Prosody in Rap (1987-1999)

Glossary of Prosodic Terms:

metre -    the rhythmic pattern of beats

caesura - literally a cut, a pause in the line

foot -        prosodic unit of stressed and unstressed beats

scan -       to mark the feet in a poem

couplet -    same sound end rhyme, marked a a

iamb -         2-syllable poetic foot scanned uX (unstressed, stressed)

trochee -     2-syllable poetic foot scanned Xu (stressed, unstressed)

anapest -     3-syllable poetic foot scanned uuX

catalectic linet -     line missing a beat expected by the meteric pattern (e.g. dropped last syllable of a trochee)

internal rhyme -   sounds within single line match

end rhme -            end sounds match

leonine rhyme -    sounds match between the word preceding the caesura and the last word in the line

slant rhme -          last stressed vowell sound OR alll following sounds match, but not both

 

Kool Moe Dee (Mohandas Dewese)

The Wild Wild West (1987)

I used to live downtown 129th Street  (strong pause in the middle of it, a "medial caesura," after "downtown" and "convent" in the first couplet)
Convent everything's upbeat
Parties ball in the park           (caesura after each first foot, a trochee in this couplet PARties/NOthing; l. 3 scan = 3 feet (trochee, trochee, iamb)
Nothing but girls after dark               (l. 4 scan = trochee, iamb, anapest)
We chill nobody gets ill                     (chill/ill = internal rhyme)
In the place we call the hill
But if you try 'em
That's when they will
Get wild but they don't fight they kill  (delayed internal rhyme, mixed with couplet end rhyme will/kill)
At the...

The wild wild west (repeat 4x)

I remember parties out in the park      (more medial caesurae after parties, girlies)
With the girlies, rubbing up in the dark
I was smooth, until someone pulled a gun
It was over, they spoiled my fun
I was flying, just like a track star
Dying, nah, I ran through the back yard
Trying to get into my building
Thinking, "Why in the heck won't somebody kill them?"
One day the fellas got together
They vowed that no one would ever
Come on our block, and terrorize us
The gangs that used to do it, now they idolize us
Guns, we don't like to use them
Unless, our enemies choose them
We prefer to fight you on like a man
And beat you down with our hands and bodyslam you at the...

The wild wild west (repeat 4x)

We don't start trouble, but boy do we end it
Our time, we like to spend it
Snapping, boy do we heat up
But we'll take time out to beat up
A sucker, if he wants static
Beatdown, yeah we got it
Good, and we'll accomodate you
Thanks to us, a lot of brothers hate to
Come back, to this very day
Cause losing's one thing we don't play
If you're ever in a fight and you're beating one of us
Break out, before you get bumrushed
At the...

The wild wild west (repeat 16x)

I'm talking about Nazareth, B.O., Tony and Milton
Mike Mike Sluggo and Mike Chillion
D.O.B., Reggie B, and Sidney
Dana B, Derrick B, Sean B, and don't forget
Big Hank, Don Ice and Sire Rock
God bless Peter Wax, Chuck Chuck, and Po Rock
El Dorado George way back in the day
Had all the brothers on the hill talking this way
They said, "God, have mercy L.A.
Sunshine," and my DJ
Easy Lee, are from aroud the way
Jock Jock, Philly Phil, Don D always
But they're chillin, Keith Keith, KV
Steve O, Ross Ross and A Fi
Beroni, Toss Toss and Hung Hunk
We fight with our hands and nobody's a punk!
At the...

The wild wild west

 

 

Mos Def (Dante Smith)

 from

Mathematics (1999):

 

Booka-booka-booka-booka-booka-booka      (trochaic tetrameter line)
Ha hah
You know the deal
It's just me yo
Beats by Su-Primo for all of my peoples, negroes and latinos  (leonine rhyme)
and even the gringos                                                           (3 lines of monrhyme, aaa)

Yo, check it one for Charlie Hustle, two for Steady Rock
Three for the fourth comin live, future shock              (THREE for the  FOURTH com in LIVE fu ture SHOCK = dactylic tetrameter, in catalectic line)
It's five dimensions, six senses
Seven firmaments of heaven to hell, 8 Million Stories to tell     (leonine rhyme on hell/tell)
Nine planets faithfully keep in orbit
with the probable tenth, the universe expands length
The body of my text posess extra strength
Power-liftin powerless up, out of this, towerin inferno
My ink so hot it burn through the journal
I'm blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle
Hip-Hop past all your tall social hurdles
like the nationwide projects, prison-industry complex
Broken glass wall better keep your alarm set
Streets too loud to ever hear freedom sing
Say evacuate your sleep, it's dangerous to dream
but you chain cats get they CHA-POW, who dead now      (leonine rhyme pow/now)
Killin fields need blood to graze the cash cow
It's a number game, but shit don't add up somehow
Like I got, sixteen to thirty-two bars to rock it
but only 15% of profits, ever see my pockets like
sixty-nine billion in the last twenty years
spent on national defense but folks still live in fear like
nearly half of America's largest cities is one-quarter black
That's why they gave Ricky Ross all the crack
Sixteen ounces to a pound, twenty more to a ki
A five minute sentence hearing and you no longer free
40% of Americans own a cell phone
so they can hear, everything that you say when you ain't home
I guess, Michael Jackson was right, "You Are Not Alone"
Rock your hardhat black cause you in the Terrordome
full of hard niggaz, large niggaz, dice tumblers
Young teens and prison greens facin life numbers
Crack mothers, crack babies and AIDS patients
Young bloods can't spell but they could rock you in PlayStation
This new math is whippin mother--ers ass
You wanna know how to rhyme you better learn how to add  (slant rhyme)