“Four bars” is a common term used in the rap community to describe a series of consecutive syllables or words that are repeated at a quick pace. The initial “ah” of these bars usually stands for any consonant in the syllables; the word “four” can be thought of as an alternative name for “the first four letters of ‘fourth of July’.” But the actual origin of the term has varied over the years – from the phrase “four bars to kill someone” in the earliest rap, to “four bars and a half” in the later style. However, the term was probably coined in the ’50s after the great ’50s rap groups, The Moondogs, created a whole new genre. The Moondogs had developed their own sound, which many saw as an improved version of rock’s more melodic style. Like rock, rap also used some kind of “4″ rhyme scheme.
And what’s the rhyme scheme?
Like rock, rap uses a 4 or 6 word format for its 4 bars. But the “3″s in rap actually represent the numbers “3″ or “3 3”. This pattern is commonly found in the work of the Beatles and The Velvet Underground, along with many other artists. One source of controversy in the rap community involves the fact that many rap groups use other rhymes that can also be interpreted as rhyme schemes, especially after the ’90s, when many rappers started incorporating a new type of rhyme scheme as a kind of slang form they created their own “rhyme language.” In the early-1990s the “3 3 raps” trend became more common – groups would often use longer syllables or words to create extra rhyming material for the songs they produced.
But which rappers are 4 bars?
As you might imagine, rap rappers who use the rhyme scheme 4 bar-style all hail from some kind of New York City neighborhood. If you ask just about any old-school New York hip-hop fan what’s going on with the music’s biggest hip-hop groups, some of them will probably tell you that they’re 5 bars. Or even six, or 7 bars. In reality – like most things in the rap world – the term 4 bar comes from some kind of New York slang term. The first New York slang term that came to be used specifically for hip-hop bars came from the original New York rap group, The Hollies. They called the 4
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