I owned a Grandmaster Flash record.
I bought LL Cool J’s Bigger & Deffer cassette tape when it first came out.
I’ve seen De La Soul in concert.
I thought I knew a little bit about hip hop. Well, it turns out that that is all I know. A little bit. But I am always open to learning. So, the other day, I had the opportunity to learn a bit more. A colleague and I were discussing music and the terms MC and Rapper kept coming up.
And then it hit me. I really didn’t know the difference between the two. In fact, I am sure I have used them interchangeably. When I should not have been. Because I learned that, in fact, they are very different.
From my conversation with my colleague, Devon Beck, and from further research on the internet, I have come to learn that an MC’s objective is to interact with the crowd or as Ice T states , "control the audience." Whereas, a rapper’s mission is to simply sing their song and that’s it. This is not to imply that rapping is easy. But you get the idea.
In our conversation, Devon went on to point out to me that he never calls himself a rapper. He always introduces himself as an MC or a Hip-Hop Artist. I was excited to learn the difference and never thought much more of the distinction. Until today. In the middle of voxing a friend it hit me. The difference between an MC and a Rapper is very much like the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher.
A good teacher has their script or their song, if you will. They don’t stray from it and they dare not take any cues from their students/audience. This may approach may be moderately effective. But most students simply don’t care because they’ve heard these same tired beats before.
image credit: moving2virtual.icohere.com
On the other hand, the great teacher, like an MC, makes it their objective to interact with the crowd. They find a way a to inspire, energize and motivate They are not afraid to stray from what they had planned. They gauge what their students/audience needs and they allow them to become part of the song, part of the lesson.
image credit: freeinfosociety.com
I realize I may be oversimplifying things. Or am I? Think of the artists that are known for putting on the best shows: Jay Z, Ed Sheeran and The Rolling Stones, just to name a few. Do they simply run through their playlist? Or do they gauge the audience to determine where do go next? I think anyone who has ever been to one of their concerts knows the answer to this question.
A weak educator’s eyes are constantly on the textbook, the script, the lesson plan. The great teacher is constantly looking at their students, their staff, their community to see what their next step should be. They may start with a set playlist. But it never sounds the same. Like an MC, they always take into consideration the culture (beliefs, customs and values) of their audience to determine where to go next.
are we rappers or are we MC’s?
Think about it.
Our audience paid good money for their ticket.
They lined up for hours.
The opening acts were okay.
But they came to see us.
Which mic will we choose?
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