A Brief History Of Hashtag Rap

Big Sean at Reliant Arena Wednesday night
Big Sean at Reliant Arena Wednesday night
Marco Torres

Every rapper brands himself as an original, but few merit that distinction. The ones that do rarely profit from their innovation.

When it comes to emceeing, those who favor intricate rhyme schemes will scoff at a technique known as "hashtag rap." G.O.O.D. Music rapper Big Sean is credited with pioneering the style. But I'm not even sure that Sean thinks it's a style worth pursuing full-time; he rarely employed it on his own debut, Finally Famous. Still, Sean wants his just dues.

"It's crazy because the whole rap game did it, so I was sitting back," he told Detroit's Big Boy in a recent interview. "At first, I was like, 'Man, this crazy! Everybody doing this!' But then I thought about it and I was like, that's not the way to be. You gotta keep it G, man. G's don't get mad. G's is like, that's what it is. They congratulate you. I changed the game, so I'ma keep changing the game. It is what it is."

A Brief History Of Hashtag Rap

What the hell is "hashtag rap" anyway? It appears in many incarnations, but there are three main ingredients: a metaphor, a pause, and a one-word punchline, often placed at the end of a rhyme. Let's look at some examples: "You're the type to get wet [pause] -- diapers."

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Here's another one, this one you might recognize: "Swimming in the money, come and find me - Nemo," from Drake's "Forever." Sean and Drake have been embroiled in a mini-feud lately over who truly pioneered that style.

"Drake is my homie," Sean said in the same interview, trying his best to remain diplomatic. "[Drake] gave me a lot of credit, because I came up with rhyme scheme a lot of people thought that he came up with," he said. "I called it 'Supa Dupa Flow,' but he kind of made it more popular on the song 'Forever' with him, Wayne and Drake, it was kind of the one-word punchline.

"I did that on my second mixtape I released in '09 where I was like, 'I'm supa dupa troopa/ Used to the bottom scoopa.' I just gave them line after line after line of bar-code. He kind of took that and used it on his track. A lot of people thought he did it. The thing is, he gave me credit for it like a real G."

Drake posted this presumed response on Twitter earlier this week: "Damn i just took the beard down and realized I'm still the same age as ya'll boys... 447,000 first week off my flows. See you in the fall." Ouch.

Now here's the ice cold truth, fellas: neither of you invented hashtag rap. It's not well-trod ground, but it's definitely been around before Sean and Drake.

Let's take a trip down memory lane and take a look at other MCs who espoused the style long before Big Sean and Drizzy. Boyeee.

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