Rapping (also known as emceeing, MCing, spitting (bars), or rhyming) refers to spoken or chanted rhyming lyrics. The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is seperated into "content", "flow" (rhythm and rhyme), and "delivery". Rapping is distinct from spoken word poetry in that it is most commonly performed in time to a beat. Rapping is a primary ingredient of and is often associated with hip hop music, but the origins of rapping can be said to predate hip hop culture by centuries. Since the early 21st century, it has been possible to hear rap in every major language of the world.
Stylistically, rap occupies a gray area between speech, prose, poetry, and singing. The word (originally meaning "to hit") as used to describe quick speech or repartee predates the musical form. The word had been used in British English since the 16th century, and specifically meaning "to say" since the 18th. It was part of the African American dialect of English in the 1960s meaning "to converse", and very soon after that in its present usage as a term denoting the musical style. Today, the terms "rap" and "rapping" are so closely associated with hip hop music that many use the terms interchangeably.