African American Rap Culture as a Metamorphosis of Orality in Black Literature

Aminu Segun, Rufus Giwa Polytechnic in Owo, Nigeria;           Abstract: Rap music is a derivative of the oral forms of literature, which is man’s original medium of self-expression and artistic creativity. Rap music (Rhythm and Blues) is a highly prolific component of a popular culture, which has served as a means of expressing the plight of the black man in a predominantly prejudicial white society. Prior to the advent of written culture, orality was to a very large extent, the main mode of transmitting information and passing down history and legends from one generation to another. This work takes a critical look of the rap music of some black artists and their exploitations of the medium of orality in the United States. A critical look at the works of these rap icons such as grandmaster flash and furious five’s “The Message”, Amiri Baraka’s “Dope”, Naz’s “I can”, 2Pac’s “Trapped”, 2 live crew’s “In the Dust” and others, show that they are more of chronicles of the various happenings in recent times without any recourse to their glorious source, which is oral literature. This no doubt has adverse effects on the quality and richness of music. This study therefore traces rap music back to oral literature with a view to repositioning it by linking it to its roots.

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