Does Rap Stand For Rhythm And Poetry?

Rap stands as an acronym for Rhythm And Poetry. The word ‘rap’ actually means striking a hard surface with a series of rapid audible blows to get attention. While Rhythm And Poetry is a good description, the word comes from “rapping,” of quick, loud blows.

The first time the verb “rapping” was used for talking or singing was in the early ’70s, when talking on a radio channel in a stylized manner was called “MCing” or “rapping.” The style got pretty famous among DJs, and they started mixing the beats from synths and samplers, and they eventually started rapping words in rhymes in unique ways.

However, there is an undeniable logic behind the Rhythm And Poetry description. As rapping is delivering a poetic and rhyming flow of words and sentences with a hammer-like rhythmic style, the description is ideal for it.

The History Of The Word “Rap”

MCs and rappers use plenty of wordplays based on innuendo, alliteration, false rhyme, colloquialism, and every possible rhyming word to reflect their feelings and ideas. Also, many rappers call themselves poets and street preachers.

Like street preachers setting up their platforms, podiums, and little stages on the street to deliver their religious messages or civic pronouncements, rappers deliver their ideas and feelings in a similar style with beats and melodies in the background. This is a style from Caribbean islands where public political and religious speaking with sound systems is very common.

This rhythmic speaking culture of street preachers or so-called rappers in the 1960s influenced the character of hip-hop and made rapping a significant element in the genre. Rap records in the 1980s originated and were born thanks to this movement.

Given the staccato elocution of street preachers (rappers) in the 1960s, that rhythmic delivery became the typical character of rap records recorded in the 1980s and later.

Over the decades, rap became a vital style in hip-hop, and many artists performed the art form thanks to its unique non-sung lyric style combined with different music genres such as R&B, soul, jazz, and many more.

As many rappers consider themselves poets, it is often thought that the word RAP stands for Rhythm And Poetry or Rhythmic American Poetry. But that is just a description fans made with the letters in the word and has nothing to do with the actual meaning and origin of the word.


The word rap means to strike a hard surface with a series of rapid audible blows to get attention which was used for street preachers and public speakers in the 60s, a culture derived from Caribbean Islands. Later, as it fits the style perfectly, RAP started to be associated with the description “Rhythm And Poetry.” Even though it looks like a perfect acronym, it is not the root of the word.

Berk Oztuna

Berk Oztuna

Berk Öztuna is a handpan player, percussionist, and guitarist. He has been playing multiple instruments over the last 10 years. He started his music career as a guitarist, playing with several bands before putting his main focus into playing the handpan.

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