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The roots and history of 'The Dozens'

Elijah Wald book,
Elijah Wald book, "The Dozens: A History of Rap's Mama."

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The dozens. It's a name for a style of joking that was born in urban neighborhoods and focuses on insults or put-downs. It’s a style of humor that many music scholars say has paved the way for modern rap.

Elijah Wald has studied this type of humor for a book called "The Dozens: A History of Rap's Mama."

At its core, 'the dozens' is a verbal joust of yo' mama jokes and other taunts, But it's grown to a form of social interaction that dates back to African ceremonial rituals, and "provided a wellspring of rhymes, attitude, and raw humor that has influenced pop musicians from Jelly Roll Morton to Ice Cube."

Read an excerpt from "The Dozens"


Elijah Wald, author of "The Dozens: A History of Rap's Mama"