And You Thought Rap Beefs Started in the ‘Hood

Published December 30, 2008

Posted Dec. 29, 2008 – Yes, rap beef battles started in the ‘hood, says a professor at the University of New Mexico, but it sure wasn’t on the streets of New York City, Philadelphia or south-central L.A.

In fact, says the expert on American and Scottish culture, it wasn’t even in the United States. Professor Ferenc Szasz contends that free-style wars, where two or more rappers trade syncopated insults, actually come from the ancient Caledonian art of “flyting.”  He says that Scottish slave owners took the tradition with them to the United States, where slaves got hold of it and made it their own. It later came back in the form of rap, he says.

“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,” The Telegraph reports.

Said Szasz: “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. 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.”

Written by From Staff & Wire Services

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