Rap's Roots Found in, Uh, Scotland?

Scots' obscene verbal tradition gave birth to musical 'dueling': prof

By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 28, 2008 8:02 PM CST

(Newser) – While most don't associate rap with a bunch of white guys in skirts, a University of New Mexico professor traces the music’s roots back to the barrooms of medieval Scotland, the London Telegraph reports. “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 youth,” Professor Ferenc Szasz argues.

As the logic goes, Scottish settlers in America brought flyting with them, passing the notoriously obscene custom on to their slaves; later, flyting turned into rap battles, and a genre was born. "Two people engage in ritual verbal dueling and the winner has the last word in the argument, with the loser falling conspicuously silent,” another professor says, comparing the two contests.

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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. - Professor Ferenc Szasz

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