Rap Opera
Stylistic origins Hip-Hop music, opera, concept albums, contemporary R&B, spoken word, musical theatre, rock opera (conceptual origins)
Cultural origins Early 1970s, South Bronx, New York City
Typical instruments Turntable, vocals, drum machine, sampler, synthesizer, beatboxing, bass guitar
Mainstream popularity Some hip hop artists have produced concept albums
Other topics Breakdance – Graffiti – Fashion – Subgenres – Notable albums

A rap opera or hip hopera is a series of hip hop songs in the form of an opera, inspired by the concept of rock opera. Like its predecessor, rap opera tells a story through consecutive pieces of music involving the same character or characters. Rap opera may be a purely auditory experience, or it may be associated with a musical, comic book, or other art form. It is a relatively young, spontaneous form, performed more by amateurs and non-profit groups than by professional emcees. When R&B singer R. Kelly was asked on IFC how he defined his "Trapped in the Closet" series, Kelly stated that he described it as a hip hopera or musical opera, but that it's now too long to be called a song. In 2001, MTV debuted a telefilm titled Carmen: A Hip Hopera, directed by Robert Townsend and starring Beyoncé Knowles and Mekhi Phifer. Volume 10 also released an album called Hip-Hopera in 1994. The former is contemporary R&B, not hip hop music.


  • R. Kelly's Trapped in the Closet series
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights
  • Public Enemy's He Got Game
  • Beastie Boys 1988 album Paul's Boutique
  • Carmen: A Hip Hopera
  • Prince Paul's A Prince Among Thieves
  • Deltron 3030 by Deltron 3030
  • Sable and Battalion's J.O.B., the Hip-Hopera
  • Rapper and producer Dr. Dre has stated that his third album, Detox, may be a rap opera.
  • Michael Tippett's New Year uses rap in a number of scenes.
  • Damien by DMX
  • Ugly Duckling's Taste the Secret
  • Lupe Fiasco's The Cool
  • "Libera Me From Hell" in the anime Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
  • Ciara's single "High Price" from her third album Fantasy Ride
  • Kanye West's "Last Call" from College Dropout
  • Des Bishop's Rap Éire
  • Wyclef Jean's Apocalypse
  • Chris Goslow's Rapera
  • Mariah Carey's Betcha Gon Know
  • Brotha Lynch Hung's Dinner and a Movie
  • Michael Franti and Spearhead's Stay Human
  • The Fat Boys' On and On
  • The Side Quest' The Quest for Retrotopia

Artists that do rap operaEdit

Music Videos/VideosEdit


See AlsoEdit

The Four Core Elements Breaking | DJing | Graffiti | MCing
Hip-Hop culture Dance | Fashion | Music | Production | Theater | Beatboxing
History History | Golden age | Old school | New school
Subgenres Acid rap – Alternative hip-hop – Bit-HopBounce musicChicano rapChopped and screwedChristian hip-hopConscious hip-hopEast Coast hip-hopFreestyle rapGangsta rapHardcore hip-hopHorrorcoreIndie hip-hopInstrumental hip-hopMafioso rapMidwest hip-hopNative American hip-hopNerdcore hip-hopUnderground hip-hopPolitical hip-hopPop rapSnap musicTurntablismWest Coast hip-hop - Trap (music genre)
Fusion genres Abstract hip-hop - Baltimore clubCountry rapCrunkCrunkcoreCumbia rapElectro hopG-funkGhetto houseGhettotechGlitch hopHip-Hop soulHip houseHiplifeHyphyIndustrial hip-hopJazz rapMerenrapNeo soul - Rap metalRap operaRap rockRapcoreDigital Hardcore - Wonky (music)
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