they change and there are no real rules they have to follow. This room that

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Hip Hop And Hip Hop Nation Language. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/hip-hop-and-hip-hop-nation-language-essay/