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If Shakespeare Was Alive…. Would He Be A Rapper?

Both hip-hop music and Shakespeare’s theatre represent energetic and inventive forms of expression.  Both are full of poetry, word play and lyricism.  Both deal with what it is to be human, and issues from people’s lives, and of course just like Shakespeare’s work, hip-hop is all about the rhythmic tension of words.  The similarities between hip-hop music and Shakespeare’s theatre are striking.  As a media-savvy popular entertainer and talented businessman, we think hip-hop would have been Shakespeare’s thing - a truly old-school Jay-Z.

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Both hip-hop music and Shakespeare’s works as a form of cultural expression are often misrepresented in that hip-hop is not given the intellectual credit it deserves in an academic, literary or poetic sense.  At the same time, Shakespeare is often presented from a culturally “high brow” viewpoint which for many young people makes his work seem irrelevant to their lives and therefore sometimes incomprehensible and boring, when in fact Shakespeare in his day was seen in a similar light to that which many rappers are viewed today: his works popularised social and economical commentary as a form of entertainment and were often directed not just at the upper levels of society but also very much at members of the Elizabethan ’street’.

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