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"How to Rap" and grading hip-hop's professors

Big Daddy Kane could have a future is a hip-hop professor. (Scott Gries/Getty Images)

By Sarah Godfrey

As a companion to his excellent book “How to Rap: The Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC,” author Paul Edwards has been posting snippets of interviews he conducted while researching the work, via YouTube.

In the audio posts that started in March, MCs such as Big Daddy Kane and Tech N9ne, discuss their technique. But how would they fare in an actual classroom setting? Click Track grades the teachers.

Big Daddy Kane explains that freestyle is really a written rhyme:

When Big Daddy Kane rhymes, everyone listens. And when Big Daddy Kane talks, everyone listens, too. His voice is magnetic, and his commentary eloquently shatters the idea that freestyles aren't freestyles unless they’re cooked up entirely on the spot. Sign us up for any hip-hop class he's teaching.
Grade: A+

(Tech N9ne, Royce Da 5'9" and more, after the jump.)

Tech N9ne teaches you how to rap with incredible flows:

It would be difficult for anyone to duplicate the Missouri rapper's rapid-fire style, but he gives a fascinating, easy-to-understand blueprint for those who may want to give it the old college try.

Grade: A

Royce Da 5'9" asks, 'What's more important: subject matter or flow?'

The Detroit MC falls on the side of flow, and gives examples of topically light, but rhythmically dynamic lyrics to support his argument. Millions of hip-hop fans may disagree, but he does a fair job explaining his point.

Grade: B

Crooked I on why writing rhymes on paper is better than writing rhymes in your head:

Crooked I of Slaughterhouse says the pen is mightier than the dome, arguing that it’s easier to edit written rhymes than those constructed in one’s mind. He finds it easier to compose lyrics on paper, but the mark of a great professor is presenting all sides of an argument, and he neglects (at least in this particular snippet), to mention that many great MCs, from Biggie to Jay-Z, successfully composed extremely intricate rhymes in their heads.

Grade: C+

RBX on ghostwriting for Dr. Dre:

The latest lesson, posted today, has Long Beach, Calif., rapper RBX explaining his contributions "The Chronic," specifically ghostwriting Dr. Dre's rhymes on "Let Me Ride." Good, basic instruction on assisting those who aren't lyrically inclined

Grade: B+h

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By Sarah Godfrey  |  April 15, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Lists  | Tags: Big Daddy Kane, Crooked I, How to Rap, Paul Edwards, RBX, Royce Da 5'9, Tech N9ne  
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