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Top 10 Rap Music Cliches

VO: Matt Campbell
Script by Matthew Manouli Yo mic check...WatchMojo, all up in this list! 514 represent! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down the Top 10 Rap Song Clichés. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down the Top 10 Rap Song Clichés. For this list, we'll be looking at overused elements in rap songs and videos. This list will only look at songs which are primarily rap or hip hop, and not pop songs where a singer or collaborator raps a verse. Special thanks to our user Rotten Tardises for suggesting this idea, check out the voting page at WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Rap+Music+Cliches
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Script written by Matthew Manouli

Top 10 Rap Music Clichés


Yo mic check...WatchMojo, all up in this list! 514 represent! Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down the Top 10 Rap Song Clichés.
Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we'll be counting down the Top 10 Rap Song Clichés.
 
For this list, we'll be looking at overused elements in rap songs and videos. This list will only look at songs which are primarily rap or hip hop, and not pop songs where a singer or collaborator raps a verse. 


#10: Introducing Themselves At The Beginning Of a Song or Verse


Matty C in the house! But, anyway... mentioning your name at the beginning of the song is something most rappers, new or old school, are guilty of. While it can be annoying, it has cultural roots in the beginnings of hip hop. Back then, it was helpful to give lesser known rappers more recognition. Nowadays, a quick Google search can give us the info we want, but there was a time when rappers had to verbally stamp their property. So next time you hear a rapper needlessly yelling their own name, think of it as a throwback to the old school.
  

#9: Disses


Disses and other insults have always been found in rap songs. It is usually taken quite seriously if a rapper disses another rapper in just a few bars, but there have been entire tracks solely created to rain down disrespect on other artists. Dissing's origins are most likely from the rap battle culture which was used to entertain, but over the years, dissing has escalated and has even led to violence. Other times though, dissing is used as a tool to gain more popularity and become more recognized in the hip hop world.
 
 

#8: Air Horn/Gun Shots


The appeal of air horns is pretty easy to get your head around: they make you feel like you're partying in a giant stadium. But god they do get annoying if overused. It works well in reggae and dance hall music where it originated, but they shouldn't be forced into rap beats. Gun shots are another cliché that seems to be widespread in rap tracks. They do add to the imagery of the lyrics, but can get stale and detract from the song. Background effects are cool and all but they’re best used in moderation.

#7: Product Placements


So... is this a song, or an advertisement? It's hard not to cringe when you hear or see strategically placed brands in movies, and it's no different in rap. Imagine Britney Spears singing about a Bentley she owns, or garage band writing about Gucci bags. It is clear most rappers do it to get something out of the company, like Nelly getting his own shoe line after “Air Force Ones” became popular. Busta Rhymes' “Pass The Courvoisier, Part II” also drove up sales of the liquor, leading to massive profits for the parent company, which in turn did business with Busta's enterprise. If you're going to sellout, at least promote your own brand.
 

#6: Ad Libs


We all respect the time honored art of freestyling, but on the opposite side of the 'improv' coin, we have yelps, yips, and other general noises which are used as filler. Interestingly enough, over time, a lot of these ad libs became signatures for more popular artists. DMX's dog growls and barks fit well with his natural voice and the image he is portraying. A lot of ad libs are just laughter, but they become as recognizable as if the rapper yelled out their own name, as the case with Jadakiss and Wiz Khalifa. Some have become truly unique, like Birdman's pigeon sounds, but others can get annoying if used too often. Just putting that out there, Lil Jon.
 

#5: Lyrics Always About Money


This is another cliché that rappers are allowed to get away with. Whether true or not, the narrative most rappers try to portray is that they started with nothing, and worked hard and hustled until they made it rich. This makes flaunting wealth and throwing cash money into our faces more acceptable. It helps us live out the fantasies we probably won't be able to experience. Luxury cars, mansions, and unfathomable amounts of bling might make some listeners jealous, but other than rap, where else would you be able to hear a song about just being rich?
 

#4: Swearing


Oh hell yes! Swearing has been in rap songs since the beginning, but has actually declined in the new millennium. Cussing hit its peak during the gangsta rap years from the mid 90s to early 2000s, ironically when rap came into the mainstream. The N word is the most used profane word in rap, but actually wasn't used that often when rap first began. While cussing might turn off some people, sometimes it's necessary to convey certain emotions. Other times they are used as filler words to help with the tempo or meter of a verse. But even though they could be replaced with less offensive words, cursing does help us notice a song as well.
 

#3: Songs About Illegal Activity


This rap cliché has been around since the beginning of the genre, and is still used frequently. Not only do we still see songs with specific lyrics or verses about illegal activity, there have been entire songs written about certain prohibited acts. Countless verses and songs have been released about selling drugs, prostitution, robbing, and even murder. Most of the time, this blurs the line between music and reality, and the really heavy songs can leave you wondering if your favorite rapper actually used to be involved in questionable activity. As this risks influencing younger, and even adult audiences, it's best this cliché finds itself locked up soon.
 

#2: Bitches and Hoes


Ah the misogyny! Why is it that we only hear rappers calling women “bitch”, “ho”, or “trick”? Why not “lady”, “fair maiden”, or “respected equal”? Worst still, why do the women in the videos seem to like it? It doesn't provide the greatest of influences, and is entirely overused. Sure, most rappers are male, so we are getting their perspective, but even female rappers like Nicki Minaj use these words. Because of its disrespect to an entire gender, this cliché makes our list.
 
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Auto-Tune
 
I Used To Be Broke
 
Pimpin'
 

#1: Bragging/Braggadocio


Add most of what we have on this list together, and we find a common theme: bragging. A lot of rappers are modest in person, but while performing, they can come off a tad arrogant. Some, of course, aren't modest off the mic either...ahem Kanye. Funnily enough, bragging in any other genre of music could be seen as being in bad taste, but it is acceptable and even expected here. Flaunt that cash, show off those women, refer to your past crimes, even claim you're 'the Greatest', it's all fair game. While bragging can get old, it will most likely always have a place in rap.
 
Do you agree with our list? What are some other rap clichés you can think of? For more hip hoppin’ Top 10s published everyday be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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