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Word Count: 3,136
Roughly fifteen years ago the initial rumblings of rap music were eminating from the streets of New York City Rap music is very much a product of its urbanized literacy-based environment as can be seen in the advanced technology necessary to produce the music Although the connection between rap music and its modern roots is impossible to ignore raps dependence upon high technology is often over-emphasized eclipsing any opportunity to connect rap culture to a time before the world of turntables and written lyrics Hip-hop music maintains distinct oral influences carrying traces of an oral tradition preceding the advanced literacy-based era from which the music emerged The world of literate technology that gave birth to rap music represents a threat to the maintenance of these traces making them increasingly difficult to discern The use of rhythm and repetition are highly characteristic of the semiotic sound-based exchanges within a purely oral culture Tricia Rose writes of the importance of rhythm in modern black tradition Raps primary force is sonic and the distinctive systematic use of rhythm and sound especially the use of repetition and musical breaks are part of a rich history of New World black traditions and practices Rose 64 Raps distinct sound has been repeatedly likened to tribal African music linking raps use of heavy percussion bass repeated loops and short staccato vocals to the instruments and chanting used in the pre-literate tribes But this common comparison almost always refers strictly to musical composition not the presence of orality Rap artists when producing lyrics to be recorded and mass-produced almost always work from a prepared text This reliance on text has often been grounds for the quick dismissal of possible connections
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