MC Cynic is in the hizouse

Marlo & I were talking about the “MC” in the rap world last night.

Now, in my experience, MC, or emcee, means “master of ceremonies” which is, by definition, “a person who acts as host at formal occasions (makes an introductory speech and introduces other speakers)”, but obviously it is not the same in the pop culture/rap world. I didn’t really know what it meant. Marlo said that, opposed to the DJ, who spins the records, the MC raps. And never the twain shall meet.

Marlo says that the term “MC” as part of a rapper’s name has been in the vernacular for 20 years so I should accept it. But I think it’s overused and that any old slob with a boombox on a street corner can call himself MC Skillless and nobody will kick up a fuss. Well I’m here to fuss. I mean I know you don’t need 7 years of rhyming school and a diploma to be an MC, but it bothers me in the same way that Captain Caveman bugs me. Friend, you’re a lot of things – but you’re not a captain. Of course this comes from a guy who for the most part despises rap (& hiphop moreso). I guess it’s just the fact that it has always bothered me that, unlike playing the tuba or the drums or even singing, anyone can rap as well as the next palooka (no offense to the mute), and so by extension, anyone can be called MC.

7 Replies to “MC Cynic is in the hizouse”

  1. I dunno. MC isn’t universal much anymore. There is no MC Puff Daddy after all. There’s a lot of things that seem to dictate whether a rapper will use MC in thier name or not. As for anyone being able to do it, it’s a lot like saying anyone can act or anyone can read a book to an audience, or write a poem. Technically yes, but we all know that only a few are really, really good at it. It’s a proficiency thing, and most people aren’t proficient at rapping. And that doesn’t even cover the writing of lyrics to be rapped.

    What would it take to get you to sit through Scratch, which is heavy on turntablism, but does cover the role of the rapper to a degree? It might be educational.

  2. No, they really do mean the Master of Ceremonies (and for some, for a while, it was Mic Controller). The MC started out as the guy who’d announce what track was going to be played next (just like radio Jockeys do when they talk all over the intro of the latest pop tracks on Z95), and Dancehall Reggae has “toasting,” which is the person who says a whole crazy string of indecipherable things at the beginning of the song (usually culminating in “HEAR DIS!”) I agree with you about the vast majority of HipHop/R&B, but while there’s a whole BUNCH of guys out there who’re rapping because they’re being paid to, there are some who are simply verbal/vocal artists, and they should be placed in a different category than 50cent and Puffy.

    I agree with Stew: Go watch Scratch, and then find a few people who actually know something about HipHop and get them to play you some stuff that doesn’t suck. Listen to Rakim, Latyrix, Speech, Michael Franti, hell, M. DOUGHTY… William S. Burroughs played at 45… Lord Buckley even. I’m not saying you’ll like it, but you’ll see the difference between “guys what rap” and “rappers.” As with a lot of what I see in Olympic Gymnastics, I’m not saying it’s pretty, but there’s maybe 50 people on the planet who can do it well.

  3. Oh wait, I’m re-reading, and now thinking that what you object to is the use of “MC” by any shmuck who can put together two rhymes in 4/4 time. So shut me, maybe.

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