Breath Control: Five Classic Rap Cuts About Breathing
The manipulation or mastery of breath has often played a critical role in hip-hop.
Even without the assistance of turntables spinning or a lunch table available to bang on, a rapper can still be provided percussion accompaniment via human beat-box.
One of the most important traits an MC can possess is flow.
When hip-hop expanded beyond its 1970's New York City-birthed, five borough origins, spreading into other regions across the country during the 1980's, the way rappers definied breathing might symbolize their surroundings or make for a metaphorical milieu.
In L.A., that “8-Ball” made Eazy-E’s breath start stinking.
Up in Seattle, Sir-Mix-A-Lot, long before he became the royal prince of the posterior, revealed that he may have been a fan of fat-asses but definitely not The Fat Boys while declaring “tricky breathing is out, boom music is in” and then ruling with an “Iron (man)” fist.
Way down in Houston, a young “Scarface” of the Geto Boys spun gangsta-rap folklore about putting a gun between his enemy’s eyes, ordering “don’t breathe” before adding “he took a breath, and he knew he’d breathed his last breath”.
A decade later on the east side of the South over in ATL, at heretofore unprecedentedly fast rates of track tempo and rhyming speed, Andre 3000 of OutKast told y’all “Hello, Ghetto, Let Your Brain Breathe/Believe There’s Always More, Aaaah!” just before the choir sang about those “Bombs Over Baghdad”.
So inhale deep, much like these songs about breath
We never sleep, ‘cause sleep is the cousin of death
Behold these bars of excellence, as breath is defined
Take your time, to check out a few breathing rhymes