A hype man/hype gal, in hip hop music and rapping, is a backup rapper and/or singer who supports the primary rappers with exclamations and interjections and who attempts to increase the audience's excitement with call-and-response chants. Music writer Mickey Hess expands the term as follows: "a hype man is a figure who plays a central but supporting role within a group, making his own interventions, generally aimed at hyping up the crowd while also drawing attention to the words of the MC".
Discussing the role of the hype man in the book How to Rap, Royce da 5'9" describes how a hype man can contribute to a live performance: "a lot of my verses [can] be so constant with the flow [that] I'd need somebody to help me."Lateef has stated, "You're gonna have to have somebody say something somewhere to give you a breath... usually it's just a matter of getting somebody to hit some line or some word in a line--that's all you really need."
The quintessential hype man, for many fans and musicians of the era, was Public Enemy's hype man Flavor Flav, whose exuberant approach to the art in the group's recordings and videos made him, arguably, the first household-name hype man, a figure more famous than many MCs. He established many of the conventions of the craft, such as an outlandish sense of style (epitomized by his wearing of large clocks around his neck) and a vocal style that contrasted dramatically with that of the MC (his rasping high voice was a counterpoint to Chuck D's booming baritone).
Examples of hype men include Freaky Tah of the Lost Boyz, Memphis Bleek for Jay-Z, and Proof and Mr. Porter of D12 for Eminem.Icons of Hip Hop also notes that some producers, such as Diddy, Lil Jon, Swizz Beatz, and Jermaine Dupri, "have transitioned from a hype man role to become rappers and stars in their own right".
Occasionally pop groups include a member up front alongside the lead singer who may perform backup vocals or percussion but largely functions to excite the audience through dancing and/or stage patter. Examples include Bob Nastanovich for Pavement and Guy Picciotto in Fugazi's earliest incarnation.