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a style of music which combines hip-hop (= a style of African-American urban music) with themes, words and pronunciation based on upper-class English stereotypes
'Over the weekend it was revealed that Education Secretary Michael Gove was a devotee of chap hop, a buffoonish parody of hip hop in which the words of American rap are belted out with a British middle class intonation.'Huffington Post 26th March 2014
It's difficult to imagine that the worlds of right-wing politics and hip-hop music might ever collide, but that's exactly what seemed to happen recently when UK education secretary Michael Gove professed a penchant for a niche genre of music described as chap hop.
chap hop is a bizarre combination of the strong beat and rhythms associated with rap music, but with lyrics featuring … stereotypically upper-class turns of phrase
Chap hop is a bizarre combination of the strong beat and rhythms associated with rap music, but with lyrics featuring such stereotypically upper-class turns of phrase as I say! bally (a euphemism for expletive bloody), nincompoop ('foolish person') and adverbs like frightfully and awfully. Delivering their performance in a caricatured 'plummy' British accent (received pronunciation with an upper-class affectation), chap-hop musicians (sometimes described as chap-hoppers), turn themselves out in bowler hats, tweed suits or stripey blazers, sport handle-bar moustaches, brandish pipes, and often accompany themselves by strumming on the banjolele, a guitar-like instrument which is a cross between a banjo and a ukelele. If you're having trouble believing that this can possibly be for real, then check out the video here, which features a recent performance by chap-hop pioneer Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer. Another leading exponent of the chap-hop genre is Professor Elemental, as featured here in Macmillan Dictionary's very own What's Your English 'rap battle'.
It's fair to say that Michael Gove, the instigator of what many believe to be rather outdated and narrow-minded education policies, is a much talked-about politician who has attracted a not insignificant degree of scorn. His surprise revelation that he was a fan of chap hop was not entirely welcomed by chap-hopper Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, who is known for taking swipes at the conservative party in his chap hop lyrics. The irony of the situation has, predictably, made headline news, bringing this little-exposed parody genre directly into the limelight.
Chap hop made its debut in 2007 as the invention of rap musician Jim Burke (aka Mr B Gentleman Rhymer). The expression chap hop derives from a combination of hip hop, the term for the African-American urban musical genre, and chappism, a nostalgic subculture founded by Gustav Temple in the late 1990s which celebrates British masculinity in a previous era. Chappist concepts such as dressing with panache (think tailored suits with sharply pressed trousers), behaving courteously, pipe-smoking and drinking fine beverages are advocated through The Chap, the movement's bi-monthly magazine and related books.
Hip hop is a musical genre which originated from the Bronx and Harlem areas of New York among black and Latino youth in the 1970s. In African-American slang, the word hip means 'fashionable' or 'current'. Hip hop is thought to have been arrived at by reduplication, a word formation process in which a word is repeated exactly or with a slight variation – in this case the vowel i to o (compare, e.g. singsong, tip-top).
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This article was first published on 24th June 2014.
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