Tuesday, 30 Dec, 2008 Science

Rap Has Its Origin in Scotland, Scientist Says


According to a scientist from New Mexico, the origin of rap music, which emerged from the Big Apple in the 1970s, is a medieval Scottish custom. Ferenc Szasz, who is a professor of the University of New Mexico, says that contemporary rap that expanded thanks to African-American youths, who lived in New York's Bronx, originated from the Scottish tradition of "flyting."

The professor mentioned that this Scottish practice involved the exchange of intense verbal wordplay sometimes mixed with offensiveness.

"The skilled use of satire takes this verbal jousting to its ultimate level - one step short of a fist fight," said Szasz. He is convinced of the fact that there is a direct connection between modern rap and the Scottish tradition, in which people attempted to settle scores in rap battles.

The professor was able to find the connection after he analyzed the historic background of Robert Burn's work. It is worth mentioning that the most popular surviving sample of flyting appears in a 16th century work, entitled "Flyting Of Dunbar And Kennedy", in which two competing poets throw rhyming insults at one another in front of the Court of King James IV. Academics characterized the work as "just over 500 lines of filth", reports Daily Telepgraph.

The first example of word battles in the United States, cited by the scientist, was an American civil war poem, which was published in the New York Vanity Fair magazine on November 9, 1861. The finding of professor Szasz was supported by Professor Willie Ruff, of Yale University, who mentioned that Scottish slave owners indeed had a great influence on the development of music traditions among African Americans. He compared Scottish flyting and rap battles saying that in both "Two people engage in ritual verbal dueling and the winner has the last word in the argument, with the loser falling conspicuously silent."

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