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Articles At the center Tito MC, champion of the Battle of Roosters 2019 in Cuba. Photo: Rolo Cabrera

Battle of Roosters: lyrical competitiveness or cultural universe?

"They both treated us like diseases, we don't like society."

The exergue is a phrase taken from the American fiction film Bodied (2017), consisting of a dozen - complex battles of insults - between the opponents Behn Grym and Adam. It came to mind thinking about the Batalla de Gallos that took place on Saturday, August 24 in the Carpa Trompoloco. I have heard many comments about the winning rooster, Tito MC, and I quote some of them: “His metric was not so good and he relied on fragments of texts from Los Aldeanos to win audiences”; "He really won because he had all his family and friends there"; "He is a white rapper, therefore, cultural kleptomaniac." The most orthodox would define it as a crossover, that is someone belonging to a social group that exceeds the limits of a specific music market, including others. This term is used when a black artist sells to a white audience or vice versa. Personally, beyond his obvious talent, resilience, and ability to reinvent himself, I think that Tito MC gives us an experience for all of us who love hip hop culture in Cuba: to be a master of the art of freestyle It requires a lot of study and readings.

The art background of fristalear and the passion for rapping are numerous. Are the griots or jelis Africans (reciters and storytellers, responsible for preserving collective memory in their communities); and in Senegal, it is the case that it is the women in their great majority who maintain this tradition, according to a comment of Dr. Pedro Álvarez Mosquera, author of the book Identity and language crossing: the use of vernacular African-American English by white rappers. The toast (narrative poems) or jive scat (musicalization of slang black street between the thirties and fifties) are other valid references, along with the dozens or dirty dozens, in which it is about emotionally destabilizing the rival by insulting his family or himself, and who first loses his temper, loses the battle equally.

Among the multiple sources that can be consulted to approach these themes, are: Teoría de la Improvisación Poética by Alexis Díaz Pimienta, which is part of the collection Oralitura; at website Event official we can see the history of these battles and updated data from this global platform; in Vox, the channel of the activist Estelle Caswell, diverse cultural subjects are shown, including the comparative study of prose in several MCs of the old and new American rap school. There is a very popular YouTube called HBD, in whose channel De todo y Rap interesting topics about hip hop are addressed, including a chapter on metrics.

The musicians Erdem Dilbaz and Fuat Ergin are part of the DEF RAP band, and perform the so-called rap with sign language. Their rhymes reach four million deaf people in Turkey. The videos of the rapper with hearing problems Amber Galloway Gallego (aka Twista), have had more than a million views, and offered a conference entitled How sign language can bring music to life (How sign language can bring music to life) in an edition of TEDMED. It would be risky to try to get on a stage (luck of sacred space) and face a verbal battle without mastering grammar, rhetoric, as well as the consequent linguistic functions (say conative, phic, expressive, etc. .) or an in-depth study of the different elements / layers that enrich the texts (synonymy, antonymy, synecdoche, cohesion, prospective, ellipsis, etc.). We must not forget that within the nine elements that make up the hip hop culture we have the slang or street language, and street knowledge or ancestral wisdom. I quote the words from the book El Evangelio del Hip Hopby the American author Lawrence Krishna Parker (Krs-One): “Contrary to the myth that knowledge is only accumulated in a calm, orderly manner, in academic settings, much of the common knowledge of hip hop is found in its comedians, poets and authors. Hiphoperos learn and transform their knowledge through laughter and fun. Street knowledge teaches you how to survive modern urban life ”(1) *. If we add that Tito MC dominated-combined elements of new technologies in his prose (say video games), and the intelligent use of resources such as punchlines o auction phrases; double-tempo; 4 × 4; alliteration; puns, among others, it is not surprising that he was crowned as the winner. (Side note: I also think that the promotion should vary, since we talk about language and education in a broad sense. Christian rapper Dámarys Benavides Criollo showed that it is well worth “feminizing freestyle”, therefore, in In the future we should refer fairly to: “Battle of roosters and chickens”).

(1) * Source consulted: ›IHH_KRS_ONE_Gospel_of_hip_hop

Alejandro Zamora Montes More posts

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