I had brought up the idea of Rap and its relationship with the music accompanying the Beat poetry of the 1950’s. In my opinion, based upon some more research, it seems to me that, if there is a relationship, it is a VERY limited one. On the one hand, one could say that the relationship between Beat poetry and the accompanying music is extremely loose – the music seems to, at most, set a mood. Listen to Jack Kerouac accompanied by Steve Allen in this clip from 1959:
Here is another example of Ken Nordine and his related “Word Jazz” concept of the 1950’s.
One could say that in both these cases the speech rhythm of the poet is preserved and, thus, a very complex rhythmic relationship is created with the accompanying music.
On the other hand, in the case of Rap, the words are completely coordinated with the accompanying rhythmic ostinato (whether or not pitches are involved). However, any sort of speech rhythm is lost as the words are absolutely bent to the accompanying rhythmic ostinato’s beat – which is all consuming. In fact, if the nature of the beat were to be changed – say from simple to compound – this might cause considerable havoc to the particular Rap.
I am not saying that a (clean) Rap can’t be charming, as this one is. I am trying to get at the nature of what constitutes a “Rap.” For example, I could imagine the meter of the accompanying music for the two Beat poems being changed without problem. However, I couldn’t imagine the Will Smith rap which follows being changed from 4/4 to 6/8.