Kyle Adams, Aspects of the Music/Text Relationship in Rap


[1] “Mrs. Jackson,” also by OutKast, is in a more obvious, and more typical, speech-effusive style. The example below presents a lyric chart for the first verse of this song. (Because this example only serves to illustrate a style of rapping, I have not included the accompanying music.)

[2] Note some defining features of the speech-effusive style of the rapper, Big Boi. The rhythm is highly irregular and contains many 32nd notes, which gives the text the quality of very rapid speech rather than rhythmic chanting. It also lends an improvisatory quality to the verse, which is important in a genre that values the ability to “freestyle,” or improvise lyrics over a given beat. Also, accented syllables of words generally do not correspond to accented beats, and vice versa. For example, in the third line, the accented syllables of “neighborhood” and “studio” fall on the second half of beats 2 and 3, while the unaccented word “from” falls directly on beat two; additionally, the word “fight,” presumably the focal point of that line, falls on the second sixteenth of beat four. For much of the verse, the rhyming syllables also have no particular rhythmic relationship either to each other or to the underlying pulse. Having examined this example, it will be clearer why I assert that Big Boi�s use of even sixteenths in �The Rooster� represents deliberate use of a motive.


Example. OutKast, “Mrs. Jackson” (2000), verse 1


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