[Marxism] Rap music originated in medieval Scottish pubs, claims American professor

Greg McDonald sabocat59 at mac.com
Sun Dec 28 11:24:11 MST 2008


Rap music originated in medieval Scottish pubs, claims American  

Rap music originated in the medieval taverns of Scotland rather than  
the mean streets of the Bronx and Brooklyn, an American academic has  

By Simon Johnson
Last Updated: 3:57PM GMT 28 Dec 2008

Professor Ferenc Szasz argued that so-called rap battles, where two  
or more performers trade elaborate insults, derive from the ancient  
Caledonian art of "flyting".

According to the theory, Scottish slave owners took the tradition  
with them to the United States, where it was adopted and developed by  
slaves, emerging many years later as rap.

Professor Szasz is convinced there is a clear link between this  
tradition for settling scores in Scotland and rap battles, which were  
famously portrayed in Eminem's 2002 movie 8 Mile.

He said: "The Scots have a lengthy tradition of flyting - intense  
verbal jousting, often laced with vulgarity, that is similar to the  
dozens that one finds among contemporary inner-city African-American  

"Both cultures accord high marks to satire. The skilled use of satire  
takes this verbal jousting to its ultimate level - one step short of  
a fist fight."

The academic, who specialises in American and Scottish culture at the  
University of New Mexico, made the link in a new study examining the  
historical context of Robert Burn's work.

The most famous surviving example of flyting comes from a 16th- 
century piece in which two rival poets hurl increasingly obscene  
rhyming insults at one another before the Court of King James IV.

Titled the Flyting Of Dunbar And Kennedy, it has been described by  
academics as "just over 500 lines of filth".

Professor Szasz cites an American civil war poem, printed in the New  
York Vanity Fair magazine on November 9, 1861, as the first recorded  
example of the battles being used in the United States.

Professor Willie Ruff, of Yale University, agreed that Scottish slave  
owners had a profound impact on the development of African American  
music traditions.

Comparing flyting and rap battles, he said: "Two people engage in  
ritual verbal duelling and the winner has the last word in the  
argument, with the loser falling conspicuously silent."

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