The speech samples in which the HHNL features and discourses are identified occur in different contexts within the UK Hip Hop community. Initially, one of Eurgh’s earlier battles against Kulez, a London-based rapper, is examined. A transcription has been made of each of Eurgh’s three rounds and Kulez’ opening round, which provides the context for one of Eurgh’s rebuttals. Kulez’ round is not analysed, as the emphasis is not on direct comparison with other rappers, but instead on how Eurgh’s own use of HHNL adapts to different contexts. One of these contexts is a ten-minute interview with Eurgh discussing his perspective on battle rapping as a competitive art form, and the boundaries of image, identity and style in UK Hip Hop. This is used as an example of natural speech outside of a verbal play context. This taken in isolation however does not give a clear representation of Eurgh’s natural speech, as the conversation is not within his ordinary cultural context. Therefore a small excerpt of a post-battle outburst in the US, in which Eurgh feels he has been wronged by the judge, will be studied. In this situation, Eurgh stands to lose a large amount of respect, and expresses his anger at American bias, using a noticeable amount of HHNL. This will be used for comparison with the interview to illustrate different non-play contexts for language use.
These three speech events determine how the respect transactions set into motion with each battle insult affect Eurgh’s external social standing, and to what extent he attempts to use HHNL in non-battle contexts to defend his status.
3.2 Language choice in verse: The Battle
3.2.1 Analysis of language choice and rhetoric
The text is transcribed from video footage of the battle. Initially Eurgh’s verses are scrutinised for the grammatical and lexical features of HHNL outlined by Remes, such as the deletion of ‘to be,’ the contraction of ‘going to’ to ‘gonna’, and the use of multiple negation, among others (p. 139). Also, the placement, purpose and syntactic context of these features are examined, as well as any usage of slang. This indicates the wider functioning of HHNL as a tool for gaining respect, and its assimilation into a non-American context.
It is also necessary to identify, in a similar fashion to Fitzpatrick, how Eurgh calls upon and feeds into the shared narrative of rap battling and the discourses of popular culture. Eurgh uses rhetorical features to engage the community and in doing so maximises his respect-earning capacity within the linguistic marketplace of battle rapping. These are discussed in relation to Fitzpatrick’s work.
3.2.2 ‘I wasn’t even mates with him’: Personal insults and rebuttals
Within the battle, attention is drawn to a feature used frequently by Eurgh: the rebuttal. Eurgh draws reference to a number of insults used by Kulez, and from various viewpoints: in some, the rebuttals are similar to that of a personal insult; in others, the adaptation of Kulez’ themes and content is part of verbal play, and in its expansion and complication of wordplay shows many of the hallmarks of sounding. The approach with which Eurgh handles the insults directed at him illustrates the blurred boundaries between the personal and ritual insult and therefore enables wider assertions about the linguistic mechanics of the culture in which these insults occur.
3.3 Language choice in Natural Speech
3.3.1 The Interview
The interview (Appendix 2) itself occurs shortly after a Don’t Flop event. The questions give Eurgh as much opportunity as possible to speak naturally and without interruption. Within the interview, both the questions and answers are transcribed, in order to convey the Eurgh’s answers in as natural a context as is possible. The battle will be used as a framework of comparison: the most relevant analysis comes within the interview, and his use of HHNL outside of a battle is the focus of this study. The features that were found in the battle will be used a framework for examining the interview and ascertaining the extent of HHNL use. In the case of an absence of HHNL, it will be necessary to provide an explanation for this active language change. Due to the nature and themes of the questioning, the interview is, alongside its qualities as a lengthy speech sample, useful as an insight into the perspective of a UK rapper on the nature of hip hop and its communicative practices. This then relates the ideology behind Eurgh’s answers to his language choice inside and outside of battling.
3.3.2 Footage from the World Rap Championship semi-finals
With each of these sources, there is still an absent variable: the use of natural speech in a context where respect has been traded or the social importance of an event is magnified via the language used by its participants. This speech event surfaced in the form of a disputed judging decision in the World Rap Championships (WRC 2007), and Eurgh was captured ranting both straight to camera and at local New York rappers. A small section of the footage is transcribed, within which a heated conversation between several rappers provides an interesting chain of speech acts which will be analysed for their HHNL and slang content, and compared and contrastedthis with both the battle and the interview.
These three samples do not cover every angle or approach to battling, but they provide a variety of contexts in which Eurgh has a different relationship with battling. The extent and discursive purpose of HHNL use in all three samples will be compared, and set in the context of the related literature and ideas about the accumulation of respect in a Hip Hop community away from America.
Within this study, Eurgh will use HHNL throughout the three contexts, but the extent of this use will be much greater in situations where a higher amount of respect is being negotiated. The purpose for use of the language will alter as well within each context.