MC Lars is an American rapper who is well known for his unique nerdcore and post-punk laptop rap style. In this track, he answers the question “What is hip-hop?” and sings with legendary and talented artist KRS-One as well as MC Chris and Rittz. MC Lars would make a great English teacher! His verse has not only good flow and speed, but also great grammar and vocabulary! Although I cannot guarantee that your TOEFL score will improve, you will learn a lot from MC Lar’s “What is Hip-Hop?”
The Grammar and Pronunciation in the Hook
The song’s hook, or chorus, starts off simple enough.
The verb tense in the hook is called the present progressive or present continuous. Use it to describe actions that are happening right now, in the moment, as you are speaking. Also use it to describe temporary situations and conditions.
Subject + be (is, am, are) + ~ing verb
- MC Lars is rapping right now!
- You are studying English with hip-hop music!
- I am writing a new sentence.
- MC Lars is not making bad music now.
- You are not studying French with hip-hop music.
- I am not eating lasagna because it is 10 o’clock at night right now.
Making a question is very easy. Switch the be verb and the subject to make questions.
Be verb + subject + ~ing verb
Wh~ + be verb + subject + ~ing verb
- Is MC Lars rapping right now?
- Where is he rapping?
- Are you studying English with hip-hop?
- Why are you studying English with hip-hop?
Spelling the ~ing rules follows a few basic rules, but there are some exceptions.
- Many verbs add ing at the end
- play – playing
- study – studying
- eat – eating
- If a verb has a final e, delete the e, and add ing.
- make – making
- write – writing
- Look at the last three letters in a word. If they are a consonant + vowel + consonant, the double the final consonant.
- run – running
- stop – stopping
- rap – rapping
- sit – siting
Most people don’t pronounce ~ing. In the track, MC Lars sings, “Everything’s fallin’.” There’s no G.
Adjective Clauses in the Verse
In this track, MC Lars criticizes overly-commercialized music, while also praising genuine and authentic hip-hop that is poetic and artful. This verse starts at 1:02
What is Hip-Hop? Is it what you wear?
Is it the brands that you rep or the way you wear you hair?
Is it your attitude, gratitude, identity or fate?
Your history, your future or the problems that you face?
Is it the spirit of the times? The Zeitgeist, believe it
Divinity inside of me, we breathe it cause we need it
The Gospel of Hip-Hop, it really changed my life
KRS relieved the stress – I had to read it twice
The verse has adjective clauses. Adjective clauses give more information about people, places or things.
- What is hip-hop? Is hip-hop what you wear? What you wear = clothes
- Is hip-hop the brands (that) you wear? Is hip-hop the way (that )you wear your hair?
noun (object) + that/which/who + subject + verb
- Hip-hop is music (which) many people listen to.
- Tupac is a rapper (that) many people love.
That/which/who are optional if the noun is an object, but you always need what.
- Hip-hop is music many people listen to.
- Tupac is a rapper many people love.
noun (subject) + that/which/who + verb
- MC Lars is a guy. He writes nerdy hip hop. MC Lars is a guy who writes nerdy hip-hop.
If the noun is a subject, you must use that/which/who.
MC Lars is a guy writes nerdy hip-hop.
Vocabulary in the Verse
When it all falls apart I remember what he said
It’s not about the cheddar, creme, fame, skill or bread
Its’s carbon truth in beauty, learning to respect
Learning how to love, putting selfishness in check
What is Hip-Hop? Divine self-discovery
Mastering the elements, defining just what love can be
Testifying truthfully, rhyming with the best
I see the light, it feels so right cause hip-hop’s got me blessed
I stay up, even when everything’s falling apart
- cheddar/creme/fame/skill/bread (noun) – money. Some rappers are artists, and some rappers only want a lot of fame.
- put something in check (verb phrase) – to limit something. Hip-hop music helps MC Lars put bad habits in check.
- the light (idiom) – knowledge.
- blessed (adjective) – to be very lucky because you have something special.
Do you like hip-hop music? Who are your favorite artists? When do you listen to hip-hop music? Do you listen to it when you are happy? Do you listen to it when you are sad? Tell us why you think hip-hop music is great! Please write your comment below!