Analyzing writing styles in mainstream Hip Hop

by on Sun, 04/08/2012 at 6:09pm ET Comments

So, I recently came up with a theory about the current writing style in majority of mainstream Hip Hop. This was derived from the fact that I’m currently enrolled into a Mythology and Folklore course, since it’s required to obtain my degree in English, which causes me to automatically compare it to one of two things: boxing or Hip Hop. When learning about different writing styles I automatically take what I have learned and apply it to analyzing the writing in my favorite Hip Hop joints in order to grasp what I have learned better.

Anyway, while learning about the paratactic writing style, I automatically thought of the current music that’s glorified in today’s mainstream. According to dictionary.com, paratactic is: “the placing together of sentences, clauses, or phrases without a conjunctive word or words.” Homer’s, Iliad, used this writing format. Okay, so now that you understand what it is, I will continue by letting you know that this writing style is not very common today, or so I thought.

When I began to think about paratactic form, I was asking myself how I truly felt about this writing style. I asked myself whether or not I felt it should be a writing style to praise. Then, I began to compare it to Hip Hop, like I usually do, and decided I was against it. Let me explain why.

I realized that nowadays I have a big problem with rappers like Lil Wayne who make no sense when trying to share their thoughts in their bars, almost like he never finishes his thoughts. Anyway, I began to realize that what was actually taking place was that these rappers were using paratactic form.

Many mythological stories were originally written in paratactic form in order to keep the listeners engaged during longer stories, instead of using the syntactic form which would ultimately make stories longer, more detailed, and harder to keep a crowd entertained. Especially since paratactic form was mainly used for oral myths. With that in mind, think about how using paratactic form in your music might benefit you if your intentions aren’t necessarily to be understood, but instead to entertain. Paratactic form is a bit harder to comprehend because it doesn’t always connect thoughts together. It’s more sporadic and tends to jump from thought to thought without tying the thoughts together. That’s the case with a lot of rappers in today’s mainstream music. Many of them don’t successfully connect their thoughts to each other in their bars. Instead they jump from thought to thought. In my opinion, paratactic form isn’t used much in today’s poetry for a reason. Many of today’s poetry fans are more inclined to comprehend what the writer is attempting to convey, rather than being entertained.

Now, do I believe that many of these rappers know they’re using the paratactic form? No, I don’t. Either way, I don’t approve. I feel, since this writing style was originated with poetry but eventually became nearly extinct, it suggests that it is no longer commonly used for a reason. Since it’s no longer generally practiced in poetry, I think this proves that these mainstream rappers using the paratactic form are actually showing that the writing process in today’s Hip Hop mainstream has regressed instead of progressing, especially since Hip Hop, in my opinion, is supposed to be a form of poetry. How is it that majority of today’s poetry is in syntactic form, and a lot of the mainstream Hip Hop (something that’s supposed to be a form of poetry) today is using paratactic, a form that hasn’t been used in hundreds of years? Does this not show that your writing style isn’t progressing?

My suggestion is: Please, get with the program. Don’t be afraid to exemplify skill instead of attempting to entertain. Paratactic was mainly used to tell long oral myths to audiences who were already familiar with the story about to be told. I want to see skill, and with skill I am entertained.

Now that I have explained my theory, what do you guys think? Do you agree? Or do you feel some type of appreciation for this writing style?

Whether we agree or not, one thing is for sure. We shouldn’t go easy on these rappers. This was once considered an art form. We shouldn’t let them get away with making a living off making a mockery of it. One should truly make an effort to analyze their lyrics and what’s being said.

- Lils

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Kassandra Collado
Kassandra Collado
Coolest Redhead, Superhero, Disney Fanatic, Entertainment/Movie Marketing Intern, & Aspiring Entrepreneur. Founder of Womazing.com

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