Respect, Language and Identity in British Battle Rap
On this page, I have given you full access to my English Language dissertation on how a battle rap context can alter the spoken language of an individual. This piece was given 2:1 honours by the examiner. Please read the table of contents and click the relevant number to move to that section.
This dissertation studies the transactions of respect within the arena of battle rapping in Britain. With its origins in the heavily racialised struggle of African American ghettos, Hip Hop music, language and culture served as a mode of expression for marginalised Americans then spread internationally. As a street culture, negotiations of respect have powerful social consequences: ‘one’s image is determined by one’s street behaviour’ (Remes, 1991).
A prevalent part of this culture is the act of ‘battling’ (verbal sparring in verse) and rap battle leagues have emerged in the USA, Canada, Britain and Sweden. The rapper Eurgh is a key proponent in British Hip Hop, and the league of which he is president, ‘Don’t Flop’, is recognised and respected in America, with frequent international battles taking place.
With its basis in previous studies of US battle rap (such as Fitzpatrick’s 2007 study of Eyedea) and with issues regarding Labov’s Rules of Ritual Insults in mind, close analysis of Eurgh’s language choice, and selected use of Hip Hop sociolect within a battle, an interview and an argument with peers is executed. Eurgh is found to assess the levels of respect he can gleam from each situation, and responds accordingly by altering his use of HHNL in both extent and purpose. The connection between these verbal duels and the extra-linguistic implications of Hip Hop Nation Language is explored within the context of respect, and thereafter linked with possible social and historical reasons for its assimilation into British culture.
1. INTRODUCTION: 'ANY PLACE EXCEPT HOME, CHURCH OR SCHOOL.'
1.1 ‘To Disturb the Peace:’ Hip Hop as a Culture
1.2 The Act of Verbal Battling: Defining Respect
1.3 Blood in the Water: Eurgh and UK Battling.
2. RELATED LITERATURE
2.2 The Features of battling: Remes (1991)
2.2.1 Roots and means of battling
2.2.2 Linguistic characters of Hip Hop Nation Language
2.3 Fitzpatrick (2007)
2.3.1 An analysis of Eyedea
2.3.2 Bourdieu’s linguistic marketplace
2.4 Personal and Ritual Insults: Labov (1972) and Kochman (1983)
2.4.1 Labov: The Boundaries of Ritual Insults in Verbal Play
2.4.2. Kochman: The Role of Personal Insults in Verbal Play
3.2 Language Choice in Verse: The Battle
3.2.1 Analysis of language choice and rhetoric
3.2.2 ‘I wasn’t even mates with him’: Analysis with reference to Kochman’s approach to personal insults
3.3 Language Choice in Natural Speech
3.3.1 The Interview
3.3.2 Footage from the World Rap Championships Semi-Finals 2007
4.1 The Battle
4.1.1 Round One
4.1.2 Round Two
4.1.3 Round Three
4.2 The Interview
4.3 “Eurgh, from Norwich, says fuck Jump Off”- Natural speech inside a Hip Hop context
6.3 Further Research
8.1 Appendix 1: Transcription of the Interview
8.2 Appendix 2: Transcription of Eurgh’s battle verses
8.3 Appendix 3: Transcription of Eurgh at the WRC 2007