Chopper (rap)

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Chopper is a hip hop music style that originated in the Midwest and features fast-paced rhyming or rapping.[1] This is considered the main contribution to rap music by Midwest hip hop artists, though in the early 1990s it had spread to California with artists at "The Good Life" such as Ellay Khule, Freestyle Fellowship, CVE, Riddlore and many other Project Blowed affiliates. Dayton Family and Twista who were out at the same time in the early 1990s ushered in the fast style rap when it gained popularity in the mid-1990s with the emergence of award-winning rap artists such as the Cleveland-based rappers Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Chicago-based rapper Twista. The style of rap eventually spread to other regions all across the world as well.

In the late 1990s, Tech N9ne, a previously underground rap artist, popularized the chopper style among his strong fanbase, and from 2002 to 2011 released a number of songs in collaboration with other chopper-style artists exclusively in this fast-paced style of rap. Chopper style places an emphasis on speed of pronunciation, and as such is commonly attributed to some of the fastest rappers in the world, such as Krayzie Bone and Bizzy Bone, Twista, Tech N9ne, Twisted Insane, Busta Rhymes, Rebel XD, Krizz Kaliko, Mr. Shadow, Dyablo, Mr. Sancho and Snow Tha Product.[2] Vocalist Oli Peters of the tech-death band Archspire is also heavily influenced by this style.


The word "chopper" can simply be used for any rapper that uses a fast-paced style in his or her lyrics.[3] The term was first used in street and hip hop slang to refer to the AK-47 assault rifle. The word has also been used as an informal word for helicopter. The linkage to AK-47 and helicopter and their rapid response times with respect to their functions may have an analogous relation to fast-paced rap. One of the first rappers who popularized this style of rap, Twista, in a song with Tech N9ne entitled "Worldwide Choppers" implied this in his lyrics, "I'm finna be usin it as energy, watch how radiant I'ma be. Like a helicopter when the words fly."[4]

Chopper was used to loosely describe the style of fast-paced rap, but the usage of the term was made more official when rap artist Tech N9ne released a series of collaboration rap songs with other chopper-style rap artists from around the world in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2015 including "Midwest Choppers" and "Midwest Choppers 2", "Worldwide Choppers" and "Speedom (Worldwide Choppers 2)".[5]


Although the subgenre of chopper-style hip hop did not achieve broad mainstream appeal until the early–mid 1990s through artists such as Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Twista, the style has been around for decades. The first rap group to utilize this technique on record were the Treacherous Three with the release of "New Rap Language" in 1980.[6] Throughout the lyrics of the song, member Kool Moe Dee is continually referred to as the originator of the fast style:

"For MC's who bite
The fast-talking rhymes
They're gonna feast
So get ready to eat
Moe Dee's the originator
So you might as well starve
Cause you can't catch this fast beat
(Hit it, Moe)"[7]

Kool Moe Dee went on a year later to use one of the verses in this song to demolish Busy Bee in the famous New York rap battle in 1981.

The style was also popular with Jamaican rappers in the early 1980s with releases by Daddy Freddy ("Joker Lover"), Shinehead ("Rough and Rugged") and Peter King ("Me Neat, Me Sweet").[8] "Supersonic" by JJ Fad was a popular song released in 1987 that featured fast double time rapping at the end that was so innovative that it would later be referenced in the fast-style Eminem song "Rap God" released in 2013.

The chopper style of hip hop eventually spread among West Coast and East Coast hip hop artists as well with very few actually adopting the style as their main act including rappers such as the San Diego-based rapper Twisted Insane, J.L (of B.Hood) from Kansas City where he quotes in one of his songs, "...all that I really know is bustin' chop on percussion eh, this the way that I wanna make my livin' ..." as well as the horrorcore rap group Firing Squad from Washington 509 and arguably New York-based rapper Busta Rhymes.

The Kansas City-based rapper, Tech N9ne, also incorporated the chopper style in his music in the 1990s and later took the lead in gathering chopper-style rappers for several collaboration songs in the 2000s.[5] He attributed the chopper-style rap music to Midwest hip hop by first teaming up with rappers from the Midwest before reaching out to rappers in the South, West Coast, and East Coast as well as rappers from other countries including Denmark and Turkey.[4] In the beginning of Tech N9ne's collaborative song entitled "Midwest Choppers 2", the introductions explains: "We scoured the globe on a quest to find the most elite, most intricate tongues of all time: California, New York, Denmark, Australia. Then a cold wind from the Midwest brought the hardest, fastest, most accurate tongues ever heard in our lifetime. These are the Midwest Choppers."[3]