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#Hashtag rap: a summary
December 24, 2010 2:40 PM   Subscribe

(I've seen the term floating around for a bit, so I figured I'd write up a quick summary. My apologies if its too dumbed down; just trying not to leave anyone behind! Please note, most links NSFW due to language.) Hashtag rap, previously also known as yoda raps (noun, not verb), was officially coined by Kanye West on Funkmaster Flex's HOT97 radio show on November 2. The term--a nod to the way online posts are tagged (especially on Twitter, which Mr. West is a noted user of) using hash symbols in order to categorize the post's content--refers to the recent rise in rap lines which drop the usage of "like" and "as", and instead substituting those words with a pregnant pause (which is sometimes dispensed with), thus truncating what is normally a simile or metaphor into a sort of short setup followed by a (hopefully) funny punchline.

Drake is acknowledged as the leading figure in the current popularization of this style. For example:
"Swimming in the money, come and find me -- Nemo/ If I was at the club, you know I balled -- Chemo” from Forever
“Two thumbs up -- Ebert and Roper” from Over
“I could teach you how to speak my language -- Rosetta Stone.” from Over
Many others have utilized hashtag rap methods in songs that predate Drake's usage (Kanye himself rapped "Here's another hit... BARRY BONDS" on his 2007 album) but there's no argument that it's been Drake's success and those of his labelmates on Young Money like Nicki Minaj and Lil' Wayne that have spurred its current ubiquity.

Claims have been made that Cam'ron and his group Dipset were the first major practitioners, but Drake traces its lineage to Big Sean, whose song Supa Dupa is a nonstop hastag fest. Lines include:
Used to the bottom - scuba / So I'm on the grind - skateboard or scoota, / 'Till I am the king of my castle - Koopa,
...
Dawg i took a shot in the dark in an industry of sharks / That's surrounded by water - Cuba,
...
Dawg, in the ninth inning / We're just trying to hit a homer - Marge / Comprende? Hard - al dente
...
A problem too big? Trig
See also his song Lemonade for this incredible run of lines:
Worry bout my n*s they're good, Marshall / Bank account got me feelin well, Fargo, / Ballin 'till I get a milla-check, Darco / I just give em line afta line, afta line afta... Afta line, afta line, Bar codes.
The issue some have with hashtag rap is that it's allowed less enterprising rappers write fairly uninnovative rhymes. In fact, Drake himself has denounced the movement, saying:
a bunch of rappers started doing it and using the most terrible references in the world. I don’t want to offend somebody…I hate that rappers picked that flow up. I wish they had left that for people that know how to use it. [They go like] "It’s a parade! MACY’S!"
The rapper of the Macy's line? None other than rap star Ludacris, whose recent song My Chick Bad has earned special ridicule for its usage of hashtag rap, including the egregious line "I blow her up... BALLOOOOONS," which may or may not be a parody of the genre depending on how one interprets Luda's delivery.

Nicki Minaj has also earned notable derision for her usage of hashtag rap, with lines like "Hang it up... Flatscreen... Plasma" and "I’ll kick that hoe, punt."

Other notable examples:
Joe Budden: "Son, I’m a always shine, yellow / Think I’m about to get up on that? HELL NO / Long as shorty keep my tip hard, shell toe / Certain I’m a stick to the script, velcro."
Lil Wayne: "But ya'll cant see me....... ...... Ray Charles"
Rick Ross: "We doin' it big, it's goin' down...9/11."

Other sources:
http://www.treazyradioshow.com/boards/showthread.php?46732-I-love-the-term-hashtag-rap.
http://community.allhiphop.com/showthread.php?85272-The-Official-Hashtag-Rap-Unappreciation-Thread
posted by jng (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
I just assumed the ":" and the "::" were silent.
posted by fuq at 2:46 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm only favoriting this because it allows me to name something I hate.

And if I can name it, I can curse it. Khaaaaaaaaan!
posted by yeloson at 2:48 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


This seems like a minor grammatical aberration to have its own name even if has become a trend. I don't think I ever would have noticed had it not been named.
posted by cmoj at 2:59 PM on December 24, 2010


the recent rise in rap lines which drop the usage of "like" and "as", and instead substituting those words with a pregnant pause (which is sometimes dispensed with), thus truncating what is normally a simile or metaphor into a sort of short setup followed by a (hopefully) funny punchline

Similes use like or as. Metaphors don't. Just sayin'.

Furthermore, the replacement of those words with a comma when transcribing lyrics is improper; more suitable alternatives might include a colon, an em-dash, some parentheses, or, y'know, an octothorp.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:00 PM on December 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Nicki Minaj is awesome, tho. Her rap in bottoms up is a tour de force, tho I think it only does the hash tag thing once (do you like my body? Anna Nikki)
posted by empath at 3:04 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


…or ellipsis.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:05 PM on December 24, 2010


Ack, that's embarrassing! Thought I edited out the metaphor part. Shows what you get for cribbing off the internet. Thanks for pointing out.
posted by jng at 3:06 PM on December 24, 2010


And Darco should be Darko (facepalm since I'm a huge basketball fan...)
posted by jng at 3:09 PM on December 24, 2010


Colon Rap just doesn't sound right.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:12 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Like!
posted by k8t at 3:15 PM on December 24, 2010


Colon Rap sounds perfectly fitting to me.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:26 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Coming soon: liporap--rap songs that are also lipograms. You know you want it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 3:29 PM on December 24, 2010


@Rap #justamatteroftime
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:48 PM on December 24, 2010


Maybe it's just me, but "Supa Dupa" sounds, in parts, like it's just a string of words with pauses in between. It starts to lose its form as rap and gains a sort of stream-of-consciousness beauty to it. But I don't imagine that's what the rapper intended at all.
posted by LSK at 3:57 PM on December 24, 2010


So the relationship between grammatically incomplete similes and Twitter hashtags is... what, again?
posted by Dysk at 3:58 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Palindrap -- a rap that reads the same forwards as backward.
Onomatopoerap -- a rap that simulates a sound.

We can do this all night.
posted by axiom at 4:09 PM on December 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


.So the relationship between grammatically incomplete similes and Twitter hashtags is... what, again?

They're not grammatically incomplete, they're just a new form of word play. The relationship to hashtags is... well I guess just read a random tweet with a hashtag out loud:

"You know you're infringing on my right to celebrate new holidays! #Festivus"
posted by empath at 4:28 PM on December 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


That was a little joke #voila,
Praise is due to the most high #Allah,
Praise is due to the most fly #Prada
posted by rusty at 4:52 PM on December 24, 2010 [10 favorites]


Thanks for tracing out the history of this silly trend. I've noticed it, and seen it discussed by folks, but never found out where it started. It's a gimmick that works once in a while, but gets played out so quickly that it's embarrassing for people who pick up the trend now.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:14 PM on December 24, 2010


Rap I understand, Twitter I don't, so I appreciate the explanation.
posted by Danila at 5:16 PM on December 24, 2010


Deprecated SAT Analogy Rap, Y'all!

Twitter : Hashtag Rap :: MeFi : What the crap?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:34 PM on December 24, 2010


#based
posted by First Post at 5:47 PM on December 24, 2010


I think rappers just needed to start putting that pause in so they could breathe.
posted by orme at 6:54 PM on December 24, 2010


Every time I hear the pause, I cross my fingers and hope it means they've finally run out of inane shit to say and will now Just. Shut. Up.

But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO....
posted by OneMonkeysUncle at 10:48 PM on December 24, 2010


The first time I noticed this was on a Kayne verse on some song during I think summer '08? The bit in question was:

"Now it's bad, real bad / Michael Jackson
Now I'm mad, real mad / Joe Jackson"

Anybody remember what that song was? Irritating listeners like me was probably part of the point, but I'm glad this flow/style is getting the kind of mainstream attention that will hopefully destroy it in short order - twas fun for a few months but it's time to turn the page.
posted by chaff at 1:19 AM on December 25, 2010


is it just my perception or does this type of rap usually suck so much
posted by flyinghamster at 2:22 AM on December 25, 2010


It's a gimmick that works once in a while, but gets played out so quickly that it's embarrassing for people who pick up the trend now.

You have just encapsulated how I feel about rap in general lately. When entire conversations are revolving around where you stick an unexpected pause, I think it's time to acknowledge that the horse is dead and move on to something new already.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:29 AM on December 25, 2010


Yeah god knows nobody talk about the theory and practice behind making art. Everyone should just work in isolation and never talk to their peers about technique.
posted by empath at 7:21 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Back in the '90s, there were a lot of rappers, especially in the true-school/underground/backpacker/whatever area, who packed rhymes with similes and used 'like' in almost every line (Wordsworth jokes about this in a High and Mighty remix: 'You can't write without using 'like'/ What are you, some sort of valley girl?')--you can hear a lot of this style in Wayne's early mixtapes and stuff too.

Dipset isn't getting nearly enough credit for pioneering the hashtag thing, but, just like with a lot of things, the acclaim doesn't go to the folks who innovated but to the folks who popularized. (And, of course, the guy who gave it a misleading name.)

I'm not mad at it--pauses are another way to play with meter and wordsound, areas where a lot of popular rappers are lacking. And as somebody else noted, it's also a concession to breath control, which is important for these heavy-smoking young emcees. 'Like' had a good run, but now fashion's swinging in another direction. There will still be plenty of simile-based rhymes and rhymers, just like dudes still wear brown Timbs, but it's not the style of the time.
posted by box at 8:07 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh come on, empath...if this was a bunch of Thomas Kincade knockoff artists debating some new method to get their paintings village lights looking even more Christmas-y, I suppose to some that would be a serious "talk about the theory and practice behind making art", too. But that wouldn't make the style fresh again, would it?

I was a big fan of rap for a long time, but I can count on one hand the real innovations artists have brought to the genre in recent years. Maybe I'm in the minority on this but I would barely call this gimmick evolutionary, much less revolutionary.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:23 AM on December 25, 2010


Who was calling it revolutionary? It's a thing that's being done. It has uses, and they're talking about when it's best used. And so are you. The fact that they're talking about it isn't an indication of anything besides that fact that artists talk to other artists (and their fans) about technique.
posted by empath at 10:20 AM on December 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


And, as much as I think Kincade's stuff sucks, it's still art, and if he wants to talk about how to get that stupid glow-y effect with other painters, he would be an artist talking about the theory and practice behind making art.
posted by empath at 10:22 AM on December 25, 2010


The Electric Company got there first.
posted by Existential Dread at 11:51 AM on December 25, 2010


One thing I like to point out in these types of conversations about rap. There has been no time in the history of the artform in which most of the rappers weren't a bunch of unoriginal hacks.

And Dipset's ability to string together seemingly random nonsense words and concepts was so absurd that they deserve their own category... Palin-rap.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:28 PM on December 25, 2010


Most practitioners of every artform are unoriginal hacks.
posted by empath at 1:37 PM on December 25, 2010


Pigs are comin down on my gangsta stash

When they caught me with the weed, and the dope and #
posted by fuq at 8:25 AM on December 26, 2010


Yep, that's how I pronounce that symbol too. I was confused partly because of that, and partly because I've never seen hashtags used in the way this rap style is supposed to imitate...
posted by Dysk at 11:39 AM on December 26, 2010


I don't think it was intended to imitate twitter. Kanye just saw a similarity.

Speaking of similarities:

APRIL is the cruellest month, #breeding  
Lilacs out of the dead land, #mixing  
Memory and desire, #stirring  
Dull roots with spring rain.  
Winter kept us warm, #covering          Earth in forgetful snow, #feeding  
A little life with dried tubers.
posted by empath at 1:50 PM on December 26, 2010


chaff, the "This is bad, real bad, Michael Jackson" lines were from Kanye's verse on Keri Hilson's song Knock You Down (also featuring Ne-Yo), which was big in the summer of 2009,
posted by SoftRain at 4:50 PM on December 26, 2010


...Sorry that was meant to be a period, not a comma. The song was released before MJ died, just to be clear.

(Another Kanye example is from Good Life, the same album as "Barry Bonds." Kanye raps: "Y'all pop the trunk, I pop the hood, Ferrari" and also "And it's gotta be cause I'm seasoned/ Haters give me them salty looks, Lawry's".)
posted by SoftRain at 5:05 PM on December 26, 2010


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