Rap music is rapidly becoming one of the most popular music genres. However, there is a common misconception that’s circulating in the hip hop community. This discrepancy is from the misunderstanding and confusion between a rapper and an MC.
So, what is a rap MC? An MC is short for master of ceremonies and is often called an emcee. A rap MC is in charge of entertaining the crowd, while also keeping the performance moving and on track. Rap MCs focus more heavily on entertaining the crowd than the poetry they perform, which is what makes them different from rappers.
If you want to know more about the art of being a rap MC, then this is the article for you. Here, you can learn more about what an MC does, what the purpose of a rap MC is, and even how to become one yourself.
MCs: A Brief History
A huge part of MCing is keeping the crowd entertained. They often do this by using rap style and rap influence in their performance. MCs can use rhyming verses, freestyled, or ad-libbed verses. Oftentimes, a rapper with excellent performing skills, can be referred to as an MC.
MCing is all about showmanship and entertainment, whereas rapping is the lyrical expression in itself. Sometimes, MCs are not rappers but strictly entertainers. The job of an MC is to keep the crowd entertained throughout the entirety of the concert experience. This means that sometimes an MC is responsible for entertaining crowds in between acts and even introducing performers, rappers, and DJs they work for.
However, as rap and hip hop culture has developed, so has the role of the MC. The MC used to just speak into the microphone. They were even referred to as “the guy on the mic.” They did not partake in any rapping or lyrical expression but still managed to entertain crowds.
An MC was tasked with representing everyone in a DJ crew when the term MC was in its infancy. They were the voice of that crew. MCs came from all over and from all different backgrounds. There was a huge supply of MCs and a growing demand. Therefore, with some hard work, perseverance, and a talent for entertainment, almost anyone who wanted to could become an MC.
MCs were often decked out and dressed to the nines to try and attract the most attention for their crews. This was super important because there were so many crews during this time period. If you couldn’t attract people with your music and beats, then you had to add a showmanship factor to increase your likelihood of being successful.
In modern-day hip hop or rap, all of the smoke and mirrors have been stripped away. MCing was stripped down to its barest elements and made solely about performing. MCing can perform as easily as rappers can now, and oftentimes do so without the assistance of DJs and crews.
Today, hip hop artists who have a way with crowds and entertainment can be considered MCs. It’s even considered a distinguishing term to some artists.
Famous Rap MCs
The concept of a rap MC isn’t as simple as one definition or their history and development. Sometimes, the best way to learn what a rap MC is is to look at some of the most famous, iconic, and legendary MCs of all time.
The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G. is possibly one of the most iconic MCs. While only ever producing two albums while he was alive, he is still the most quoted MC of all time. He had an incredibly unique voice, and his ability to rhyme was unmatched in the hearts of many. He is definitely considered a rap and MC legend to all hip hop and rap fans.
Here we have another one of the icons. Nas was one of the most prolific MCs in the industry. He came to fame at the same time as many other rappers and MCs and still managed to come out being one of the most well-renowned and well-known MCs in the game. Even years later, he is still referenced as one of the greats. J. Cole, a young, popular rapper, even wrote and produced a song, “Let Nas Down,” as a tribute to the rap role-model.
Tupac fans often describe his music as more of a religious experience than a record, even before his unfortunate and tragic passing. Tupac was and still is regarded as one of the most influential MCs in the industry. Many rappers and MCs alike have tried to capture part of Tupac’s sound on their own. He is truly a legend, one of the greats. His catalog he left behind not only outlived him but will outlive most of us as well.
Run-DMC has a slightly different dynamic than the previous artists mentioned, but they are equally influential and iconic. Run-DMC was not necessarily one MC, but rather a group of them performing together. They were and are credited to the commercialization and popularization of hip hop, rap, and MCing.
Many people give them credit for Eminem’s success, who’s considered one of the greatest rappers and MCs of all time. Without them, MCs may have never gotten as popular and well renowned as they are today.
Jay-Z consistently takes the number one slot on many “greatest MC” charts. He is a story-teller and has inspired many artists to imitate his style. He is a front runner in the industry and has continually high grossing record sales. He additionally has attained such high status that even as a “retired” MC, he is still an icon and influencer for many of his fans and fellow artists.
As mentioned before, Eminem is absolutely one of the greats already. His career as of now is much shorter than most of the other “greats,” but he still holds his own with his music and his sales. He has sold more albums than any MC previous to him and is set to be the most well-known performer on the planet since Michael Jackson. He is lyrically very talented, and few are able to match his incredible flows.
LL Cool J
LL Cool J is an incredible MC, and he proves this by the longevity of the career he has maintained. He began his career in the 80s and still performs in the new millennium today. There are few people, regardless of age, who haven’t heard his songs or know his name. He truly has been on top of his game for upwards of 40 years, making him one of the longest-running artists on the charts today.
How to Be a Successful Rap MC
So, you want to be a rap MC? There are a ton of steps you can take to achieve this goal. If you put forth dedication and hard work, then being a rap MC could be your next big career move. Here is just one route you might consider taking if you’re looking at Mcing as a potential career.
- Constantly listen to rap and hip hop music.
- Analyze rappers as you listen and determine their type and style.
- Find out which rappers and which styles you like.
- Expand your vocabulary.
- Write your own raps and rhymes.
- Experiment with and find your flow.
- Use instrumentals.
The rap MC is a vital part of any hip hop performance. From its origination, rap MCs have been the entertainers and the showmen of the group or crew. Rap MCs take their talent and turn it into an entire brand that encompasses who they are and what their music is about.
Rap MCs have had a long history, and they have a long future ahead of them, too, as the growth and popularity of hip hop and rap increase every day. Now, we have to wait and see how the rap MC will keep evolving and changing, and entertaining and blowing people’s minds.