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Rap games!
A Wittgensteinian analysis of modern hip hop culture and language!

Running Head: RAP GAMES!

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Rap games - a Wittgensteinian analysis of modern hip hop culture and language! Introduction For new listeners many hip hop songs will be almost incomprehensible due to the language used. Yet seasoned listeners will be able to explain new songs without much thought. I take this to suggest that the language of hip hop resembles language games as per Wittgenstein’s view. In this short essay, I set out to explain this statement. Firstly, the hip hop culture is discussed together with the characteristics of the language used in hip hop culture. Next the explained culture is analysed using Wittgenstein’s theory as based on his Philosophical Investigations.! In order to analyse the culture properly, it is necessary to somewhat limit the scope of this essay. The “rap games” mentioned in the title refer (in this case) to the communicative aspect of rap music. More so than other music, rap songs refer and react to other rap artists, songs and expressions. The ways in which these reactions manifest itself in rap music and language are the focus of this essay. ! Hip hop culture and language Hip hop consists of different types of expression, but this essay only looks at the one most relevant to our discussion, namely rap. Rap consists of “the aesthetic placement of verbal rhymes over musical beats” (Alim, 2001, p. 272). In essence it is similar to musically spoken poetry, but it is distinct in its content matter. In the words of rapper JT the Bigga Figga, rap is “the voice of the ghetto” (Alim, 2000). Paraphrasing JT the Bigga Figga’s interview with Samy Alim, rap is about the issues, the crime, and the stories of the

Running Head: RAP GAMES!

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predominantly African American ghetto. The language used in hip hop and rap specifically is therefore predominantly…...

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