Eazy-E. Ice Cube. Snoop Dogg. Rakim. Mos Def. Talib Kweli. Nas. Jay-Z. Master P. 2Pac. The Notorious B.I.G.. Outkast. Bone Thugs n Harmony. Lil’ Wayne and T.I.. The Wu-Tang Clan. Eminem. Kendrick Lamar, J Cole and Big KRIT.
What do these and the many other artists that embody the genre of Hip-Hop have in common? They are all MC’s. The quintessential element of the 5 that make up this movement, the emcee wields the power to persuade and captivate the masses through their mastery of composition. To move the crowd is the objective, and over dope instrumentals they master the ceremony. See what I did there?
Punchlines and metaphors are the weapons of choice for any MC. The intricate placement of these coupled with timing and delivery can either tell stories, drop knowledge or simply style on a sucka MC thinking they’re better. Hip-Hop thrives because the emcee has evolved over its 40-year odyssey.
The cultural effect Hip-Hop has on society is evident and the emcee is the spokesperson of the movement. They have influenced us as fans for years to either keep our heads up through adversity or to scream fuck the police when we’ve had enough. I’ve heard lines of some of my favorite MC’s used in movies, TV shows and commercial jingles for years now. Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang is the most recognizable song because of the three MC’S that were rappin’ through the beat.
From the gangsta rapper to the backpacker, the emcee is more than just their industry label. They are the correspondents of their environment, giving us the exclusive on their realities. Songs like Respiration by Black Star feat. Common are a perfect example of this as Talib Kweli paints a picture of New York life unlike those portrayed in film:
Lookin in the skies for God/what you see besides the smog/is broken dreams flying away on the wings of the obscene/thoughts that people put in the air/places where you can get murdered over a glare/but everything is fair
The emcee has taken several forms, spawning sub genres that would further diversify Hip-Hop. From the humble yet brash beginnings of artists like MC Shan and KRS-One to the hard-core MC’s like Brotha Lynch Hung and Tech N9ne, every artist has their blueprint implemented on the genre. Let’s not forget that some of the best MC’s were female. Pioneers like MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Da Brat and Left Eye were lyrical femme fatales that held their ground among their male counterparts.
Hip-Hop lives and breathes through the MC. Combined with the other 4 elements, this lifestyle and culture will proceed to give you what you need for 50 years and forever.