A rapper is a type of entertainer who mixes music and rhymes to tell a story. Typically focused on life in the ghetto and the tough times of growing up in the bad part of town, the rapper often uses explicit lyrics to drive the meaning home. Commonly taking music from other artists and music styles, this act of capturing a beat from a previously recorded song is known as sampling. Often the rapper will play a short piece of music on a continuous loop, placing his lyrics over the music and effectively making an original work. Rappers often emulate gang members and take on gang nicknames, which they perform under instead of using their birth names.
Many rappers, while portraying a life of abuse and neglect, are actually very wise and savvy businessmen and women and once they make it onto the music charts are able to negotiate contracts with major record labels and frequently start their own labels. A rapper is no different than any type of music artist in that the rap star will play concerts, sell and promote upcoming CDs and promote himself or herself through radio and television interviews and talk shows. Most of the major music awards shows have added the rapper to the list of award categories and recipients.
When the first awards ceremonies included a rapper, the artist was often grouped with other music styles and entertainers such as pop or hip hop. As the rap venue began to distinguish itself and emerge as a full-fledged music and entertainment style, the various awards categories began to recognize an artist as a rapper. While many people associate rap music with explicit lyrics and off-color subject matter, the first musicians who labeled themselves as rappers sang music that was played on public radio with no need to censor any of the lyrics.
The rap music community is divided by the traditional rap that is free of explicit lyrics for the most part and the more radical style of "gangster rap." Some rap artists, in an effort to release more CDs and sell more copies, often offer a recording in both an explicit version as well as a tamer version that eliminates the harsh lyrics and often replaces entire verses with friendlier lyrics. A rapper is often a musician and a salesman or woman who hopes to sell his or her art to a receptive buying public without compromising the art that is the music.