Rap is a genre of music. Rap artists, rather than traditional singing, speak the words of their songs, usually with a rhyme. The music that accompanies rap is typically heavy on the beat and bass sounds, though some rappers perform without any form of instruments, using purely vocalizations to create the beat to their songs.
Rap is often mistakenly considered to be synonomous with hip hop. They are, however, two similar—yet different—styles of music.
Rap can be traced back to African roots. griots of West Africa have been delivering stories rhythmically, over drums and sparse instrumentation for hundreds of years, long before hip hop music existed. Such connections have been acknowledged by modern artists, modern day "griots", spoken word artists, mainstream news sources, and academics.