“Rappers got the name MC (master of ceremonies) because they began as hosts at public dances, and as the form evolved, they began to take more and more liberties in what they said between and over the records. Emceeing evolved into a channel for artistic expression” – David Shields, Reality Hunger
Before 1594, musical programs had intermissions of quick scenes of comedy, dramas had musical interludes, and tragedies reused the Greek chorus. These divisions soon melted away with the advent of opera in Italy.
Hip-hop and Opera are fascinating because both are art forms that are birthed from a synthesis of music and something else. At first there is peaceful parallel coexistence. MC’s introduce songs . Then these parallel lines start to converge, forming something else entirely.
Now it is reassuring to think that this convergence happens naturally. That music and drama was bound to form opera. Yet this is where people come in. Initiative is needed. If we did not have Ottavio Rinuccini and the premiere musicians of his time decide to create a musical drama in which the poetry and verse were sung, who knows where opera would be by now.
Causing convergence may be some of the most compelling work we can do. Music has this ability to merge with different forms to create something new. With the plethora of forms that we have, it only takes someone to notice, collaborate, and converge.
As David Shields writes: “Why is hip-hop stagnant right now, why is rock dead, why is the conventional novel moribund? Because they’re ignoring the culture around them, where new, more exciting forms of narration and presentation and representation are being found (or rediscovered)”.