This is probably everyone’s favorite element. The emcee. The emcee or MC is for Master of Ceremonies or “move the crowd” as Rakim Allah puts it. Simple enough yet being an emcee is a complex title within Hip Hop Culture. When the culture was being cultivated in the Bronx and other boroughs of New York the dee jay was the focus as there was no emcee per say. Initially the dee jay was the emcee but there was no emphasis on what was being said over the microphone. The dee jay was only doing what we know now as shout outs over the breakbeats at parties. So DJ Kool Herc is said to be the first rapper but the first emcee title is credited to Coke La Rock. There were plenty of other rap influences in The Last Poets and Muhammad Ali showing young people of the time but Coco La Rock as he was sometimes called was there at the party on Sedgewick Ave with Kool Herc and was a member of Herc’s crew, The Herculoids.
After major successes in the culture rapping evolved as the emcee pushed the culture forward with their skill and talent. From “Rapper’s Delight” to Run DMC to Big Daddy Kane the bar (pun intended) has always been raised. Each era has had an emcee to elevate the culture. The goal was never to become mainstream the goal was simply to be the nicest emcee in your neighborhood! Emceeing is about being braggadocios and proving that you are in fact the best emcee. No one is writing your rhymes because that would contradict the previous statement. If you’re not writing how can you be the best? Tom Brady isn’t the best because backup quarterback is putting up all the stats. LL Cool J used to read the dictionary. It may sound corny but if you are supposed to be a wordsmith you need to have a broad vocabulary. Joe Budden, Nas, Royce da 5’9”, Guru, and Rakim are all very well spoken in their normal conversation and being a great emcee is the result of years of reading, writing, and comprehension. You can read and write all day but you must understand what it is you’re reading and writing in order to retain or learn something new.
Lyricism is next level emceeing. Only the strong survive in a lyrical bought. Black Thought is a lyricist. Styles P is a lyricist. Eminem is a lyricist. Lyricism was introduced as the emcee evolved and required a higher level of skill. Rapping is the act of rhyming over a music. Rappers are people who rhyme words over instrumentals. An emcee controls the audience with the complexity of their words making you want to listen. A lyricist composes meaningful lyrics to a musical composition. Emcee is a title reserved for those who maintains the integrity of the culture with the rhymes they spit. Emceeing is not for everyone which is why some people dee jay where others may write graffiti or become a breaker. It was never alright to steal someone else’s style or to even sound like them. It was and is always about being original. Hip Hop Culture has always been about being yourself and being an emcee is something no one else can do for you.
“I fiend for a microphone like heroin. Soon as the bass kicks, I need a fix.” -Rakim (Microphone Fiend)