Does Hip-Hop Have Its Own Language?


What is hip-hop? Is hip-hop defined by the artists who create music labeled Hip Hop or is it defined by the language associated with it? Well, in a recent article, it is arguable that there are certain words specifically correlated with hip-hop as well as connects the artists within the genre itself.

The data set itself is made up of 26 million words of the top 500 artists on the Billboard rap charts. The analysts began by searching for the most common words and then ranking their frequency within Hip Hop. After this, they started looking for unique words that are specifically pertinent to the genre and they constructed a chart that lists chopper as the most common word for the genre compared to other genres. Interestingly enough, a good portion of the chart is made up of slang words that aren’t a part of the English language such as gap, rep and trill. This brings up an interesting question that the article doesn’t necessarily pursue which is whether or not these words would have existed without the hip-hop culture surrounding them.

Philosophically speaking, hip-hop is like no other genre in the sense that it is highly centralized around the words it is made up of which is different compared to pop which is centralized around the catchiness of its rhythms. From the beginning, hip-hop has been an outlet for troubled teens across the nations as well as people in general who came up from a culture that was or is oppressive. In an article published in 2007 claims that hip-hop is changing the word as well as the world.

In this region, hip-hop language mixing simultaneously threatens the myopic plans of language policy-makers as it operates, at least for the present generation, as a positive and cohesive social force by taking a stand against racial inequalities and other forms of socioeconomic oppression.

Not only is hip-hop an emotional outlet, but this article talks about hip-hop as a tool for taking a stand against racial inequalities––that is to say that it is a form of using words as a weapon. Going back to my original question, what is hip-hop? I feel like hip-hop is defined by the words within it but it is also ever-changing in the same way that language is also ever-changing but hip-hop changes a long with it which could be an explanation as to why many common hip-hop words aren’t necessarily articulate vocabulary words but the slang is a linguistically representation of the growth of hip-hop.

Societally speaking, there are many hip-hop songs that are not meant to grow society as whole or take a stand on political issues, but in their own way they are questioning the status quo by saying whatever they’d like. Yes, they may be rapping about making money and sleeping with women, but they are pushing against societal standards and making people question those standards in the process which is in essence the original goal of hip-hop from the start. Therefore, the language of hip-hop could very well be the struggle  against the society we live in today.

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