Level: Various; Genre: Rap
(You’ll find a short vocabulary list at the bottom of this article containing the underlined words. If there are any other words you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask).
Today, I’m going to look at rap music and how you can sound like a native with rap music. Here are the things I’m going to look at:
- History of rap music
- Why does rap music make you sound like a native
- Songs to look out for
History of rap music
People have been listening to music since the 1970s. The origins of rap music are from the Bronx in New York City. It mainly came from the Afro-American community. Later on, though, other cultures influenced the rap scene for example Latinos and white people. Nowadays, there are different types of rap for example grime. Grime has been popularised in the UK, especially in London by artists like Stormzy and Dizzee Rascal.
All types of rap songs have one thing in common – they tell a story. Normally, the story is of the society the singer lives in.
Why does rap music make you sound like a native?
Rap music will help you sound like a native, because it will improve your listening skills. More importantly, though, it will help you improve your pronunciation of difficult words or phrases.
In rap music the words are not sung, but spoken. In many of the songs, the lyrics are clear to hear. Despite the clarity of the lyrics, most of the lyrics use irregular language. This could be shortened forms of words or slang phrases. Furthermore, the songs are spoken very fast, which will help you to sound more like a native.
Furthermore, the songs use a lot of rhyming words in them, making them easier to remember.
It is important to remember that rap music will take your English to the next level.
One of the most important things you should do is to read the lyrics before listening to the song and during the song. This way it is easier to understand them.
Here a simple guide on how to improve your listening skills.
Other Ideas that make you sound more like a native (Brit)
Songs to look out for
There are many different songs that you can use to make you sound like a native. I’ve chosen three songs. Each of the songs is good for a certain level. Let’s have a look:
1. It’s Like That – Run DMC; Level: Beginner
This song is relatively slow and repeats many different things. There are lots of idioms and vocabulary to do with suffering. Here is an example: “to make ends meet“. This means we do things to make sure we have enough money on the table. The whole song is a sort of protest about the situation people live. Other words are ‘disillusion‘. This means people are not happy with something. In this whole song, it tells about all the bad things in society. It could be classed as a protest song. Find out here about more protest songs.
Here are the lyrics to the song
2. Deception – Blackalicious; Level Intermediate / Advanced
This song has similarities to that of Run DMC. Nevertheless, it tells a different story – a story of greed.
One of the first things the singer says is: ‘This is a story of a kid, his name is Cisko (Cisko), Who made more money than the Count of Montecristo (Crisco)’. We could interpret the Cisko as being the name of the singer (this is actually unknown). The Count of Monte Cristo is from the classic French novel by Alexandre Dumas. The Count made lots of money from treasure he found. Perhaps the singer is saying that he made a lot more money than the Count.
The lyrics are relatively simple, but the song is a higher-tempo and much harder to understand. As with a lot of rap songs, there is a lot of rhyme in the song:
- Cristo and disco
- grew and crew
- hit and fits
Unfortunately, and this happens in quite a few rap songs, there is a bit inappropriate language. Normally the swear words are used by rappers to emphasise a point. I don’t recommend using this language at anytime.
Here are the lyrics to the song.
3. Intergalactic – The Beastie Boys; Level – Advanced
A song by a band that have had hits in many different genres, this song is a strange, yet interesting, interpretation of American society. The Beastie Boys talk a lot about different parts of American popular culture including the Flintstones and Captain Spock (from Star Trek).
This song, like the Blackalicious song is a higher-tempo song and some of the lyrics are very hard to make out, because they are not spoken clearly, or the music drowns the voices out. Nevertheless, you can learn to rhyme your words just as well the Beastie Boys, with the help of this song. It is a typical A-B-B-A rhyming pattern (the first and the last lines rhyme together and the middle two lines rhyme together):
- team and cream
- scene and fiend
- denial and trial
- style and exile
Here are the lyrics to the song
As you can see from these three songs, there is a lot to help sound like a native.
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Comment below and tell us about the things you have learnt with the help of these songs.