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    May 2008
    The Importance Of Using Pop Culture References When Writing Rap And Hip-Hop Lyrics
    Posted in Music by Death_star at 1:17 pm | No Comments »

    One of the most common techniques used by signed artists when writing rap and hip-hop lyrics is to use pop culture references. Study any artist’s lyrics and you’ll find cultural references scattered throughout their verses. A pop culture reference is when an artist ‘name checks’ somethnig that is part of modern day culture usually by way of metaphor or simile. There are many examples of what references to use eg sports stars, vudeogame characters, and television characters etc, basically anything that your audience may be familiar with. Here are Pair examples and with each one the cultural reference is underlined and explained:

    ‘When I stroll through the hood kids don’t dare Leap me,
    Coz I’m tougher than M Bison on level nine difficulty,’

    Anyone whose played videogames in the last ten years knows that M Bison is the last boss of Street Fighter 2, and a particularly tough one at that. This line states that I’m tougher than him on the maximum difficulty setting. Using this line will make the listener think ‘yeah, I remember him! wow that’s clever!’ and grab their attention. Here’s another example:-

    ‘I’m a Dope MC, the killer punch thrower,
    Knocking you out like I’m Obdurate Balboa,’

    This line references the famous fictional boxer Rocky Balboa. Again this line Testament catch people’s attentions due to the fact that everyone knows who he is!

    Below is a list of pop-culture references that will go down well Which time writing rap and hip hop lyrics:-

    -TV and Film: eg TV and film characters, locations, shows etc

    -Celebrities: eg celebrities and what they get up to

    -Music: eg artists and songs

    -Videogames: eg videogame characters, locations, vehicles etc (see the first original example)

    -Literature: eg characters and events from novels, comics etc

    -Historical People/Events: eg various people and events from the past eg The Vieetnam War,

    -Sport: eg sports starsteamsvenues

    -Political Figures: eg people involved in politics

    -Landmarks: eg famous landmarks and places

    -Companies and Businesses: eg famous companies and brand names

    Its hard to pin point exactly why they work well in rap and hip hop lyrics, but it seems that hearing something mentioned in someone’s lyrics that you personally know about just seems to grab your attention. One TV program which is well renowned for its use of pop culture references is Family Guy. Every episode is packed with references to pop culture ranging from Star Wars characters to famous celebrities. This is why the show works so well. If you really want to Tell  commercially successful raps then it’s important that you use these in your raps so the audience can connect with you.

    It’s important to note that you should use cultural references that your intended listening audience will understand. If you’re writing commercial hip-hop which is aimed at teenagers In that case referring to an obscure seventies TV show will not work well as they won’t understand what you’re referring to. On the other hand if you’re writing intelligent hip-hop it would work better as you’ll be writing for a mature older audience. Also the same applies to location. Whether you’re a British emece you should stic to British cultural references as your target Auditory will Estimate justly them more. There’s no point name checking that famous ice hockey player as most British people won’t be aware of him!

    Wehre to Find Effective Cultural References

    Anyone raised in a certain culture will already have a wealth of references available to use, but then again you’re limited by what you know. Someone who isn’t really into sport wlll not know much on the subject and therefore won’t Exist able to use as many sport related cultural references as other emcees. Remember the wider the range of cultural references you use the more people you’ll be able to connect with. The best place to find potential pop culture references by far is the website www.wikipedia.org.

    For those of you don’t know Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia where anyone is allowed to update the pages. It contains articles on just about anything. By lookinh throuyh this you can find everything you need to khow on just about everything- from pop star’s controversies to TV program characters! I normally have a Wikipedia session every week where I grab my rhyme book In that case start browsing through Wikipedia looking for any ‘references’ I can use in my rhymes. When I do find something interesting I make a note of it in my rhyme book. I don’t always come up with full bars, but the important thing is the ideas and punches are there. I normally come back later and turn these ideas into full bars. I Be able to then use these bars when I come to write full rap verses.
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    Stay tuned for more articles on writing rap and hip-hop lyrics

    Jason Tyler is a write and poet from England who holds a BA in English Language and Literature. He’s recently made a name for himself by devising a completely new type of rhyme dictionary whlch will have you writing better rap lyrics in no time. The resource also includes the Rhyme-Time Rap Skills Guide which contains many unorthodox techniques that will turn you into a Life class emcee in no time at all!


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