What is an MC in rap?

Written By Bakes

Avid writer on Men's Hair, Grooming, and Lifestyle!

While the term ‘rapper’ is synonymous within Hip Hop culture and a title given to every artist the term MC is not! Which suggests subtle differences between the 2 terms. This difference in Hip Hop naturally brings to the forefront the question being what is an MC in rap? As there seems to be no confusion as to what a rapper is!

If a rapper and MC both create Hip Hop music what makes them different and why are some deemed MC’s while some are only labelled rappers. Our piece on MC’s in Hip Hop culture will enlighten you on the definition, origin of the word and how its used today!


What is an MC in Rap? (Origin)

Traditionally an MC (Master of Ceremonies) is a person who controls and hosts a crowd whether it be a formal event or an entertainment Gig!

During the 1970’s as Hip Hop began to emerge as a new art form the musical element was centered around the DJ who cut, blended and mixed 2 records together. At a later stage, the MC was introduced whose job was to talk over the record to get the crowd excited, host the event, make announcements, and support the DJ!


Evolution of the Term MC in Rap

As Hip Hop started to form its identity during the late 70s the term MC was given new meanings such as Microphone Controller & Mic Checker.

The attention gradually began to shift away from the DJ with the spotlight on the MC as they got more creative with their raps during the breakbeat extension by the DJ which is ultimately how Hip Hop was formed!

By 1979 it was clear that the focus was placed on the MC when The Sugar Hill Gang released Rapper’s Delight. A clear example of MC’s not only controlling the crowd rapping over the beat but becoming the center of focus.


Difference between an MC and Rapper

Now that you know the true definition of an MC and how it came about let’s discuss how this differentiates from a rapper.

MC – The main elements of an MC is the ability to use creative wordplay, control the crowd, demonstrate concise breath control, witty rhyme schemes & great delivery.

The MC also prides themselves on the ability to creatively story tell and take you on a journey whether it be live to a crowd or on record, not use a ghostwriter and master their craft!

Rapper – While the rapper’s agenda is usually for profit, trend, and popularity! Rappers make use of the fact that Hip Hop is the biggest music genre in the world and ensuring hits are created to generate sales and tour!


While both the MC and rapper do the same job their focus point is different. Rapper Rakim explains the differences in the video below which aligns with our definition.

Stic.Man from the rap Duo Dead Prez explains it as

“A rapper is to an emcee what an average street fighter is to a trained martial artist. They are both fighters, but the degree and depth of their skill are very different.”

Quote taken from his book – The Art of Emceeing

So, while the “what is an MC in Rap” discussions continues to take place you should now have a clearer understanding enabling you to distinguish an MC from a rapper and how they navigate throughout Hip Hop.

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