Rappers are celebrated for their ability to ‘spit bars’, with punchline rap making the distinction between good rappers and great rappers. Punchlines, whether they’re delivered in a melodic or rap style showcase how well the artist can take two seemingly unrelated topics, people, or events and bring them together in a new twist.
Admittedly not all rappers are created equal. From witty oneliners to intricate double entendres there is so much we can learn from this art form than just the entertainment value it first appears to hold. But what is that and how can artists and other creatives take this highly developed skill to new levels?
Punchlines are everywhere. The punchline to a funny joke can be spun into a punchline for a rap bar and vice versa. Not only are punchlines found in music, they are the premise of what makes a joke funny and are commonly used in advertising and marketing too. Think about the bar Steve Jobs’ used as a response to the Sony Walkman and its limited feature of playing one CD at a time. He literally slammed the once popular device making it obsolete with one battle rap style statement when he introduced the iPod as, “one thousand songs in your pocket.” Bars!
So what makes a punchline work, and how can we use succinct bars to deliver sophisticated messages?
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Deb McKoy is the Founder and Consultant at Peppergrain Ltd, London, UK. She began her career as a recording artist, achieving success in the UK national charts before going on to help businesses and individuals maximise their brand.