This paper interrogates the linguistic grounding of battle rap in Afro-based cultural practices, and the transformative power the understated art form possesses within the African American community. An integral part of hip-hop from the beginning, 'battling' has grown into a distinct subculture in recent years. Because of its oft-unmitigated rawness, it is often viewed as a lesser artistic form that embodies the worst of the violence, misogyny and other societal ills that hip-hop is accused of promoting. This paper argues that battle rap is not a corruption of Black culture: it is the modern incarnation of long-held oral, competitive, and communal traditions that can be traced throughout the African American experience and, in many cases, to Africa. Understanding the deep-rooted cultural significance of battle rap allows it to be recognized for its nuanced intricacies, as well as its didactic and restorative potential within our communities.
© The Journal
"Bigger By the Dozens: The Prevalence of Afro-Based Tradition in Battle Rap,"
Journal of Hip Hop Studies: Vol. 3
, Article 10.
Available at: https://scholarscompass.vcu.edu/jhhs/vol3/iss1/10