What Is a Hip Hopera?

Rap opera is referred to as “hip hopera” in slang. This art form, similar to traditional opera, uses rap and hip hop music to tell a story. This variation on opera, according to experts, began in the 1970s, when rock opera became popular in mainstream media. Hip hopera, according to some critics, is still an experimental medium for integrating contemporary music into classical theater.

Given the wide appeal of the medium, hip hop hopera has a wide range of themes. While some directors choose to “modernize” classical operas like Carmen incorporating contemporary rap and hip hop, others focus on themes that are common in the music genre, such as middle-class struggles and racism. Some critics argue that the vast difference in art forms between hip hop and traditional operas allows for the generation of newer and more powerful ideas. Rap songs, for example, frequently feature violence, which can be used to further illustrate classical operatic themes of life, love, and death.

The ways in which a hip hopera can be made are also quite diverse. For their rap operas, theater companies most often stage theatrical numbers, but more unconventional producers have been known to use the art form as a supplement to other creative works. For example, a comic book can be paired with a hip hop hopera to create a soundtrack for the illustrated story. Popular musical acts have also been known to dabble in hip hop hopera, releasing experimental albums with tracks centered on a single unifying story. Rap opera has previously been shown on television as a full-length special.

As more traditional companies have reservations about the art form, amateur and independent companies are among the main proponents of hip hopera. Some critics of rap opera argue that the use of rap music only serves to lower the traditional standards. Others believe that as a music genre, rap is simply too crude to create enjoyable drama on stage. Rap opera proponents argue that including more accessible music in the repertoire, the art form helps to expose more people to opera. Supporters also argue that incorporating contemporary music into opera is a natural evolution of the art form, because art is meant to reflect society as a whole.

Hip hop hopera performances are usually met with mixed reviews. While some people believe that incorporating rap into traditional forms of musical storytelling is a good idea, others believe it is an insult to such a well-established medium. Regardless of criticism, hip hopera has been said to have rekindled a number of people’s interest in opera in general.